The Comanche was the awesome stealth helicopter that never was - We Are The Mighty
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The Comanche was the awesome stealth helicopter that never was

Heat, smoke, and that loud “wop-wop” sound make helicopters easy targets on the battlefield. For these reasons, helicopters make the unlikeliest candidates for stealth technology. But during the 1990s and early 2000s, Boeing-Sikorsky challenged that notion with the RAH-66 Comanche helicopter.


The Light Helicopter Experimental program is the brainchild of the U.S. Army. It charged Boeing-Sikorsky with developing armed reconnaissance and attack helicopters. The result incorporated stealth technologies that minimized radar and human detection.

Two prototypes were built and tested but the project was ultimately canceled in 2004.

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The Lightning makes its Paris debut

When you make it in Paris, it’s big news.


While many eyes are on Paris Fashion Week, where many of the A-list stars are picking out their awards season wardrobe, the Paris Air Show is also a big deal. In fact, in 2011, over 350,000 people were at the event! By contrast, Paris’s Fashion Week has all of 5,000 attendees.

The Comanche was the awesome stealth helicopter that never was
An F-35A Lightning II from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, is displayed in the U.S. corral at the Paris Air Show June 20, 2017 at Le Bourget, France. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Tech. Sgt. Ryan Crane)

The Paris Air Show is where many planes make their big debut onto the world stage. In 1989, the Soviets not only introduced the Buran spaceplane at the Paris Air Show, but the Su-27 Flanker shocked the world with a demonstration of the Pugachev Cobra.

Paris has also seen tragedy, including a MiG-29 crash in 1989, as well as the 1973 crash of the Tu-144 “Concordeski.” B-58 Hustler strategic bombers also crashed there in 1961 and 1965.

The Comanche was the awesome stealth helicopter that never was
An F-35A Lightning II from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, lands after performing a flight demonstration at the Paris Air Show June 20, 2017 at Le Bourget, France. This is the first time the F-35 has performed aerial demonstrations at an international air show. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Tech. Sgt. Ryan Crane)

The Paris Air Show is held every other year in an odd year. For this year, the F-35 made its flight demonstration debut. According to a European Command release, the American delegation to the 2017 Paris Air Show also included two F-16 Fighting Falcons, a CH-47 Chinook, a P-8 Poseidon, a V-22 Osprey, an AH-64 Apache, a C-130J Hercules, and a KC-135 Stratotanker.

The Comanche was the awesome stealth helicopter that never was
F-35A Lighting II pilots from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, pose for a photo in the U.S. corral at the Paris Air Show June 20, 2017 at Le Bourget, France. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Tech. Sgt. Ryan Crane)

The star, of course, was the F-35, which was the only fifth-generation fighter at Paris.

The plane made its first aerial demonstration there. You can see it in the video below, from takeoff to landing. It’s about six minutes and 40 seconds, but well worth is to see the F-35 make its mark over Paris.

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The top 6 reasons civilians back out of military service

Anyone who’s ever served in uniform has probably heard someone say the immortal line: “I would have joined the military, but…”


Lots of civilians make a trip to the recruiter with an eye toward military service, full of patriotic zeal and martial courage. But many pull out at the last minute and give their friends and family some song and dance about why they couldn’t commit.

No matter what excuse they give you for not signing on the dotted line, here are six real reasons recruiters tell us people decide not to join.

Read the full list here

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The SAS knew how to take out the Luftwaffe in spectacular fashion

Britain’s Special Air Service is full of elite special operators who know how to get the job done. In World War II, one of their tasks was breaking the back of the Luftwaffe in North Africa, and they did so in spectacular fashion.


The top-tier warriors of the SAS bolted a bunch of weapons, sometimes as many as 10 Vickers machine guns with a .50-cal. kicker, to Willy Jeeps and then conducted lightning raids through German airfields, hitting grounded planes with incendiary rounds.

See how the fights worked in the video below:

Video: YouTube/LightningWar1941
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Watch a WWII Vet nail 3 head shots from over a half-mile away

Ted Gundy was in his teens when he fought at the Battle of the Bulge in 1944. He had been selected for the role of sniper after reporting to his unit in Belgium just before the German attack that would become the Battle of the Bulge, and he provided sniper cover for his rifle company during the battle.


At 86 years-old, Gundy heard about modern snipers hitting shots at over 1,000 yards and decided he wanted to take a shot at that range. He contacted Shooting USA — which set up the event on his behalf — getting him an invitation to shoot at Fort Benning with a sniper team from the Army Marksmanship Unit that has won two international sniper competitions.

Gundy takes three shots at 300 yards with a replica of his 1903 Springfield A-4 Sniper Rifle from the war before taking another three shots at 1,000 yards with a more modern rifle. (If you just want to see the longest shots, skip to 6:10 in the video below).

Shooting USA has the full story behind the event with Gundy here.

NOW: Video: Iraq war vet relives his most intent gunfight

OR: The Air Force wants to shoot bad guys with laser guns

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Let this Swedish metal band be your war history teacher

Even the band’s name is a reference to medieval knight’s armor – the Swedish metal band Sabaton makes music about war, history’s greatest battles, and daring feats of combat badassery. Their latest album, The Great War, features songs about just World War I. If you’ve never had an interest in military history, Sabaton might make the difference for you.

Also, their music videos are pretty great.


Their songs are poetic and thoughtful, about real historical events. From the Serbians fighting in World War I, to Poland’s legendary Winged Hussars, and even the Russians at Stalingrad – the heroes aren’t Swedish, they’re anyone who did something amazing for their comrades on the battlefield. Other songs are about the Night Witches (Russian female aviators who terrorized the Nazis), the Brazilian Expeditionary Force in World War II, and Audie Murphy’s postwar struggle with PTSD.

I know the video below looks like a broken link, but it’s really a music video for a Sabaton’s heavy metal song about the 101st Airborne at Bastogne, called “Screaming Eagles.” The music video begins with Gen. Anthony MacAuliffe’s now-famous reply to the German surrender demand – “Nuts.”

The band’s entire fourth album was inspired by Sun Tzu’s Art of War, another album is about World War II and the Finnish-Russian Winter War. They have released singles about the World War II-era battleship Bismarck and World War I’s Lost Battalion; nine companies of the United States 77th Infantry Division who lost more than half its manpower at the Argonne Forest in 1918.

Sabaton has won almost every metal award for which they were nominated, including Best Breakthrough Band, Best Live Band, and they were nominated for the 2012 “Metal as F*ck” Award for their album Carolus Rex, which actually was about the rise of the Swedish Empire under King Charles XII.

The song below is about 189 Swiss Guards who defended the Vatican during the Sack of Rome in 1527.

 

SABATON – The Last Stand (Official Music Video)

Heavy metal bands re-enacting famous battles is all I’ve ever wanted in life. Thank you, Sabaton.

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This video perfectly captures the highs and lows of Navy advancement

If you’ve ever taken a Navy advancement exam, chances are you walked out of the testing center feeling more confused than the day the Navy issued aqualfage.


You’re not alone, sailor. A quick look at the comments posted to a Reddit thread called, “How I felt during today’s E-5 advancement exam” shows bewilderment across the fleet.

From Reddit:

User: Achibon – Yeah, I studied for the last 2.5 months and still felt like a moron during the test. Good luck to you.

User: Furmware – Thank God I’m not the only one who felt like a moron after the test.

User: dcviper – I used to cut mid-70s on the test and I always walked out feeling like an idiot. The test I made E-6 off of I thought I had bombed because I didn’t study. Even our department head, a mustang LCDR, said he thought it was a really difficult test. No one was more surprised than me that May.

After reading the comments above, you could imagine the excitement some sailors get when they find out they passed. Oh the joy! It means more pay, no more being talked down to, and most importantly, no more working parties! Well, maybe not entirely true but there will be fewer.

And then, there are the sailors who’ve taken the test many times. You know who they are, they’re always bitter. This video by Chalee Jr. perfectly captures the attitudes sailors have when passing and failing the advancement exam.

Watch:

 

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See what these vets say are their best and worst military habits

In this latest episode of Vets Get Real, WATM talks to a group of former servicemembers about all the military habits they’ve brought back to civilian life — the good, the bad, and the questionable.


Be sure to keep an eye out for other episodes of Vets Get Real where WATM hosts discussions with vets on topics ranging from relationships to recruiters.

Editor’s note: If you have questions that you’d like to see Vets Get Real about, please leave a comment below.

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That time a Marine cameraman saved his buddies from an NVA ambush

Frank Lee served as a Marine Corps combat cameraman in Vietnam, collecting spool after spool of footage of other U.S. Marines and soldiers fighting in the hottest parts of the conflict.


Like many recruits, Lee was surprised to learn what his job entailed. He had originally enlisted into electronics and photography to stay away from combat as a concession to his mom who had worried about his safety.

The Comanche was the awesome stealth helicopter that never was
(Photo: YouTube/History)

Lee decided to finally go through some of his more violent footage with his son who had only seen the “G-Rated” footage. In this video, Frank and his son dicuss the day that Lee was wounded in an North Vietnamese Army ambush that left all of those superior to LeeFrank either severely wounded or dead.

Snipers were firing on the Marines and managed to separate the squads. Lee made his way to a small hooch for a little cover and found himself with the platoon’s communication section as the wounded platoon leader sat pinned down 25 yards away.

The Comanche was the awesome stealth helicopter that never was
(Photo: YouTube/History)

Lee had to step up, relaying instructions from the pinned down, wounded platoon sergeant while calling in air strikes on the village from which the fire was coming. While the film is silent, Lee says that he heard the cries of women and children caught in the fighting, sounds that have haunted him since.

American napalm burned through the fields and village. The Marines maintained their perimeter until darkness fell and their brothers from Kilo company were able to reach them.

A corpsman attached a casualty card to Lee and he was medevaced from the bush. For his contributions to saving the patrol, he was awarded the Bronze Star with V Device. Watch him tell the story to his son in the video below:

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Here’s the real story of the samurai (and it’s amazing)

You’ve heard of the samurai, but you probably don’t know what made them among the most lethally amazing warrior classes in history. The samurai were aristocratic warriors of the noble class followed the seven virtues of the Bushido code and were known for wielding the daishō, the long katana blade and the short wakizashi sword. Samurai were beholden to their masters, and those who refused to follow their masters became ronin warriors (a very common occurrence in the Edo period). Some believe that the ronin were responsible for founding the modern criminal organization, the yakuza.

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The complete hater’s guide to the F-16 Fighting Falcon

We all know the services love to hate on each other. But believe it or not, the pilots within the services tend to hate on any plane they don’t fly.


Don’t believe me? Have you heard that band Dos Gringos? They rock, but those two Viper drivers also touch upon the intra-service hating in “I Wish I had a Gun Just Like the A-10.” You can listen to it as we hate on their mount – the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

Don’t take all the hating as license to go after them. They may enjoy razzing each other — saying mean things about the other mounts. But they will all come after you if you try to pick on one of them.

Why making fun of the F-16 is easy

Where do we start? It’s a single-engine plane. Not much range. Offensive payload? Probably the lowest among air force combat jets. In fact, really, if you ask any A-10, F-15, F-15E, F-22, or F-35 jock, the fact older F-16s are becoming target drones is appropriate somehow.

The Comanche was the awesome stealth helicopter that never was
The first QF-16 target aircraft seen at Tyndall Air Force Base in 2012. | US Air Force photo by Chris Cokeing

The A-10, of course, laughs at the notion the F-16 can do close-air support. With that 20mm popgun, how do they expect to blow up a tank?

The Comanche was the awesome stealth helicopter that never was
A U.S. Air Force A/OA-10 Thunderbolt II from the 355th Fighter Squadron is surrounded by a cloud of gun smoke as it fires a 30mm GAU-8 Avenger Gatling gun over the Pacific Alaska Range Complex in Alaska on May 29, 2007. The seven-barrel Gatling gun can be fired at a rate of 3,900 rounds per minute. DoD photo by Airman 1st Class Jonathan Snyder, U.S. Air Force. (Released)

Why you should actually hate it

Because it got to play parts in “Iron Eagle” and three sequels. Because that Doug Masters kid made flying it look easy – and even rigged a sound system.

The Comanche was the awesome stealth helicopter that never was
(Youtube Screenshot)

Because being single-engine means that if something goes bad, the pilot goes sky-diving. Like that poor Jordanian guy who got captured by ISIS. Oh, and that short range, means it has some kind of drinking problem. It’s always hogging the tankers.

The Comanche was the awesome stealth helicopter that never was
Once again, the F-16s are hogging the tanker. (Photo: US Air Force Staff Sgt. Jerry Fleshman)

Not to mention, they’re everywhere. It seems like every country gets its hands on these planes.

The Comanche was the awesome stealth helicopter that never was
Turkish F-16 taxis for takeoff at Incirlik Air Base. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

Why you ought to love the F-16

This is one versatile fighter. You need to scramble up to say hello to a prowling Russian? F-16s can do that. Want to blast the hell out of enemy forces in close contact with friendlies? The “Viper” variant can do that. Dogfight with MiGs? The F-16 can do that, too. Hit an enemy installation? Can do.

The Comanche was the awesome stealth helicopter that never was
Three U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon Block 30 aircraft from the 80th Fighter Squadron fly in formation over South Korea during a training mission on Jan. 9, 2008. The squadron will be upgrading to F-16 Block 40 aircraft under the common configuration implementation program, which increases mission capability and combat readiness by utilizing newer airframes and avionics. DoD photo by Tech. Sgt. Quinton T. Burris, U.S. Air Force. (Released)

There’s a lot of them. Many NATO allies have them. So do American allies in the Far East and Middle East. It’s even had growth potential. Japan’s F-2, the Israeli F-16I, and the F-16E/F for the UAE all have proven themselves. When China wanted a new multi-role fighter for the PLAAF, they had to knock off the Israeli knock-off of the F-16.

The Comanche was the awesome stealth helicopter that never was
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

It’s also around a lot. You see, the U.S. didn’t buy that many F-22s. The F-35 is just coming on line. The A-10 needs new wings, or a lot will retire. They just chopped up a bunch of perfectly good B-52s. But the F-16s are around and there are a lot of them – over 1,000 of them on inventory. And that doesn’t count what is in the boneyard.

The Comanche was the awesome stealth helicopter that never was

And with what we saw with the F-4 Phantom, the F-16 will be around for a long time. In fact, the last Viper driver has probably not even been born yet.

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This Marine veteran uses this special ingredient to boost his men’s morale

Philadelphia is one of the oldest cities in the country — its foundation predates that of the United States by nearly 100 years. The historic city is the birthplace of the Marine Corps and was home to the first brigades of professional firemen.


After time in the military, many service members find a career in firefighting, as it reflects some similar characteristics to being on active duty, like brotherhood and a sense of adventure. Like the military, firefighting puts individuals into uncontrollable situations that can wear them down, both emotionally and physically.

But Marine veteran and South Philly firefighter Bill Joerger uses his culinary talents to help his men combat the stress of their everyday environment.

Related: Over 1/4 of this unique island is made up of US military

The Comanche was the awesome stealth helicopter that never was

After a catastrophic heart condition, Joerger exited the Marine Corps and spent months bedridden in the hospital, recovering.

Throughout his lengthy treatment, Lt. Joerger watched a variety of cooking shows that sparked his culinary interest. Lt. Joerger explains,

Being in the military and [having] the heart issues, I had no control over those situations. But for cooking, I have complete control.

Also Read: This whiskey pays homage to the men of the 10th Mountain Division

The Comanche was the awesome stealth helicopter that never was
Bill prepares yet another tasty meal for his firefighting brothers. (Source: Meals Ready to Eat, KCET)

Joerger enjoys cooking for his firefighting brothers, and it gives him the means to express himself and find catharsis.

Although Bill is an officer, he doesn’t allow his rank to stop him from serving up one incredible meal after another for his troops.

The only thing that stops Bill from cooking in the firehouse is when a fire breaks out.

Firemen never truly get time off. (Image via Giphy)

 

Check out the fifth full episode of We Are The Mighty’s original show, Meals Ready to Eat, below and watch how this Marine veteran uses his cooking skills to provide a special boost in morale.

 

(Meals Ready to Eat | KCET)

 

New episodes of Meals Ready to Eat are posted on KCET’s site every Wednesday night. And they’re awesome.

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This animation shows every nuclear bomb explosion in history

Just how many times has a nuclear bomb been detonated? The number is much higher than many people might guess.


The video below reveals a staggering total — and it is a subject that is out of mind, largely because all but two of the times that nuclear weapons have detonated were tests. Furthermore, the United States hasn’t even conducted a test since 1992.

To put that into perspective, in that year, Major League Baseball still had only 26 teams. The NFL was at only 28 teams, and Cleveland still had the original Cleveland Browns while the Los Angeles Rams were still three years away from their two-decade sojurn in St. Louis. Michael Jordan and the Bulls were two-thirds of the way through their first three-peat.

This video takes about three minutes — and after it, you should come away feeling sobered at just how many times the most powerful weapon in human history has exploded, and thankful that it has only been used in anger twice.

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