Why the A-10 is in trouble again - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Why the A-10 is in trouble again

The Air Force may be backtracking from its stated plan to keep the A-10 Thunderbolt II flying until 2030.

During a House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land subcommittee hearing on April 12, 2018, Lt. Gen. Jerry D. Harris, the service’s deputy chief of staff for strategic plans, and requirements, said as a platform, the A-10, beloved among ground troops and attack pilots alike, will remain until roughly that time period.


But even as the “Warthog” got funding for brand-new wings in the $1.3 trillion omnibus budget, that doesn’t necessarily mean every one of them will be flying until 2030, Harris said.

“We will have to get back to you on the groundings per year, per airplanes,” Harris said in response to Rep. Martha McSally, a Republican from Arizona and former Air Force A-10 pilot.

“We are not confident we are flying all of the airplanes we currently possess through 2025,” Harris said.

An A-10 Thunderbolt II flies a combat sortie Jan. 7, 2014, over northeast Afghanistan.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jason Robertson)

In their written testimony, both Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, the Air Force’s military deputy for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Acquisition at the Pentagon, and Harris said, “The new wing program will aim to avoid any further groundings beyond 2025, and will ensure a minimum of six combat squadrons remain in service until 2032. In addition to re-winging efforts, the Air Force is exploring ways to augment the A-10 fleet.”

The Air Force in January 2018, said it began searching for a new company to rebuild wings on the A-10 after ending an arrangement with Boeing Co.

The following month, it released a request draft for proposal for companies to start envisioning their petitions to re-wing the 109 remaining aircraft in the inventory which need the upgrades.

An A-10A/C Thunderbolt II.
(U.S. Air Force photo)

Air Force officials have said the service can commit to maintaining wings for six of its nine A-10 combat squadrons through roughly 2030.

McSally, said she understood the A-10’s need is based on operational tempo, but pressed officials on what Congress needs to do in order for the Air Force to “smooth out” A-10 retirement issues and re-winging efforts past 2025.

Even if the A-10s don’t fly, Harris said the service will preserve portions of the A-10 as it rotates some into backup inventory, or BAI, status. Harris did not elaborate how many A-10s that could apply to.

“We’re not going to make a further commitment [on additional wingsets] until we know where we’re going with both the A-10 and the F-35,” Harris said, referring to the further Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) testing between the two aircraft.

A “fly-off” between the two, part of the IOT&E testing, is expected in the near future.

The requirement that the two aircraft go up against each other was included as a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act for 2017 amid congressional concerns over plans to retire the A-10, and replace it with the F-35. McSally was one of the architects of the bill’s language.

An A-10C Thunderbolt II with the 188th Fighter Wing, Arkansas Air National Guard conduct close-air support training Nov. 21, 2013, near Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Jim Haseltine)

“As we are looking at our [combat Air Force] roadmap and where we’re going with our modification program, our intent is not to have a grounding that impacts the fleet,” Harris said April 12, 2018. “We’ll make sure we re-wing enough of the aircraft to have that capability and capacity.”

McSally said the need was for nine full squadrons — not the six the Air Force has suggested.

“With them being south of the DMZ, deployed to Afghanistan, just coming back from schwacking ISIS, and working with our NATO allies and all that we have on our plate, three active-duty and six Guard and Reserve squadrons for a total of nine, that’s already stretching it,” she said.

“How can we provide that capability to the combatant commanders with only six? I just don’t see it,” she said.

Articles

This Vietnam War veteran will make you feel all the feelings

Army veteran Tucker Smallwood is truly one of the good ones.


He was injured while serving as an Infantry Officer during Vietnam, and after months of surgeries and recovery, he extended his commitment to teach counterinsurgency tactics before finally separating.

(Image courtesy of Tucker Smallwood)

Deep down, Smallwood is a soulful artist. An actor, writer, singer, and musician, he has made a career for himself in theater and on-screen, but it’s his writing and his music that really makes him stand out.

We Are The Mighty sat down with him to talk about his relationship with music.

“I can hear some music and know the setting behind it, and it just goes straight to my part that feels.”

He couldn’t speak when he woke up in the hospital in Vietnam, but rest assured, his voice healed and transformed into something rich and soothing.

Check out his video, not only for the Battle Mix that makes him think of his time in service, but for a performance with his acoustic guitar that will leave you wanting more:

You can also listen to Smallwood’s Battle Mix right here:
Articles

Senate approves ‘you’re fired’ law for bad VA employees

The Senate approved broad legislation June 6 to make firing employees easier for the beleaguered Department of Veterans Affairs, part of an accountability effort urged by President Donald Trump following years of high-profile problems.

The bipartisan measure passed by voice vote. It comes more than three years after a 2014 scandal at the Phoenix VA medical center, where some veterans died while waiting months for appointments. VA employees created secret lists to cover up delays.


The bill would lower the burden of proof needed to fire employees — from a “preponderance” to “substantial evidence,” allowing a dismissal even if most evidence is in a worker’s favor.

The American Federation of Government Employees, the largest federal employee union, opposed the bill. But the measure was viewed as more in balance with workers’ rights than a version passed by the House in March, mostly along party lines. The Senate bill calls for a longer appeal process than the House’s version — 180 days vs. 45 days — though workers would not be paid during that appeal. VA executives also would be held to a tougher standard than rank-and-file employees.

The bill now goes back to the House, where the revisions are expected to be approved.

VA Secretary David Shulkin (Photo by: Robert Turtil, Department of Veterans Affairs)

Trump praised the bill Tuesday night and urged the House to act quickly. ” Senate passed the VA Accountability Act,” he wrote on Twitter. ” The Houseshould get this bill to my desk ASAP! We can’t tolerate substandard care for our vets.”

The VA has been plagued by years of problems, and critics complain that too few employees are punished for malfeasance. The Associated Press reported last week that federal authorities were investigating dozens of new cases of possible opioid and other drug theft by employees at VA hospitals, even after theVA announced “zero tolerance” in February. Since 2009, in only about 3 percent of the reported cases of drug loss or theft have doctors, nurses or pharmacy employees been disciplined.

“The overwhelming majority of the people who work at the VA are good, hard-working employees who serve our veterans well,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. “But it has become clear under the current law the VA is often unwilling or unable to hold individuals appropriately accountable for their actions and misdeeds.”

He was a lead sponsor of the bill along with Democrat Jon Tester of Montana and Republican Johnny Isakson of Georgia.

“To shield employees from consequences brings down the entire department, it demoralizes the workforce and undermines the core mission of the VA,” Rubio said.

The Senate bill would codify into law a Trump campaign promise — a permanent VA accountability office, which was established in April by executive order. The legislation would give the head of the accountability office more independent authority and require regular updates to Congress. The office would also maintain a toll-free number and website to receive anonymous whistleblower disclosures.

In a “State of the VA” report released last week, VA Secretary David Shulkin described an employee accountability process that was “clearly broken.” He said the VA had about 1,500 disciplinary actions against employees on hold, citing a required waiting period of at least a month before taking action for misconduct.

Dan Caldwell, policy director of the conservative Concerned Veterans for America, hailed the bill’s passage as “long overdue.”

“The regular horror stories have made it clear that veterans deserve much better,” he said.

Despite problems at the VA, Congress has had difficulty coming to agreement on a bill. A 2014 law gave the VA greater power to discipline executives, but the department stopped using that authority after the Obama Justice Department deemed it likely unconstitutional. Last month, a federal appeals court temporarily overturned the VA firing of Phoenix VA hospital director Sharon Helman over the wait-time scandal.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Army fast tracks new howitzer that can out-reach Russia

The Army is fast-tracking an emerging program to engineer a longer-range artillery cannon able to out range enemy ground forces by hitting targets at more than twice the distance of existing artillery.

The service is now prototyping an Extended Range Cannon Artillery weapons with a larger caliber tube and new grooves to hang weights for gravity adjustments to the weapon — which is a modified M777A2 mobile howitzer.

Existing 155m artillery rounds, fired with precision from mobile and self-propelled howitzer platforms, have a maximum range of about 30km; the new ERCA weapon is designed to hit ranges greater than 70km, Army developers said.


“When you are talking about doubling the range you need a longer tube and a larger caliber. We will blend this munition with a howitzer and extend the range. We are upgrading the breach and metallurgy of the tube, changing the hydraulics to handle increased pressure and using a new ram jet projectile — kind of like a rocket,” a senior Army weapons developer told Warrior Maven in an interview.

The modification adds 1,000 pounds to the overall weight of the weapon and an additional six feet of cannon tube. The ERCA systems also uses a redesigned cab, new breech design and new “muzzle brake,” the official explained.

“The ERCA program develops not only the XM907 cannon but also products, such as the XM1113 rocket assisted projectile, the XM654 supercharge, an autoloader, and new fire control system,” an Army statement said.

Marines fire an M777A2 155 mm howitzer.

(United States Marine Corps photo)

As part of an effort to ensure the heavy M777 is sufficiently mobile, the Army recently completed a “mobility” demonstration of ERCA prototypes.

The service demonstrated a modified M777A2 Howitzer with an integration kit for the mass mock-up of the modified XM907 ERCA cannon at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona.

“Their [user] concern is that when the self-propelled program is done they will be left with a towed cannon variant that they can’t tow around, which is its number one mode of transportation,” David Bound, M777ER Lead, Artillery Concepts and Design Branch, which is part of the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, or ARDEC, said in an Army statement.

The ERCA is currently being configured to fire from an M109a8 Self-Propelled Howitzer, using a 58-Cal. tube; the existing M109a7, called the Paladin Integrated Management, fires a 39-Cal. weapon.

ERCA changes the Army’s land war strategic calculus in a number of key respects, by advancing the Army’s number one modernization priority — long-range precision fires. This concept of operations is intended to enable mechanized attack forces and advancing infantry with an additional stand-off range or protective sphere with which to conduct operations. Longer range precision fire can hit enemy troop concentrations, supply lines and equipment essential to a coordinated attack, while allowing forces to stay farther back from incoming enemy fire.

A 70-kilometer target range is, by any estimation, a substantial leap forward for artillery; when GPS guided precision 155mm artillery rounds, such as Excalibur, burst into land combat about ten years ago – its strike range was reported at roughly 30 kilometers. A self-propelled Howitzer able to hit 70-kilometers puts the weapon on par with some of the Army’s advanced land-based rockets – such as its precision-enabled Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System which also reaches 70-kilometers.

In a modern threat environment, wherein near-peer and smaller-level rivals increasingly possess precision-guided land weapons, longer-range C4ISR technology and drone weapons, increasing range is a ubiquitous emphasis across the Army and other services. Russia’s violations of the INF treaty, new S-500 air defenses, new Armata tanks and fast growing attack drone fleet – all point to a growing need for the US to outrange and outgun potential adversaries.

An M109A6 Paladin fires a gas propelled 155mm Howitzer round.

In fact, senior Army developers specifically say that the ERCA program is, at least in part, designed to enable the Army to out-range rival Russian weapons. The Russian military is currently producing its latest howitzer cannon, the 2S33 Msta-SM2 variant; it is a new 2A79 152mm cannon able to hit ranges greater than 40km, significantly greater than the 25km range reachable by the original Russian 2S19 Msta – which first entered service in the late 1980s, according to data from globalsecurity.org.

In early 2018 statements from the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation said that 2S19 Msta-S modernized self-propelled howitzers were fielded near Volgograd, Russia. The 2S19 Msta-S howitzers are equipped with an automated fire control system with an increased rate of fire, digital electronic charts, ballistic computers, and satellite navigation systems, the report says.

Therefore, doing the simple math, a 70km US Army ERCA weapon would appear to substantially outrange the 40km Msta-S modern Russian howitzer.

While senior Army weapons developers welcome the possibility of longer-range accurate artillery fire, they also recognize that its effectiveness hinges upon continued development of sensor, fire control, and target technology.

“Just because I can shoot farther, that does not mean I solve the issue. I have to acquire the right target. We want to be able to hit moving targets and targets obscured by uneven terrain,” the senior Army developer said.

Multi-domain warfare is also integral to the strategic impetus for the new ERCA weapon; longer range land weapons can naturally better enable air attack options.

Operating within this concept, former Army TRADOC Commander Gen. David Perkins and Air Force Air Combat Command Commanding General James Holmes launched a new series of tabletop exercises several months ago — designed to to replicate and explore these kinds of future warfare scenarios. The project is oriented toward exploring the kind of conflicts expected to require technologically advanced Army-Air Force integration.

In a previous Pentagon report, Holmes said the joint wargaming effort will “turn into a doctrine and concept that we can agree on.”

Such a development would mark a substantial step beyond prior military thinking, which at times over the years has been slightly more stove-piped in its approach to military service doctrines.

Interestingly, the new initiative may incorporate and also adjust some of the tenets informing the 1980’s Air-Land Battle Doctrine; this concept, which came to fruition during the Cold War, was focused on integrated air-ground combat coordination to counter a large, mechanized force in major warfare. While AirLand battle was aimed primarily at the Soviet Union decades ago, new Army-Air Force strategy in today’s threat environment will also most certainly address the possibility of major war with an advanced adversary like Russia or China.

(Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation)

In fact, the Army’s new Operations 3.0 doctrine already explores this phenomenon, as it seeks to pivot the force from more than a decade of counterinsurgency to preparedness for massive force-on-force warfare.

Jumping more than 40 years into the future beyond AirLand Battle into to today’s threat climate, the notion of cross-domain warfare has an entirely new and more expansive meaning. No longer would the Air Force merely need to support advancing armored vehicles with both air cover and forward strikes, as is articulated in Air-Land Battle, but an Air Force operating in today’s war environment would need to integrate multiple new domains, such as cyber and space.

After all, drones, laser attacks, cyber intrusions, and electronic warfare (EW) tactics were hardly on the map in the 1980s. Forces today would need to harden air-ground communications against cyber and EW attacks, network long-range sensor and targeting technology and respond to technologically-advanced near-peer attack platforms, such as 5th-generation stealth fighters or weaponized space assets.

In a concurrent related effort, the Army is also engineering a adaptation to existing 155mm rounds which will extend range an additional 10km out to 40km.

Fired from an existing Howitzer artillery cannon, the new XM1113 round uses ram jet rocket technology to deliver more thrust to the round.

“The XM1113 uses a large high-performance rocket motor that delivers nearly three times the amount of thrust when compared to the legacy M549A1 RAP,” Ductri Nguyen, XM1113 Integrated Product Team Lead.” “Its exterior profile shape has also been streamlined for lower drag to achieve the 40-plus kilometers when fired from the existing fielded 39-caliber 155mm weapon systems.”

Soldiers can also integrate the existing Precision Guidance Kit to the artillery shells as a way to add a GPS-guided precision fuse to the weapon. The new adapted round also uses safer Insensitive Munition Explosives.

This article originally appeared on Warrior Maven. Follow @warriormaven1 on Twitter.

MIGHTY GAMING

6 of the biggest blue falcons in gaming

The video game community is filled with the same amount of douchebags as regular society. The majority of gamers hop online, as they have for years, to enjoy spending some time playing their favorite title — then, some as*hole comes in and ruins it all in a blink of an eye.

It’s an inevitability. There’s always that one dick who ruins the fun for everyone else just because they can. In gaming, they’re generally referred to as “trolls,” but in the military, we call them “Blue Falcons” — or buddy f*ckers. Even the most kindhearted, polite person might unleash their inner as*hole when they’re safely behind the anonymity of their video game avatar.

At the end of the day, when these online Blue Falcons do their dirty work, no one really gets hurt — it’s still just a game and players usually just respawn somewhere else (or log off for a while). That being said, the level of time, effort, and dedication these guys put into f*cking with some random players is beyond astounding.

(South Park Studios)


But seriously though, if you’re interested getting your kids to stop playing video games – there’s definitely a market for that.

(Bluehole Studios Inc.)

Snipers

We’re not referring to the guys who pick up a rifle and camp in one spot for (seemingly) hours just to score a kill (we’ll get to that in a minute). Instead, we’re talking about the people who go out of their way in the “real life world” to hunt down someone’s virtual character — just to kill them or harass them.

This type of Blue Falcon became much more popular with the rise of game streaming. Now, some people take it as a point of pride to track down whatever high-profile streamer is on air and kill them — even if it’s against the rules. But your average stream sniper doesn’t even come close to that one time a father hired virtual assassins to hunt and kill his son’s characters in hopes that it’d make him give up video games.

I just blame it on a terrible grenade throw.

(Ubisoft)

Team killers

Online games assume that once you’re randomly placed onto either the blue or red team, you’ll be loyal to the other players out of a mutual desire to win. Not all games have friendly-fire turned off, so it’s important to watch your aim.

It sucks when someone on your team accidentally shoots you — but it’s infuriating when they do it on purpose… and it’s in the spawn zone. Now, the other players on your team have to either kill that douche or let them continue trolling. Either way, the other team won’t mind.

And yet camping is a legitimate strategy in real life.

(Bungie)

Campers

Games often provide a wide-open world for players to enjoy themselves in. In fact, some games are so massive that they’re comparable to actual states in America. They’ve got all that room to play in and yet some assholes still feel the desire to hole up somewhere — to set up camp and sit with a shotgun, just waiting for you to round the corner.

“Camping,” as it’s called, is most egregious when you’re the last player alive on your team. Not only does the enemy need to search every single corner, but your teammates are often stuck waiting for a chance to respawn, too. Some game developers will put in a system that punishes “camping” after a while, but that won’t stop the dedicated.

After a certain point in EVE, if you want to get insanely rich, you need to get nefarious.

(CCP Games)

Scammers

Remember when the internet was first introduced and everyone was extremely wary of online creeps and scammers? Well, apparently, all of that is thrown out the window when it comes to video games.

“Scammers” in online games take many forms, from people trying to sell you junk for gold to those who run extremely complex banking schemes in games like EVE Online. That’s right — in CCP Games’ space-based MMO, players would loan out virtual money to other players, manage a massive system where players have, essentially, created an investment bank, and then make off with trillions of Isk, the in-game currency.

To make matters worse, Lord Kazzak would heal himself with each player he killed…

(Blizzard Entertainment)

Players who bring disaster into low-level areas

In most online games, threats are appropriate to their area. If you want to fight a dangerous baddie, you’ll have to do it over there, near those other dangerous baddies. Some clever players, however, have figured out how to drag extremely tough bosses or (or virtual plagues) into major player hubs.

In the early days of World of Warcraft, players could bring a massive demon, Lord Kazzak, directly into Stormwind City, where he would proceed to evaporate players with barely any effort.

Event Crashers

On rare occasions, players band together and decide to not fight each other — usually for a good reason. Then, one person comes in and breaks the armistice when they see a good chance to kill everyone. The most famous example of this was in World of Warcraft. When a well-respected player passed away in real life, players gathered for a virtual funeral. Then, players of the opposing faction learned that they were holding it in a neutral area and without weapons and, well… you guessed it.

But this doesn’t just happen in MMOs. Recently, a Fortnite player named Elemental_Ray took advantage of an in-game event to rack up a massive kill count. Players gathered on an easily-destroyed ramp to get a good view of an in-game rocket launch. When this Blue Falcon destroyed the bottom of the ramp, it all came crashing down — firmly placing Elemental_Ray at the top of Fortnite‘s all-time leaderboard for number of kills in single match: 48.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The 10 worst British military aircraft of all time

While the British boast a perfect record in World Wars — including a gritty victory over Germany’s seemingly unstoppable Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain — it is a country that has made some truly bad aircraft.


The Spitfire fighter and the Lancaster bomber ruled the skies throughout World War II. The Harrier Jump Jet served at sea honorably for decades. But the aircraft you don’t hear about are usually pretty awful.

Also Read: Why this light machine gun was the worst standard-issue weapon ever

“If you want something done slowly, expensively, and possibly very well, you go to the British,” begins the first-ever YouTube video from Hushkit, an aviation blog from Joe Coles.

From a nuclear-capable, fatality-prone navy plane to impossibly hard-to-fly transport planes, relive the forgotten history of the 10 worst British planes ever built in the video below:

 

(Hush kit | YouTube)
MIGHTY CULTURE

Women & standards in special operations and special mission units

SOFREP recently published an exclusive piece covering the journey of the first female candidate set to graduate the Special Forces Qualification Course and earn her coveted green beret — an amazing achievement. Similarly, recent years have seen the services open their previously male-exclusive roles, including the opportunity to attend Ranger School and others, to women as well.

Women absolutely belong in Special Operations, and it would be narrow-minded to limit their opportunities to serve in special operations roles due to gender stereotypes: In SOF, this primarily refers to the different physical capacities between men and women, and the rigorous physical standards that must be met to serve in a special operations role.


It is the author’s opinion that there is a significant net benefit gained by reasonably adjusting female physical standards in a manner that accounts for the natural biological differences between men and women. What women physically lack in relative strength, vis à vis their male counterparts, they far compensate for in other unique qualities that SOF desperately requires.

For historical reference of the unique value proposition women offer, one only need to study the various exploits conducted by women such as Virginia Hall, a World War II-era Special Operations Executive (SOE) and Office of Strategic Services (OSS) operative, who conducted clandestine special operations for the Allies in Nazi-occupied France. Often disguised as a peasant woman, Ms. Hall skillfully employed her feminine prowess against the Nazis, resulting in unfettered freedom of movement throughout the French countryside.

Other special operations units have long relied on the value of women to conduct operations, noting that the coupling of male and female operatives during missions greatly reduced scrutiny from security services during the conduct of sensitive activities abroad.

SOF assessment and selection processes must evolve to reflect this. While traditional physical standards certainly have their place in special operations, the opportunity cost of not adjusting physical standards is too significant for the SOF community to bear. Does this mean standards are removed, curtailed, or made “easy?” Certainly not. It simply implies a measured and scientifically relevant culture shift that better enables women to succeed in special operations, beginning with physical standards.

It is important in this discussion to also frame the understanding of the largest limiting factor in SOF “production” — time. The oft-quoted SOF truths identify that SOF cannot be mass-produced and that humans are more important than hardware. The reason SOF cannot be mass-produced is due to the specific, rigorous, and just plainly lengthy screening and RAST (recruitment, assessment, selection, and training) processes required to produce a special operations professional.

That said, the notion of gender should have little to no discriminatory role in special operations manning. There simply is not the manpower to exclude a large population that offers unique value to special operations missions. Countless units experience significant manpower shortages and are being asked to “do more with less” because their RAST process cannot keep up with demand and attrition. This leads to burnout, which perpetuates the increased demands and greater stress on an already taxed force. This ultimately leads to greater attrition.

In the author’s experience, it took a grand total of about three years to transition from conventional operations to special operations, not counting the years of personal preparation beforehand. That process included an extensive remote screening; chain of command vetting and recommendations; an invitation to attend a lengthy assessment and selection course; an extensive security screening; completion of inter-service manning adjudication at the service component level; assignment to the unit; completion of an almost year-long training course; and additional follow-on qualification training to reach “fully mission capable” (aka mission-ready/deployable) status.

If that sounds like a lot, that is because it certainly was. And it is critical that women have equal opportunity to attempt such journeys alongside their male counterparts. The crossroads at which equal opportunity and SOF production meet are the reasonable adjustments of physical standards for women.

Much of traditional SOF processes focused on largely physical and mental capacities. Long rucks, hours wearing kit, and the ability to manipulate one’s body over, through, and around tricky terrain were paramount. The Army appears to have a penchant for long, solo rucks through tough terrain; the Air Force limits your ability to breathe through liberal use of “water confidence training” (aka supervised drowning); and the Marines like to ingest large quantities of drawing implements (particularly crayons).

Joking aside, however, it is the author’s opinion that these physical standards do not need to be exactly the same for men and women. Indeed, while recognizing the intrinsic differences between men and women, standards should rather reflect the reasonable demands of the special operations role future SOF professionals are expected to fill. Furthermore, a greater emphasis on personality traits and attributes is required. We are reminded of the wisdom, “the final weapon is the brain, all else is supplemental.”

As was recently identified (comically so) in the differences between Rangers and Green Berets, there are different folks needed for different strokes in special operations. If there ever was a “traditional” GWOT-era SOF image, it would probably include a tattoo-sleeved, Taliban-style beard-wearing Freedom Fighter wearing Oakleys, early-gen multi-cams, and riding a horse. Yet, that image is outdated and demonstrates but a snapshot in time. The error we now risk making is to project this archetype onto current and future conflicts.

The GWOT, while still ongoing in the form of counter-VEO missions across the globe, must also make room for Great Power competition. In this space, SOF are not calling for fire against insurgent positions in the mountains of Afghanistan. Rather, they are conducting sensitive, “low-visibility” operations across multiple domains and in low-intensity conflict regions that manifest themselves through multiple mechanisms of state power projection.

What does this mean?

Operating environments are evolving, and SOF must evolve along with these changes. This should include the evolution of certain norms and standards of what traditionally comprises a SOF professional. The target dictates the weapon, and the weapon dictates the tactics. Start with your desired end state and work from there.

In the realm of Great Power competition, it is less critical that an individual can carry a 65-pound rucksack through the West Virginia mountains at night using a map and compass: Rather, it is more critical that they be able to rapidly process vast quantities of complex datasets while performing real-time analysis of the ground truth before them.

Do those traditional methods have their place? Most certainly. The author would not significantly change them given the value of such experience. But do those methods need to be reasonably adjusted in order to increase opportunities for women to fill SOF positions and thereby add unique value to the SOF enterprise? Yes: We cannot afford inaction.

Thanks for listening.

This article originally appeared on SOFREP. Follow @sofrepofficial on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Watch a World War II tank fire in slow motion

The crew over at the YouTube channel, The Slow Mo Guys, point their cameras at fast-moving events like potato guns firing, glass breaking, etc., so when they made a video of an M4 Sherman tank firing at a range out in the desert, we knew it was a must-see. And, yes, watching a World War II tank fire in slow motion is as fun as it sounds.


WWII Tanks Firing in Slow Motion

www.youtube.com

WWII Tanks Firing in Slow Motion

The video is above, obviously, and there are a few great spots to concentrate on. The first shot comes at 2:15, but they replay it in slow-motion at 2:35 and the video plays slowly enough that you can clearly see the round leave the barrel, see the burnt and unburnt powder leave the barrel, and then see the unburnt powder ignite in the open air into a large fireball.

Around 3:50, you can see the blast from the tank knock the glasses off of one of the crew members, but the really cool stuff comes at 6:10 when they fire the tank and then track the round with the slow-motion cameras. In these shots, you can see the 75mm round spinning as it leaves the barrel. There’s even a bit of yaw as the round flies toward the tank at the end of the range.

The cameras are so sensitive that you can even see the shock and heatwaves from the initial blast and then the round’s flight.

As an added bonus, the guys got their hands on a 152mm Russian artillery piece which, according to them, is the largest privately owned piece of artillery in the world. It’s only 3mm smaller than the guns mounted on the Paladin. So it’s approximately a 6-inch shell that they fire, twice, at watermelons.

If you want to see some more Slow Mo action, they also have videos of opening a condom in a wind tunnel, hitting someone with a fish to the face, or my personal favorite, a chain explosion shot at 200,000 frames per second.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russian special forces staged a mock invasion near Finland

Russian special forces staged a mock invasion of an island in the Gulf of Finland just days before President Donald Trump is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Finnish capital.

The Russian forces parachuted onto the island of Gogland, which is part of Russia but located roughly 70 miles from Helsinki, from a Mi-8AMTSH helicopter at an altitude of 2,500 meters. The soldiers used satellite equipment to steer themselves to the landing site, according to a July 10, 2018 press release from the Russian Defense Ministry.

Once on the ground, the Russian forces camouflaged their parachutes and headed into the interior of the island to destroy a series of mock communications stations, radars, and ASM batteries, Defense One reports.


The island is equipped with a helipad, but after destroying the targets the soldiers prepared a landing site for the helicopter for their escape.

The soldiers who participated in the mock invasion had “not less than a hundred jumps with parachutes of various types,” according to the Russian Defense Ministry statement.

This exercise comes amid increasing concern from many European countries about Russian agression in the region in the wake of the 2014 annexation of Crimea.

Meanwhile, as Trump prepares to meet with Putin, some NATO member states seem to be concerned he’s too soft on the Russian leader and doesn’t fully value the historic alliance.

The 2018 NATO summit in Brussels.

At the NATO summit in Brussels on July 11, 2018, Trump baffled and angered other NATO leaders when he suggested Germany is “controlled” by Russia in relation to an energy partnership between the two countries.

Trump was widely criticized for his rhetoric and demeanor at the summit. Nicholas Burns, a former US ambassador to NATO, accused the president of “diplomatic malpractice” and expressed concern over Trump’s disposition toward Putin.

“You cannot imagine any American president all the way back 75 years deciding to become the critic-in-chief of NATO,” Burns said on July 11, 2018. “I mean, it’s Orwellian. He’s making our friends out to be our enemies and treating our enemies, like Putin, as our friends, and he’s misrepresenting the facts.”

Trump is scheduled to meet with Putin in Helsinki on July 16, 2018.

Prior to departing for Europe on July 10, 2018, the president suggested he was most looking forward to his summit with the Russian leader.

“I have NATO, I have the UK, which is in somewhat turmoil, and I have Putin. Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of them all. Who would think? Who would think?” Trump said at the White House.

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

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Air Force upgrades F-15 to compete with Chinese J-10

The Air Force is reving up electronic warfare upgrades for its F-15 fighter as a way to better protect against enemy fire and electronic attacks, service officials said.


Boeing has secured a $478 million deal to continue work on a new technology called with a system called the Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System, or EPAWSS.

“This allows the aircraft to identify a threat and actively prosecute that threat through avoidance, deception or jamming techniques,” Mike Gibbons, Vice President of the Boeing F-15 program, told Scout Warrior in an interview a few months ago.

Related: Trump teases big order of F-18s in response to F-35 cost overruns

 These updated EW capabilities replace the Tactical Electronic Warfare Suite, which has been used since the 1980s, not long after the F-15 first deployed. The service plans to operate the fleet until the mid-2040’s, so an overhaul of the Eagle’s electronic systems helps maintain U.S. air supremacy, the contract announcement said.

Boeing won the initial contract for the EPAWSS project last year and hired BAE Systems as the primary subcontractor. 

Overall, the US Air Force is vigorously upgrading the 1980s-era F-15 fighter by giving new weapons and sensors in the hope of maintaining air-to-air superiority over the Chinese J-10 equivalent.

The multi-pronged effort not only includes the current addition of electronic warfare technology but also extends to super-fast high-speed computers, infrared search and track enemy targeting systems, increased networking ability and upgraded weapons-firing capability, Air Force and Boeing officials said.

“The Air Force plans to keep the F-15 fleet in service until the mid-2040’s.  Many of the F-15 systems date back to the 1970’s and must be upgraded if the aircraft is to remain operationally effective. Various upgrades will be complete as early as 2021 for the F-15C AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar and as late as 2032 for the various EW (electronic warfare) upgrades,” Air Force spokesman Maj. Rob Leese told Scout Warrior a few months ago.

The Air Force currently operates roughly 400 F-15C, D and E variants. A key impetus for the upgrade was well articulate in a Congressional report on the US and China in 2014. (US-China Economic and Security Review Commission —www.uscc.gov). Among other things, the report cited rapid Chinese technological progress and explained that the US margin of superiority has massively decreased since the 1980s.

As an example, the report said that in the 1980s, the US F-15 was vastly superior to the Chinese equivalent – the J-10. However, Chinese technical advances in recent years have considerably narrowed that gap to the point where the Chinese J-10 is now roughly comparable to the US F-15, the report explained.

Air Force and Boeing developers maintain that ongoing upgrades to the F-15 will ensure that this equivalence is not the case and that, instead, they will ensure the superiority of the F-15.

A Boeing Advanced F-15 Eagle on the flight line in St. Louis. | Boeing photo

Among the upgrades is an ongoing effort to equip the F-15 with the fastest jet-computer processer in the world, called the Advanced Display Core Processor, or ADCPII.

“It is capable of processing 87 billion instructions per second of computing throughput, translating into faster and more reliable mission processing capability for an aircrew,” Boeing spokesman Randy Jackson told Scout Warrior.

High tech targeting and tracking technology is also being integrated onto the F-15, Gibbons added. This includes the addition of a passive long-range sensor called Infrared Search and Track, or IRST.

The technology is also being engineered into the Navy F-18 Super Hornet. The technology can detect the heat signature, often called infrared emissions, of enemy aircraft.

“The system can simultaneously track multiple targets and provide a highly effective air-to-air targeting capability, even when encountering advanced threats equipped with radar-jamming technology,” Navy officials said.

IRST also provides an alternate air-to-air targeting system in a high threat electronic attack environment, Navy, Air Force and industry developers said.

The F-15 is also being engineered for additional speed and range, along with weapons-firing ability. The weapons-carrying ability is being increased from 8 up to 16 weapons; this includes an ability to fire an AIM-9x or AIM-120 missile. In addition, upgrades to the aircraft include adding an increased ability to integrate or accommodate new emerging weapons systems as they become available. This is being done through both hardware and software-oriented “open standards” IP protocol and architecture.

The aircraft is also getting a “fly-by-wire” automated flight control system.

“Fly by wire means when the pilot provides the input – straight to a computer than then determines how to have the aircraft perform the way it wants – provides electrical signals for the more quickly and more safely move from point to point as opposed to using a mechanical controls stick,” Gibbons explained.

The J-10 at Zhuhai airshow. | Creative Commons photo

Along with these weapons upgrades and other modifications, the F-15 is also getting upgrades to the pilot’s digital helmet and some radar signature reducing, or stealthy characteristics.

However, at the same time, the F-15 is not a stealthy aircraft and is expected to be used in combat environments in what is called “less contested” environments where the Air Force already has a margin of air superiority over advanced enemy air defenses.

Also read: World’s most-advanced aircraft carrier one step closer to completion

For this reason, the F-15 will also be increasing networked so as to better support existing 5th-generation platforms such as the F-22 and F-35, Air Force officials said.

The intent of these F-15 upgrades is to effectively perform the missions assigned to the F-15 fleet, which are to support the F-22 in providing air superiority and the F-35 in providing precision attack capabilities, Leese said.

“While these upgrades will not make these aircraft equivalent to 5th generation fighters, they will allow the F-15 to support 5th generation fighters in performing their missions, and will also allow F-15s to assume missions in more permissive environments where capabilities of 5th generation fighters are not required,” Leese added.

Gibbons added that the upgrades to the F-15 will ensure that the fighter aircraft remains superior to its Chinese equivalent.

“The F-15 as a vital platform that still has a capability that cannot be matched in terms of ability to fly high, fly fast, go very far carry a lot. It is an air dominance machine,” Gibbons explained.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Navy sailors help rescue the stranded crew of a seaplane

The Norfolk-based, guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) took part in the transport of passengers from a damaged seaplane that was adrift at sea in the Western Atlantic Ocean Aug. 25, 2018.

Mason was conducting operations in the Atlantic with Carrier Strike Group 12, when the U.S. Navy diverted the ship to rendezvous with the container ship M/V Polar Peru to transport the rescued passengers back to the United States.

“It was a great team effort to safely rescue the seaplane crew,” said Cmdr. Stephen Aldridge, Mason’s commanding officer. “Those who go to sea have a special bond to help fellow mariners in distress. From the team ashore, to the U.S. Coast Guard, to the merchant ship in the area, the ‘destroyermen’ and naval aviators aboard Mason, it was great to see the collaboration that resulted in locating, rescuing, and returning the stranded passengers ashore.”


The seaplane had departed Elizabeth City, North Carolina, early Aug. 25, 2018, morning when it was forced to make an emergency landing after striking an object during takeoff, which damaged the aircraft’s front node. The plane landed approximately 460 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard’s 5th District received notification of the distressed plane by the International Emergency Response Coordination Center. An HC-130 Hercules aircraft was launched from Air Station Elizabeth City to monitor the situation while the Coast Guard used the Automated Mutual Assistance Rescue System to contact the Polar Peru, which was transiting nearby. The Polar Peru recovered the passengers until the Mason could arrive on scene.

US Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules.

Mason launched two rigid-hull inflatable boats and picked up the five passengers, which included the seaplane’s flight crew and an oceanography researcher. Once aboard, the passengers were able to contact their families.

“There was an excitement on the deck plates for the opportunity to help fellow Americans in trouble at sea,” said Command Master Chief Maurice Purley. “It was a reminder to the crew of Mason why we love being in the U.S. Navy.”

“Although not a frequently-executed mission, search and rescue is a mission that Navy destroyers train for,” added Aldridge. “In fact, just days ago, Mason conducted integrated rescue training with our small boats and helicopters to practice rescuing survivors from the sea and into the helicopter.”

Additional search and rescue mission aircraft aboard Mason include an embarked MH-60R helicopter of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 46, based out of Naval Station Mayport, Florida.

This article originally appeared on the United States Navy. Follow @USNavy on Twitter.

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Why alleged Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl doesn’t want a jury trial

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has decided to be tried by a judge — not a military jury — on charges that he endangered comrades by walking off his post in Afghanistan.


Bergdahl’s lawyers told the court in a brief filing last week that their client chose trial by judge alone, rather than a panel of officers. He faces charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy at his trial scheduled for late October at Fort Bragg. The latter carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Bowe Bergdahl in a photo after his capture by Taliban insurgents. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Defense attorneys declined to comment on the decision. But they previously questioned whether Bergdahl could get a fair trial by jury because of negative comments President Donald Trump made on the campaign trail.

Earlier this year the judge, Army Col. Jeffery R. Nance rejected a defense request to dismiss the case over Trump’s criticism of Bergdahl.

Potential jurors had already received a questionnaire including questions about their commander in chief, but defense attorneys weren’t allowed to ask jurors if they voted for Trump.

Rachel VanLandingham, a former Air Force lawyer not involved in the case, said defense attorneys likely felt limited in how they could probe juror opinions.

“They lost their ability to ask all the questions they wanted to ask, one of those being: ‘Did you vote for President Trump?'” said VanLandingham, who teaches at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles. “They felt that was very important … for fleshing out whether a panel member could be fair.”

Former President Obama and Bowe Bergdahl’s parents. (Photo from the Obama White House Archives)

Beyond concerns about jurors, she said Nance has so far demonstrated his objectivity.

“His pretrial rulings have shown that he’s fair,” she said.

Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban shortly after he left his remote post in 2009. The soldier from Idaho has said he intended to cause alarm and draw attention to what he saw as problems with his unit.

He was freed from captivity in 2014 in exchange for five Taliban prisoners. Former President Barack Obama was criticized by Republicans who claimed the trade jeopardized the nation’s security.

Bergdahl has been assigned to desk duty at a Texas Army base pending the outcome of his case.

MIGHTY HISTORY

General Petraeus returned to duty days after being shot in the chest with an M-16

There are a lot of reasons for soldiers to visit sick call. Sure, there are a lot of skaters among the ranks of U.S. troops, but most of the military is looking to stay away from doctors and stay in the fight — especially while deployed. No officer exemplifies this more than Gen. David Petraeus, who was shot in the chest due to a negligent discharge.

The doctors were not thrilled at the prospect of letting then-Lt. Col. Petraeus walk out of the hospital. Just days before, the colonel was participating in a live-fire exercise at Fort Campbell, KY when a soldier under his command tripped. The fall caused the soldier to fire his M-16 rifle, hitting Petraeus in the chest.

Of course, Lt. Col. Petraeus survived.


“Ooh, good attempt, Private Dipsh*t. If you had tried that at the range, you might have a sharpshooter badge.”

I remember standing for a moment and then going down to my knees and slumping to the ground,” said Petraeus. “The next I recall was being worried about the effect on the unit and delaying training. So I instructed the leaders to just prop me up against a tree with a canteen.”

Then, like a true soldier, he instructed medics not to cut off his load-bearing equipment because it took him so long to get it together and put it on. Medics then tended to his wound just like it says in the Soldier’s Manual. They then airlifted him to Blanchfield Army Community Hospital where doctors were forced to tend to his wounds without anesthesia. He was later rushed to Vanderbilt University Medical Center for more care.

Petraeus couldn’t just languish in the hospital for months at a time. He was the commander of the Iron Rakkasans, not the Wet Paper Bag Rakkasans. He may not look like it at first glance, but the decorated Army officer is tough as nails and is willing to prove it. That’s exactly how he was able to leave the hospital soon after.

“Come at me, son. My life has its own Konami Code.”

The surgeon that operated on David Petraeus that day in Nashville would later go on to work with Petraeus as a General. Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist helped save the young officer’s life and later took testimony from the general on how he intended to train Iraqi troops.

Before that, however, Lt. Col. Petraeus needed to get out of the hospital. To prove to his civilian doctors that he was fine and ready for duty, Petraeus did 50 pushups without resting – just days after taking a 5.56 round to the chest from 40 meters and then undergoing surgery to repair the damage.

(It) feels like a combination of the most enormous blow imaginable and being hit in the back with a massive hammer from the force of bullet exiting the body,” Petraeus told The Leaf-Chronicle.I was very fortunate that the bullet did not sever an artery… I was also very fortunate that the bullet hit over the ‘A’ in ‘Petraeus’ rather than the ‘A’ in ‘U.S. Army.’