A US Marine Corps F-35B opened up its tail fan, blasted its massive jet engine downwards, and settled softly on the deck of the USS Wasp in what was the first Joint Strike Fighter landing on a deployed warship at sea in early March 2018.
A while later, another F-35B took off, and another landed. Within days, the procedure had become routine and unremarkable.
But with the arrival of the F-35Bs on the decks of the US’s small carriers, and soon the US’s big carriers, naval warfare has changed forever.
The Marines have tailored their whole operating concept to fit with the F-35, stocking ships with special helicopters and facilities to work on the next-generation jet that will become the workhorse of the force.
The F-35B can takeoff in full stealth mode to penetrate enemy airspaces, it can carry scores of heavy bombs when stealth is no longer an issue, it can tank up with fuel and a detachable gun on the jet’s belly, it can use its futuristic sensors and communications to guide ship-fired missiles to targets on land.
On the streets of Long Beach, California, a new restaurant has opened where a quadriplegic Navy veteran focuses on hiring other disabled people — especially veterans — to staff the business.
Daniel Tapia, the owner of the restaurant 4th and Olive, told Fox LA, “I’m referred to what’s known as a walking quad, a high functioning quadriplegic. So, I can walk and move but I have a limited strength and feeling in my hands and feet.”
Tapia was a sommelier at another southern California restaurant until he was fired in 2014. Short on employment opportunities and hopeful that he could fight disability discrimination, he decided to launch his own establishment that would provide job opportunities for other disabled veterans.
Some of the vets, like Air Force veteran and bartender John Putnam, are fighting physical battles, but the restaurant also hires people with PTSD and traumatic brain injuries.
Co-owner and chef Alex McGroarty told Fox that the veterans are great employees.
“They work really hard,” he said. “If they’ve had a little trouble in the past, they are going to be really loyal and work hard for you.”
Snipers serve in all branches of the military — including the Coast Guard. That may surprise some, and even more astonishing is that the Coast Guard snipers shoot to kill — engines, that is.
These personnel, known as “airborne precision marksmen,” serve with the Coast Guard’s Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron, or HITRON. According to GlobalSecurity.org, HITRON has ten MH-65C Dolphin helicopters, which replaced eight MH-68A Stingray helos.
The target these “airborne precision marksmen” must hit with fire from M107 .50-caliber rifles measures about sixteen inches by sixteen inches. That infamous thermal exhaust port was larger, but the MH-65Cs are not moving as fast as an Incom T-65 X-wing.
They also take their shots much closer.
According to the video below, HITRON has stopped over 161 tons of cocaine from entering the country, worth over $9 billion. So, take a look and see how these marksmen stop the narcos.
Booby traps are terrifying weapons of choice for the troops who want to seriously wound their enemies without having to spend precious time waiting for them to show up.
Placed at specific areas on the battlefield where the opposition is most likely to travel, these easily assembled devices have the ability to take troops right out of the fight or cause a painful delayed death.
Cruise missiles are a nightmare for combatants at land or on sea. They fly low enough that most ballistic missile protections can’t touch them, they often hit at nearly the speed of sound — meaning they strike with no warning — and they can take out ships, tanks, and other large vehicles in a single hit.
Just take this test of the Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile striking a target at a range in California. Watch how the missile skims the waves and an island before spotting its target and slamming through it.
And while cruise missile development slowed after the end of the Cold War, China and Russia are pursuing new missiles with plenty of international partners.
So, the Navy has been working on expanding their defenses against anti-ship cruise missiles. In a 2015 test, they pitted the USS John Paul Jones, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer equipped with the Aegis combat system, against a mix of cruise and ballistic missiles.
In the video (available at the top of the page), the Jones engages and destroys a series of targets. The cruise missile engagement begins at approximately 5:20.
According to a report by the Daily Caller, the $8.5 billion deal saved taxpayers almost $740 million in costs — a cost of $94 million per aircraft.
The F-35A is arguably the simplest of the three variants, taking off and landing from conventional runways on land. The F-35B, being purchased by the Marine Corps, is a V/STOL (for Vertical/Short Take-Off and Landing) aircraft that required a lift fan and vectored nozzle. The F-35C is designed to handle catapult takeoffs and arrested landings on the aircraft carriers of the United States Navy.
The increased production of the F-35 has helped knock the production cost down. An October 2015 article by the Daily Caller noted that per-unit costs of the Zumwalt-class destroyers skyrocketed after the production run was cut from an initial buy of 32 to the eventual total of three.
Earlier this year, the F-35A took part in a Red Flag exercise at Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas, Nev., and posted a 15 to 1 kill ratio, according to reports by Aviation Week and Space Technology. BreakingDefense.com reported that the F-35A had a 90 percent mission capable rate, and that in every sortie, the key systems were up.
So, with these details in mind, take a look at this video Vox released on Jan. 26 of this year, before the announcement of the contract, and before the F-35s did some ass-kicking at Red Flag.
U.S. Air Force Technical Sergeant John A. Chapman was killed in action on March 4, 2002. He fought with courage and ferocity on the cold, snow-laden mountaintop of Takur Ghar, now known as Roberts Ridge.
Chapman was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions 16 years later, on August 22, 2018. Not only did he fight through borderline impossible terrain to eliminate enemy fighters, but after he was mortally wounded, he regained consciousness and continued to fight. He killed several enemy fighters, one in hand-to-hand combat, in a valiant attempt to rescue his fellow teammate Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Neil Roberts.
In a grainy drone feed recently released by the U.S. Air Force to the public, the heroic actions of Chapman are unmistakable. The video also gives us a glimpse into the courageous acts of every other service member on the ground — the SEALs, the Ranger Quick Reaction Force, and the air crews.
This video contains the last moments of American service members in combat, and for the first time in history, a Medal of Honor recipient’s actions in combat. A video like this cannot do their actions justice, nor can they give us 100 percent certainty as to the reality on the ground. But it serves as a reminder of the very real sacrifice many have made in the service of our country. Those who made it off Takur Ghar will surely carry those memories with them for the rest of their lives.
Coffee or Die spoke to retired Master Sergeant Eric Stebner, a career U.S. Army Ranger who fought on Takur Ghar that day.
It was his first of 10 deployments in the Global War on Terror, and then-Sergeant Stebner was a young fire team leader in the 1st Ranger Battalion. “We were about three months into the deployment, and it was pretty slow up to that point,” he said.
Stebner recounted climbing the steep landscape, wading through the snow. Some fellow Rangers ditched their plates in order to make it up the mountain on time. “I was the point man as we went up there… I never did toss my plates though.”
When asked what it was like fighting on a slope like that — wading through snow with heavy gear after a merciless infil — Stebner said, “Man, by the time I got up there, I was going pretty slow. We all were. Traditionally, you go, ‘I’m up, he sees me, I’m down’ — but I was just staying up. Going up and down that slow would have been even more dangerous at that point. But we pushed through it.”
Stebner knew what was on the drone feed, he was there when it happened — he was the one who found Roberts’ body. But when a video like that enters the public eye, it can change things.
“I think it’s good for [the American public] to see it. To know the real story,” Stebner said. “When you think of someone getting a Medal of Honor, you think of a guy saving his squad, saving his team, clearing a bunker — Chapman did that, he earned it. It’s good for the public to be able to see it, read about it, and know it. That’s how a Medal of Honor is earned.”
The battle of Roberts Ridge is ingrained in Ranger history, but Stebner doesn’t talk about it often. As he progressed in Ranger Battalion, many of his younger Rangers had no idea he had fought there. One Ranger had known him for two years before he found out, and asked Stebner why he never told him. “Does it really matter?” Stebner said in response. “Whatever I do, I’m going to do regardless of whether or not anyone knows about what I did. You’re only as good as your last performance, so keep moving forward.”
Stebner reflects the quiet professionalism that defines the Ranger Regiment to this day.
The men killed in action during the Battle of Roberts Ridge
Navy SEAL Petty Officer 1st Class Neil “Fifi” C. Roberts
Air Force Combat Controller Tech. Sgt John A. Chapman
Air Force Pararescueman Senior Airman Jason D. Cunningham
160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) Sergeant Philip “Spytech” Svitak
The World War II story of “Jumpin'” Joseph Beyrle gives a whole new meaning to the saying: “Oh yeah? You and what army?”
Actually, the Red Army, to be exact.
Beyrle was a paratrooper with the legendary 101st Airborne, 506th Infantry Regiment. A demolitions expert, he performed missions in Nazi-occupied France with the resistance there before flying into Normandy on D-Day.
Beyrle had mixed luck during the war, but he would end it as a legend.
When his C-47 came under intense enemy fire during the D-Day invasion, Beyrle had to jump at the ultra-low altitude of 120 meters. He made the drop successfully but lost contact with his unit.
Not deterred by being alone in Fortress Europe, he still performed sabotage missions to support the D-Day landings.
He was soon captured by the Wehrmacht and shipped to various POW camps. Eventually, he escaped and linked up with a Soviet tank brigade. With the Red Army at his back, Beyrle returned to a German POW camp to liberate his fellow prisoners.