A British paratrooper crashed through the roof of a California home during a training jump

us paratrooper
Paratroopers descend from an Air Force C-130 over Fort Bragg, North Carolina, October 11, 2012.

  • A British paratrooper crashed through the roof of a California home during a July 6 training jump.
  • The exercise was a High Altitude Low Opening, or HALO, jump, which are usually associated with special-operations units.
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A British paratrooper training with US troops crashed through the roof of a home in California during a July 6 High Altitude Low Opening, or HALO, jump after his parachute failed to fully deploy.

“The soldier received minor injuries and is recovering well,” a spokesperson with the British Embassy in Washington, DC, told Military.com Monday. “The UK military always tries to minimise the disruption caused by exercises and continues to be extremely grateful for the support from the local community for critical exercises such as this.”

The British embassy didn’t disclose which the British soldier’s unit, and with which US troops he was training.

HALO jumps are usually associated with special operations units. The training was conducted out of Camp Roberts, California, according to a National Guard spokesperson.

US Army WTF Moments was first to share images of the incident.

HALO jumps involve exiting an aircraft at an altitude of up to 35,000 feet, but not deploying a parachute until at or below 6,000 feet, according to the US military’s 2014 Military Freefall Operations field manual. Jumps are typically conducted that high to hide troops and protect them; at that altitude, planes are out of the range of most anti-aircraft weapons.

“The parachutist experienced issues in freefall and was required to operate his reserve [parachute],” the British Embassy spokesperson said. “Although the reserve deployed, the parachutist did not have sufficient height to land on the allocated drop zone, was significantly disorientated and unfortunately hit a local resident’s house.”

The British soldier smashed through the roof of a home in Atascadero, California, during the late afternoon of July 6, according to local law enforcement. Preliminary police reports did not note that the incident involved a service member.

All other troops involved in the jump landed safely with no other injuries reported.

“The parachutist was conscious but stunned with complaints of pain but no visible serious injuries,” the Atascadero Police Department said in a news release. “The occupants of the residence were not home at the time and therefore were uninjured.”

– Steve Beynon can be reached at Steve.Beynon@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @StevenBeynon.

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How ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ got cameras inside the cockpit of a F/A-18 fighter jet

Top Gun Maverick
  • Promotion for “Top Gun: Maverick” is starting to pick up as the November 2021 release date approaches.
  • In a recent interview, director Joseph Kosinski described how his crew pushed the technological envelope to create the movie’s in-flight action scenes.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The long-delayed sequel to “Top Gun” is slated for November 2021, and promotion for “Top Gun: Maverick” is starting to pick up as the release date approaches.

Paramount Pictures partnered with the YouTube show “Could You Survive the Movies?” for an interview with director Joseph Kosinski about how his crew pushed the technological envelope to create the movie’s in-flight action scenes.

The new clip is an addition to the “Could You Survive the Movies?” episode that explores the science behind the original 1986 movie. Series host Jake Roper joined Kosinski for the conversation highlighted in the new clip.

Kosinski reveals that he studied to be an aerospace engineer before getting into the filmmaking game. That makes sense because the director behind sci-fi movies such as “TRON: Legacy” and “Oblivion” always has shown a bent for cutting-edge movie technology.

To help the actors get their performances right, the crew built a replica of an F-18 Super Hornet cockpit on the ground, and Kosinski rehearsed each scene with the actors before they did the actual scene inside a jet screaming across the sky.

Boeing F/A 18 Super Hornet
An F/A-18 Super Hornet.

Since the team was inventing new ways to film airborne action, the process could be incredibly slow.

“Some days, we’d work a 16-hour day and get 40 seconds of footage; 25 cameras running simultaneous,” Kosinski reveals to Roper in the clip.

The big reveal in the interview is that cinematographer Claudio Miranda worked with Sony to develop a new camera system called the Rialto, which is an add-on to Sony’s popular Venice 6k camera. Kosinski says they captured the footage using six Rialtos on each plane, with four cameras facing the actor and two cameras facing forward.

The images featured in the video suggest a kind of hybrid setup, because it looks like at least two Venice units are included in the four-camera array that’s facing the actors. The Venices are definitely too large to be connected to the front-facing cameras.

The Rialto comes with a 9-foot cable that allows it to connect to a Venice unit, so it looks like the filmmakers figured out places to stash the Venice units around the plane.

Even though the photos make the Venice look like a monster piece of gear, the unit weighs only 8.6 pounds and the Rialto extension units weigh 3-4 pounds. To anyone who lugged around digital cameras when they first arrived on the market, this will seem like impossible news. Welcome to the future.

You can play with this tech yourself if you’ve got the cash or qualify for Sony’s interest-free financing. A Venice body retails for $42,000, and a Rialto starts around $12K. Then you need lenses and all the other rigging. You can get started for around $65,000, but $100K would give you a ton of options.

You can watch the entire interview for yourself below.

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4 years before the Navy started blasting its new aircraft carrier, this team started planning to protect nearby animals

Navy aircraft carrier Gerald Ford during shock trials
US Navy aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford during shock trials in the Atlantic Ocean, June 18, 2021.

  • The Navy put its new through shock trials, meant to test its response to nearby explosions, in June.
  • More than four years before the first blast, a team of scientists went to work to protect marine wildlife.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

More than four years before the explosive went off beside the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford on June 18, a team of scientists began making plans for the ship’s shock trials. Their goal, however, was not battle readiness – they were trying to protect marine wildlife.

The process of planning the Ford’s shock trials began in 2016, according to Tom Douglas, the environmental impact director for the Navy’s shock trials.

“Planning for these are three to five years, if not a little bit longer,” he said. “It takes quite a bit of effort.”

Shock trials have a long history in the Navy, going as far back as World War II when the service discovered that “near miss” explosions still had the potential to incapacitate a ship.

As a result, the Navy conceived the test – which usually involves setting off explosives at various depths and distances from the ship – as a way to assess the impact of the shock and vibrations of a close blast on a ship’s equipment, a scientific report commissioned by the Navy explained.

Navy cruiser Arkansas shock trials explosion
US Navy guided-missile cruiser USS Arkansas during a shock test, March 17, 1982.

However, setting off a large explosion underwater also has the potential to disorient and disrupt the normal patterns of life or kill nearby marine life. As a result, environmental considerations now factor into the Navy’s decision-making.

One of the key aspects of the planning process involves choosing a location and time to conduct the trials. Douglas’ team considered one of four locations available to conduct the test, ultimately settling on a site off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida.

“As far as surveys that have been conducted today, it has the lowest density of marine life, for any of the shock trial areas that we could utilize,” Bridget Watts, an expert working with the shock trial team, said. “We have gone back and looked at the past 50 years of wind and weather data to determine that June and July are the most optimum time of the year,” Douglas added.

The team also works the timing of the trial around the marine life that is in the area.

Douglas said that they have an “exclusion period” based on the migratory patterns of the North Atlantic right whale, one of the world’s most endangered large whales with less than 400 left alive today.

“We definitely want to do no harm,” Douglas said.

The Navy’s overall record on marine life preservation is a bit more mixed. For example, the service has been sued several times over the past two decades by environmental groups over its use of sonar in submarine exercises.

Last year, as part of its regular permit renewal, the Navy asked the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to increase the number of marine animals it harasses, harms, or kills in tests and training on the Pacific Coast.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said the allowed level of “incidental taking” – the regulatory term for anything from disrupted behavior to injury or death of a marine mammal – “unacceptable” in a letter to the regulator.

Navy amphibious ship Mesa Verde explosion during shock trials
US Navy amphibious transport dock USS Mesa Verde during a shock test off the Florida coast, August 16, 2008.

Five conservation directors from the state said in a joint letter to the NMFS that, “The approval of such a high level of incidental take without requiring any additional mitigation measures represents gross neglect.”

The permission was granted on November 9, 2020, though with a requirement to institute shutdowns and delays if marine mammals are sighted within certain distances and to limit sonar use in some areas.

On the day of the trial, the team deployed a group of observers, veterinarians and scientists aboard the carrier to help ensure that marine life is not harmed.

The Navy creates a 3.5 nautical mile area around the ship – a mitigation zone – in which no marine life can be located before the blast goes off.

“We have about 10 or 12 people on the target vessel whose entire job is monitoring the area around the mitigation zone as well as the area near [the] ship,” Douglas said.

Said Douglas: “The blast radius has potential harm to small animals out to one to two kilometers. We monitor three times that distance.”

If the team spots animals or cannot assess the entire mitigation zone effectively, it can halt the trial.

“There are several points … where the CO of the ship and the shock trail officer request a ‘go/no go’ from the chief scientist,” Douglas said.

US Navy aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford undergoing full-ship shock trials
USS Gerald R. Ford during shock trials in the Atlantic Ocean, June 18, 2021

Capt. Jeremy Shamblee, the executive officer of the Norfolk-based Ford, noted that the team delayed the trial twice.

After the blast, the team continues to monitor the area for days, using a boat and aircraft.

“Surveillance is partially geared on just making sure that we’ve covered those areas enough and give them enough time to be able to find someone that either we can help or that we have to deal with or that we recover them [so] we can learn something from it,” Dr. Michael Walsh, one of the veterinarians who assists in the trials, said.

All told, more than 30 people are involved in the environmental aspect of the shock trials on the Ford.

Shamblee said the ship is hoping to wrap up the other two explosions that are planned for the trial by August.

Once the Ford’s trials finish, Douglas said his work will go on.

“We’re always … looking for increased science,” Douglas said. “How can we better look at lessons learned from this? How can we better do the next shock trial?”

– Konstantin Toropin can be reached at konstantin.toropin@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @ktoropin.

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The Air Force wants to give some A-10s, F-22s, and F-35s new homes

nellis afb
Aircraft and visitors at the 2014 Nellis Open House at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, November 12, 2014.

  • The US Air Force wants to move some A-10s and HH-60 helicopters to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona.
  • Some F-35s and F-22s are also being moved to Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.
  • The service says the moves will allow it to centralize close air support and rescue operations and to enhance training for those fifth-generation jets.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The US Air Force wants to move some A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft and HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, to centralize close air support and rescue operations while retiring some of the oldest Warthogs in the fleet, the service announced Wednesday.

In an effort to make Davis-Monthan the “Center of Excellence” for those missions, the service said it plans to move the A-10 weapons instructor course and test and evaluation operations from Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, to the base in 2022, according to a news release.

At the same time, some fifth-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and F-22 Raptors will move to Nellis, the service said in a separate release.

The move is predicated on Congress approving the Air Force’s request to get rid of 42 A-10s outlined in its fiscal 2022 budget, an attempt the service has tried before, but to no avail because lawmakers shot it down.

Testifying before lawmakers during multiple hearings in recent weeks, officials have said the service can modernize and maintain 218 of the 281 tank-shredding aircraft it currently has, downsizing from nine operational squadrons to seven.

Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt Warthog
An A-10 Demonstration Team pilot prepares to takeoff at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona, March 4, 2018.

Hundreds of A-10s in the fleet have received new wings or are in the process of receiving upgrades to their wings despite the battle over how many aircraft the service can retire in coming years. The service estimates it has poured $880 million so far into the A-10 re-winging and avionics modernization efforts.

The A-10 is expected to fly into the 2030s and has been grandfathered under the service’s “four plus one” model to downsize from its current seven fighter or attack aircraft fleets.

In May, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown said the four are the F-35 Lightning II; F-16 Fighting Falcon; the F-15EX Eagle II, which entered the service’s inventory in the spring; and the Next Generation Air Dominance program. NGAD defies the traditional categorization of a single platform, featuring a network potentially including an advanced fighter aircraft alongside sensors, weapons or drones.

The venerable A-10 remains as the “plus one.”

The Davis-Monthan Center of Excellence rescue missions, meanwhile, would be supplemented by the HH-60 weapons instructor course, and combat-coded units, including the 88th Test and Evaluation Squadron, which has detachments at Nellis, Davis-Monthan and Eglin Air Force Base, Florida; the 66th Rescue Squadron, the 58th Rescue Squadron, the 34th Weapons Squadron, and the 855th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron – all from Nellis.

Those units would transfer in 2024, the release states.

amanda f35a pilot
An F-35 heritage flight team pilot prepares for takeoff at Davis Monthan Air Force Base in March 2016

“Under this plan, Davis-Monthan will play a critical role in reshaping US airpower as home to the Air Force’s close air support and rescue Centers of Excellence,” Acting Secretary of the Air Force John P. Roth said in the release. “This realignment will consolidate all A-10 and HH-60 test, training, and weapon school activity at one location, allowing Airmen in these mission areas to train together for future threats.”

For Nellis, this means more stealth fighters will head to the desert base.

The Air Force said it is gearing up to bring in F-35 Lightning II and F-22 Raptor fighters, where the two often train side by side in exercises like Red Flag.

In 2019, it announced the reactivation of the 65th Aggressor Squadron to move 11 F-35A Lightning IIs to the base to serve as aggressor air, or “red air,” training. The majority are coming from Eglin, which is planning for new F-35s on its flight lines.

F-22s from Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, will be used for testing purposes, the service said.

– Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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The new Air Force One plane may get delivered a year late

Air Force One
Air Force One.

  • The upgraded VC-25B planes meant to serve as the next Air Force One aircraft may not arrive until 2025.
  • Air Force officials said this week that Boeing has told the service it needs to tack on an additional 12 months “beyond their original schedule.”
  • The Air Force is reviewing the company’s request to delay the delivery by at least a year, officials said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Boeing Co. is behind schedule on two new Air Force One aircraft, which could mean the upgraded VC-25B planes will not be delivered until 2025, according to service officials.

Testifying before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, Darlene Costello, principal deputy assistant secretary for Air Force acquisition, technology and logistics, revealed that the service is reviewing the aerospace and defense company’s request to delay the delivery by at least a year.

The aircraft were originally scheduled for delivery at the end of 2024.

Boeing has told the service it needs to tack on an additional 12 months “beyond their original schedule,” Costello told lawmakers, adding that the service must agree to the new terms.

“As soon as we get the updated schedule, we’ll determine if we have to adjust our baseline or schedule,” Costello said.

To make up for unforeseen costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Boeing said it may ask the service to pay more for the planes. The original $3.9 billion deal for the modified 747-8 airliners was set in 2018. The company has not asked for additional funding yet, Costello said; a dollar amount was not disclosed.

Air Force One
Air Force One.

Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Connecticut, expressed concern that the delivery delay might also create unforeseen costs to keep the current VC-25A aircraft – introduced in 1990 – flying longer.

“We may need to put in one more maintenance cycle for that aircraft, depending on the timing,” Costello replied.

Lt. Gen. Duke Richardson, the Air Force military deputy for acquisition, earlier this year acknowledged that the new Air Force One aircraft would be late because of a dispute with one of the suppliers remaking the aircraft’s interior.

“Boeing is working hard. They’ve got another supplier identified, [and] we’re going to transfer as much of the work on the interiors as possible,” Richardson said during the annual McAleese conference in May.

Boeing in April canceled its contract with GDC Technics, a Texas-based company, to redesign the state-of-the-art “flying White House,” stating that GDC failed to “meet contractual obligations” regarding work deadlines.

The subcontractor then filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and claimed Boeing was responsible for the program’s mismanagement, according to court documents filed in San Antonio and reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Boeing estimates GDC’s delays and problems related to the pandemic cost it $318 million in building the VC-25Bs, the company said in an earnings call in April.

Boeing began modifying the aircraft last year. The planes were originally ordered for the Russian airline company Transaero in 2013, DefenseOne reported in 2017. The company never delivered the jets to the now-defunct airline and instead put them in storage.

The aircraft passed its critical design review last spring, according to Defense News.

Air Force Two C-32
A C-32 frequently used as Air Force Two.

The Air Force One news comes after the service shelved plans to replace another high-profile executive aircraft: its small fleet of C-32s, or enhanced Boeing 757s, typically used to transport VIPs such as the vice president.

While the C-32 will remain in the fleet, the Air Force will not pursue investment in the airframe beyond already planned modifications, according to the service’s fiscal 2022 budget request. DefenseOne was first to note the service put off purchasing another Air Force Two aircraft.

“The C-32 Executive Transport Recapitalization program was intended to replace the aging C-32A aircraft fleet,” according to its Research, Development, Test and Evaluation Budget Item Justification.

Instead, remaining funding for the C-32 program was recently “applied to the evaluation and maturation of advanced high speed transport scale aircraft,” the budget request states.

The Pentagon last year awarded three companies contracts to begin prototyping a supersonic aircraft that could someday carry the president and other officials around the world in half the time. But until then, the C-32 – flying since 1998 – will press on, officials have said.

– Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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With an eye on China, the Air Force is looking to buy new kinds of bombs

jdam b-52
An airman secures a GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munition to a pylon on a B-52 bomber at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, August 27, 2014.

  • The Air Force wants to invest in state-of-the art, long-range weapons that are better-suited for operations in the Pacific.
  • To do so, the service’s 2022 budget cuts spending on the kinds of bombs it used to fight terrorist groups like ISIS.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Air Force will buy fewer Joint Direct Attack Munitions, or JDAMs; Hellfire missiles; and small-diameter bombs as it prepares to invest in state-of-the art, long-range weapons that are better-suited for operations in the Pacific, according to its fiscal 2022 budget request.

The service has requested $161 million to buy an initial production of 12 Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon, or ARRW (pronounced “Arrow”), hypersonic weapons to move it out of the research and development phase.

Despite the service shifting more resources toward the ARRW program last year, the missile failed its first flight test a few weeks ago.

The Air Force also wants to increase its procurement of the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range, or JASSM-ER, stealth cruise missile, an advanced weapon with a range of roughly 600 miles, the budget documents state.

Officials have previously stated the JASSM and its cousin, the Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile, or LRASM, can be used for stand-off precision strikes throughout the vast expanses of the Pacific region.

To fund those efforts, the service will reduce its purchases of JDAMs, the first iteration of the small-diameter bomb, and Hellfire missiles, said Maj. Gen. James D. Peccia, the Air Force deputy assistant secretary overseeing the budget at the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller.

Peccia told reporters Friday that the service has reached “healthy inventory levels” of those munitions and now will focus on the more advanced weapons.

Air Force B-1B Lancer Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile JASSM
Airmen load a Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile on an external pylon on a B-1B Lancer at Edwards Air Force Base in California, December 2, 2020.

The Air Force will ask Congress for about 1,900 JDAM munitions, according to the documents, compared to 16,800 last year.

The service wants to buy only 1,176 AGM-114 Hellfire missiles this year, down from 4,517 last year. And it plans to reduce its buy of GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb I, or SDB I, to 998 from 2,462 last year.

To bolster its inventory of conventional munitions that allow aircraft to stay outside the range of enemy air defenses, the service’s funding request for JASSM-ER, which incorporates low-observable technology, has increased by $211 million “to grow production line capacity.” The Air Force wants to buy 525 missiles this year, up from 400 last year, the budget states.

Over the years, the Air Force has added thousands more JDAMs, SDBs and Hellfire missiles in its effort to build up its precision-guided munition inventory.

In 2017, the service raced to buy more JDAMs and the SDB I as the Pentagon grappled with a bomb shortage driven in part by the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

The arsenal was further strained when the joint force began sharing weapons with coalition partners engaged against the terrorist group in the Middle East, then-Lt. Gen. John Raymond, deputy chief of staff for operations at Headquarters Air Forces, said in 2016. Raymond is now chief of the US Space Force.

To boost its stockpiles, the service worked with defense companies to procure precision-guided bomb packages, including tail-kits that use GPS to guide the bombs to their intended targets.

The Air Force purchased about 27,800 JDAM munitions a year between fiscal 2018 and 2020. It slowed JDAM procurements for the first time last year.

– Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @oriana0214.

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To fill a fighter-jet gap, the US Navy is about to get some of the Air Force’s F-16s

Air Force F-16 fighter jet
An F-16C Fighting Falcon at RAF Lakenheath in England, August 3, 2018.

  • The US Navy’s will receive F-16s from the Air Force to fill a gap as the Navy retires older F/A-18s.
  • The Navy will shelve some 55 aircraft over the next year, and to make sure it has enough fighters available, it expects the Air Force to give it F-16s.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The US Navy is preparing to receive F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets from the Air Force as it moves to rid its inventory of legacy F/A-18 Hornet models used in its Reserve fleets, according to its fiscal 2022 budget request.

The Navy will shelve roughly 55 aircraft over the next year, the documents state, in hopes of transitioning to the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. But to make sure it has enough fighters available amid the conversion, it expects the Air Force to transfer some F-16s to it.

“This divestment reduces long-term support cost of older [Hornets] while retaining adversary capacity,” the documents state, but do not specify the number of F-16s needed. Seapower Magazine reported earlier this month the F-16s could come from Air National Guard units.

The Drive reported the F-16s will be used for aggressor training, or to act as enemy forces in air-to-air training.

The service is moving to reduce its fighter force and focus on the Super Hornet; the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter; and the F/A-18 follow-on aircraft, currently known as the F/A-XX, which defies traditional categorization as a single aircraft platform or technology – potentially using a fighter flying alongside artificial intelligence-enhanced drones.

The service is weighing whether the F/A-XX will be manned, unmanned or partially autonomous, Navy officials have said.

F/A-18E Super Hornets
F/A-18E Super Hornets.

The Navy has accepted F-16s before, with 26 special F-16N versions – 22 single-seat and four two-seater aircraft – used between 1988 and 1998 for aggressor training.

Following the retirement of the N models, the service acquired 14 F-16s originally slated for the Pakistani air force in the early 2000s, which it currently uses at its “Topgun” school at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada.

Air Force officials have said the F-16 still has a place in its fleet for now, even as it reduces the number of types of fighter jets and attack aircraft it keeps.

“The newer block [F-16s] that have been upgraded are going to fly for some time,” said Lt. Gen. S. Clinton Hinote, the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for strategy, integration and requirements.

The Air Force will weigh what types of roles or mission sets make sense for the F-16 as a multirole fighter – including homeland defense – and whether the newer aircraft can be upgraded down the line, Hinote said in an interview with Military.com earlier this month.

Air Force Magazine reported that the service will introduce a program known as Multirole Fighter-X, or MR-X, later this decade. It is expected to join the service’s inventory in the mid-2030s, according to the magazine.

US Air Force F-16
A US Air Force F-16.

Hinote said it’s possible F-16s could fill the MR-X role. But if upgrades are too extensive or too costly, the next MR-X could be a “clean sheet” fighter design.

“That would be a digitally designed new type of fighter affordable mainly for missions where survivability is not the most important concern,” he said, referring to homeland defense over a near-peer conflict.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown said he’s open to something beyond the F-16 for the future multirole jet.

“Let’s not just buy off the shelf; let’s actually take a look at something else out there that we can build,” Brown said during a Defense Writers Group virtual chat with reporters in February.

Like Hinote, Brown said that the service wants something that can be economically sustainable, digitally designed, produced quickly and has an open-architecture software system that can be rapidly modified to keep up with missions.

“I want to be able to build something new and different that’s not the F-16, that has some of those capabilities, but gets there faster and features a digital approach,” he said in February.

– Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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5 legendary US military firearms were designed by the same guy

John Moses Browning BAR
John M. Browning, inventor of the Browning Light Gun (BAR), at the Winchester Plant in 1918.

  • John M. Browning built his first firearm at age 10 in 1865, using scraps in his father’s workshop.
  • The weapons Browning went on to design have become icons in the US military and remain in use today.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

When Gavrilo Princip shot Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, he did it with an FN Model 1910 pistol.

The assassination of the archduke became the catalyst of World War I, which itself laid the groundwork for World War II, and later the Cold War.

This lightweight weapon was easily concealed and perfectly engineered by American firearms designer John Moses Browning. Browning’s weapons not only changed the course of the 20th century, it would help the United States win its coming conflicts and usher in the “American Century.”

A new book from former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Nathan Gorenstein, “The Guns of John Moses Browning: The Remarkable Story of The Inventor Whose Firearms Changed the World,” details the list of Browning’s engineering feats. It tells the incredible history of the boy who built his first firearm in 1865 at age 10 from scrap parts in his father’s workshop to the designs that are still in use today.

Here are just a few of the enduring weapons, many of which are still beloved by the US military.

1. M2 Browning .50-caliber machine gun

Army Green Berets Special Forces M2 Browning
Green Berets fire the M2 .50 caliber machine gun at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, April 2, 2019.

Affectionately called “Ma Deuce,” the .50-cal was developed just before the end of World War I but didn’t enter active service until 1933.

It has been used in every major American and NATO engagement ever since. It was first designed to penetrate the armor of tanks and bring down enemy aircraft, but Browning didn’t live to see it in use. He died in 1926.

It came at the request of American Expeditionary Force commander Gen. John J. Pershing, who specifically asked for a larger-caliber weapon that fired rounds at a higher velocity than Browning’s previous machine gun, the M1917.

It was so effective that other countries, including the Soviet Union, bought it or copied the design for themselves.

2. The Colt M1911

M1911
A Marine fires an M1911.

American troops fighting in the Philippines needed a sidearm that would stop Philippine rebels in their tracks, and the current sidearm, the .38-caliber M1892, just wasn’t cutting it.

They demanded a new .45-caliber weapon for the purpose, so Colt turned to its designer, Browning.

The pistol Browning created not only had the required stopping power, but it also might be the most durable pistol ever made. The 1910 Army trials put 6,000 rounds through Browning’s design, cooling it by dipping it in water. The weapon still fired perfectly.

Today, the M1911 remains the favored sidearm of many US special-operations troops.

3. Winchester Model 1897

US Marine Winchester Model 1897 shotgun
A US Marine with a Winchester M97 shotgun during World War II.

Although in use by the US military long before World War I, the trenches of the Western Front is where the Model 1897 gained its enduring notoriety (or infamy, depending on which trench you were in).

The shortened barrel available on the 1897 made it the perfect weapon for trench warfare.

Not only was it good for shooting down enemy grenades, it became known as the “trench broom,” because its five-shot capacity was effective in clearing enemy trenches.

It became so deadly in the trenches that the German government protested its use as an illegal weapon of war.

4. M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR)

Army soldier BAR rifle Korean. War
A US soldier uses his BAR to return fire against Chinese Communist troops during the Korean War, February 23, 1951.

The BAR was the light machine gun of World War II and the Korean War.

Amazingly, it was designed to be fired from an infantryman’s hip while walking and actually saw action in World War I during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. With the BAR in the hands of American troops, the Americans pushed the Germans back more than 9 miles before the war’s end.

An upgraded version of the BAR was used in World War II and Korea, where the machine gun not only was desired by infantrymen, it was necessary.

By the end of WWII, infantry squads were equipped with at least three Browning Automatic Rifles.

5. M1919 Browning Machine Gun

Army soldiers M1919 Browning machine gun
A US Army M1919 Browning machine-gun crew in the streets of Aachen, Germany, October 15, 1944.

The Browning M1919 is the all-purpose machine gun used by the United States (and other countries) from World War II to the Vietnam War. It was a versatile weapon, used in various forms by a five-man machine gun team or it could be mounted on jeeps, tanks or landing craft. It also was adapted for use on aircraft.

This belt-fed wonder was reliable for prolonged firing and when converted into a lighter machine gun, and it later was altered to be lighter and more portable than the original. It was adapted yet again for brown water navy boats in the Vietnam War. Many countries still employ the latest variants.

For more about the life, work and history on the designs of Browning, “The Edison of Firearms,” check out “The Guns of John Moses Browning: The Remarkable Story of The Inventor Whose Firearms Changed the World,” on sale now.

— Blake Stilwell can be reached at blake.stilwell@military.com. He can also be found on Twitter @blakestilwell or on Facebook.

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SOCOM is looking at these 5 aircraft to keep an eye on its special operators

Bronco II
Leidos’ Bronco II.

  • US Special Operations Commandhas awarded contracts five companies for its Armed Overwatch program.
  • The Armed Overwatch program aims to field flexible, fixed-wing aircraft that can deploy to austere regions and only needs a light logistical footprint.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

US Special Operations Command, or SOCOM, announced Friday it has awarded contracts totaling $19.2 million to five companies to produce prototype aircraft for its Armed Overwatch program.

In a notice published on the US federal contracting website, SOCOM said that the awards will go to Leidos Inc. of Reston, Virginia; MAG Aerospace of Fairfax, Virginia; Textron Aviation Defense of Wichita, Kansas; L-3 Communications Integrated Systems of Waco, Texas; and Sierra Nevada Corp. of Sparks, Nevada.

The Armed Overwatch program is Air Force Special Operations Command’s effort to field a series of flexible, fixed-wing aircraft that could be deployed to austere regions and require only a light logistical footprint to operate.

Beechcraft AT-6 Light Attack Experiment
A Beechcraft AT-6 over White Sands Missile Range, July 31, 2017.

AFSOC commander Lt. Gen. Jim Slife told reporters in February he hopes Armed Overwatch aircraft could keep pressure on violent extremist organizations in places such as some parts of Africa, where extremist groups operate but the airspace is largely uncontested.

Slife said then that Armed Overwatch planes could conduct both intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, as well as close-air support and precision strike missions to support ground troops.

In a previous announcement on the program in April 2020, SOCOM said it planned to buy about 75 Armed Overwatch planes.

MAG Aerospace MC-208 Guardian
MAG Aerospace’s MC-208 Guardian.

SOCOM said Friday that the five awardees will work on and demonstrate their prototypes primarily at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida; that process should be complete by March 2022.

The aircraft being considered include Leidos’ Bronco II, MAG Aerospace’s MC-208 Guardian, Textron’s AT-6E Wolverine, L-3’s AT-802U Sky Warden, and Sierra Nevada’s MC-145B Wily Coyote.

The Air Force in recent years looked at Textron’s AT-6 as part of its experiment with light attack aircraft; in 2019, it said it expects to buy two or three of them. The first AT-6E was delivered to the service in February.

L-3 AT-802U Sky Warden
Sky Warden is based on the Air Tractor AT-802.

Leidos announced in May 2020 that it had developed the Bronco II to meet SOCOM’s needs and compete for the Armed Overwatch program. In March, MAG Aerospace announced the launch of the MC-208, which is based on the C-208 Cessna.

L-3 announced the single-engine turboprop Sky Warden earlier this month.

Sierra Nevada has not made any public announcements about the MC-145B. But for more than a decade, AFSOC has flown a variant called the C-145A Combat Coyote, primarily for combat air adviser missions.

Slife said AFSOC hopes that, as it brings on new planes for Armed Overwatch that can collect intelligence, it will be able to pull its costly U-28A Draco aircraft out of the field.

Air Force Special Operations Command C-145A Combat Coyote
The Air Force Special Operations Command-owned C-145A Combat Coyote is primarily flown by Combat Aviation Advisor, or CAA, special air mobility aircrew.

The Draco is a small aircraft adapted from the Pilatus PC-12, which is capable of landing in small, rough airfields and flying in remote areas.

But the Draco is also an expensive plane to keep in the air. Because there are so few of them and they are not standard aircraft, it requires specialized equipment, maintenance and training to sustain them. This takes airmen away from bigger missions, driving up the cost of maintenance.

“At the end of the day, the Armed Overwatch platform will be less expensive to operate, [and] it will be more versatile than the U-28,” Slife said in February.

– Oriana Pawlyk contributed to this report.

– Stephen Losey can be reached at stephen.losey@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @StephenLosey.

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The Marines actually sank a moving ship when they test-fired a Navy missile from a truck for the first time

Naval Strike Missile
The Naval Strike Missile is operational on land and at sea.

  • Last month, the Marine Corps announced the first test of a system that launches Naval Strike Missiles from a modified vehicle.
  • This month, the Corps’ top officer said that groundbreaking test actually sank a ship sailing off the coast of California.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Marine Corps took out a moving ship by firing a Navy missile at it from the back of an unmanned vehicle on land – a new weapon the service’s top general says will make “an adversary think twice.”

Commandant Gen. David Berger revealed new details about a groundbreaking test announced last month in which Marines in California used a deadly new system to take out a threat at sea.

Known as NMESIS, the Navy Marine Expeditionary Ship Interdiction System can launch naval strike missiles from the back of a modified Joint Light Tactical Vehicle to destroy targets.

Berger said the Marines testing the system were able to sink a ship on the move near California. The Marine Corps’ top priority in the 2022 budget, he added, will be ground-based anti-ship missiles.

“A very successful test,” the commandant said Thursday during the annual McAleese defense conference. “… That’s conventional deterrence because that’s a capability that makes an adversary think twice.”

The Marine Corps is undergoing massive reform after two decades of ground warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan. Berger’s Force Design 2030 plans call for the service to ditch heavy legacy equipment, such as tanks, to prepare for lighter, naval-based missions. The plan is largely centered around threats Chinese forces pose to the US military.

Navy Marine Expeditionary Ship Interdiction System
The Navy Marine Expeditionary Ship Interdiction System can launch Naval Strike Missiles from a modified Joint Light Tactical Vehicle at land or sea targets.

Emanuel “Manny” Pacheco, a spokesman for Marine Corps Systems Command, said the missile flew an attack path “that exceeded 90 nautical miles before impacting the target.”

He declined to provide details on additional tests, but said others have been successful.

“The Marine Corps is investing in technologies and capabilities to modernize the Corps and ensure we maintain our competitive edge,” Pacheco added.

Berger said Thursday that Marines will have to support the Navy not only with anti-surface missions to take out enemy ships, but submarines too. The Marine Corps will need to step up to help control straits and other maritime avenues the US and its partners and allies need open, he added.

“Littoral warfare is where you expect the Marine Corps to come on strong, and that’s where we’re headed,” he said.

Tanks and short-range towed artillery pieces aren’t a good fit for Marines to meet future threats. Instead, Berger said, they’ll need long-range fires and light amphibious warships.

“We are reorienting from a ground, sustained land-forces mode – which we’ve had to do for the nation for the past 20 years – into a naval expeditionary maritime mode,” he said.

– Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

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