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The latest news from Robert Johnson on Business Insider

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    Cluster Bomb

    Cluster bombs are not only effective at devastating a patch of battlefield, they're also designed to render the land useless to the enemy.

    They do this by scattering bombs  atop the surface of the earth. Whether targeting people, or equipment, the result can be the same.

    In this case the patch of earth is largely a highway running through Maarat al-Numan and the people are local residents and insurgents using the road.

    The highway is a key passage joining conflict-heavy Homs and Aleppo, with Maaret al-Numan nearly equidistant between them both. With no air support, access to that road is critical to the rebel's success, but cluster-bombing it seems an interesting choice by the Assad regime.

    SyriaWe wrote about the cluster bombs after Switzerland became the 75th country to ban them in July. Following that, we received emails from arms manufacturers explaining that bomblets are designed to dissolve and de-activate after a time. Yes, but there are many other factors involved.

    Cluster munitions work like this:

    A plane or helicopter drops a typical bomb shaped object from the air, basically a dispenser, that's filled with up to 2,000 'bomblets' referred to in the sterilizing vernacular of war as — subminitions.

    If the video below is accurate, the subminitions dropped into Syria are anti-materiel (AMAT) bomblets designed to take out 'hard' targets like vehicles and equipment. You can tell by the stabilizers at their tails that were buoyed by a small parachute as they fell. 

    These cluster bombs are designed to explode on impact when they strike the ground, or whatever target they were intended for.

    While they still litter the earth posing danger to residents, particularly curious children, they are not necessarily designed to target people like other models.

    Anti-Personnel (APERS) cluster bombs are specifically designed to do just that, and scatter entire areas with small, round bomblets, which act as land mines that will lay fallow until a bit of pressure is applied.

    Most subminitions can be rigged with self-destruct fuses that can vary from a couple hours to several days; so it will be a sign of the regime's intentions, if those bomblets on the ground now have disarmed themselves or continue to injure people in the days ahead.

    If the design was to keep the north-south highway unusable, Assad may be essentially trying to take out chunks of the thoroughfare, while littering it with bomblets that will likely detonate beneath the pressure of a vehicle tire.

    Either way, this most recent clusterbomb attack seems to imply the loss of Maarat al-Numan was felt closely by the regime, and it has little intention of backing down any time soon.

    For additional kicks and giggles, Ha'aretz reports:

    [Human Rights Watch] HRW previously reported Syrian use of cluster bombs, which have been banned by most countries, in July and August but the renewed strikes indicate the government's determination to regain strategic control in the northwest.

    Towns targeted included Maarat, Tamanea, Taftanaz and al-Tah. Cluster bombs were also used in other areas in Homs, Aleppo and Lattakia provinces as well as near Damascus, the rights group said.

    Below is a video of the dropped clusterbombs , posted by HRW:

    Now: Check out the rest of Syria's massive arsenal >

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    Sound Barrier

    Most people know the intrepid, and let's just say it totally ballsy, Chuck Yeager strapped himself into a plane with more engine than wings and successfully exceeded the speed of sound on October 14, 1947.

    What is less well known is that Yeager only got the chance to make the flight because Bell Aircraft's test pilot refused the offer, without an accompanying $150,000.

    Yaeger could have cared less about the money, and jumped at the flight aboard Bell's X-1 that promised to hurl him through the air faster than any human ever before.

    Yaeger lived for speed, whether planes, cars, or horses and two nights before the Bell flight he fell from his favorite mount and broke two ribs.

    He was so concerned he'd be scratched from the flight that he went to a distant veterinarian for medical treatment and told only his wife and best friend what happened.

    Broken ribs hurt, a lot, and Yaeger was in so much pain he couldn't seal the X-1's hatch without help from a broomstick his buddy had rigged up beforehand.

    That round of discomfort must have paled to what all that G-Force did to him as the X-1 reached a top speed of Mach 1.07.

    We ran these photos early last summer, but in honor of Yeager's 65-year flight anniversary and, Felix Baumgartner, who will attempt to break Mach I without any aircraft at all today, we thought we'd run them again.

    This F/A-18F Super Hornet flew over visitors aboard the USS Kitty Hawk and stunned everyone with a supersonic demo

    Air doesn't move fast enough to flow out of the way and builds into a wall around the plane...

    Read more here.

    If the temperature and humidity is right, water in the air condenses into a cloud like a white halo

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Sgt. Donna Johnson

    When the first of October rolled in a couple of weeks ago it reminded many of us that summer was really over. Forget Labor Day and September 21, the first day of fall; October is changing leaves, pumpkins, and Halloween.

    Unfortunately that routine awareness was lost to three members of the North Carolina National Guard who were killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan, at about 9 a.m. that morning, as they made their way through an open air market.

    The deaths passed largely unnoticed by Americans outside the military, but what caught global attention is Sgt. Donna R. Johnson's wife and the fact that the Army refuses to acknowledge her very much at all.

    Gannett-owned Army Times is taking the brunt of the protest, but the Times only followed the AP's lead, when it mentioned the other two male soldiers killed were survived by wives, while failing to mention Johnson's wife Tracy Dice.

    Readers who knew Sgt. Johnson expressed their outrage in the comments section of the story and asked why the woman, who was legally married just like the two men, couldn't have her surviving spouse mentioned as well.

    Journalism pundit Jim Romenesko wondered the same thing, after being alerted to the lapse by one of his readers, and shot off an email to AP asking what was up. Then, on October 6 the AP wrote an entirely new story and The Army Times posted it to their site Sunday October 7.

    Those details did little, however, to appease commenters on the Times original post who shed much light on what's left in the wake of Don't Ask, Don't Tell's (DADT) repeal.

    It turns out that even though a servicemember can legally marry in a state of their choice and be recognized by law, the service denies same-sex spouses a long list of lucrative and fundamental privileges.

    The Defense of Marriage Act enforces discrimination right where Don't Ask, Don't Tell left off — causing a whole different type of damage.

    What that Defense of Marriage Act also means to Tracy Dice is:

    • She could never use the commissary to do the grocery shopping where food is marked just 5 percent above wholesale.
    • Tracy was never covered under Johnson's Tricare medical insurance.
    • She and Sgt. Johnson never received the Basic Allowance for Housing stipend essential to many male-female couples in securing housing.
    • She couldn't go to base-sponsored picnics and events.
    • She couldn't get any assistance with relocating with her wife to a new duty station, including overseas.
    • Once at a new base Tracy would not have qualified for employment or education assistance.
    • She did not qualify for free legal service.
    • If she were ever a victim of spousal abuse and the 'survivor' effects of PTSD, she could not go to family advocacy or spousal abuse centers.
    • She will not receive any of Johnson's survivor benefits.
    And perhaps most striking of all is that when the suicide bomber ripped through that Afghan market October 1 killing her wife, Tracy had to hear about it second-hand, because the Army refused to acknowledge her as the Primary Next Of Kin (PNOK). That means grief counseling and all the honors due a fallen spouse are also being denied to Tracy Dice.

    Tracy was listed only as a Designated Person, someone who finds out "less quickly than the PNOK" about their spouse's death.

    And finally, when the time came to identify Johnson's remains the Army would have refused to allow Tracy to perform that last task as well.

    Identifying your dead spouse killed half-a-world away, in combat, remains a privilege to those married to members of the opposite sex.
    Update: Not the AP, the Army Times, or the Army are responsible for the discrimination and each simply responded the best it could to some very unjust legislation, which should have been struck with the appeal of DADT. 


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    After nearly a year of back-and-forth between its neighbors regarding island rights in the China Sea, Beijing just concluded a very well documented, live-fire island landing drill.

    The mission involved landing craft, artillery, infantry troops, and multiple aircraft. To be sure their abilities were documented and seen by the world Beijing released the following video, which to be honest seems to show a pretty sophisticated array of equipment and personnel.

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    While visiting the Persian Gulf last month for an international mine clearing exercise it was mentioned that the whole area was under constant surveillance by a Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) drone.

    Check out the BAMS drone >

    The BAMS offers a 360-degree scanning ability with an Automatic Identification System that clocks and catalog's all surface vessels from 60,000 feet.

    If the BAMS truly is flying above the Gulf it's early, not having been pegged for regular duty until 2015, but that's what I heard.

    In addition to the high altitude scanning, the USS Ponce also uses the Scan Eagle drone system that can zoom in on individuals in small boats from several thousand feet in the air.

    We posted this presentation several months ago, but thought it interesting after getting wind it was stationed in the Gulf, and shows that multi-level surveillance could become the norm.

    Here's what the U.S. is watching. These are the 5 main operating bases where the MQ-4C fleet will be used, networking with other Navy and Air Force drones — notice the Persian Gulf has overlapping coverage by two BAMS drones

    The MQ-C4 is designed for persistent maritime surveillance and intelligence-gathering — its makers say the Navy will have "24/7" coverage. The drone can travel 11,450 miles before it needs to be refueled

    Along with its 360-degree scanning, it can capture images or full motion video at high resolution

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Over the past several years, drones have arguably become one of the most powerful weapons platforms in the world.

    They get smaller, they get bigger, they get better armed, and they get better surveillance equipment. They're getting designed to land on carrier decks and to perform without any pilot control at all.

    But until recently they couldn't fly in a formation of more than six, so their capacity has been somewhat limited. That limitation appears to have changed as the Air Force announced its 29th Attack Squadron, 9th Attack 
    Squadron, and 6th Reconnaissance Squadron got together and laid the old record of six to waste.

    On October 2, the three squadrons got together and tested a new 10 line system, a line is what's required to operate a single drone and consists of maintenance and flight crew to keep the drone flying, a ground control station, and the aircraft.

    The test went perfectly and included 10 flight crews composed of students, pilots, instructors and sensor operators all working in coordination. They were controlling six MQ-9 Reapers and four MQ-1 Predators.

    There's little reason to believe the military will stop at 10, and as it perfects the technology should begin building squadrons of drones, each carrying a massive ordnance load, to fly in formation just like a conventional bombing run.

    The day of the single drone performing "surgical" strikes may not be over, but the ability to incur far greater destruction by allowing several Remote Piloted Aircraft (RPA) to perform an overlapping mission together may be on the way.

    One MQ-9 Reaper can carry the following firepower:

    • Up to 1,500 lb [bombs] (680 kg) on the two inboard weapons stations
    • Up to 750 lb [bombs] (340 kg) on the two middle stations
    • Up to 150 lb [bombs] (68 kg) on the outboard stations
    • Up to 14 AGM-114 Hellfire air to ground missiles can be carried or four Hellfire missiles and two 500 lb (230 kg) GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bombs. The 500 lb (230 kg) GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) can also be carried. Testing is underway to support the operation of the AIM-92 Stinger air-to-air missile.
    One MQ-1 Predator can carry:

    Looking at those two lists it's easy to imagine the Pentagon is eyeing smaller, newer unmanned bombing wings, and unmanned fighting wings. 

    From the Air Force:

    Col. Kenneth Johnson, 49th Operations Group commander, said, "In the last year alone, the work the operations and maintenance RPA teams accomplish every day has grown by two-thirds ... This is in accordance with Gen. (ret.) Norton Schwartz, former U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff, who said that ultimately, he believes it is conceivable that the majority of aviators in the Air Force will be flying remotely piloted aircraft.

    Drone Cockpit

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    Camp Leonine in Djibouti is a small expeditionary base smack dab in a region that's very hostile toward America.

    Djibouti itself is small, and surrounded by rogue states like Somalia, Yemen, Ethiopia and Sudan. That makes Lemonnier an important outpost to reach very inaccessible parts of the world; and the US military is doing all it can to foster good relations with its Djibouti hosts. One bag of cement at a time.

    Check out the buildings >

    As we mentioned earlier this year, US troops are using cement, barbed wire, bags, and dirt to help villagers construct buildings that can withstand the harshest Djibouti weather. 

    Residents of the Karabti San village expect that the building — called an "eco-dome" because of its shape and the materials used — will have a lasting impact on the community. There's now the prospect of government officials bringing them electricity, and they intend to use the structure as a school or clinic.

    CAT team chief Capt. Justin Lev said villagers initially saw the eco-dome as an American project in their village, but now look at it as their own. That's heartening for the U.S. mission of nation building in the Horn of Africa.

    Funded by donations from civilian organizations, the $3000 eco-dome isn't just a mud hut. Soldiers and villagers built the structure to have a primary and secondary unit as well as a loft.

    "Teaching you something is better than giving you money,” said Kasim Ali, Karabti San village chief. “This [the eco-dome] is good and will last long. It is something good for the village." Villagers will be able to build more themselves since the Army is leaving them with their tools, and the materials needed can be easily found in the remote area.

    Soldiers and villagers hand-shovel dirt into a heavy-duty truck for transportation

    They start mixing up a a cocktail of cement, dirt, and water

    Here's how they mixed the cement — in a hole in the ground

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Oil Sands

    Canada's economic boom depends on tearing up 54,000 square-mile of pristine Alberta wilderness.

    Development of the world's third largest oil supply is proceeding rapidly. It already represents a $3.5 billion annual paycheck to the Canadian government and 75,000 immediate jobs.

    But many are aghast at the project, which is also the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas in Canada.

    When you see the pictures, you may feel the same. We're not saying the project is good or bad. We're just saying the scale and severity of what's happening in Alberta will make your spine tingle.

    Business Insider sent me to Alberta in early May, when there was still ice on the ground and a bite in the air. I took these shots, trying to stay warm, from about 1,000 feet up, out of the window of a small plane.

    The following pictures show oil mining, where the sand is dug from the ground and the oil's separated through a lengthy and messy process. There are drilling sites in the oil sands, and those are highlighted in the photo essay at the end of this one.

    To get a look at the oil sand mines, we rented this Cessna 172 which the pilot was allowed to bring down to 1,000 feet — from there, through the open window and with a long lens we were able to see what really goes on in one of the most controversial places on the planet

    The Alberta oil sands are spread across more than 54,000 square miles but we're taking a look at just a small part of that — the red line is an approximate outline of the entire deposit — the green is where we'll be flying

    But thousands flock here to make real money in the oil sands — where creating synthetic crude begins in the strip mine

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    The documentary Armadillo follows a platoon of Danish soldiers as they endure a six-month deployment to Afghanistan in what ends up being the bloodiest two years of the war, fought in Helmand, the most dangerous province of the country.

    The grunts start off green, inexperienced, unseasoned, even innocent. But as they explore the depths, the frustrations, and the subtle horrors of the cold moral abyss that is the face of combat, they discover things about themselves they never knew, until Afghanistan demanded an answer.

    Scars, seen and unseen, take shape throughout the course of their deployment.

    [Warning Graphic]

    Clean shaven and eager to fight — the troops line up to for the obligatory speech about duty, honor, etc

    But the real camaraderie is displayed outside of formation — wresting and rough-housing brings the young troops closer — like brothers

    The guys bond over other activities as well before they deploy — like hiring exotic dancers

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Billy and Tony

    A few years ago, buddies Billy Griffin, a Navy lieutenant, and Tony Hatala, a Marine captain, decided it should be much easier to find the phone numbers for resources on military posts.

    It's especially frustrating for new troops, who show up on a base for the first time with a set of orders and no idea where to go.

    The pair were clearly not alone in their frustration and after squeezing in some programming during deployments, family obligations, and military life their app, MilitaryTraveler, recently hit 30,000 downloads on iTunes.

    But it all started with that one conversation in 2010. Griffin and Hatala were both deployed on the USS Peleliu, and in their sliver of downtime they started talking about how an app to consolidate all the information someone might need on a military base would look. The idea took on a life and Hatala started creating the model.

    They limited themselves to Marine bases at first, there are fewer of them, and after all Hatala is a Marine. For months it was just the two of them, logging all the base information they could find either in print or on base websites.

    In March 2011, they officially launched the app on iTunes, and followed it up shortly thereafter with an Android version. The update, 1.6, debuted this spring and has proven a hit, with a 4+ rating from the App Store and 4.8 out of 5 rating on Android.

    Along with the phone numbers for base staples like Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR), barbershops, and dining facilities — they included vital numbers for inprocessing — and transition  moves that always seem to be harried and unorganized.

    But what Griffin and Hatala are most proud of is the "Request for Correction" option, that allows the app to be interactive. 

    "People will write in and say they're trying to get in touch with so-and-so, and I will call on my lunch break," Griffin says, currently working at the Pentagon.

    What the correction request does is allows additions from people on the ground into the app's basic framework including every base in the United States. The user input allows the guys to go back and as Griffin says, "Make the app phenomenal."

    Though Griffin and Hatala handled the data input themselves for the first year, now that Hatala's deployed, they're delegating some of the work. A friend's fiancée is updating movie times, and they've started signing licensing contracts with base MWRs.

    Aside from helping Griffin and Hatala avoid carpal tunnel syndrome, the MWRs will get the word out, promoting the app when they promote activities such as marathons and concerts.

    "We're still going to help, but they'll bear the burden of updating links and other information," Griffin says.

    They're not giving up too much control, though. Griffin plans to devote more time to the project after his Navy stint is up in spring 2013.

    And while Hatala has a few more years of service left, Griffin says his friend wants to go to Harvard Business School and take their app ambitions to the next level.

    Now see: How to work a room like a 4-star >

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    The Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) bomb is a staple of the American arsenal, and its high level of accuracy have made it indispensable in battles from Baghdad to Tripoli.

    Being such an essential piece of ordnance, it's no surprise that Lockheed Martin is testing the JDAM's release in the F-35 — and this time — it's a big one at 2,000 pounds.

    From the Air Force:

    The F-35A 5th Generation fighter is designed to carry a payload of up to 18,000 pounds using 10 weapon stations. The F-35A features four internal weapon stations located in two weapon bays to maximize stealth capability. The CTOL aircraft can also utilize an additional three external weapon stations per wing if required.

    F-35A 2K JDAM

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    Getting heavy stuff to locations far away, without spending a ton of money on fuel, and without the need for a runway is a dream of military planners and corporations alike.

    Enter, the Aeros blimp: It can land without a runway, deliver high-tech wind farming equipment, and carry incredible tonnage. The blimp would remove troops from roadways, relieve pressure on energy consumption, and put logistics in the sky, away from the enemy.

    Aeros is producing multiple models of the hard-shelled Aeroscraft seen here, including one called the Pelican for military use that should be fielded in early 2013. 

    The largest so far measures nearly 800-feet long and will carry 500 tons. The company claims the next-generation blimps called Rigid Variable Buoyancy Air Vehicles are one of a kind. The technology is explained here (with diagrams).

    All three AerosCraft variants are supposed to cruise at 100 knots at altitudes of up to 12,200 feet.

    Meet the AerosCraft. The 1st Rigid Variable Buoyancy Air Vehicle in the world

    The AerosCraft uses a lightweight yet yet incredibly strong interior frame to carry large loads for long distances at great altitudes

    The AerosCraft could revolutionize wind farming by delivering large turbines to remote locations

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Air Force One, the call sign of whichever Air Force plane the President of the United States is flying on, has long been known for the security and comfort it provides its famous cargo.

    But everything changed with Sept. 11, 2001. The crew realized the plane had weaknesses. It lacked features that would have let President George W. Bush address the nation.

    The Presidential Airlift Group (PAG), in charge of Air Force One, stepped up its game, and managed to take Bush to Baghdad on a top-secret mission in the dark of night to serve Thanksgiving dinner to troops in 2003.

    The National Geographic Channel took a behind-the-scenes look at the Flying White House in "Onboard Air Force One," an in-depth look at the PAG, the cavernous hangar at Andrews Air Force Base (AFB) that Air Force One calls home, and everything the aircraft has to offer the president and his trusted advisers. 

    The security starts in this massive hangar at Andrews AFB, where Air Force One and its twin stay

    There are two so if one malfunctions another is available to sweep the President off to where he needs to be

    Parts are repaired or replaced as soon as they show the slightest wear and tear

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    More than 25 years ago, British farmer David Cundall overheard a comment from a group of U.S. veterans who said they buried an unused fleet of World War II Spitfires in the Burmese jungle to hide them from Japanese troops.

    The rumor wedged itself in his mind and he resisted it for more than 10 years before finally satisfying his curiosity.

    The satisfaction didn't come cheap, and over the last 15 years Cundall spent $200,000 of his savings on trips to Myanmar, the country formerly known as Burma, looking for the aircraft before finding them earlier this year. Now he's been given the government's permission to dig them up.

    The original find was thought to be about 20 planes, but updated estimates put that number at 140.

    So as we wrote when Cundall announced his find, the Spitfires sit still crated, with their wings folded back along their bodies, covered in grease and wax paper and buried in their original shipping crates. Their joints are even tarred and they're expected to be in pristine condition.

    The Americans buried the planes, covered them with 40 feet of soil and assumed the British would be back later to dig them up and wipe them off, but the RAF never bothered.

    At the close of World War II, Spitfires fell out of favor as newer, faster jets were rolled off the production line.

    To get rid of the "surplus war machinery" many carrier crews were ordered to push the old planes off the deck and into the sea or send them to the scrap metal yard.

    This wholesale scrapping of such a romanticized fighter had a few interesting results: It prompted a lot of conspiracy theories, reduced the number of Spitfires flying today to a lucrative 35, and prompted searches for buried planes throughout the Pacific.

    A rumored stash in Queensland, Australia is supposed to hold up to 232 Spitfires, but despite perennial searching, none have yet been found.

    Which is why Cundall's find is kind of a big deal in these circles. Because the Spitfires are in Burma, they could be everywhere else they're rumored to be.

    And the payoff to find them is great. Cundall's partner bought a refinished Spitfire for 1.78 million pounds in 2009, an amount that is very close to $3 million dollars today. One-hundred-forty Spitfires sold at that price would bring in $470 million.

    The news is still rippling outside aviation circles and finding a warm welcome with auto collectors who feared all the good "barn cars" had been found.

    Jonathan Welsh at the WSJ's Driver's Seat pointed to Cundall's find and told his readers to take heart, "that research, legwork, and persistence can still pay off."


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    Chinese TunnelsAs tensions between China and Japan in the China Sea make headlines, it's easy to believe all the fuss is from a couple little islands atop a big pile of petroleum reserves.

    Maybe it is, and maybe it isn't. The Japanese invaded China twice over the last 81 years and half the 20 million people killed by the Japanese during World War II were Chinese.

    Check out the bunkers >

    China says 35 million of its citizens were killed or wounded during the 14 year Japanese occupation and numbers like this don't just slip to the past.

    Starting in 1931, China fiercely fought the invasion and carved a series of tunnels through living rock across much of the eastern part of the country. Today these tunnels look out over modern and prosperous Chinese cities filled with millions of Chinese who gaze back into a past they're not likely to forget anytime soon.

    Hoping to understand the ancient enmity between China and Japan we looked to urban explorer Darmon Richter who brings us inside the tunnels and bunkers with pictures from his site The Bohemian Blog. 

    This portion of bunkers overlooks Qingdao, a place many consider China's most beautiful city. But like the rest of China, Qindao overlooks its past as it looks to the future and offers some context about the disputes happening in the region today.

    Some things are just a bit more than they seem.

    The climb up Fu Shan Mountain towards Dragonback Ridge takes around an hour, and allows for breathtaking views out over the city of Qingdao and the ocean beyond.

    We were still a little way off the rumored entrance to the tunnels, when we spotted the first gun turret - looming out of the mist above us.

    On closer inspection the turret was sealed, with a passage leading into the back of it from deep within the mountain.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    The custom of painting a mascot onto an aircraft is nothing new, but this is the first time we've seen one quite so lively and in this particular style.

    To celebrate the its 20th anniversary, Japan's 4th Anti Tank Helicopter Unit painted this Anime yura kyara (mascot) onto an AH-1S Cobra. The character's name is 1st Lt. Kisarazu Akane and is apparently one of many works of this kind, in a style that has been largely forgone by the West. Check out the ceremony video below.

    During the September mine clearing exercise in the Persian Gulf I spent a day aboard a Japanese mine sweeper photographing what life is like aboard a Japanese Navy ship. I'll be posting that story and photo essay soon.

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    We first posted this several weeks ago and it proved such an enjoyable weekend distraction, that in case you missed it, we're posting it once more.

    Filmed over 12 months by fighter crews themselves with a Sony Handycam, the one-of-a-kind video highlights what it's like to fly in the cockpit of one of the best air-to-air fighter planes ever built, during all kinds of maneuvers. 

    The video uploaded to LiveLeak runs to over nine minutes and is well worth it, but be ready to adjust the soundtrack volume.

    Now: See why we were blown away aboard the Navy destroyer USS Barry >

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    Soviet Radar

    Picking up almost where World War II left off, the Cold War waged on for almost 50-years, defining U.S. foreign policy and a way of life across the globe.

    It was painted in the West as a simple good vs. evil scenario that generated a lot of passion, and a lot of defense spending. It was also a situation that seemed like it could go on forever and then, with nary a warning, the Cold War ended.

    The following pictures from Darmon Richter at The Bohemian Blog will take you on a tour showing how quickly the Cold War ended better than words ever could.

    As we passed the road entrance to this disused Soviet radar site, the open gate offered a tantalising invitation.






    Elsewhere we stumbled across a stack of heavy duty axels, along with tyres that had been stretched in order to give better purchase in deep snow.





    Making our way back over the barrier, we headed through the scrap yard and towards the road entrance.





    At some stage it looks as though an effort had been made to clean up the site - it was abandoned mid-progress however, overflowing bins left to gather dust and cobwebs.





    En route to another nearby radar dish, I spy an archaic Soviet gas mask slung from the coupling of a moving lorry.





    We arrive at our next tip-off, a military site that houses one of the largest satellite dishes ever built by the Soviets - measuring a total of 60 metres across.





    The entrance is locked and barred and so we are forced to go off-road, searching for another way in from the forest.





    Just as I tentatively begin to climb over the fence for a closer look, a dog barks… and then a second, and third join in. The site is well guarded after all, it turns out.





    So close, and yet so far. In the end all we can do is peek through holes in the fence, admiring the colossal radar dish that towers in the distance… not to mention the fuselage of a MiG jet fighter, which lies corroding in the foreground.

    Passing through the gateway, we came into an open yard - separated from the military compound by a rusted iron barrier.

    The ancient vehicles dotted around the yard looked as though they may have been here some time. In the background, the satellite dish looms ominously behind the fence.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    LCDR Tim Knapp

    Of all the hurdles and agonies of traveling by air, one of the most frequent delays is simply the weather.

    Any combination of atmospheric upheaval that reduces visibility or hampers an aircraft's flight has to be considered before a plane is cleared to fly. That's especially true aboard an aircraft carrier, as I saw last month in the Persian Gulf.

    Check out meteorology on the IKE >

    Imagine that a carrier travels about 40 mph across open ocean, through all manner of global weather patterns, with multiple ships escorting it along. Imagine the its deck filled with jets and helicopters all needed to fill a pressing Pentagon mission and that aside from getting them into the air and flying safely, the weather must permit them to land back on deck hours in the future. 

    Now imagine you're the person responsible for making all that happen without one bit of unexpected weather, and you'll understand what LCDR Tim Knapp's life is like aboard the aircraft carrier USS EISENHOWER in the Persian Gulf.

    A steady stream of F-18s and Seahawk helicopters, surveillance planes, and transport craft take off and land from the carrier deck at a near constant clip during flight operations, and it can all come to a screeching halt with an advisory from Knapp in the IKE's Meteorological Office.

    Knapp recently finished his Master's in Numerical Meteorological and Physical Oceanography at the Naval Post-Graduate School in Monterey, Ca. That stint included two years of some math and science most people wouldn't want to imagine, and might go a long way toward forming a certain opinion about the career officer. It might be wrong.

    This is Knapp's second Navy career after spending over 11 years as a surface warfare officer on amphibious assault and coastal patrol ships, basically pulling badass missions that neither he or anyone else can talk about.

    The work was a far cry from his crew's tidy office on the IKE with its decadent porthole windows, fresh hot chocolate, and basket of hard candy. But past the Jolly Ranchers and over by the door are a stack of boxes chatting it up with some very serious supercomputers back in the States.

    The heart of that system sits in Monterey, processing 27 trillion meteorological possibilities per second from around the globe. 

    Those findings arrive at the black boxes by the door and get introduced to an algorithm that paints an image on the nearby LCD screens much like what we see on the Weather Channel, but not nearly as fancy.

    Just like the Weather Channel, Knapp and his staff plot local weather two weeks in advance, taking special care in these parts to look for conditions on shore that would drive up sandstorms.

    Even with all of that hardware there are limitations, and when asked if he ever gets it wrong, Knapp shrugs his shoulders and smiles, "Anything over 72 hours is a crap shoot."

    And just in case anyone thought that was acceptable, he quickly adds: "But we're pretty confident at the seven to ten day mark. Especially out here," as he finishes extending his hand toward the clear blue sky over the Gulf.

    Regardless of the job, or the skills sailors possess on a Navy ship, what kind of office they sit in or whether or not it lets in the sun, there is one constant among everyone I talked to onboard.

    They love their job, but they miss their families with a sharpness I can almost feel.

    Knapp aches for his four-year-old daughter in Virginia, but he also misses the rest of his large close-knit family — including his little sister who works at Business Insider — who he promises to see as soon as he gets home.

    Whenever that might be.

    It's true that most days in the Persian Gulf pass by under a hot sun and cloudless skies

    But it's not uncommon for massive sandstorms to collect above the desert and dump acres of earth over the Gulf and everything in it

    Including aircraft carriers like the USS Eisenhower

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    One of the quickest ways to show how tough you are in th Army is to wear a Ranger tab. In the two months it takes to earn, a soldier's mental and physical endurance is pushed to the absolute limits. He survives on one meal a day and a few hours of sleep per night.

    Check out Ranger School >

    He arrives at Ft. Benning in the best shape of his life and will lose an average of 20 pounds if he stays the full course.

    The Discovery Channel's "Surviving the Cut" shows the 61-day course at Fort Benning and offers the world a glimpse at some of the toughest military training around. The attrition rate at Ranger School is intense and less than one-in-three achieve the coveted tab.

    But that exclusivity carries certain privileges. At the sight of a Ranger tab on another soldier's uniform, it's not uncommon for new recruits to say: "He's a Ranger? They kill motherf*ckers!" Or something very similar. 

    338 Ranger candidates begin the 61 day course long before the sun's up — and won't stop for another 20 hours

    It's a non-stop schedule including brutal hand-to-hand combat tests

    Strength tests where they carry another soldier 100-yards have a practical design as well — this could be the move that saves anyone of their lives on the battlefield

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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