Here's the real history of the ninja - We Are The Mighty
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Here’s the real history of the ninja

Shinobi, or the Japanese covert agency of ninjas has spawned lots of pop culture references and offshoots, but what’s the real story? Watch this episode of WATM’s “Elite Forces” and find out.

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This is how US ships defeat missiles without firing a shot

When the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) came under attack multiple times in October 2016, the ship was able in at least one instance to use its defenses to shoot down the incoming Noor anti-ship missiles.


But there are times when a ship can’t shoot down the missiles – and thankfully, U.S. Navy vessels have plenty of options.

There are a number of reasons why a U.S. Navy ship may not be able to fire. In some cases, it may be due to restrictive rules of engagement. Other times, the inability to shoot may be due to battle damage. Perhaps there’s concern about what a miss might do.

In those cases, the Navy relies on decoying an inbound missile in one of several ways.

 

Here’s the real history of the ninja
The guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) steams through the Atlantic Ocean. Mason is participating in Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) 08-4 as part of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Katrina Parker /Released)

One option is via electronic countermeasures, or “ECM.” Specifically, the goal is to interfere with the guidance systems on the missiles by confusing or blocking the seekers on radar-guided ones.

The confusion angle is very simple. An ECM system like the AN/SLQ-32 would create false targets. This gets the missile to hopefully chase into empty ocean. Another method is to reduce the seeker’s effective range with jamming. This would allow the ship to get outside the seeker’s ability to acquire a target — again sending the missile off on a merry chase to nowhere.

Here’s the real history of the ninja
An antenna for the AN/SLQ-32 system on board USS Nicholson (DD 982). (US Navy photo)

However, missile makers are wise to the countermeasures and haven’t stood still. The field of electronic counter-countermeasures exists to help make seekers both more powerful and more intelligent, enabling them to beat the ECM. Thankfully, there is another option.

Most U.S. Navy ships also have launchers for chaff. Like the deception portion of ECM, it creates a false target for a missile seeker. Unlike the deception portion of ECM, since it is actually physically metal, it creates a real “target” for the seeker to home in on.

Furthermore, firing a bunch of the rockets makes a bigger “target” – which the incoming missile will hopefully go for.

You can see a Burke-class destroyer launch a chaff rocket in the video below.

These are known as “soft” kills. The enemy missile is negated, but it is misdirected as opposed to being shot down. “Soft” kills do have a potential to go bad, though.

During the Argentinean air attacks on the Royal Navy on May 25, 1982, a Royal Navy frigate, HMS Ambuscade, fired off chaff to decoy incoming Exocet anti-ship missiles. The missiles flew through the chaff cloud and locked on to the Atlantic Conveyor, a merchant vessel carrying supplies for the British forces. Two missiles hit the vessel, which sank three days after being hit.


Feature image: screen capture from YouTube.

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Watch Marine rocket artillery send Taliban dope up in smoke

While the fall of the “caliphate,” as proclaimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, marked one ending in the Middle East, the fight against the Taliban continues. Between President Trump’s recently announced strategy and the MOAB making its combat debut, it’s clear that the gloves are coming off. But now, the Taliban are taking hits to their wallet.


ISIS used oil to raise money — the places they’d based out of (Iraq and Syria) were rich in the black liquid. However, Afghanistan, the base of operations for the Taliban, doesn’t have a drop. So, the Taliban turned to another means to generate income. After all, radical Islamic groups who harbor terrorists still need to make payroll every month.

Here’s the real history of the ninja
A field filled with opium poppy plants can be seen April 11, 2012, in Marjah, Afghanistan. Heroin is derived from raw opium gum, which comes from opium poppies. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt Michael P. Snody)

To pay their fighters, the Taliban have turned to drug production. Specifically, they’re making heroin. A September 2017 article from the Quad City Times notes that two kilograms of black tar heroin seized in a bust was worth $600,000. While the Taliban likely doesn’t pocket 300 grand per kilo, the lower amount they do receive likely goes a long way in funding their operations.

Part of the strategy to weaken the Taliban has been to cut off their income. With Secretary of Defense James Mattis loosening rules of engagement, American troops now have a much freer hand when it comes to using artillery and air strikes. As a result, the Taliban’s drug labs have become fair game.

Here’s the real history of the ninja
Crews from the 4th Battalion of the 133rd Field Artillery Regiment (HIMARS), attached to the 71st Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade, 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard hosted a Family Day on Saturday, June 25, at Fort Hood, Texas. (U.S. Army Photo by Maj. Randall Stillinger, 36th Infantry Division Public Affairs)

The video below shows how such strikes are being carried out in Afghanistan. A M142 HIMARS is used to send the Taliban’s drugs up in smoke. The HIMARS fired five of the six rockets it can carry. Based on the impacts, unitary warhead versions of the rockets were used in this particular strike. The Taliban will have to figure out if their fighters will accept smoke signals as payment.

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‘Earning the Tab – Pt. 1’ – Lisa gets ready to go to Ranger School

Over the last twelve months the Pentagon has taken bold steps to establish what they’ve called a “gender neutral” military, and on April 19, 2015, for the first time in history, 19 women began Ranger School.


Maj. Lisa Jaster, U.S. Army Reserve, was one of them.

In Part I of the “Earning a Tab” series, created by Army vet Rebecca Murga, Lisa describes her life, including her intense daily workout routine and how she balances child care and her job with Shell Oil with her desire to make it through the grueling 61-day Ranger School, among the U.S. military’s most demanding courses as evidenced by a historical failure rate of nearly 60 percent.

She quotes her 6 year-old son, whose support for his mother’s goal is at once heartbreaking and motivating:  “I’m already proud of you, mommy,” he said.  “You don’t have to do this.”

“In my mind the stress is off,” her husband Allan, a Marine Corps reservist, says. “She’s already done awesome things for her country, the Army in general, and for women.”

On the eve of her departure she recalls how people she hasn’t heard from for years have wished her well.

She recounts one in particular, obviously moved by the sentiment: “A very old friend sent me his Ranger tab along with a note that read, ‘I thought my daughter would be the first female Ranger, but I hope it’s you.'”

Look for Part 2 of “Earning the Tab” at WATM next week.

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This is what happened when Japan gave the F-16 steroids

When Japan was looking to replace aging F-1 fighters (dedicated anti-ship aircraft), they were thinking about an indigenous design. The F-1, based on the T-2 trainer, had done well, but it was outdated.


According to aviation historian Joe Baugher, the Japanese eventually decided to go with a modified version of the F-16C/D, giving Lockheed Martin a piece of the action.

However, Japan didn’t go with a typical F-16. They decided to give it some upgrades, and as a result, their replacement for the F-1 would emerge larger than an F-16, particularly when it came to the wings – gaining two more hardpoints than the Viper.

This allowed it to carry up to four anti-ship missiles — enough to ruin a warship’s entire day.

Here’s the real history of the ninja
A Mitsubishi F-2A taxis during a 2009 exercise. Note the dumb bombs. (U.S. Air Force photo)

It was also equipped from the get-go to carry radar-guided missiles like the AIM-7 Sparrow and Japan’s AAM-4. MilitaryFactory.com notes that the F-2 was delayed by issues with the wings, and eventually sticker shock hit the program when the initial versions had a price tag of $100 million each.

In the 1990s, that was enough to truncate production at 98 total airframes, instead of the planned 140.

AirForce-Technology.com reported that F-2s deployed to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam for joint exercises in 2007. In 2011, 18 of the planes suffered damage, but most were returned to service. In 2013, the F-2s saw “action” when Russian planes flew near Japanese airspace.

Here’s the real history of the ninja
A comparison of the F-2 (in light blue) and the F-16 (in orange). (Wikimedia Commons)

For its long development and its truncated production, the F-2 has proved to be very capable. It has a top speed of 1,553 miles per hour and it carries over 17,800 pounds of ordnance.

By comparison, an Air Force fact sheet notes that the F-16 has a top speed of 1,500 miles per hour, and MilitaryFactory.com credits it with the ability to carry up to 17,000 pounds of ordnance.

In essence, the F-2 paid a visit to BALCO, and got some good steroids, going a little faster and carrying a bit more than your normal F-16. Japan has also improved the plane’s radar.

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Watch airmen change a tire on the world’s most advanced fighter

Believe it or not, your car and a fifth-generation fighter jet have some of the same maintenance needs. Surprised? What could your Ford, Toyota, or Dodge need that a Lockheed F-35 Lightning II needs done as well?


The answer: tire changes. When we think about the fighters, cargo planes, tankers, and bombers that take to the skies, it’s pretty easy to forget the importance of something as basic as a tire. The fact is, the state of tires has been important in the aviation world for a long time. In World War II and the early days of the Cold War, B-29 pilots needed a tire gauge, among other things, to make sure their bombers were ready for takeoff.

Here’s the real history of the ninja
The pilot is on the right. (YouTube Screenshot)

It’s not that much of a surprise when you think about it. Yes, the planes are designed to fly, but they also need to take off and land. The tires on an airplane serve the same purpose that tires do on a car: They provide traction on runways (or roads, as the case may be). If the tires are not well-maintained in either case, the vehicle’s more likely to get wrecked.

Changing a flat or worn-down tire on the F-35 is a lot like changing it on a car. You need to jack the plane up (granted, the jack for the Lightning has to have a much greater lifting capacity than one for a Buick), remove the old tire, and put on the new one. Of course, there’s always the need to check that the tire pressure is just right — not too low, not too high. Incidentally, the F-35’s tires, at least in the video below, are from Michelin.

Here’s the real history of the ninja
Four U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II’s from the 34th Fighter Squadron, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, taxi down the runway at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Dec. 3, 2017, during exercise VIGILANT ACE 18. Their tires, by the way, are made by Michelin. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Joshua Rosales)

Learn how the F-35’s tires get changed in the video below. Stick around until the end, so you can see the F-35 take to the skies at full afterburner after the maintenance is done.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QiS39Lul4-Q
(Ultimate Military Channel | YouTube)
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This Army vet directed an Oscar-nominated short film based on his war experience

Hank Hughes is the first Post-9/11 veteran to be nominated for an Oscar.


Hughes sat down with WATM’s Blake Stilwell and discussed the inspiration behind the film and what he hopes to achieve with it.

‘Day One’ is inspired by a Hughes’ experiences in Afghanistan. The film depicts a new translator’s first day accompanying a U.S. Army unit on patrol. As she quickly discovers, her job will bring up brutal complexities as gender and religious barriers emerge with lives hanging in the balance.

 

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Taco Rice is what happens when Japanese and American tastes collide

Spoiler alert; it’s delicious!:


Here’s the real history of the ninja
American-style taco – shell + sushi rice = a dish to heal the wounds of WWII. (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

Kon’nichiwa, TACO RICE.

Meals Ready To Eat explored the advent of one of Japan’s most popular street foods when host August Dannehl traveled to Okinawa in search of taco rice, a true food fusion OG.

If you were to suggest that spiced taco meat dressed in shredded lettuce, cheese, and tomato, would seem a bastard topping to foist upon sushi rice, Japan’s most sacred and traditional foodstuff, well, in Okinawa at least, you’d find yourself on the receiving end of a lesson in local history.

Here’s the real history of the ninja
Distinguished inventor of taco rice, Matsuzu Gibo, c. 1983. (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

Taco Rice is the result of two post-WWII cultures: that of the Japanese and the American troops stationed in Okinawa, finding a way to transcend their differences through the combination of comforting foods.

An influx of American delicacies, most notably Spam, flooded the island following the cessation of hostilities and led to a heyday of culinary cross-pollination. Spam is still featured in many now-traditional Okinawan dishes, but taco rice is, for modern Okinawans and American military personnel, the belle of the mash-up Ball.

Watch more Meals Ready To Eat:

These military chefs will make you want to re-enlist

This veteran farmer will make you celebrate your meat

This is why soldiers belong in the kitchen

What happens when a firefighter’s secret identity is revealed

This Galley Girl will make you want to join the Coast Guard

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This is what a modern torpedo does to a ship

If you have seen films from “Operation Pacific” to “Run Silent, Run Deep,” the portrayals of torpedo attacks have often involved a spread of torpedoes, hoping to get at least one hit to cripple an enemy vessel allowing the sub to close in and finish it off.


Here’s the real history of the ninja
Technicians perform maintenance on a Mark 48 advanced capabilities torpedo at Keyport, Washington in 1982. (U.S. Navy photo)

For American submariners, though, their Mark 14 torpedoes were one technical failure after another.

First, they ran too deep. Then there was that magnetic exploder (which premature all too often), and then, the firing pins were a hot mess.

The problems got fixed…in September, 1943. To paraphrase what John Wayne’s Duke Gifford said in Operation Pacific, “Now, we had torpedoes.”

Here’s the real history of the ninja
A torpedo hits a Mk 48 ADCAP during a SINKEX. (Youtube screenshot)

Today, our subs use the Mark 48. Unlike the Mark 14, the Mark 48 is a guided torpedo that can adjust its course to pursue a target using active and passive sonar.

The Mark 48 has reinstated that magnetic exploder in a “proximity fuse” approach (yeah, we’ll see how it does outside a test range), and it is also very capable of handling submarines and surface ships.

Here’s the real history of the ninja
This is what the torpedo did to the bow of the Perry-class frigate. (Youtube screenshot)

With a top speed of at least 55 knots, the Mark 48 can catch just about any vessel if fired from a close enough range.

So, what can the torpedo do? Watch the video below to find out. The target, in this case, is an Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate – a 4,200 ton warship. By comparison, a Yugumo-class destroyer, a typical Japanese destroyer of the World War II era, displaced about 2,500 tons.

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Audie Murphy is one of the most decorated war heroes of World War II

Despite his small size, Audie Murphy proved to be a phenomenal soldier. In 1944, after witnessing the death of a friend during Operation Dragoon, he charged a group of German soldiers, took over their machine guns and other weapons, and proceeded to take out the other enemy soldiers within range using captured artillery.


He was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross for his actions that day, the first of many medals.

Audie Murphy rose through the ranks and was a captain when he was pulled out of the war in 1945. All in all, he earned 33 awards and decorations for his exemplary service during World War II. He was just 20 years old at the time and, as one movie critic later put it, knew more of death than he did of life.

You can read more about World War II hero Audie Murphy here.

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