Every December for the past 65 years, a crew of USAF airmen plays Santa Claus for more than 2,000 people living on remote Pacific islands.
Operation Christmas Drop brings critical supplies to more than 56 islands, with 40,000 pounds of supplies donated by service members and their families in the Pentagon’s longest-running humanitarian airlift operation.
The Navy has been testing a railgun that could see deployment on the guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt and her sister ships. The goal is to get the railgun to not only be able to fire its projectiles to a range of 110 nautical miles, but to increase the rate of fire to as many as ten rounds a minute.
The long range is only one of the many advantages. Another is improved safety. Gunpowder can be very volatile, as a number of British battlecruisers found out at Jutland and at the Denmark Straits. The battleship USS Arizona (BB 39) also found out about how bad a gunpowder explosion in the wrong place at the wrong time can be.
The approach also saves money, and provides for more ammo capacity. The gunpowder is expensive to safely store, has to be purchased, and it takes up spaces in the ship. All of those factors end up making the ship design more expensive.
The railgun testing is slated to take place over the summer at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division in Virginia. One of the big issues will be to quantify how much electrical power will be needed to send the rounds downrange.
Forget what you saw in 2009’s “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” when an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer took out the Decepticon Devastator. Only the Zumwalt-class destroyers have the electrical power capacity to use a railgun.
Another is addressing the issue of barrel wear – largely because it is sending the mail downrange at Mach 6.
Dr. Tom Beutner of the Office of Naval Research notes that the barrel wear issue is being fixed, saying, “They’ve extended the launcher core life from tens of shots’ core life when program started to something that’s now been fired over 400 times and … we anticipate barrels will be able to do over 1,000 shots.”
Watch the video of the Navy testing the railgun’s autoloader below:
Whether you’re a war fighter currently serving down range, a veteran looking to stay fit in the work-a-day world, or just some, poor, lost, no-compass-having civilian who somehow stumbled onto the vast digital military base that is We Are The Mighty…
Max “The Body” Philisaire wants to Pump: youup.
Max is an Army veteran. Max DEXA scans at about 7% bodyfat. Max regularly ruck runs Runyon Canyon humping 50 lbs of ballast (check that out here). Muscle separation is Max’s way of promoting healthy bones…through fear. In California, corn mazes happen when Max tells corn to “fall in!”
We’re saying, if you have a body and you’re looking to max it, you could not be in better hands (So calloused! So clenchy!).
So, in this episode, Max targets upper body strength training to aid steady rifle posture and accurate fire. If any one of your component muscle groups — shoulders, biceps, triceps, core — is weak and under performing, proper firing posture can break down and accuracy can suffer.
That kind of thing happens in boot camp and everybody suffers.
With a few simple (that’s not to say, easy) exercises, Max will help you strengthen your shoulder girdle, buck up your biceps, and carve your core out of solid mahogany. Then, whatever your target — ballistic lethality or Tinder superiority — your aim will be tried and true.
Watch as Max makes mincemeat of your excuses, in the video embedded at the top.
As the war raged on, infantry units began dominating the battlefield as troops increased their use of the rifled muskets and Gatling guns. These new deadly weapons caused the need for entrenchments as a form of cover.
Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban — the first known architect of trench warfare.
On Aug. 1, 1944 — less than two months after the D-Day invasion — Marine Maj. Peter J. Ortiz, along five other Marines and an Army Air Corps officer, parachuted into France to assist a few hundred French resistance fighters known as the Maquis in their fight against the Nazis. Ortiz had already worked and trained with the Maquis in occupied France in the months leading up to the invasion of Europe.
Quickly the fighters linked up with their resistance allies and began conducting ambushes. The exact casualty counts are unknown, but the Maquis and their Marine handlers inflicted so much damage so quickly that German intelligence believed an allied battalion had jumped in to assist the resistance instead of only six Marines and a soldier.
We sent our “Vet On The Street” to downtown Hollywood to find out if people could name the highest medal awarded for bravery on the battlefield. U.S. Marine Corps veteran and comic James P. Connolly got answers from locals, tourists, and even Captain America.
Navy veteran and Food Network Allstar, August Dannehl cooks a four course meal for his fellow vets based on stories from their service. A braised pork belly inspired by the MRE’s feared dehydrated pork product, Chicken Tagine inspired by a training mission in Morocco – these elements provide the backdrop for a holiday celebration between veterans.
Drea Garcia spent a few of her Marine Corps years aboard the USS Nimitz, and while there she found a niche within the Filipino-American sailor community. They shared many of the dishes that reminded them of home, including this Lumpia, or Filipino spring roll:
Filipino Lumpia with Ponzu Duck Sauce
Inspired by Drea’s experiences on the USS Nimitz
1 pkg egg roll wrappers
1 lb ground chicken
1 cup green onion (chopped)
1 cup carrot (julienned)
1 cup cucumber (julienned)
1 cup bean sprouts
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp chili powder
4 tbs soy sauce
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup water
Ponzu Duck Sauce
1/2 cup ponzu
1 tbs agave syrup
2 tsp xanthan gum
canola oil for frying
salt and pepper to taste
green onions (chopped) for garnish
Make Ponzu Duck Sauce by reducing ponzu in small pot with agave and xanthan gum until sauce has the thickness of maple syrup. Let cool and set aside at room temperature.
Meanwhile brown ground chicken in sesame oil, chili powder and garlic. Once browned and cooked through (about 7 minutes) add carrots and green onion and soften in pan (about 5 minutes). Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Remove from heat and add cucumber, bean sprouts and soy sauce to warm through.
Make wrapper sealant by mixing flour and water together.
Preheat oil to 375° in a wok or deep fryer.
Prepare wrapper by separating into individual squares. Place 2 tbs of filling in center of wrapper and spread out length-wise. Fold left and right edges over like a burrito and then roll end over end, making a roll. Seal with flour sealant.
Fry Lumpia in 375° oil until golden brown (about 3 mins) – turning once.
Serve with Ponzu Duck Sauce and green onions for garnish.
Boeing’s B-52H Stratofortress will be in service into the 2040s — a long career for the eight-engine bomber. But what of the earlier versions of the B-52? What is happening to them? Well, the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty consigned many to a fate reminiscent of the French Revolution.
The luckiest B-52s were placed on static display – many as “gate guardians” outside air bases and some in museums. A few others ended up as training airframes – permanently grounded, but still serving.
The so-called “BUFFs” sentenced to elimination were taken to a “conversion or elimination facility.” The United States chose the Aircraft Maintenance and Regeneration Center at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base to be that facility.
Once there, the BUFF was to be “eliminated” in accordance with the Treaty. Here’s that that protocol says must be done:
“(a) The tail section with tail surfaces shall be severed from the fuselage at a location obviously not an assembly joint;
“(b) The wings shall be separated from the fuselage at any location by any method; and
“(c) The remainder of the fuselage shall be severed into two pieces, within the area of attachment of the wings to the fuselage, at a location obviously not an assembly joint.”
The tool for this is surprisingly simple. According to a CNN report, it was a 13,500-pound blade that is hoisted about 60 feet above the BUFF. Then the blade drops like a guillotine (vive la France!).
The planes are then left out for 90 days to allow a Russian satellite to verify that the planes have gone through the “elimination” protocol. After that, they will be taken to be scrapped. Among those that have met that fate, according to CNN, was “Memphis Belle III,” a descendant of the famous World War II bomber. Each plane has 150,000 pounds of aluminum and other metals that will likely be soda cans, a car fender, or the stereotypical razor blades.
Below is a video showing this process underway from the ground level.
Explosive Ordnance Disposal is going to be a career field that lasts for a long time. This is because unexploded stuff is all over the place, some dating back to the Civil War. Germany and the United Kingdom have had to deal with bombs from World War II as well in the past year alone.
The problem isn’t just the old ordnance. There is also the need to deal with the newer stuff. This generally falls into the category of the improvised explosive device, or IED. The folks called in to deal with the ones found in time are the EOD units.
To get into an EOD unit takes a lot of training. According to the Air Force’s recruiting web site, you need to spend 163 days following basic training and Airman’s Week to become an “Enlisted Airman with credits earned towards Explosive Ordnance Disposal” before going to the United States Navy’s EOD school.
A 2015 release by the Air Force noted that the service has a need for 134 new EOD techs a year. The service has recently changed its training for that role, which includes a greater emphasis on hands-on learning for those becoming EOD team leaders.
Watch the video to check out some Air Force EOD techs as they train by using beer cans stuffed with C4 to deal with a van.
In the largest air strike of Desert Storm, 72 U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons took off from the Persian Gulf to refuel over northern Saudi Arabia. Their target was Baghdad and the Nuclear Power Plant at al-Tuwaitha.
One of the pilots, Maj. Emmett Tulia, would fight for his life in the skies above the Iraqi capital as missile after missile fly after him. In the cockpit video below, the SAM action starts at around 3:00.
Al-Tuwaitha was the main research facility for Saddam Hussein’s nuclear research program. Regional powerhouses Israel and Iran had both tried to destroy the facility but Desert Storm gave the Americans their chance to take a shot at it.
Although the air war of Desert Storm would last for more than 40 days and 40 nights, this attack came on the second day of the conflict, Jan. 19, 1991. The city had not yet been attacked by non-stealth fighters and much of its air defense systems were still in place.
It also means the Iraqis knew the F-16s were coming, but were unaware of their true target. Part of the formation broke off to strike the al-Tuwaitha facility while a smaller contingent moved to hit critical government buildings in downtown Baghdad, including the Republican Guard headquarters and the Headquarters building of the Iraqi Air Force.
The nuclear facility was well-protected by smoke, anti-aircraft guns, and surface-to-air missiles and are forced to withdraw from the area. The group that hit the military command buildings didn’t fare much better.
Emmett Tulia, callsign Stroke 3, was assigned to attack an oil refinery in the downtown area. As he dips below the cloud cover, his early warning systems alerts him to an incoming SAM. After a couple of maneuvers, he outflies the missile and it detonates.
He is alive but separated from his wingmen and his anti-missile flares (unbeknownst to him) weren’t operating. Still, he continues his attack run and drops his bombs. His part of the mission is a success.
As he heads back home, the cockpit alarms light up and he hears the voice of his wingman, Maj. Jeff Tice, telling him to break right. Three new SAMs were coming his way and following Tice’s instructions meant they all three flew right by him. His wingman saved his life.
Once again he turns to head home, but seconds later his cockpit lights up with another warning. Another SAM is coming at him. The G-forces caused by the constant need to outmaneuver these Vietnam-era SAM are starting to wear Maj. Tulia down but he manages to barely succeed. This was so close, he could hear it scream by.
Almost immediately, another SAM is coming his way. By now he’s been fighting G-forces and his plane for a full six minutes and is physically exhausted. His altitude is so low that he’s within range of the Iraqi anti-aircraft guns. But the sixth missile loses its lock on Tulia’s F-16 and falls away.
Tulia is able to rejoin the fleet of F-16s headed home, but his wingman, Maj. Tice, was shot down by the same kind of SAM that had targeted Tulia. Tice and another F-16 pilot who was downed in the action ejected, but were captured by the Iraqis.
Saddam’s nuclear facility was damaged in the raid, but it was not taken out. The air mission showed that F-16s weren’t as effective against Baghdad’s air defenses as B-2 bombing missions and F-117 Nighthawk fighters.
The cockpit footage from Tulia’s fighter is still used to train pilots 30 years later.