Training session highlighted concerns about space, as well as the region

by JOSEPH TREVITHICK

When U.S. Army paratroopers jumped from their plane near Dead Horse, Alaska on Feb. 22, 2017, the sub-zero weather was reason enough for the practice session. Parachute jumps are complicated and dangerous in the best weather.

But the exercise planners had already added another unique element to the war game. When they reached the ground, the soldiers from 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment and 1st Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment went hunting for a mock satellite.

“It’s a real eye opener for them,” U.S. Army Maj. Isaac Henderson, 1–40th Cavalry’s executive officer, told the service’s reporters. …


An MQM-57 drone. U.S. Air Force photo

For many pilotless planes, things haven’t changed much since

by JOSEPH TREVITHICK

A popular image of American drone bases abroad is of small, dusty airstrips and clam-shell hangars, often attached to foreign airports. In early stages of the Cold War, the U.S. Army’s first pilotless spies relied on even simpler sites.

In 1959, the ground combat branch bought its first unmanned spooks. The planes were relatively crude, with limited range and only basic cameras.

The Army actually considered the whole drone “package,” including 12 radio-controlled aircraft, three launchers, two ground stations, along with other associated equipment, spare parts and tools as a single piece of kit, according to a…


Significant upgrades keep guns combat ready — at least in theory

by JOSEPH TREVITHICK

In February 2017, Turkish troops brought out tanks, armored personnel carriers, self-propelled artillery and more for an annual winter war game called Kış Tatbikatı. Among the various weapons on display on the snowy training grounds were mobile howitzers that Turkey has had in service for over 50 years.

Between 1963 and 1966, Turkey received more than 350 M-52 guns from the United States, according to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. After World War II, the U.S. …


Exchange program highlights allies fighting the Islamic State

by JOSEPH TREVITHICK

On Jan. 11, 2017, an A-10 Warthog pilot prepared to take off from an air base somewhere in the Middle East for a mission over Iraq. Except the American officer wasn’t flying one of the blunt-nosed attackers.

Air Force Lt. Col. Joe Goldsworthy was in the cockpit of an A-11 Ghibli light attack plane from the Italian Air Force’s 132º Gruppo. The American flier has been attached to the Italian unit since September 2014, according to an official news article.

“The exchange program provides a unique opportunity for the U.S. and our allies to strengthen our ties…


The Osprey’s complicated history made everything harder

by JOSEPH TREVITHICK

In January 2015, the U.S. Navy decided to replace its fleet of traditional C-2 cargo planes with V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor transports. At that time, the U.S. Marine Corps was flying MV-22Bs and the Air Force had its own CV-22Bs.

So, six months later, the sailing branch requested that its variant get a new name. Documents War Is Boring obtained through the Freedom of Information Act highlight the service’s main desire to avoid any confusion between its tilt-rotors and any of the other Ospreys versions.

“An appropriate designation would use either ‘M’ or ‘C’ for the Navy variant…


Modified helicopter could barely manage the weight

by JOSEPH TREVITHICK

On June 7, 1957, a group of U.S. Army troops showed off seven prototype armed helicopters at a symposium the private Association of the United States Army was sponsoring at Fort Rucker, Alabama. Among the experimental gunships was an odd vehicle that combined a transport chopper with an old, World War II era gun mount.

With a small budget and lack of support from top Army brass, the unit in charge of the work had to make do with whatever weapons and equipment it could get. …


Vipers are set to get an overhaul, but will anyone want them?

It’s a truism that planes — and almost anything else for that matter — eventually get old and worn out, their wings, fuselages and other parts weakening to the point of failure under the strain of day-to-day use. This is one of the Pentagon’s more compelling arguments for sticking with the troublesome F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

It’s equally true that brand new parts can give older aircraft a new lease on life. Just look at the B-52 bomber.

In December 2016, the U.S. Air Force announced it was looking for companies to overhaul hundreds of F-16 fighter jets. One half…


‘Dragon’s Eye’ didn’t work out on AC-130J prototype

By JOSEPH TREVITHICK

The U.S. Air Force wants to install a powerful radar to track enemy targets on its new AC-130J Ghostrider gunships. But engineers are going to have to find something other than Northrop Grumman’s AN/ASQ-236 Dragon’s Eye pod.

By May 2015, the Air Force’s top commando headquarters had started testing Dragon’s Eye on one of its AC-130J prototypes. In December 2016, the Pentagon’s top weapon tester revealed the experiments hadn’t worked out.

“The AC-130J does not have a sensor system that enables adverse weather engagements by detecting and tracking targets obscured by weather, smoke and haze or obscurants,”…


U.S. Air Force personnel work with Jordanian airmen on an armed AT-802 in 2016. Air Force photo

Planes are ideal flying spies and attackers for small air arms

by JOSEPH TREVITHICK

Defense contractors and air forces around the world are finding crop dusters carrying powerful cameras and deadly weapons make ideal flying spies and attackers. The relatively simple planes are particularly well suited to fighting insurgents and terrorists who lack advanced anti-aircraft weapons.

On Jan. 23, 2017, the U.S. State Department approved a sale of this type of plane to Kenya. Worth approximately $418 million, the complete package included up to a dozen Air Tractor AT-802L light attack planes, along with two AT-504 trainers, unspecified weaponry and other support services.

In a statement, the Pentagon’s top arms broker…


Concerns and fears may still be slowing operations

by JOSEPH TREVITHICK

On Jan. 22, 2017, Iraqi troops were looking for help cleaning up an apparent chemical weapon laboratory that Islamic State terrorists set up inside Mosul University, according to Stars and Stripes. Later in January, Baghdad’s troops showed journalists from the Associated Press another chemical warfare site in the eastern half of the city.

U.S. Air Force intelligence summaries show American officials had worried about these toxic materials for months before Iraqi and Kurdish forces began the offensive. War Is Boring obtained the heavily redacted documents through the Freedom of Information Act.

“ISIL will probably continue to employ…

Joseph Trevithick

Freelance Journalist for @warisboring and others, Historian, and Military Analyst. @franticgoat on Twitter

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