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Unidentified flying object buzzes American Airlines flight

On Sunday, February 21st, at approximately 1:19 PM CST, the pilot of American Airlines Flight 2292 was added to the ranks of those who have had an encounter with an unidentified flying object, or as they tend to be known today, an Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon (UAP).

The pilot, nearing the end of a flight from Cincinnati to Phoenix, witnessed a “cylindrical object” fly over his Airbus A320 near Clayton, New Mexico. He radioed air traffic control in Albuquerque with this message:

“Do you have any targets up here?  We just had something go right over the top of us – I hate to say this but it looked like a long cylindrical object that almost looked like a cruise missile type of thing – moving really fast right over the top of us.”

The transmission was recorded by Steve Douglass, an investigative journalist, photographer and “self-avowed Stealth Chaser,” as his blog, Deep Black Horizon describes. Douglass has a room full of monitoring equipment that would be the envy of most small airports, as can be seen in his interview with KVII out of Amarillo. Douglass actually found the 20-second transmission while searching for audio of a mayday call from a Denver flight that had an engine catch on fire.

“It was a pure coincidence,” Douglass told The Arizona Republic. “I was just as surprised as everybody else was.”

He said a bit of excitement and elevation in the pilot’s voice caught his attention. Listen to the audio here:

Unidentified flying object buzzes American Airlines flight

American Airlines was initially dismissive of the claims about the intercepted message after an inquiry by Tyler Rogoway of The War Zone, but then confirmed the incident about 48 hours later with a brief statement:

Following a debrief with our Flight Crew and additional information received, we can confirm this radio transmission was from American Airlines Flight 2292 on Feb. 21. For any additional questions on this, we encourage you to reach out to the FBI.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) followed that up on Wednesday:

A pilot reported seeing an object over New Mexico shortly after noon local time on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. FAA air traffic controllers did not see any object in the area on their radarscopes.

Unidentified flying object buzzes American Airlines flight
(Wikimedia Commons)

While the parties involved are predictably tight-lipped after such a dangerous event at 36,000 feet, these statements do tell us a couple of things, as noted by Rogoway. The FAA’s statement indicates that this isn’t simply a mishap where two aircraft ended up in the same airspace, and American Airlines referring questions to the FBI adds quite a bit of intrigue, suggesting the need for an investigation beyond the resources of the FAA.

So what was it? For what it’s worth, the spokespeople for all military bases in the area (White Sands Missile Range, Holloman AFB, and Kirtland AFB) have no explanation for what happened. No missile tests and no military flights were in the area according to the military, and Douglass has a log of all activity on Deep Black Horizon that confirms this. The FAA also having nothing on radar pushes this into UFO territory. The Southwest United States is obviously no stranger to bizarre occurrences and unexplained aircraft. A very similar unsolved air mystery was witnessed by multiple pilots over the Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona almost three years ago to the day.

Go back a few more years, to five Navy F/A-18 pilots who told the New York Times about mysterious objects that had “no visible engine or infrared exhaust plumes, but that they could reach 30,000 feet and hypersonic speeds,” as reported in the 2019 article. One encounter nearly resulted in a collision and prompted an after-action report from an unnamed pilot.

“These things would be out there all day,” Lt. Ryan Graves, one of the Super Hornet pilots, told the Times. “Keeping an aircraft in the air requires a significant amount of energy. With the speeds we observed, 12 hours in the air is 11 hours longer than we’d expect.”

Unidentified flying object buzzes American Airlines flight
Radar of the unidentified flying object

The videos above were released by the Pentagon last year to “clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real,” but that seems to have only whetted the appetite of UFO enthusiasts more. Fortunately, a bill that was introduced by Florida Senator Marco Rubio, the Intelligence Authorization Act, was passed last July and includes provisions for the Department of Defense to reveal what they know to Congress about unidentified flying objects by this summer. It is anyone’s guess how much might be revealed, but it definitely bears watching.

While the American Airlines pilot’s description of what he saw is very brief, it is plausible that the “long, cylindrical object” he saw was the same as these “Tic-Tac-shaped” vehicle that these other pilots have described. That said, more details are definitely needed, and there still may be a much more reasonable explanation for the incursion. Let the debate begin as to whether this is extra-terrestrial life, a military smokescreen, or a completely separate scientific phenomenon. Regardless, it is another fascinating event that’s added to the catalogue of the unexplained, and another potential piece of the UFO puzzle that might be closer to being solved soon.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Afghan special forces free 61 from Taliban captivity

Afghan special forces have freed 61 captives held by the Taliban in an operation in the southern province of Helmand, the military says.

Jawid Saleem, a spokesman for the elite commando units, said the operation was conducted late on Aug. 2, 2018, in the Kajaki district in Helmand, a stronghold of the Taliban.

Saleem said at least two Taliban militants were killed during the rescue mission by Afghan special forces.


The Taliban did not immediately comment on the matter.

The prisoners were transferred to the provincial army headquarters, said Munib Amiri, an army commander.

Those held had been captured for a range of reasons, Saleem said, from cooperating with Afghan security forces to belonging to the local police force.

Unidentified flying object buzzes American Airlines flight

According to Saleem, the prisoners were held in poor conditions, including a lack of proper food and health care. They were also tortured, Saleem added.

Hundreds of prisoners have been freed from Taliban prisons by Afghan security forces in Helmand Province in recent months.

On May 31, 2018, Afghan special forces freed 103 people held at two sites run by the Taliban in Kajaki district.

According to the latest report by the Special Inspector-General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, an independent U.S. federal auditor, the militants control nine of 14 districts in Helmand. Half of the population of the province lives in areas under Taliban control.

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

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

The US Navy is fighting a coronavirus outbreak on the hospital ship USNS Mercy

The Navy is working to defeat a novel coronavirus outbreak among personnel serving aboard a hospital ship on the West Coast, the service told Insider on Tuesday, confirming earlier reporting by The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Seven members of the medical staff aboard the USNS Mercy, currently pier-side at the Port of Los Angeles, have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.


Unidentified flying object buzzes American Airlines flight

USNS Mercy departing San Diego Bay, its home port, in 2008.

Wikimedia Commons

All infected personnel have been taken off the ship, as have individuals believed to have come in close contact with them. In addition to the seven who definitely have the coronavirus, another 112 personnel were quarantined ashore as a cautionary measure.

A spokesperson for the Navy’s Third Fleet said that the outbreak has not affected the ship’s operations.

The Navy explained to Insider that the ship is taking precautions to protect the health and safety of the crew, adding that the ship, like hospitals ashore, has infection control procedures.

The Navy’s massive hospital ships, USNS Comfort and USNS Mercy, were deployed to New York City and Los Angeles to relieve the pressure on local hospitals overwhelmed by the coronavirus.

The USNS Mercy left San Diego on March 23 and arrived in Los Angeles a few days later. The USNS Comfort was rushed out of maintenance and sent quickly to New York City on March 28.

Since they arrived at their respective destinations, the two ships have consistently operated under capacity.

The USNS Mercy is presently treating 20 non-coronavirus patients, including one ICU patient. The USNS Comfort, which was retasked to treat both people with the coronavirus and those with other ailments, is currently treating 70 patients, including 34 people who are in intensive care, the Pentagon told Insider.

In total, the USNS Comfort has treated 120 people, 50 of whom have been discharged. About half of the patients treated had the coronavirus.

The USNS Comfort has had four members of its crew test positive for the coronavirus. Three have fully recovered and returned to work, and one is in quarantine.

Unidentified flying object buzzes American Airlines flight

USNS Comfort.

Defense Department

The Navy says there has been no impact to the USNS Comfort’s mission.

“The Comfort was set up to provide assistance and care for patients, and that is exactly what we are doing,” a service spokeswoman said in a statement.

In addition to small outbreaks aboard the Navy’s hospital ships, the service is battling outbreaks aboard other ships, the most serious on the deployed aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, which has nearly 600 coronavirus cases. Several sailors have reportedly been hospitalized, and one sailor aboard the carrier died of related complications.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Aardvark was a nuclear-capable supersonic beast

In a day and age where the United States Air Force has a grand total of 76 B-52H Stratofortress, 62 B-1B Lancer, and 20 B-2A Spirit bombers in service, it’s fair to say the United States’ bomber force is quite potent. That said, there aren’t as many in service as there once were.

One plane that once supplemented the bomber force quite well was the F-111 Aardvark. This was a fast, all-weather strike plane that was originally designed to serve both the Air Force and Navy, much like today’s Joint Strike Fighter. While the Navy version didn’t pan out, the Aardvark, after some teething problems, emerged as a reliable strike asset by 1972.


The F-111 could deliver payload. According to Christopher Chant’s Encyclopaedia of Modern Aircraft Armament, the Aardvark could haul as many as 36 Mk 82 500-pound dumb bombs. By comparison, the B-52 can haul 51 of those same bombs. So, in terms of load, each Aardvark accounted for 70.5 percent of a legendary BUFF.

Unidentified flying object buzzes American Airlines flight

This F-111 has Durandal runway-cratering bombs loaded. As you can see, it carries a lot.

(USAF)

As aviation historian Joe Baugher noted, during the F-111A’s deployment to Vietnam as part of Operation Linebacker II, each F-111 was capable of dropping the bomb load of five F-4 Phantoms. Not only could the F-111 deliver one hell of a payload, it could do so very accurately due to advanced radars.

Unidentified flying object buzzes American Airlines flight

This F-111F is being prepared for the April, 1986, strike on Libya.

(USAF)

Three newer models of the F-111 — the F-111D, F-111E, and F-111F — all entered service in the 1970s. None of these variants saw action in the Vietnam War, but saw plenty of action elsewhere. The F-111F played a key role in the April, 1986, strikes on Libya and both the F-111E and F-111F saw action in Desert Storm.

Unidentified flying object buzzes American Airlines flight

An F-111 drops two dozen Mk 82 500-pound bombs – about half the load a B-52 can carry.

(USAF)

An electronic warfare version of the F-111, the EF-111A, also played a key role in Desert Storm — one even scored a maneuver kill against an Iraqi Mirage F-1!

Today, the F-111 is retired, but would still make a formidable foe in the skies. Learn more about the potent Aardvark in the video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfBZm3jA2bk

www.youtube.com

MIGHTY MOVIES

Here’s how you can watch ‘GoldenEye’ with Pierce Brosnan on Sunday

While most of the things COVID-19 has brought us have been horrible, contagious, disappointing, frustrating, no good and almost overwhelmingly sad (just me? No?), one of the many silver linings has been the accessibility of entertainment. Movies like Trolls released straight to television, Ryan Seacrest hosted a family Disney sing-a-long (can you tell I have young children at home?) and museums and theaters all over the world are opening their doors for virtual shows, tours and the like.

And now (well, Sunday, April 19), you can watch one of our favorite Bond movies, GoldenEye, with none other than Bond. James Bond. (Fine, Pierce Brosnan, the fourth actor to star as 007).


Unidentified flying object buzzes American Airlines flight

Whether or not he’s your favorite Bond, you can’t say no to that face.

Wikimedia Commons

Put on by Esquire UK, the GoldenEye watchalong will stream live on their Facebook, Twitter and YouTube feeds this Sunday 19th April at 7pm BST (2pm ET for American viewers.) According to Esquire UK:

The 66-year-old screen icon will be taking us all behind the scenes of the spy epic, discussing his time in the tuxedo and how it felt to take up the mantle, as well as interacting with his legions of fans – which, of course, is where you come in. We need you to supply us with all the unanswered questions that have been burning away inside your brain for 25 years. Send them over to us via our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages now for a chance to get them answered by the main man himself.

The idea is simple: press play on GoldenEye (rental options are listed below) at the same moment as Pierce, and listen along to his play-by-play analysis and commentary in real-time.

How to watch

YouTube

Amazon Prime

Google Play

Quarantine just got a whole lot better!

And now,

MIGHTY TRENDING

This new helicopter design looks like an ‘Avatar’ prop

The Army’s working hard to fulfill six big modernization efforts including a new utility helicopter to replace the UH-60. But now the Army has signaled it may need a new scout helicopter first, and a small design firm has a bold pitch for the program that looks like it’s been lifted out of a James Cameron movie but could be the future of Army aviation.


Unidentified flying object buzzes American Airlines flight

The design firm AVX has pitched to the military before, but you’re probably not familiar with their work. That’s because they don’t have a full aircraft to their credit or any big programs that everyone would recognize. But they’ve been quietly working to make military aviation better, winning maintenance contracts and bids to increase fuel efficiency.

And their work in the fuel efficiency space led them to propose a fairly radical redesign of the helicopter. Right now, the “traditional” helicopter design calls for one main rotor that generates lift and a tail, “anti-torque” rotor that keeps the bird pointed in the right direction. It’s the design at work on the Apache, the MH-6 Little Bird, the Lakota, and lots more.

But AVX wants to see more use of “coaxial” designs where the main rotor has two discs instead of one. They spin in opposite directions, stabilizing the helicopter without the need for a tail rotor. These coaxial designs are typically more efficient, and AVX wants to combine that with two ducted fans for propulsion, allowing for a helicopter that’s safer, faster, and more efficient.

AVX tried to get the Army to adopt these changes when it was looking to upgrade the OH-58 scout helicopter. The Army was looking to overhaul the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior, and AVX felt certain that giving it a coaxial rotor and two ducted fans would give the helicopter increased endurance, lift capability, cruise speed, time on station and range.

The Army ended up retiring the OH-58 instead of going through an overhaul, but that left it with no dedicated scout helicopter. Right now, the AH-64 Apache is switch hitting, serving as a scout helicopter and an attack helicopter. But Apaches are more expensive per flight hour, heavier, and require highly specialized pilots that the Army is already short on.

Getting a new scout helicopter would alleviate a few of these problems. But AVX isn’t as large or as experienced an aviation company as Bell, Boeing, Lockheed, or other companies that have produced rotary platforms for the Army. So AVX has partnered with L3 Technologies, another company experienced in supporting Army aviation.

And the aircraft these companies are pitching to the Army for the new scout helicopter? You guessed it: Coaxial rotor blade for lift and two ducted fans for propulsion. As an added bonus for efficiency, there are two stubby wings that will generate significant lift at high speeds.

It won’t have the ducted main rotors of the Aerospatiale SA-2 Samson from Avatar, but it’s easy to see how you get from AVX’s proposal for the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft to something like the SA-2.

Now, it’s far from certain that AVX will get selected by the Army. The Army wants to be buying and fielding the birds by 2024, an aggressive timetable that a small company will struggle to meet. And it wants to buy the aircraft for million apiece flyaway cost, meaning there won’t be a lot of room in the budget for inefficiencies and screwups. So, the Army may prefer a more experienced manufacturer.

But there are early elements of the design that signal a possible AVX advantage. First, despite all the tech required to make those coaxial blades and ducted fans work, the technologies are fairly proven and don’t add a whole lot to cost. Also, the program has ambitious requirements for speed, size of the aircraft, and agility, and the AVX design fits the bill if it makes it through selection and manufacturing process without any big compromises.

So the next helicopter looking over your shoulder in battle might just look like a science fiction aircraft, but don’t expect Michelle Rodriquez to be flying it. She’ll most likely be busy with Fast and the Furious 14.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russian military embarrassed as spies continue to blunder

Russia’s military leaders have reportedly called its intelligence service “deeply incompetent” after Western investigators accused its agents of being behind the nerve agent poisoning in England and an attempted hack into the global chemical weapons watchdog.

Western investigators found that agents of Russia’s military intelligence service — commonly known as the GRU — were behind the attempted assassination of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and an attempted hack into the global chemical weapons watchdog’s headquarters in 2018.

Both missions ultimately failed, and investigators pointed fingers at GRU agents — Russia’s leaders are reportedly not happy.


The country’s defense ministry held a secret meeting on Oct. 6, 2018, to discuss the recent reports of GRU blunders, and had some angry words to say, Russia’s MBK news site reported on Oct. 8, 2018, citing an unnamed source.

Unidentified flying object buzzes American Airlines flight

Photographs showing Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Borishov, two men accused of poisoning former spy Sergei Skripal.

(London Metropolitan Police)

The GRU was described in the meeting, MBK said, as “deeply incompetent,” “infinitely careless,” “morons,” and people that “would still wear the budenovka” — a phrase that means being outdated. The budenovka was a military hat worn in the late 1910s and early 1920s, shortly after the Russian tsar was deposed.

The defense leaders are also considering a “big sweep” at the GRU and ask some of its generals to leave, MBK said.

MBK was founded by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a prominent Kremlin critic.

Unidentified flying object buzzes American Airlines flight

Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal buying groceries in Salisbury, England, days before he was poisoned with military-grade nerve agent.

( ITV News)

in September 2018 the UK accused two Russian men of traveling to Salisbury, England, and poisoning Skripal and his daughter with military-grade nerve agent this March, and said they were GRU agents traveling under pseudonyms.

Putin, whose government has long denied having any knowledge of the attack, initially claimed that the two men’s names — identified at the time as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov — “mean nothing to us,” then said that they were civilians.

The two men also went on national Russian TV to say that they only visited England to visit a cathedral.

Investigative journalism site Bellingcat, however, has since identified Petrov as Dr. Alexander Mishkin, “a trained military doctor in the employ of the GRU,” and Boshirov as Col. Anatoliy Chepiga, a highly decorated officer with the GRU.

Unidentified flying object buzzes American Airlines flight

Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov told RT’s editor-in-chief they had nothing to do with the Skripals’ poisoning. Sept. 12, 2018.

In early October 2018, the Netherlands also accused four Russian GRU agents of trying to launch a cyberattack on the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the world’s chemical weapons watchdog. The OPCW was, at the time, investigating the nerve agent attack on Skripal and a reported chemical attack in Douma, Syria, where Russian jets have bombed.

The men — two tech experts and two support agents — were caught red-handed and attempted to destroy some of the equipment to conceal their actions, Dutch authorities said.

The Netherlands then determined that they were agents of the GRU after finding that one of their phones was activated near the GRU building in Moscow, and discovering a receipt for a taxi journey from a street near the GRU to the Moscow airport, the BBC reported.

Mark Urban, a British journalist who recently wrote a book about Skripal, wrote in The Times on Oct. 9, 2018: “It would be surprising if this series of compromised operations did not trigger some realignment in Moscow, a further round of struggle between the spy bosses.

“The mockery of the GRU for its recent upsets, both globally and on Russian social media, must have rankled. Whatever the intentions of the Salisbury operation, they cannot have included opening decorated heroes of the agency up for ridicule,” Urban added, referring to Chepiga and Mishkin.

Putin’s popularity at home also hit a record low this year when he broke a 13-year-old promise not to hike the country’s national retirement age, which could mean that many Russians will miss out on a pension altogether.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This Orca is the Navy’s new extra large underwater drone

The orca, also called the killer whale, is a large deadly marine mammal that hunts for prey. Whales can hold their breath underwater for over an hour – and since killer whales can swim as fast as 30 knots, they can go a long way in a stealthy fashion before they turn up somewhere, catching their prey by surprise.

In one sense, it is appropriate to name the Navy’s plan for a new long-range extra-large unmanned underwater vehicle (XLUUV) after the orca. After all, it is intended to stay underwater for a long period of time and cover a fair bit of distance.


However, information obtained at the 2018 SeaAirSpace expo at National Harbor, Maryland indicates that this Orca is more like a utility player on a major-league baseball team’s bench than a cold-blooded killer.

Unidentified flying object buzzes American Airlines flight

The Marlin unmanned underwater vehicle is ten feet long, has 18 hours of endurance, and can go at a top speed of four knots.

(Photo by Lockheed)

The Orca is intended to handle a variety of “multiple critical missions,” while leveraging existing technology. It will provide range and persistence, while operating autonomously. Lockheed’s website notes that among the missions it could carry out are intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (in essence, acting as a scout in areas a full-sized submarine cannot go, and which you don’t care if it doesn’t come back), mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare training (when you don’t have a sub around), and “indication and warning notification” (in essence, acting as an underwater picket that you don’t care about not picking up).

The Orca will also be a modular system, so that future missions can be added to the platform. This means we will likely see the system around for a long time. The impression shows that it bears a strong resemblance to a Mk 48 torpedo. This would allow it to be launched from the torpedo tubes of American subs.

Unidentified flying object buzzes American Airlines flight

Orca could fill the gap caused by the early retirement of some Los Angeles-class submarines like USS Baltimore (SSN 704).

(U.S. Navy photo)

The Navy considers Orca to be a “Joint Emerging Operational Need.” It’s not hard to understand why. Thirty years ago, the Navy had 100 attack submarines. In September 2016, that number had fallen to 52. Many subs that were considered top of the line in the 1980s, like early Los Angeles-class attack subs, were retired instead of being re-fitted.

Thus, the Orca may help fill the gap to an extent. But maybe it would be better to get more subs, as well.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The F-35 can now act as the eyes of the fleet

The F-35 Lightning II, designed to be a stealthy sensor platform that can fly and fight nearly anywhere in the world, can now feed its targeting data back to Navy ships, allowing the task force to engage dozens of targets without the F-35 having to fire its own weapons and break stealth.


Unidentified flying object buzzes American Airlines flight

A Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II takes off from the HMS Queen Elizabeth on October 9, 2018, with inert GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bombs.

The change comes thanks to an upgrade on the ship side, not on the Lightning II. Basically, the Navy has a communications system known as the Ship Self Defense System. SSDS is typically built into carrier strike groups and the larger amphibious ships, like Landing Helicopter Assault and Landing Helicopter Dock ships.

So, basically anything that an F-35 can take off from. But now, the SSDS on the USS Wasp can accept communications from the F-35’s Link 16 Digital Air Control. This allows the F-35 to directly feed its sensor data into the fleet’s communications.

The most important application of this capability is that commanders can now see what the Lightning II sees and order surface ships to engage targets with missiles, other aircraft, or even naval artillery if it’s in range.

Unidentified flying object buzzes American Airlines flight

The amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) steams through the Mediterranean Sea.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Ryan G. Coleman)

This will be a huge boost for the F-35 in a war. F-35s and F-22 Raptors can’t carry many missiles and bombs while remaining stealthy, and firing their weapons can give away their positions.

Additionally, the fleet has many more missiles than the planes can carry — and that can be key during a complex fight. If Marines are landing ashore, they don’t want to hear that their air support is running low on missiles. They want to hear that there’s an endless rain of effects coming their way, and that all of them are going to be digitally targeted against the most dangerous threats.

While the digital communications upgrade is currently only placed on the USS Wasp, the rest of the carrier and LHA/LHD groups will receive it in the near future.

Unidentified flying object buzzes American Airlines flight

U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Michael Lippert, test pilot with the F-35 Pax River Integrated Test Force, continues First of Class Flight Trials (Fixed Wing) developmental test flights aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth on Sept. 30, 2018.

(U.S. Navy photo by Dane Wiedmann)

In addition to passing targeting data, the F-35 sends back its status information, like fuel and weapon inventories, while receiving information from the mission commander, like assignment information.

The F-35 has been America’s single-most expensive weapons system in history, but senior generals have insisted for years that the troubled program would be worth it when it came to fruition. As setbacks, costs, and technological failures mounted, it seemed like the platform would never live up to its hype. And that would’ve been a huge deal since the plane is expected to fly until 2070 and to cost id=”listicle-2616611399″.5 trillion over the program’s lifetime.

But the Thunderbolt II has matured in the last few years, and breakthroughs like this one will continue to improve the F-35’s public image.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Soldiers weigh in on new Army virtual marksmanship trainer

Soldiers from 10th Mountain Division were some of the first outside of training units to test the Squad Advanced Marksmanship-Trainer system March 20-21, 2019.

Beginning with weapons familiarization on the M4 carbine, M249 light machine gun and M9 Beretta pistol simulated weapon systems, soldiers from the 548th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion commented on the differences between SAM-T and other training systems.


“It was a lot different from what I was expecting,” said Pfc. Sean Jacobs. “I thought it was going to be an expanded EST [Engagement Skills Trainer], but it turned out to be something entirely different. This new program delves into more squad tactics and is not a static engagement.”

Unidentified flying object buzzes American Airlines flight

Soldiers from 10th Mountain Division were some of the first outside of training units to test the Squad Advanced Marksmanship-Trainer system March 20-21, 2019.

(Photo by Sgt. Phillip Tross)

While conducting squad movements, soldiers could maneuver through physical obstacles while reacting to an on-screen virtual simulation.

“We weren’t tethered to anything like we are at an EST, so we could move freely when doing squad-level drills with a wall-sized screen,” said Sgt. Micah Yaklich. “The weapons, and even the magazines, had the same weight and feel of our regular systems.”

Unidentified flying object buzzes American Airlines flight

Soldiers from 10th Mountain Division were some of the first outside of training units to test the Squad Advanced Marksmanship-Trainer system March 20-21, 2019.

(Photo by Sgt. Phillip Tross)

Using the system’s ability to simulate different training scenarios, such as room-clearing, the squads that participated were able to react to the on-screen avatars controlled by a system-operator nearby.

Unidentified flying object buzzes American Airlines flight

Soldiers from 10th Mountain Division were some of the first outside of training units to test the Squad Advanced Marksmanship-Trainer system March 20-21, 2019.

(Photo by Sgt. Phillip Tross)

“In a five man team, you have different scenarios and on-screen characters that interact with you, such as civilians and enemy who respond differently though the training,” said Pfc. Jacobs.

At the end of the training, the soldiers shared their thoughts on the SAM-T system.

“I think everyone needs to go through it … infantrymen, truck drivers, cooks, everyone, because at the end of the day you’re a rifleman first,” said Pfc. Blake Smith.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Marine Corps faces tough fight to protect desert tortoise

Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow is an installation focused on refurbishing gear, not training troops for war. Nonetheless, it’s now the site of a pitched and bloody ongoing battle between species, officials say.

The environmental division at the California base is bringing the Marine Corps brand of ingenuity to bear in its fight to protect the desert tortoise, a federally listed endangered species native to the Mojave Desert, from the raven, a natural predator protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

While ravens historically haven’t found much appeal in the region, that changed with the construction of Interstates 15 and 40, which were both built around the 1950s and intersect in Barstow.


“Here in the Mojave Desert, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service noticed that as the desert tortoises were declining — less and less juvenile tortoises were being observed during surveys — there is a direct correlation to an increase in raven population,” Cody Leslie, the logistics base’s natural resource specialist, said in a released statement. “When I say ‘direct correlation,’ I mean that, as the tortoises are decreasing in population, the ravens have increased by as much as 1,500 percent. That’s a huge increase.”

Unidentified flying object buzzes American Airlines flight

The desert tortoise, which is listed as vulnerable, can live to be 100. When it was added to the federal register of endangered species in 1990, there were an estimated 100,000 tortoises. But, according to a study published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, an assessment of populations at six recovery units in 2014 estimated a population of under 86,000.

It’s been years since Leslie has encountered a juvenile or hatchling tortoise, according to a base news release.

While ravens are known to go after juvenile tortoises, whose shells stay soft for up to the first decade of the animal’s life, conservationists were troubled to discover that the birds will even attack adult reptiles, flipping them and pecking at vulnerable shell access points. A recent experiment by the Superior-Cronese Critical Habitat Unit using dummy tortoises found 43 percent of the dummies were attacked by ravens, according to the release.

“It’s pretty gruesome,” Leslie said in a statement.

Since officials can’t kill the protected ravens, they’ve had to get creative. And like the larger Marine Corps, they’ve found drones to be a force multiplier. The Barstow environmental division has undertaken an effort it calls “Egg Oiling,” according to the release. They send drones out to coat eggs found in raven nests with a silica-based oil, which essentially smothers the young inside the shell, keeping out oxygen needed for development.

Unidentified flying object buzzes American Airlines flight

Hatching baby desert tortoise.

(Photo by K. Kristina Drake)

“The ravens continue to sit on the eggs for the entire breeding season and do not continue to rebreed,” the release states.

In addition to the drone-aided egg oiling, conservationists are asking base employees and other residents to make sure their trash is disposed of in closed containers and that no food, including pet food, is left accessible to the birds.

Leslie also asked locals to report raven nests and bird activity to the Environmental Division and not to leave any water sources out in the open.

The desert tortoise, which also faces non-raven threats such as viral herpes and Upper Respiratory Tract Disease, has long presented a training challenge for Marines, who also occupy tortoise territory at Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms in the Mojave. Marine officials have relocated gear and altered training plans in order to avoid disturbing the creatures.

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

Humor

5 Army instructions that are broken down way too stupidly

Sometimes you just got to break it down, “Barney-style,” for some soldiers. You know, instruct them in such an easy-to-follow manner that even a kid watching Barney could understand.


As much as we’d all like to pretend that no one in our unit got into the Army through an ASVAB waiver, the fact remains: There’re friggin’ idiots everywhere who need to be told exactly what to do. There are so many simple instructions in the Army, designed so that even our crayon-eating Marine brothers could easily follow them.

Related: 6 reasons soldiers hate on the Marines

These are our favorite, dumbed-down directions.

5. Claymore Mine

Need to set up a Claymore anti-personnel mine, but you’re not quite sure which direction it’s supposed to be pointed? Just remember: front toward enemy.

Mess that up and everyone who’s left in your unit will f*cking hate you.

Unidentified flying object buzzes American Airlines flight
At least it lets the as***le Prius driver behind you know to stop tailgating. (Image via Reddit)

4. Army Combatives

If you’ve never had the opportunity to glance through the old-school Army Combatives Manual, you’re missing out.

You’re skipping out on learning lovely, advanced techniques, like how to uppercut someone, how to palm-strike someone in the chin, and, of course…

Unidentified flying object buzzes American Airlines flight
…the swift kick to the nuts: the great equalizer. (Image via Army)

3. MRE

The much-joked-about, flameless heater in the MRE seems simple enough. Put in water, fold the ends, and lean against a “rock or something.”

It actually was meant as a joke when the designer said, “I don’t know. Let’s make it a rock or something.”

Unidentified flying object buzzes American Airlines flight
Instructions unclear; got troops stuck in 15-year war. (Image by WATM)

2. AT-4

Pretend you’ve never touched a rocket launcher before. How would you hold it?

Thankfully, the instructions include a tiny drawing and the words, “fire like this.”

Unidentified flying object buzzes American Airlines flight
How else would you be able to fire it? (Image via IMFDB)

1. Army Combat Boots

It’s so simple. It’s written in black and white. Our boots are not authorized for flight or combat use.

Come on, guys. What kind of idiot would void the warranty like that? Oh…

Unidentified flying object buzzes American Airlines flight
Apparently, this is just so they don’t need to replace our boots. Thanks, Army. (Image via Reddit)

MIGHTY TRENDING

YouTube videos tracking Notre Dame cathedral fire mistakingly show 9/11 details

A YouTube feature designed to stop the spread of misinformation became a major source of confusion on April 15. Multiple YouTube viewers tracking the devastating fire at the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris reported that live streams and news videos were displaying an information panel related to the September 11 terror attacks in the United States.

YouTube’s algorithm automatically determines when a subject is trending news and attaches an information panel automatically. The information panel feature is available only in the US and South Korea, and it is meant to provide news from verified sources and counter videos that share conspiracy theories and false narratives.

There have been no reports of the Notre-Dame Cathedral fire being a terrorist attack, so it’s unclear why YouTube would link the two events.


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

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