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Peaches and Pound Cake

Story Corps has this great bit of relation from PFC Roman Coley Davis, who grew up in a small town in southern Georgia.

After graduating from high school in 2004, he joined the military. By the time he was 20 years old, Roman found himself 7,000 miles away from home, in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan — one of the most remote outposts in the U.S. war there. At StoryCorps, he told his friend Dan Marek about his family and his time in Afghanistan.

After the military, Roman enrolled in culinary school. He used his GI Bill to attend Le Cordon Bleu. He’s now a chef, based in Arkansas.

The final Navy carrier deployment of the F-18 Charlie has concluded

A sight that will go unseen moving forward, barring Marine air units deploying with carrier groups:

Photo US Navy

From Scramble Magazine:

On 11 April 2018, Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 34 Blue Blasters (‘NE-4xx’) arrived back home at NAS Oceana (VA) after a three-month deployment with CVW-2 on board the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70).

The F/A-18C squadron embarked on 5 January 2018 the Vinson. The deployment marked the sundown cruise of the US Navy F/A-18C Hornet.

CVW-3’s VFA-131 Wildcats (‘AC-3xx’) and and CVW-8’s VFA-37 Bulls (‘AJ-4xx’) still operate the legacy F/A-18C Hornet but these squadrons will not deploy anymore with these types.

VFA-34 will transition to F/A-18E Super Hornet in the upcoming months, likewise followed by VFA-131 and VFA-37.


105 missiles in 2 minutes

Regardless of your political views, France, the UK and the U.S. pulled off a remarkable joint effort from a military standpoint in their punitive operation against Syria on Saturday. In short, three aviation task forces from three different countries, a submarine, and four naval surface vessels coordinated an attack against three different and heavily defended land targets, with zero losses to friendlies.

The Russians say most of the incoming cruise missiles were shot down, but bomb damage assessment doesn’t hold up to that, although the kitchen sink was apparently thrown into the air around Damascus and Homs. CENTCOM says they tracked 40~ Syrian SAMs fired into the air, with zero hits on aircraft or incoming weapons.

Statement from SECNAV

CENTCOM statement

Five French Rafale jets loaded with a pair of SCALP-EG cruise missiles, covered and supported by five Mirage 2000-5F fighters, two E-3 AWACS, and six C-135FR tankers. The Rafale landed 9 SCALPS, two on the Him Shinshar storage site and 7 on the Him Shinshar CW bunker. This came while the French Navy (Marine Nationale) conducted the first ever operational strike involving the new MdCN (Missile de Croisiere Naval) naval cruise missile (the naval version of SCALP), firing 3 of the weapons from the Aquitaine-class multipurpose frigate Languedoc (D653) at the Him Shinshar CW storage site (west of Homs):

Two B-1Bs, deployed to Al Udeid AB from Ellsworth AFB, S.D., employed 19 Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range (JASSM-ER), marking the first combat employment of the weapon. The JASSMs were targeting the Barzeh CW research and development center in Damascus

(U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

The Navy fired 7 TLAMs from USS Laboon (DDG-58) and 30 more from USS Monterey (CG-61) from the Red Sea while USS Higgins (DDG-76) let 23 TLAMs loose from the Northern part of the Persian Gulf, and the Virginia-class submarine USS John Warner (SSN-785) launched 6 more Tomahawks from the Med. In all, some 66 TLAMs– 57 directed at Barzeh and 9 at the Him Shinshar CW storage site.

180414-N-DO281-1123 U.S. FIFTH FLEET AREA OF OPERATIONS (April 14, 2018) The guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey (CG 61) fires a Tomahawk land attack missile. Monterey is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations to reassure allies and partners and preserve the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in the region. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g Matthew Daniels/Released)

The Brits, using aging Tornados, got some Storm Shadow cruise missiles in at the Him Shinshar CW storage site– the only site hit by all three Allied nations.

RAF Tornado GR4 Royal Air Force Akrotiri Cyprus 2018 April, isn’t she beautiful…(MoD photo)

From Cyrpus:

Four Royal Air Force Tornado’s took off this morning from RAF Akrotiri to conduct strikes in support of Operations over the Middle East, firing eight Storm Shadow missiles

The Tornados, flown by 31 Squadron the Goldstars, were supported by a Voyager aircraft.

At 0200 UK time on 14 April, British forces joined close Allies in a precision strike on Syrian installations involved in the use of chemical weapons.

The UK element of the carefully coordinated joint action was contributed by four Royal Air Force Tornado GR4s. They launched Storm Shadow missiles at a military facility – a former missile base – some fifteen miles west of Homs, where the regime is assessed to keep chemical weapon precursors stockpiled in breach of Syria’s obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention. Very careful scientific analysis was applied to determine where best to target the Storm Shadows to maximize the destruction of the stockpiled chemicals and to minimize any risks of contamination to the surrounding area. The facility which was struck is located some distance from any known concentrations of civilian habitation, reducing yet further any such risk.

As of note, the RAF turned 100 years old on April 1st.

Whistling up 90K M1 Garands

CAMP AGUINALDO, Philippines - Joint Armed Forces of Philippines and U.S. team conducting M1 Inventory, 2017

CAMP AGUINALDO, Philippines – Joint Armed Forces of Philippines and U.S. team conducting M1 Inventory, 2017

The backstory on how six divisions worth of M1 Garands got repatriated from the Phillipines, where they have seen hard service since the 1950s in some cases, back to the U.S. to be sold through CMP in Anniston. Contrary to what a lot of people think, CMP actually had to spend a small fortune to get these vintage weapons back CONUS.

“It goes almost without saying that accurately accounting for and transporting approximately 90,000 small arms from the other side of the globe is challenging under any circumstances. Throw in termite infestation, monsoon season, and asbestos contamination, and you will have a recipe for disaster.”

More here.

Meanwhile, down in the South Atlantic

In Argentina, the 36th Anniversary of that country’s ugly defeat by a numerically smaller British expeditionary force in the Falkland Islands War– which the Argentine military has never recovered from– is still a fresh wound. Below from Euronews, with commentary from the Argie Minister of Defense:

Going beyond the rhetoric, Buenos Aries has recently taken possession of five very old former French Navy Super Etendards to go along with their vintage models and is reportedly hoping to lay hands on as many as 24 surplus Mirage 2000s the French have in storage, which is sure to be a hit in London.

Sure, the RAF keeps a quartet of Eurofighter Typhoons at RAF Mount Pleasant in the Falklands, but when it’s 24:4, things could get dicey if the Argentinians get lucky and the Brits have few of these sexy super jest to spare when accounting for those needed for Quick Reaction Alerts in the UK and growing NATO obligations.

This has all happened before…

Here we see a very cold German-made Spanish Army Leopard 2E main battle tank and an ASCOD BMP Pizarro (the Spanish Army version of the Austrian Ulan and British Ajax) during a training exercise in Latvia, 13 Feb 2018.

The aspect of Spanish troops using German equipment in the snow somewhere East of Warsaw is not a new one.

I give you, División Azul:

Just saying.

NASA is funding a Supersonic X-Plane that is quiet

So Lockheed has been selected by NASA to build a prototype tech demo X-plane capable of what is termed “Low-Boom Flight” to be the precursor to an American Concord with 21st Century tech, and to tell you the truth, it is badass.

The presser:

NASA awarded Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) Skunk Works® a contract to design, build and flight test the Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator, an X-plane designed to make supersonic passenger air travel a reality.

“It is super exciting to be back designing and flying X-planes at this scale,” said Jaiwon Shin, NASA’s associate administrator for aeronautics. “Our long tradition of solving the technical barriers of supersonic flight to benefit everyone continues.”

Lockheed Martin Skunk Works will build a full-scale experimental aircraft, known as an X-plane, of its preliminary design developed under NASA’s Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) effort. The X-plane will help NASA establish an acceptable commercial supersonic noise standard to overturn current regulations banning commercial supersonic travel over land.

“We’re honored to continue our partnership with NASA to enable a new generation of supersonic travel,” said Peter Iosifidis, Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator program manager, Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. “We look forward to applying the extensive work completed under QueSST to the design, build and flight test of the X-plane, providing NASA with a demonstrator to make supersonic commercial travel possible for passengers around the globe.”

Lockheed Martin Skunk Works and NASA have partnered for more than a decade to enable the next generation of commercial supersonic aircraft. NASA awarded Lockheed Martin Skunk Works a contract in February 2016 for the preliminary design of the supersonic X-plane flight demonstrator.

The aircraft will be built at the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works facility in Palmdale, California, and will conduct its first flight in 2021


In other news, Skunk Works is also busy on the purpose-built MQ-25 unmanned tanker concept for the Navy, which IMHO should have included an armed variant, but hey…if it stops F18s from being wasted as buddy fuelers, it’s a win

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