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Blasting down the Holloman Test Track

They should charge admisson to ride this bad boy.

Remember that time B-1Bs simulated dropping Quickstrike mines in a Baltic op?

The Russians are sure to be a fan of the ongoing BALTOPS excercise which has seen, among other things, the Truman Strike Group including Carrier Air Wing One (CVW) 1, embarked aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) and B-1B’s sent from CONUS.

Speaking of which, how about those mines:

“In flight footage featuring drop of Navy Quickstrike Mine as well as taxi take off and landing. Two B-1B Lancers assigned to Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, dropped 12 inert Mark 62 Quickstrike mines while participating in BALTOPS 2018 which is an annual, multinational exercise designed to enhance interoperability and demonstrate NATO and partner force resolve to defend the Baltic Region. The Lancers were assigned to the 345th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron and sortied from RAF Fairford, England, June 2, 2018. (Video by Senior Airman Shawn White, 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs)”

Sailors from the Navy Munitions Command Atlantic Unit at Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., worked with members of the 7th Munitions Squadron to build the mines using Navy kits and Air Force practise bombs.

According to the Navy: The Quickstrike is a family of shallow water, aircraft laid mines used primarily against surface and subsurface craft. Quickstrike versions Mark 62 and Mark 63 are converted general purpose 500-pound and 1000-pound bombs, respectively. The Mark 65 is a 2,000-pound mine, which utilizes a thin-walled mine case, rather than a bomb body.

Mines can be used to deny an enemy access to specific areas or channelize the enemy into specific areas. Sea mines have been used by the U.S. Navy since the Revolutionary War. Mines have been used with significant effect in the Civil War and both World Wars. The most effective use of mines by the United States was against the Japanese Empire in World War II. U.S. aircraft laid over 12,000 mines in Japanese shipping routes and harbor approaches, sinking 650 Japanese ships and totally disrupting all of their maritime shipping.

Some stills:

A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer assigned to the 345th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron takes off in support of Exercise Baltic Operations at RAF Fairford, England, June 2, 2018 (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emily Copeland)

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 345th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron align 12 inert Mark 62 Quickstrike mines on a munitions assembly conveyor during Exercise Baltic Operations at RAF Fairford, England, May 31, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emily Copeland)

Warning tag is displayed on an inert Mark 62 Quickstrike mine firing mechanism for Exercise Baltic Operations at RAF Fairford, England, May 31, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emily Copeland)

The Red Devils Return to Normandy after 74 years, complete with invasion stripes

A U.S. Air Force A-10C Thunderbolt II assigned to the 127th Wing, Michigan Air National Guard flies over Normandy painted with non-standard markings in honor of the 100th Anniversary of the Red Devils of the 107th Fighter Squadron.

From the Michigan Air Guard:

The Red Devils of the 107th Fighter Squadron flew over northern France Sunday, as part of the official ceremony to mark the 74th anniversary of D-Day, the massive Allied invasion of the European mainland in World War II. The successful invasion ultimately led to Allied victory over the Axis Powers. In 1944, the 107th, then designated as a Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, flew several hundred reconnaissance missions over the beaches of Normandy, France, allowing the Allied High Command to plan an invasion path. In 2018 – flying their first mission in France since World War II – two 107th pilots escorted in group of nine C-130 Hercules and similar aircraft from multiple nations as they dropped about 500 paratroops near Sainte-Mere-Eglise, France, the same town where paratroopers landed as part of D-Day.

The 107th provided more than 9,000 intelligence photos to the Allied High Command in the weeks before D-Day. The photos showed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of defensive positions along the beach, placed by the army of Nazi Germany in advance of the expected invasion. More than 1,600 U.S. soldiers died during the D-Day invasions. Though highly costly in terms of human sacrifice, the invasion allowed Allied forces to gain a foothold on the European mainland and begin the march to victory in the war. Thirteen 107th pilots were shot down and killed in action during World War II. Three others who were shot down spent part of the war as a Prisoner of War.

Pretty informative short about the QF-16 UAS

They are planning on making 200 “optionally-manned” QF-16 drones over the next 10 years from surplussed early block F-16As

“The QF-16 is the introduction of fourth-generation fighter capabilities in the aerial target mission. It maintains all inherent capabilities of the baseline F-16 Fighting Falcon including supersonic flight and 9 G maneuverability. The QF-16 is a full-scale aerial target that has been modified to be flown with a pilot in the cockpit for training and also without a pilot as a target for live missile testing.”

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

MQ-25

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

If you have a rifle grenade, all things are possible

As illustrated in this Signal Corps image, a pair of servicemen of the 7th Air Force wrapped the line around a cricket bat-esque float, then stuffed it on the end of an M1 rifle grenade launcher device attached to an M1906. Launched by a special .30-06 cartridge, the M1 could kick out an M9A1 grenade at 165 feet per second.

The reason these Army Air Force personnel “somewhere in the Pacific” in 1944 hit on the idea to use a wooden float, some line, and a 1903 Springfield? To carry a hook offshore to help augment their diet.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Everyone loves the M17

All branches of the U.S. Armed Forces have placed orders for the M17/18 Modular Handgun System according to Sig Sauer. (Photo: Chris Eger)

Though originally a winner for an Army contract, Sig officials report that every branch including the Coast Guard has placed orders for the modified P320 pistol platform.

Sig’s M17/18 pistol, the winner of the Army’s Modular Handgun System contract last year, is set to be fielded by not only the land service but the Air Force, Marines and Navy as well as the Coast Guard, according to company representatives.

The handguns will begin replacing a host of other platforms, including various marks of the M9 Beretta in the Army. As noted in the Navy’s FY 2019 procurement budget justification for the Marine Corps, 35,000 of the Sigs will not only replace M9s but also Colt M45A1 CQB .45ACP pistols and the newly acquired M007 Glock. In Coast Guard service, the gun will augment the Sig P229R which was adopted in 2005. The Air Force has been quietly acquiring the guns and testing their use for compatibility with aircraft ejection seats.

More in my column at Guns.com.

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