See how Air Force PJs keep their skills sharp - We Are The Mighty
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See how Air Force PJs keep their skills sharp

Air Force Pararescuemen are one of the elite units. They have to be, given that they have one very important — and dangerous — mission: to retrieve downed aircrews, even if they’re behind enemy lines. One good cinematic portrayal of these heroes was by Ty Burrell (best known as Phil Dunfy on Modern Family), who portrayed Tim Wilkinson in Black Hawk Down.


See how Air Force PJs keep their skills sharp
Ty Burrell playing Air Force PJ Tim Wilkinson. (Screenshot from Columbia Pictures Black Hawk Down)

Pararescue has its origins in World War II and became vitally important once the U.S. launched a strategic bombing campaign. During the Korean War, pararescue used early helicopters to evacuate over 8,000 critically wounded casualties and to save over 1,000 personnel from behind enemy lines. They became a legend in the Vietnam War with the Jolly Green Giants, and today, they are often called on to rescue those wounded in combat.

See how Air Force PJs keep their skills sharp
A U.S. Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawk leaves Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., to provide security during a training scenario at Angel Thunder 18-1 in Southern Arizona on Nov. 15, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

When the Pararescuemen are deployed, they bring a lot of skills to the table, but how do they stay ready when they’re not deployed? According to an Air Force release, Air Force Pararescuemen team up with the Army, Navy, and Marines, along with personnel and equipment from Italy, Poland, Canada, and France to put on specialized exercises, like Angel Thunder.

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A Eurocopter EC-725 picks up Angel Thunder Exercise personnel in Southern Arizona on Nov. 7, 2017.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

“We want to create scenarios where these different Department of Defense entities have to come together to solve a problem,” said Lt. Col. Robert Rosebrough, 414th Combat Training Squadron Detachment 1 director of operations. Overseeing this exercise are people from the legendary training exercise known as Red Flag.

To wtach PJs keep their skills sharp, check out the video below. Not only will you see V-22 Ospreys operating in this exercise, but you’ll also catch a French chopper from the Armée de l’Air Française taking part as well.

 

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Some World War I battlefields are still uninhabitable

It’s been 100 years since World War I. And while many of the battlefields still bear the scars of war, some are so dangerous, they remain uninhabitable.


Over 60 million artillery shells, many containing poisonous gas, created such carnage on the battlefields that the land is horribly scarred and risks detonation even today.

Read more about these uninhabitable World War I battlefields here.

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This airman saved 23 wounded troops during an insider attack

American and Afghan forces were briefing each other at a forward operating base on March 11, 2013, about that day’s mission when machine gun rounds suddenly rained down on them.


The group immediately looked to see where the shots were coming from. The lone airman in the group, then-Tech. Sgt. Delorean Sheridan, identified the source of the shots, which turned out to be coming from a truck in the base’s motor pool.

The shooter was a new member of the Afghan National Police who had slipped unnoticed to the bed of the truck and taken control of its machine gun.

It was a so-called “green-on-blue attack” — when supposed allies attack friendly forces. Meanwhile, insurgents from outside the base joined what was clearly a coordinated attack, sending more rounds into the grouped-up men. Bullet fragments even struck Sheridan’s body armor.

Sheridan decided that Afghan National Police officer or not, anyone who fired on him from within hand grenade range was conducting a near ambush and it was time to respond with force. He sprinted 25 feet to the truck and fired at his attacker up close and personal.

Read more about Technical Sergeant Delorean Sheridan’s efforts that day in Afghanistan here.

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6 military developments from WW1 that made warfare more deadly

Sometimes the span of years can be summed up in one quote.


“One really clear way of understanding the shift in World War I in terms of technology is that soldiers rode in on horses and they left in airplanes,” military historian Dr. Libby H. O’Connell told the History Channel.

The fact is, World War I wasn’t just about turning out the instruments of death rapidly but instead, new death dealing technology evolved from the slogging stalemate of the trenches. Some of the technologies that helped end the war didn’t even exist when it started in 1914.

Here are some of the most notable developments.

1. Aircraft

In the early part of World War I, bombing attacks were carried out by dropping mortar rounds from planes. There were various ingenious methods being used to mount machine guns so they wouldn’t shoot off a propeller.

By the end of that war, though, the interrupter gear had been perfected, making the fighter a dominant part of aviation. From the ad hoc arrangement of dropping mortar rounds, large, multi-engine bombers delivered massive payloads on target. The aircraft was a proven weapon of war by the end of World War I.

See how Air Force PJs keep their skills sharp
SPAD XIII at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

2. Submarines

Viable submarine technology was in its infancy in World War I. The basics of the diesel-electric boat were worked out, though, and in 1914, an obsolete submarine, the U-9, sent a message by sinking three British armored cruisers in about an hour. That submarine displaced about 600 tons, had four torpedo tubes and eight torpedoes. By the end of the war, German submarines displaced 1,000 tons, had six torpedo tubes and 16 torpedoes.

See how Air Force PJs keep their skills sharp
German U-boats in Kiel. U-20, which sank the Lusitania, is second from the left in the front row. (Library of Congress photo)

3. The machine gun

Hand-cranked Gatling guns had emerged during the American Civil War, but they were still very clumsy affairs. It was Hiram Maxim, though, who came up with the design that would turn the battlefields of World War I into a charnel house. The frontal charges, like Joshua L. Chamberlain’s at Little Round Top, became more about death than glory.

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British soldiers fire the Vickers Machine gun during the Battle of the Somme. (Photo: United Kingdom)

4. Tanks

With the rise of the machine gun, troops needed a way to punch through defensive lines. Ideas for the tank had been kicked around, but short-sightedness meant practical designs didn’t arrive on the battlefield until the Battle of the Somme in 1916. By 1918, both sides had tanks, even though Germany’s inventory was very limited.

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

 

5. Chemical Warfare

Another idea to break the deadlock of the trenches was the use of poison gas.  While it was effective early on, eventually gas masks were developed to protect troops from toxins. Chemical weapons remain a threat on the battlefield today, with sarin gas recently being used during the Syrian Civil War.

However, unexploded World War I chemical munitions also remain a threat across France and Belgium, according to a 2015 Daily Mail article on the Battle of Verdun.

 

See how Air Force PJs keep their skills sharp
Photo colorized by Open University. Original black and white photo copyright Library and Archives Canada.

6. Howitzers

The howitzer came about because the artillery of previous eras, mostly focused on providing direct fire, proved inadequate against troops dug into the trenches. The howitzer came into its own in World War I and was able to provide the long range of cannons with a trajectory able to drop the shell in on enemy troops like a mortar. Today, most artillery pieces used by military forces are howitzers.

See how Air Force PJs keep their skills sharp
WWI doughboys with a 155mm howitzer. (National Archives)

So, with that in mind, take a look at the HISTORY video below to learn more about the deadly military technology of World War I.

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4 things you may not know about USS Constitution

The sailing frigate USS Constitution (ex-IX 21) was re-floated on July 23 in an event overshadowed by the commissioning of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78).


The ship has been around for 220 years. But here are a few things you may not have known about this ship.

1. Paul Revere provided some crucial materials for the ship’s construction

According to the Copper Development Association, Paul Revere, best known for his midnight ride prior to the Battles of Lexington and Concord, provided a number of copper bolts and a copper bell for USS Constitution.

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2. The Constitution had a hull number

In 1941, the Constitution was given the hull number IX 21, along with a number of other vessels. According to Samuel Eliot Morison’s History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, the list included the prize USS Reina Mercedes (IX 25), the sloop USS Constellation (IX 20), the cruiser USS Olympia (IX 40), and the training carriers USS Wolverine (IX 64) and USS Sable (IX 81).

The hull number was rescinded in 1975 at the suggestion of the ship’s commanding officer, Tyrone G. Martin, who instituted a number of traditions that carry on to this day.

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3. She is the only survivor of her class

Of the first six frigates, the Constitution is the only survivor. Sister ship USS Constellation was thought to have been converted to a sloop and preserved in Baltimore, but later research determined the Navy had scrapped the original vessel. The frigates USS Chesapeake and USS President were captured by the British. USS United States was captured by the Confederates, but eventually scuttled and scrapped.

USS Congress was scrapped in 1834.

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4. She was the battlecruiser of her era

The Constitution and her sisters were designed to be able to outgun enemy frigates and to out-run enemy ships of the line. She had a mix of 24-pound cannons and 32-pound cannons, compared to the 18-pound cannons used on the British Leda-class frigates, built around the same time as Constitution and her sisters.

In fact, late in the war of 1812, British frigate captains were ordered to avoid combat with the Constitution and her sisters.


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Check out the celebrities we spoke to at the 2016 MTV Movie Awards

WATM’s Skye P. Marshall took us to the red carpet of the 2016 MTV Movie Awards – held this year at Warner Bros. studios in Burbank, California. Marshall snagged interviews with Bellator MMA fighters, the New York hip-hop trio Salt-N-Pepa, Blake Anderson of Workaholics fame, and even a surprise interview with 2016 MTV Movie Awards host Kevin Hart!

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10 awesome songs we listened to while ‘Bangin’ in Sangin’

Gearing up to head out on a vital mission, clearing operation, or standard foot patrol to take down enemy forces comes with a lot of excitement and no shortage of anxiety.


You can’t exactly watch TV to take your mind off things, so music plays a key factor in lifting spirits and keeping Marines hungry for the fight.

Related: 4 times armies blasted music to intimidate and infuriate their enemies

My brothers in 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines and I faced many major obstacles while serving during our combat deployment in Sangin, Afghanistan.

So check out the music playlist that kept our morale high and our motivation pumping as we were “Bangin’ in Sangin.”

1. DMX – “Ruff Ryder’s Anthem”

Great while setting up a vehicle check point.

(DMXVEVO, Youtube)

2. Outkast – “Bombs over Baghdad”

An awesome song to play while dropping mortars on the bad guy’s position.

(GeneralGibbs, Youtube)

3. Katy Perry – “California Gurls”

Best song for Hollywood Marines to listen to when they think about them California girls.

Don’t judge — you know she’s catchy as hell. (KatyPerryVEVO, YouTube)

4. Ludacris – “Roll Out”

When you’re “Oscar Mike” in two minutes and need that extra burst of motivation.

(LudacrisVEVO, YouTube)

5. AC/DC – “Thunderstuck”

Best to listen to after a productive enemy engagement. OO-RAH!

(acdcVEVO, YouTube)

6. E-40 – “Go Hard or Go Home”

Awesome to listen to at the gym or when you want to make a legit deployment dance video.

(Alex Burock, YouTube)

7. Survivor – “Eye of the Tiger”

A good song for all occasions.

(SurvivorVEVO, Youtube)

8. Trick Daddy – “Let’s Go!”

When you’re beggin’ the bad guys to shoot at you.

(HQmvideo, YouTube)

9. Seether – “Out of my way”

Perfect right before gearing up for a patrol or clearing operation.

(Randomgunz, YouTube)

10. Kanye West – “Stronger”

When you survived another day in the suck. (That beard though.)

(KanyeWestVEVO, YouTube) 

Here’s the playlist in one convenient location. You’re welcome.

What music did you listen to while taking down the bad guys? Comment below.
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Watch this huge guided missile destroyer turn on a dime

The Arleigh Burke class of guided-missile destroyers is huge – and they are some of the most powerful ships in the world.


These 9,000-ton ships are armed with a five-inch gun, two Mk 41 vertical-launch systems (with 90 to 96 cells), two triple 324mm torpedo tubes, and a 20mm Mk 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon System. Some even carry two MH-60R Seahawk helicopters.

See how Air Force PJs keep their skills sharp
USS Gonzalez at a more sedate pace. (US Navy photo)

But sometimes, the firepower ain’t the solution. Far from it, in some cases. Say the Iranians are up to their usual… antics. That is when the destroyer will need to move.

The ship can go fast – over 30 knots, thanks to her gas turbine propulsion. She also can turn – and for a ship this big, she turns on a dime.

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USS Farragut (DDG 99) comes out of a high-speed turn. (US Navy photo)

Do those turns matter? You bet they can. The fast turn can help avoid one of those “fast attack craft” the Iranians use. If a torpedo is fired, the turn can also buy time once the ship’s AN/SLQ-25 Nixie goes off.

Torpedo seekers do not have a long range, so the turn at high speed can allow the ship to escape an attack.

See how Air Force PJs keep their skills sharp
What can happen when a torpedo hits: South Korean and American officers walk past what os left the ROK Navy corvette ROKS Cheonan (PCC 772). A non-contact homing torpedo or sea-mine exploded near the ship March 26, 2010, sinking it, resulting in the death of 46 ROK Navy sailors. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Jared Apollo Burgamy)

You can see the destroyer USS Gonzalez (DDG 66) make one of these high-speed turns in this video below. Making such a turn does take practice – mostly because if the gear ain’t stowed right, there is likely to be one hell of a mess. But a mess to clean up is much better than a torpedo hit.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Vih4tGmqjs
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This helicopter ship landing during a storm will make you squirm

Helicopter pilots have it easy in some ways — they do not need runways to take off or land — just a clearing. Well, one look at this video taken on Oct. 26, 2016, showing a Royal Danish Navy Sikorsky MH-60R landing on one of that navy’s Thetis-class oceangoing patrol vessels, will how just how tough a landing can be sometimes.


In this video, the Thetis-class patrol vessel is in the midst of a storm. Note the very expert technique the Danish pilot uses to match the vessel’s speed, and the very deft touch used to keep from slamming the helicopter into the pitching deck.

The MH-60R is a multi-role maritime helicopter capable of carrying Mk 46, Mk 50, or Mk 54 lightweight torpedoes. It also can carry AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles. According to the official MH-60 website, it has a crew of three, a top speed of 140 knots, and can stay up for over two and a half hours.

According to Naval-Technology.com, the Thetis-class ocean patrol vessels displace 3,500 tons, have a top speed of 20 knots, hold 60 crew, and are 369 feet long. The Danish Navy has four of these vessels in service. Two entered service in 1991, two entered service in 1992.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptem1zpHD_s
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The Navy recently proved it can launch planes from a carrier by using magnets

Six days after being commissioned, the USS Gerald R. Ford, the Navy’s newest and most sophisticated aircraft carrier, received and launched its first fixed-wing aircraft.


An F/A-18 Super Hornet landed on the ship at 3:10 p.m. July 28, catching the No. 2 arresting wire of the Ford’s Advanced Arresting Gear system, and took off at 4:37 p.m., launched from catapult one of the Ford’s Electromagnetic Launch System.

“Today, USS Gerald R. Ford made history with the successful landing and launching of aircraft from VX-23 using the AAG and EMALS,” said Adm. Phil Davidson, commander of US Fleet Forces, referring to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23. “Great work by the Ford team and all the engineers who have worked hard to get the ship ready for this milestone.”

 

The July 28 tests appear to show the AAG and EMALS have overcome issues that cropped up during their development — issues with the EMALS prompted President Donald Trump earlier this year to admonish the Navy to return to steam-powered catapults.

The tests were the Ford’s first shipboard recovery and launch of fixed-wing aircraft, said Capt. Rick McCormack, the Ford’s commanding officer. By the end of the day, the Ford had completed four arrested landings and catapult launches.

The Navy says the AAG, a software-controlled system, will offer greater reliability and more safety and interoperability with more aircraft. It also has built-in testing and diagnostic features, meant to reduce maintenance and lower manpower needs.

 

Navy officials have said the EMALS is designed to provide more energy, reliability, and efficiency while moving away from the traditional steam-powered launching system. In addition to more accurate speed control and better acceleration, the EMALS is designed to work with all current and future carrier aircraft.

Those systems are two of 23 new or modified technologies installed on the Ford, which is the first Ford-class carrier. Two more in-class carriers are planned: the USS John F. Kennedy and the USS Enterprise.

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The beloved ‘woobie’ is getting a controversial upgrade

It’s about the most useful item the U.S. military has ever issued and has earned a soft spot in every service member’s heart for its versatility and the cozy comfort it delivers when Mother Nature turns against you.


But while the success of the elegant square of quilted heaven rests largely on its simplicity, it has recently received a much-needed update that’ll likely deepen a trooper’s smile.

Enter the Woobie 2.0.

Marines are now being issued the so-called “Enhanced Poncho Liner,” which to most of those who’ve cuddled up to its synthetic-filled goodness will notice has a huge upgrade that many a service member has been clamoring for for years.

The new version of the woobie keeps its various tie down points and parachute chord loops, but now adds a heavy-duty reversible zipper to turn the thing into a no joke cammo cocoon.

You can read more about the specifics on the Woobie upgrade here.

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The Marine Corps’ love-hate relationship with the AV-8 Harrier

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Capt. Jonathan Lewenthal and Capt. Eric Scheibe, AV-8B Harrier pilots with Marine Attack Squadron 231, Marine Aircraft Group 14, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), fly over southern Helmand province, Afghanistan after conducting an aerial refuel Dec. 6, 2012. VMA-231 deployed to Afghanistan to provide close air support for counter-insurgency operations. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Gregory Moore)


Dubbed the “widow-maker” in some aviation circles, the AV-8 Harrier is as dangerous to America’s enemies as it is to the pilots who commandeer it.

From its commissioning to as recent as 2013, there have been about 110 fighters involved in Class A mishaps — accidents causing death, permanent injury or at least $1 million in losses.

Related: This Marine pilot makes landing his Harrier fighter on a stool look easy

“Measured by its major accident rate per 100,000 flight hours, which is the military standard, the Harrier is the most dangerous plane in the U.S. military,” said Los Angeles Times reporter Alan C. Miller in the video below. “Overall the Marines have lost more than one-third of the entire Harrier fleet to accidents.”

The first Harrier model, the AV-8A had a Class A mishap rate of 31.77 accidents per 100,000 flight hours. The Marines improved the rate to 11.44 per 100,000 hours with the introduction of the AV-8B in the mid-1980s, according to Miller.

By contrast, the Harrier has more than twice the accident rate of the F-16, more than three times the rate of the F/A-18, and about five times the rate of A-10.

Despite its astronomical accident rate, the fighter is beloved and remains in service more than 40 years since its introduction in 1971.

“One Marine general who flew the plane early on described it as an answer to a prayer,” Miller said.

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An AV-8B Harrier jet aircraft assigned to the air combat element of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (13th MEU) performs a vertical landing on the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer June 16, 2013. Boxer is conducting amphibious squadron and MEU integrated training.(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Mark El-Rayes)

The Corps’ need for an aircraft with a vertical landing and short takeoff capability can be traced to the 1942 Battle of Guadalcanal. The Marines lost over 1,000 men during that fight and felt abandoned by the Navy to fend for themselves.

“Since then, the precept that the Marines in the air should protect the Marines on the ground has been an essential part of the Corps’ ethos,” Miller said.

This History Channel video shows how the Harrier supports the Marine Corps’ mission to fight anywhere, anytime regardless of the risks:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUFBV–62tA

Engineering Channel, YouTube

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