Published: Monday 3 December 2012
The F-35 has faced local opposition for almost three years, opposition that has grown since the U.S. Air Force released a draft environmental impact statement in the spring of 2012, provoking widespread objections to its assumptions, methodology, and conclusions.

 

None of the more notable supporters of basing the nuclear-capable F-35 stealth fighter-bomber at Burlington Airport in Vermont, not one, had the courage to tell the Burlington Board of Health that the F-35 would be good for the community’s health.  The available evidence points strongly to the F-35 being bad for people’s health. 

 

The Board of Health hearing on Nov. 27 heard three health experts, two of whom criticized the plane’s health impact, while the third called it “a very murky area.”  Out of the dozen members from the audience of about 50 who spoke, all objected to the plane’s deleterious effects. 

 

The F-35 has faced local opposition for almost three years, opposition that has grown since the U.S. Air Force released a draft environmental impact statement in the spring of 2012, provoking widespread objections to its assumptions, methodology, and conclusions.  To date, the Air Force continues to withhold documents relevant to the criticisms. 

 

The final impact statement is now scheduled for release in mid-January 2013, with the final basing decision expected a month or so later.   If the F-35 is based in Burlington, it’s not expected to arrive before 2020, about 20 years since the world’s most expensive weapons program—approaching $400 billion—began.  So far it is about a decade behind schedule and 100% over budget.   

 

The F-35 program has been troubled for years, to the point where some in Washington are looking to 

Published: Thursday 29 November 2012
“Unless we wish to salute our very own Imperator, we need to regain a healthy dose of skepticism, shared famously by our Founders, when it comes to evaluating our generals and our wars.”

Generals Who Run Amuck, Politicians Who Could Care Less, an “Embedded” Media... And Us

Few things have characterized the post-9/11 American world more than our worshipful embrace of our generals. They’ve become our heroes, our sports stars, and our celebrities all rolled into one. We can’t stop gushing about them. Even after his recent fall from grace, General David Petraeus was still being celebrated by CNN as the best American general since Dwight D. Eisenhower (and let’s not forget that Ike commanded the largest amphibious invasion in history and held a fractious coalition together in a total war against Nazi Germany). Before his fall from grace, Afghan War Commander General Stanley McChrystal was similarly lauded as one tough ...

Published: Saturday 10 November 2012
“Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed... the question is not a game of Battleship, where we're counting ships.”

It’s 2025 and an American “triple canopy” of advanced surveillance and armed drones fills the heavens from the lower- to the exo-atmosphere.  A wonder of the modern age, it can deliver its weaponry anywhere on the planet with staggering speed, knock out an enemy’s satellite communications system, or follow individuals biometrically for great distances.  Along with the country’s advanced cyberwar capacity, it’s also the most sophisticated militarized information system ever created and an insurance policy for U.S. global dominion deep into the twenty-first century.  It’s the future as the Pentagon imagines it; it’s under development; and Americans know nothing about it.

They are still operating in another age.  “Our Navy is smaller now than at any time since 1917,” complained Republican candidate Mitt Romney during the last presidential debate.

With words of withering mockery, President Obama shot back: “Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military's changed... the question is not a game of Battleship, where we're counting ships. It's what are our capabilities.”

Obama later offered just a hint of what those capabilities might be: “What I did was work with our joint chiefs of staff to think about, what are we going to need in the future to make sure that we are safe?... We need to be thinking about cyber security. We need to be talking about space.”

Amid all the post-debate media chatter, however, not a single commentator seemed to have a clue when it came to the profound strategic changes encoded in the president’s sparse words. Yet for the past four years, working in silence and secrecy, the Obama administration has ...

Published: Saturday 29 September 2012
“Coughing among pilots and fears of contaminants in their breathing apparatus led the experts to suspect flaws in the oxygen-supply system of the F-22 Raptor, especially in extreme high-altitude conditions.”

 

Years before F-22 pilots began getting dizzy in the cockpit -- before one struggled to breathe in advance of a fatal crash, before two more went on television to say they refused to fly it -- a small circle of U.S. Air Force experts knew something was wrong with the costly stealth fighter jet.

Coughing among pilots and fears of contaminants in their breathing apparatus led the experts to suspect flaws in the oxygen-supply system of the F-22 Raptor, especially in extreme high-altitude conditions. They formed a working group a decade ago to deal with the problem, creating a unique brain trust.

Internal documents and emails obtained by The Associated Press show they proposed a range of solutions by 2005, including adjustments to the flow of oxygen into pilot's masks. But that key recommendation was rejected by military officials who expressed reluctance to add costs to a program already well over budget.

"This initiative has not been funded," read the minutes of their final meeting in 2007.

Minutes of the working group's meetings, PowerPoint presentations and emails among its members reveal a missed opportunity for the Air Force to improve pilot safety in the 187-plane F-22 fleet before a series of high-profile problems damaged the image of the aircraft and led to a series of groundings. Its production was halted last spring and the aircraft has never been used in combat.

The Air Force says the F-22 is safe to fly — a dozen of the jets began a six-month deployment to Japan in July — but flight restrictions remain in place, preventing its use in high-altitude situations where pilots' breathing is under the most stress.

The working group urged various repairs that the Air Force has only recently embraced. One, a backup ...

Published: Friday 14 September 2012
“Only a tiny percentage of voters in November will have read the article or will have any idea that the US military is so, um, active in so many places around the world some two decades after the end of the Cold War.”

 

 

 

A recent article in Nation of Change (Tom Engelhardt, "Monopolizing War", September 13, 2012) starts with a multiple choice question about Marines carrying out combat operations in a certain foreign country. The article goes on to list nine possible answers (that's right, boys and girls, not the usual four) – and one of the choices wasn't "all of the above.” It turns out it was a trick question.  In fact, the correct answer was all of the countries on the list, to include Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Somalia, Yemen, Central Africa, Northern Mali, the Philippines, and Guatemala.

 

Only a tiny percentage of voters in November will have read the article or will have any idea that the US military is so, um, active in so many places around the world some two decades after the end of the Cold War.  Okay, okay.  Let's not forget that the shocking events of 9-11 changed the game 11 years ago (as we are all gravely reminded every year at this very time with a barrage of hair-raising, heart-breaking images, look-backs, documentaries, op-eds, flags, and bumper-stickers).

 

We're in a war.  On terror.  It's different from all other wars.  Even the Cold War.  Different from all the wars that have ever been fought.  Anywhere.  Anytime.  It's a war without end.  Against a fanatical, hate-filled enemy that is also invisible, amorphous, and relentless.   An enemy that has no state and no army, navy, or air force.  An enemy that cannot be defeated by conventional or unconventional military means.  Or nuclear weapons.  Ever.

Published: Sunday 29 July 2012
“The Navy’s program, developed by IBM, is to be launched in August 2013, more than two years behind schedule.”

Multiple Pentagon efforts to account precisely for the flow of military spending are facing major delays and at least an $8 billion cost overrun, according to a new report by the Defense Department’s inspector general.

The internal watchdog, in a report last week, said that the military services have missed their deadlines for designing and integrating new accounting software meant to bring their bookkeeping up to modern standards and manage their parts and weapons inventories more efficiently. In the Army’s case, the launch date for its new accounting system has slid 12 years, from 2004 to 2016.         

The delays threaten to derail Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s goal of completing a major financial audit for the Pentagon by 2017, according to the inspector general’s report. The aim of such audits is give the Pentagon’s top brass a better understanding of how their funds are being spent and help avoid misspending and waste.

Accounting software systems for the Navy and Air Force have also experienced delays and cost overruns. Launch of the Air Force’s program, managed by Accenture, has been postponed from October 2009 launch to April 2017, and its cost has jumped from $420 million to almost $2.2 billion, according to the new report. The Navy’s program, developed by IBM, is to be launched in August 2013, more than two years behind schedule.

“As a result of the schedule delays, DoD will continue using outdated legacy systems and diminish the estimated savings associated with transforming business operations through … modernization,” said Amy J. Frontz, the principal assistant inspector general for auditing, in an introduction to the report.

As noted in

Published: Sunday 1 July 2012
In February, Congress quietly passed a bill that enables the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to fast-track the “efficient integration” of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) into the national airspace, with nary a cost-benefit analysis or impact study.

In recent months, the United States’ policy of drone attacks to kill suspected militants in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen has come under heated criticism. The extrajudicial targeted killings of suspects, including American citizens, is in itself a stark violation of international law. Add to that the fact that President Obama has ordered hundreds of strikes (over five times as many so far as did his predecessor Bush) and the indiscriminate slaughter of civilians (now estimated at over a thousand by the most conservative estimates) with drones’ missiles inevitably raining down on funeral gatherings and mosques; the posthumous classification of all military-age male casualties as “militants” for the purposes of P.R.; and the creepy image of Obama fretting over the biography of each suspect on his “kill list.”

With their courageous acts of civil disobedience at the Air Force and Air National Guard bases that control the drone strikes, Code Pink and other activist groups are sounding the clarion call that these remote-controlled killers commit war crimes. But amidst the growing recognition of the brutal effects of armed drones abroad, it’s also time for activists to take a hard look at the brave new world of surveillance drones being used here in the United States.

In February, Congress quietly passed a bill that enables the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to fast-track the “efficient integration” of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) into the national airspace, with nary a cost-benefit analysis or impact study. This came after the December crash of a U.S. drone on the Iranian border, which highlighted both the high crash rates of drones and the windfall of ...

Published: Wednesday 27 June 2012
Published: Monday 18 June 2012
The GAO report says: These shortfalls may lead to a helmet unable to fully meet warfighter requirements — unsuitable for flight tasks and weapons delivery, as well as creating an unmanageable pilot workload, and may place limitations on the [F-35’s] operational environment.

 

A host of problems plague the military’s newest jet fighter, the F-35, but one of the simplest yet most troublesome is identified in a new government audit as unreadable “symbology.”

The problem exists inside a small item at the heart of what makes the F-35 the world’s most sophisticated aircraft — if only it could be made to work. Namely, the pilot’s helmet visor. On the world’s most advanced, fifth-generation military aircraft, the visor is meant to be much more than a sun shield. It is supposed to do wondrous things.

Acting like a small, see-through movie screen, it is designed to display data showing how the plane is performing, where enemy targets are, and which weapons the pilot can use to handle them. As the pilot swivels his head, the display is meant to adapt, creating a direct link — as in a science-fiction movie — between the pilot and the aircraft’s unprecedented computing power.

The visor is, according to the Government Accountability Office’s latest annual report on the F-35’s development, “integral to the mission systems architecture.” In other words, the plane was more or less designed ...

Published: Monday 18 June 2012
“The gunmen promptly barricaded themselves inside with their hostages, including women and small children, and refused to let anyone leave.”

 

"Do you do this in the United States? There is police action every day in the United States... They don't call in airplanes to bomb the place." -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai denouncing U.S. air strikes on homes in his country, June 12, 2012

It was almost closing time when the siege began at a small Wells Fargo Bank branch in a suburb of San Diego, and it was a nightmare.  The three gunmen entered with the intent to rob, but as they herded the 18 customers and bank employees toward a back room, they were spotted by a pedestrian outside who promptly called 911.  Within minutes, police cars were pulling up, the bank was surrounded, and back-up was being called in from neighboring communities.  The gunmen promptly barricaded themselves inside with their hostages, including women and small children, and refused to let anyone leave.

The police called on the gunmen to surrender, but before negotiations could even begin, shots were fired from within the bank, wounding a police officer.  The events that followed -- now known to everyone, thanks to 24/7 news coverage -- shocked the nation.  Declaring the bank robbers “terrorist suspects,” the police requested air support from the Pentagon and, soon after, an F-15 from Vandenberg Air Force Base dropped two GBU-38 bombs on the bank, leaving the building a pile of rubble.

All three gunmen died.  Initially, a Pentagon spokesman, who took over messaging from the local police, insisted that “the incident” had ended “successfully” and that all the dead were “suspected terrorists.”  The Pentagon press office issued a statement on other casualties, noting only that, “while conducting a ...

Published: Saturday 2 June 2012
Unlike the MQ-1 Predator and the MQ-9 Reaper, the MQ-1000 is capable of completely autonomous action, right down to targeting and combat.

 

U.S. military documents tell the story vividly.  In the Gulf of Guinea, off the coast of West Africa, an unmanned mini-submarine deployed from the USS Freedom detects an “anomaly”: another small remotely-operated sub with welding capabilities tampering with a major undersea oil pipeline.  The American submarine’s “smart software” classifies the action as a possible threat and transmits the information to an unmanned drone flying overhead.  The robot plane begins collecting intelligence data and is soon circling over a nearby vessel, a possible mother ship, suspected of being involved with the “remote welder.”

At a hush-hush “joint maritime operations center” onshore, analysts pour over digital images captured by the unmanned sub and, according to a Pentagon report, recognize the welding robot “as one recently stolen and acquired by rebel antigovernment forces.”  An elite quick-reaction force is assembled at a nearby airfield and dispatched to the scene, while a second unmanned drone is deployed to provide persistent surveillance of the area of operations.

And with that, the drone war is on.

At the joint maritime operations center, signals intelligence analysts detect the mother ship launching a Russian Tipchak -- a medium-altitude, long-endurance, unmanned aircraft with “U.S.-derived systems and avionics” and outfitted with air-to-air as well as air-to-surface missiles.  It’s decision time for U.S. commanders. Special Operations Forces are already en route and, with an armed enemy drone in the skies ahead of them, possibly in peril.

But the Americans have an ace up their sleeve: an advanced Air Force MQ-1000.  Unlike the MQ-1 Predator and the MQ-9 Reaper, the MQ-1000 is capable of completely autonomous action, right down to targeting and combat.

Pre-programmed with the requirements and ...

Published: Thursday 23 February 2012
How drone war became the American way of life.

In the American mind, if Apple made weapons, they would undoubtedly be drones, those remotely piloted planes getting such great press here.  They have generally been greeted as if they were the sleekest of iPhones armed with missiles.

When the first American drone assassins burst onto the global stage early in the last decade, they caught most of us by surprise, especially because they seemed to come out of nowhere or from some wild sci-fi novel.  Ever since, they've been touted in the media as the shiniest presents under the American Christmas tree of war, the perfect weapons to solve our problems when it comes to evildoers lurking in the global badlands.

And can you blame Americans for ...

Published: Tuesday 14 February 2012
“Auditors find repeated errors in projected expenditures for repairs, maintenance and operations.”

The Obama administration’s 2013 defense spending plan, detailed as part of its overall new federal budget, includes $178.8 billion to buy new weapons, ranging from jet fighters and artillery to naval cruisers and satellite systems. But the real costs of these programs to the federal budget are unlikely to be disclosed in its budget documents or dozens of detailed weapons program reports due on Capitol Hill in March, according to a recent federal audit report.

The true costs of some of the biggest pieces of the U.S. arsenal are mostly hidden, the audit concluded, because the Defense Department’s public documents typically list only how much has been spent or will be spent to acquire its fighters, ships, and vehicles.

The long-term costs of owning such armaments, including all the operations, maintenance, and repair expenses, are often misstated or ignored in the Pentagon’s reports to Congress, or compiled only in an aggregate number that defeats careful analysis of rising costs in individual programs or prudent planning for future military spending, according to the auditors.

About 70 percent of the cost of major armaments have often been obscured in this way, according to a figure given to the auditors by officials at the Pentagon. The estimate appears in a little-noticed General Accountability Office report to the House Armed Services committee dated Feb. 2.

The significance of this oversight is not hard grasp: Anyone who owns a computer printer knows that repeatedly buying the ink eventually draws far more from your wallet than the machine itself, making it useful to have a plausible forecast of those expenses in advance.

But the military services and the officers who buy new weapons have ...

Published: Friday 10 February 2012
Until the change, women at the battalion level were limited to jobs considered in the rear of a formation — such as medics, logisticians, personnel and other support roles.

A decade after the United States launched two wars that put women at the front lines of unconventional fighting, the Pentagon crept closer Thursday to formally allowing them to serve in combat by announcing an additional 14,000 combat-related jobs for female service members.

The changes are intended to acknowledge the role women play in today's wars and give them more chances to rise up the military ranks. Particularly affected will be the Army, the largest of the services, where the vast majority of combat-related roles currently are held by men.

However, women still won't be allowed to serve in special forces or infantries — the front-line fighting units — causing some advocates and service members to argue that the changes don't go far enough.

The policy change, which the Pentagon announced as part of a congressionally mandated review and is set to take effect in the spring, opens to women 13,139 positions in combat units — such as tank mechanic, artillery mechanic and crews on multiple-launch rocket systems.

In addition, the change opens 1,186 combat-related jobs — such as intelligence officers — to women at the battalion level, closer than they've been before to the fighting. Up until the changes, women under a 1994 policy could serve in such ...

Published: Monday 6 February 2012
“For Washington, ‘offshore’ means the world’s boundary-less waters and skies, but also, more metaphorically, it means being repositioned off the coast of national sovereignty and all its knotty problems.”

Make no mistake: we’re entering a new world of military planning.  Admittedly, the latest proposed Pentagon budget manages to preserve just about every costly toy-cum-boondoggle from the good old days when MiGs still roamed the skies, including an uncut nuclear arsenal.  Eternally over-budget items like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, cherished by their services and well-lobbied congressional representatives, aren’t leaving the scene any time soon, though delays or cuts in purchase orders are planned.  All this should reassure us that, despite the talk of massive cuts, the U.S. military will continue to be the profligate, inefficient, and remarkably ineffective institution we’ve come to know and squander our treasure on.

Still, the cuts that matter are already in the works, the ones that will change the American way of war.  They may mean little in monetary terms -- the Pentagon budget is actually slated to increase through 2017 -- but in imperial terms they will make a difference.  A new way of preserving the embattled idea of an American planet is coming into focus and one thing ...

Published: Tuesday 24 January 2012
“When it comes to investing in militaries and weaponry, no country can match us.”

Perhaps you’ve heard of “Makin’ Thunderbirds,” a hard-bitten rock & roll song by Bob Seger that I listened to 30 years ago while in college.  It’s about auto workers back in 1955 who were “young and proud” to be making Ford Thunderbirds.  But in the early 1980s, Seger sings, “the plants have changed and you’re lucky if you work.”  Seger caught the reality of an American manufacturing infrastructure that was seriously eroding as skilled and good-paying union jobs were cut or sent overseas, rarely to be seen again in these parts.

If the U.S. auto industry has recently shown sparks of new life (though we’re not making T-Birds or Mercuries or Oldsmobiles or Pontiacs or Saturns anymore), there is one form of manufacturing in which America is still dominant.  When it comes to weaponry, to paraphrase Seger, we’re still young and proud and makin’ Predators and Reapers (as in unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones) and Eagles and Fighting Falcons (as in F-15 and F-16 combat jets), and outfitting them with the deadliest of weapons.  In this market niche, we’re still the envy of the world.

Yes, we’re the world’s foremost “merchants of death,” the title of a best-selling exposé of the international arms trade published to acclaim in the U.S. in 1934.  Back then, most Americans saw themselves as war-avoiders rather than as war-profiteers.  The evil war-profiteers were mainly European arms makers like Germany’s Krupp, France’s Schneider, or Britain’s Vickers. 

Not that America didn’t have its own arms merchants.  As the authors of Merchants of Death noted, early on our country demonstrated a “Yankee propensity for extracting ...

Published: Monday 16 January 2012
“[The Air Force accident investigation documents] catalog more than 70 catastrophic Air Force drone mishaps since 2000, each resulting in the loss of an aircraft or property damage of $2 million or more.”

American fighter jets screamed over the Iraqi countryside heading for the MQ-1 Predator drone, while its crew in California stood by helplessly.  What had begun as an ordinary reconnaissance mission was now taking a ruinous turn.  In an instant, the jets attacked and then it was all over.  The Predator, one of the Air Force’s workhorse hunter/killer robots, had been obliterated.

An account of the spectacular end of that nearly $4 million drone in November 2007 is contained in a collection of Air Force accident investigation documents recently examined by TomDispatch.  They catalog more than 70 catastrophic Air Force drone mishaps since 2000, each resulting in the loss of an aircraft or property damage of $2 million or more. 

These official reports, some obtained by TomDispatch through the Freedom of Information Act, offer new insights into a largely covert, yet highly touted war-fighting, assassination, and spy program involving armed robots that are significantly less reliable than previously acknowledged.  These planes, the latest wonder weapons in the U.S. military arsenal, are tested, launched, and piloted from a shadowy network of more than 60 bases spread around the globe, often in support of elite teams of special operations forces.  ...

Published: Wednesday 21 December 2011
What a busted robot airplane tells us about the American empire in 2012 and beyond

The drone had been in the air for close to five hours before its mission crew realized that something was wrong.  The oil temperature in the plane’s turbocharger, they noticed, had risen into the “cautionary” range. An hour later, it was worse, and it just kept rising as the minutes wore on.  While the crew desperately ran through its “engine overheat” checklist trying to figure out the problem, the engine oil temperature, too, began skyrocketing.

By now, they had a full-blown in-flight emergency on their hands.  “We still have control of the engine, but engine failure is imminent,” the pilot announced over the radio.

Almost two hours after the first signs of distress, the engine indeed failed.  Traveling at 712 feet per minute, the drone clipped a fence before crashing.

Land of the Lost Drones

The skies seem full of falling drones these days.  The most publicized of them made headlines when Iran announced that its military had taken possession of an advanced American remotely piloted spy aircraft, thought to be an RQ-170 Sentinel. 

Questions about how the Iranians came to possess one of the U.S. military’s most sophisticated pieces of equipment abound.  Iran first claimed that its forces shot the drone down after it "briefly violated" the country’s eastern airspace near the Afghan border.  Later, the Islamic Republic insisted that the unmanned aerial vehicle had penetrated 150 miles before being felled by a sophisticated cyber-attack.  And just days ago, an Iranian engineer ...

Published: Saturday 3 December 2011
John Ford signed up for a revolution, but he’s running a clinic.

In the early days of Occupy Boston, Ford, a 30-year-old bookstore owner from the white, blue-collar town of Plymouth, Massachusetts, and Alex Ingram, a 22-year-old African-American from Georgia who served in the Air Force as a linguist, would stay up late into the night in Occupy Boston’s library. Enveloped by Rousseau and Chomsky, they’d ponder big ideas about how to change the system. But tonight they’re grappling with a different set of issues: How do we deal with Henry, who’s drunk and pissed off again and recently threatened another Occupier with a hammer? What do we say to the furious young woman who’s on a manhunt for the guy who promised her forty bucks for sex and then ran off? And what the hell are we going to do about Phil?

Eviction, of course, is on everyone’s mind. Meetings are held every day to plot emergency evacuation plans. Occupy Boston’s lawyer was able to secure a restraining order that has helped prevent Mayor Thomas Menino from staging a Bloomberg-style raid. On December 1, a Suffolk Superior Court judge upheld that injunction, but it remains full of loopholes. If the camp is found to be in violation of fire and health codes, the city will have legal authority to clear camp. Fire inspectors frequent the site, documenting scores of violations with digital cameras, and Occupiers know this evidence won’t help them in court.

Menino has tolerated the encampment because, unlike some other Occupy sites, Boston hasn’t had any serious violent incidents or deadly overdoses. John, Alex and the Safety Committee ...

Published: Monday 17 October 2011
Drones are now the bedrock of Washington’s future military planning and – with counterinsurgency out of favor – the preferred way of carrying out wars abroad.

They increasingly dot the planet.  There’s a facility outside Las Vegas where “pilots” work in climate-controlled trailers, another at a dusty camp in Africa formerly used by the French Foreign Legion, a third at a big air base in Afghanistan where Air Force personnel sit in front of multiple computer screens, and a fourth at an air base in the United Arab Emirates that almost no one talks about. 

And that leaves at least 56 more such facilities to mention in an expanding American empire of unmanned drone bases being set up worldwide.  Despite frequent news reports on the drone assassination campaign launched in support of America’s ever-widening undeclared wars and a spate of stories on drone bases in Africa and the Middle East, most of these facilities have remained unnoted, uncounted, and remarkably anonymous -- until now.

Run by the military, the Central Intelligence Agency, and their proxies, these bases -- some little more than desolate airstrips, others sophisticated command and control centers filled with computer screens and high-tech electronic equipment -- are the backbone of a new American robotic way of war.  They are also the latest development in a ...

Published: Thursday 18 August 2011
"The United States has spent more than $65 billion on developing the F-22s, which have never been used in combat."

The most expensive fighter jet ever built, the U.S.’s F-22, has not only sat on the sidelines in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya—the entire fleet has been grounded indefinitely since early May due to a problem that’s caused some mysterious symptoms for pilots.

Wired notes that if this doesn’t change in the next few months, the Air Force’s F-22 pilots 

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