Items tagged with: say
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19945514
Posted by bubmiw (karma: 95)
Post stats: Points: 67 - Comments: 99 - 2019-05-18T04:02:29Z
#HackerNews #male #managers #mentoring #now #say #theyre #uncomfortable #women
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HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19914838
Posted by thereare5lights (karma: 804)
Post stats: Points: 141 - Comments: 52 - 2019-05-14T23:24:21Z
#HackerNews #boeing #cost-cutting #engineers #former #relentless #sacrificed #safety #say
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HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19891084
Posted by pfortuny (karma: 2350)
Post stats: Points: 114 - Comments: 130 - 2019-05-12T10:17:47Z
#HackerNews #appalachia #coding #fraud #jobs #now #promised #say #they #was #were
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HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19850728
Posted by enraged_camel (karma: 12475)
Post stats: Points: 171 - Comments: 91 - 2019-05-07T16:01:40Z
#HackerNews #enough #facebook #fine #isnt #punish #say #senators #two
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HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19720753
Posted by longdefeat (karma: 2481)
Post stats: Points: 122 - Comments: 77 - 2019-04-22T17:25:41Z
#HackerNews #facing #google #organizers #retaliation #say #theyre #walkout
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Joint Intelligence Bulletin issued in March says Russian hacking efforts were wide-ranging.
Article word count: 1167
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19635583
Posted by howard941 (karma: 7271)
Post stats: Points: 129 - Comments: 67 - 2019-04-11T15:31:12Z
#HackerNews #2016 #all #dhs #election #fbi #say #states #systems #targeted #were
Voter registration data was one of the targets of Russian hacking efforts in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election—which DHS and FBI analysts now say went after systems in every state.
Enlarge / Voter registration data was one of the targets of Russian hacking efforts in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election—which DHS and FBI analysts now say went after systems in every state.
A joint intelligence bulletin (JIB) has been issued by the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation to state and local authorities regarding Russian hacking activities during the 2016 presidential election. While the bulletin contains no new technical information, it is the first official report to confirm that the Russian reconnaissance and hacking efforts in advance of the election went well beyond the 21 states confirmed in previous reports.
As reported by the intelligence newsletter OODA Loop, the JIB stated that, while the FBI and DHS "previously observed suspicious or malicious cyber activity against government networks in 21 states that we assessed was a Russian campaign seeking vulnerabilities and access to election infrastructure," new information obtained by the agencies "indicates that Russian government cyber actors engaged in research on—as well as direct visits to—election websites and networks in the majority of US states." While not providing specific details, the bulletin continued, "The FBI and DHS assess that Russian government cyber actors probably conducted research and reconnaissance against all US states’ election networks leading up to the 2016 Presidential elections."
DHS-FBI JIBs are unclassified documents, but theyʼre usually marked "FOUO" (for official use only) and are shared through the DHSʼ state and major metropolitan Fusion Centers with state and local authorities. The details within the report are mostly well-known. "The information contained in this bulletin is consistent with what we have said publicly and what we have briefed to election officials on multiple occasions," a DHS spokesperson told Ars. "We assume the Russian government researched and in some cases targeted election infrastructure in all 50 states in an attempt to sow discord and influence the 2016 election."
In fact, DHS Assistant Secretary Jeanette Manfra told the Senate Homeland Security Committee in April of 2018 that Russia had likely at least performed reconnaissance on election infrastructure in all 50 states. The bulletin raises the confidence in that estimate, however, saying:
Russian cyber actors in the summer of 2016 conducted online research and reconnaissance to identify vulnerable databases, usernames, and passwords in webpages of a broader number of state and local websites than previously identified, bringing the number of states known to be researched by Russian actors to greater than 40. Despite gaps in our data where some states appear to be untouched by Russian activities, we have moderate confidence that Russian actors likely conducted at least reconnaissance against all US states based on the methodical nature of their research. This newly available information corroborates our previous assessment and enhances our understanding of the scale and scope of Russian operations to understand and exploit state and local election networks.
The DHS and the FBI have been criticized in the past for the lack of information made publicly available about election-focused hacking and information operations. In December of 2016, the DHS and the FBI released a joint analysis report detailing broad "Russian malicious cyber activity" that the agencies referred to as "Grizzly Steppe," which largely consisted of restating private sector research findings. An "enhanced analysis" of that activity was released in February of 2017, but it did little to improve on the original other than giving some additional intrusion detection system rules to watch for similar hacking attempts. The second draft reported that the DHS had "observed network scanning activity that is known as reconnaissance" prior to the 2016 election; it also included some generic information about common reconnaissance and malware delivery techniques.
While the latest JIB doesnʼt provide any more real technical information about how systems were attacked in 2016, it does go into some detail in describing the methodical reconnaissance approach "Russian government cyber actors" took in probing for potential vulnerabilities in election systems. Between June and October of 2016, the group associated with the election hacking "researched websites and information related to elections in at least 39 states and territories, according to newly available FBI information," the bulletin states. "The same actors also directly visited websites in at least 30 states, mostly election-related government sites at both the state and local level—some of which overlap with the 39 researched states."
The "actors" performed their research "in alphabetical order by state name," the bulletin states, "suggesting that at least the initial research was not targeted at specific states." The research focused on Secretary of State voter registration and election results sites, but it also drilled down on some local election officialsʼ webpages. As they accessed sites, actors "regularly attempted to identify and exploit SQL database vulnerabilities in webservers and databases."
The FBI and DHS analysts who authored the JIB noted that they had no information on how many of those attempts were successful, aside from two instances when "Russian government operators in June 2016 accessed voter registration files and a sample ballot from a US county website."
The new information that spurred this JIB did not, however, provide any additional insight into the Russian groupʼs attempts to scan for vulnerabilities in, and hack into, the networks of government agencies in "at least 21 states," as the bulletin notes. Some of the details of that effort were provided in the indictment of Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) officers delivered by Special Counsel Robert Muellerʼs probe—at least one state had voter data stolen, though there was no indication that data was tampered with.
Beating the drum
The bulletin included no new technical data for defenders to use. But its purpose is fairly clear—it was meant to get officials in every state on board to prepare for the 2020 presidential elections now. "Since 2016," the DHS spokesperson said, "we have built relationships and improved threat information sharing at every level—we are working with all 50 states and more than 1,400 local jurisdictions, and are doubling down on these efforts as we work with election officials to protect 2020.”
Much of the responsibility for that coordination is placed on DHSʼ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), which is, according to recent comments by its director, Chris Krebs, ramping up election security efforts in advance of the 2020 presidential election cycle. The agency got an additional budget of $33 million for Fiscal Year 2019 from Congress specifically for election security efforts. Krebs told reporters in February that the agency is "institutionalizing our election security efforts" and that "as our workforce continues to grow, and it will, our numbers heading up to the 2020 election will only grow," NextGovʼs Frank Konkel reported.
As far as active measures go, the JIBʼs authors advised state and local officials to focus on better operational security and basic website security practices. "In anticipation of the 2020 US Presidential Election," the DHS and FBI bulletin authors warned, "states should limit the availability of information about electoral systems or administrative processes and secure their websites and databases which could be exploited by malicious actors."
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Firsthand accounts of flying the world's most advanced fighter.
Article word count: 4397
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19506763
Posted by ChuckMcM (karma: 82978)
Post stats: Points: 122 - Comments: 114 - 2019-03-27T22:23:31Z
#HackerNews #f-35 #pilots #say #the #what
In my interviews with F-35 pilots, one word repeatedly came up: “survivability.” Surviving the Lockheed Martin F-35’s primary mission—to penetrate sophisticated enemy air defenses and find and disable threats—requires what the fifth-generation jet offers: stealth and a stunning array of passive and active sensors bringing information to the pilot. The F-35 can see trouble coming—ahead, behind, or below the aircraft—far enough in advance to avoid a threat or kill it. Faced with multiple threats, the sensor suite recommends the order in which they should be dispatched.
U.S. forces first took these capabilities into combat last September, when Marine F-35Bs struck the Taliban in Afghanistan (five months after its combat debut with the Israeli air force). More than 360 of the multi-service aircraft—Air Force F-35As, Marine short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing Bs, and carrier-capable Cs—have been delivered to 16 U.S. airbases and to seven other countries. Reaching these milestones has not been easy. The program’s difficulties and its cost—$406 billion for development and acquisition—have been widely reported. But now the F-35 is in the hands of the best judges of its performance, its pilots. I asked eight of them—test pilots who contributed to the jet’s development as well as active-duty pilots—about their experiences. Here, in their own words, are their answers.
Billie Flynn | Experimental test pilot, Lockheed Martin
A test pilot with the company for more than 15 years, Flynn flew the first F-35 airshow demonstration, at the Paris Air Show in 2017.
(Michael D. Jackson / Lockheed Martin)
For four years, all people could talk about was how we’d lost a dogfight against a 40-year-old F-16. Paris was the first time we showed what the airplane could do. The F-35 engine is the most powerful fighter engine in the world, so on takeoff, I pulled straight up. The F-22 Raptor is an airshow favorite because it is super maneuverable. It has thrust vectoring; it controls the engine exhaust with paddles that move. The F-22 can do a downward spiral, and I did the same thing in the F-35—without thrust vectoring. I pull up to vertical, skid the airplane over the top, and spiral down like a helicopter hovers. That pedal turn [executed with rudder inputs] ended the discussion of how an F-35 would perform in a dogfight.
Lieutenant Colonel David “Chip” Berke | USMC (ret.)
The first non-test pilot to fly the F-35, Berke commanded Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 502 at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina. He is the only Marine ever to have qualified to fly the F-22 Raptor and served as the F-22 division commander at the Air Force’s 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron.
David Berke flew the Lockheed Martin F-22 before the F-35. Fifth-generation aircraft, says the pilot, offer a different set of capabilities from fourth-generation aircraft, and pilots must fly them differently as well. (Sgt Christine Polvorosa / USMC)
Fighter aircraft all have to have a level of performance and maneuverability: speed, Gs, turn rate, turn radius, acceleration, climb—all of those things. In the F-35, there’s not a massive change in those performance metrics. The F-35 is better [than legacy aircraft], but not a lot better. But those ways to measure an airplane are not nearly as relevant now as they used to be. They’re not irrelevant, but they are not as important as all the other qualities that you should be measuring an airplane by.
If you were to write down all the ways in which you could measure an airplane—payload, fuel, ordnance, handling—and ask 100 pilots to rank which is the most important, I guarantee you that 100 out of 100 pilots would say “situational awareness.” By far. Not a single pilot in the world would say “turn radius.” Not one. Because the more you know, the more accurately you know it, the better able you are to make a decision.
In situational awareness, the F-35 is superior to all platforms, including the Raptor. I’d never been in an airplane that so effectively and seamlessly integrates information to tell me what’s going on around me—and not just from the radio frequency spectrum, but laser, infrared, electro-optical. That’s usually the first thing people notice when they get in the airplane. They know so much more than they ever knew before.
After situational awareness, you want to be able to dictate access regardless of the capability of the threat. A highly robust air-defense network can deny access. The biggest problem that legacy aircraft have right now is that the threat gets to dictate when and where we fly.
Air-defense networks can also be limiting for stealth aircraft. The first thing you have to think about in the F-35 is managing your signature. In an F-18, you don’t even think about it because everybody sees you the minute you take off, so you don’t spend a lot of time trying to hide. Managing all the components of low observability is very challenging, and pilots have to think about it all the time. And they don’t do it well the first time. We all struggle with that initially. But you de-brief and analyze and start to build a database of the methods being used to detect you. You start to build a strategy that will keep others from finding you. Where do you want to put other people in the formation so you can maximize information sharing and sensor coverage and sensor footprints? It’s really no different, from a philosophical viewpoint, from what we’ve always done. We spend a lot of time trying to figure out what our weaknesses are: What do I need to fix as a pilot?
In an F-22 and F-35, one of the most enjoyable things is being virtually undetectable until it’s way, way, way too late for the threat. If you manage the signature really well, and you do it in a way that is integrated with the other platforms, most of the time the threat doesn’t know you’re there. And that’s why I have extreme faith that the machine is going to be the most dominant aircraft ever built.
The F-35C Navy variant has a larger wing than the Air Force and Marine models, folding wingtips, and more robust landing gear—all required for carrier operations. These two C models fly with Strike Fighter Squadron 147 at Naval Air Station Lemoore in California. (MCC(NAC) Shannon E. Renfroe / US Navy)
Lieutenant JG Thorys Stensrud | U.S. Navy Strike Fighter Squadron 125
Stensrud graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2015, and trained in T-6s and T-45s. Last year he joined VF-125, NAS Lemoore, California.
My first flight was July 2018. It was surreal. I don’t think it really hit me until after we landed—just how impressive the jet is and how big a step it is from a T-45 to the first gray, Navy jet.
It definitely was a challenge to learn, and I don’t think anyone’s going to be crushing it right off the bat. The basic skills come pretty quickly, in two or three flights. The most challenging part is how much information the jet presents to you and focusing on the right things at the right time. Over time, you kind of find the best way to process the information. I can’t think of another experience I’ve had that’s quite like that.
I’m sure some people brought some skills from video games that might have helped them out, but probably not too much. I played some video games growing up, and I don’t find comparability between playing video games and flying the F-35.
My training class was the first to have the opportunity to go straight to the F-35. I hope that we can live up to the expectation and add to the corporate knowledge around the jet.
Colonel Arthur “Turbo” Tomassetti | USMC (ret.)
The only government test pilot to fly all three variants of the X-35 aircraft, Tomassetti is the F-35 Marine Corps program manager at Lockheed Martin. He was the first pilot to fly the X-35 in three regimes on a single sortie: short takeoff, supersonic dash, and vertical landing.
Former test pilot Art Tomassetti estimates that he spent as many as 200 hours in the simulator to prepare for some of his one-hour test flights. (GySgt Stacey-Ann Viner / USMC)
All three variants have the same specified top speed—Mach 1.6. Because they’re slightly different airplanes, some may get to it a little faster than others. Obviously, with the big wing on the F-35C, you’ve got to drive that a little bit harder to get to 1.6.
[When you cross the Mach threshold], you can notice it only if you’re paying attention to it. There is a little bit of a shudder, or vibration. If you were distracted or busy with something else, you might miss it. [On the mission that first combined short takeoff, supersonic dash, and vertical landing in a single flight], I think I noticed the transition just because of the magnitude of the event. You know, “Here’s young Major Tomassetti, first job out of test pilot school, flying over the dry lakebed in Edwards getting ready to take this X-airplane supersonic” and you start to think, “Hey, Chuck Yeager did this. What did I do right in my life to deserve being in this particular position?”
One of the marvels of this airplane is the digital flight control technology. You are telling the airplane to go up or down, speed up or slow down, go left or right. And the computers figure out what’s the best way to do that, and they’re going to move the flight controls to do it. And the interesting thing is, they may not do it the same way twice. So let’s say the airplane gets damaged, and one of the flight controls is no longer available. A legacy airplane would still try to use that surface because it doesn’t know any better. The F-35 digital flight control systems will say, “That surface isn’t doing much for me anymore, so I’m going to have to compensate by using some other things. Maybe I’ll have to move them a little bit more to get the same effect because the pilot still wants to turn left.”
And every time I took somebody out for a first flight, when we came back—I was usually at plane side when they were coming down the ladder—I was waiting for the minute when they lifted their visor to see the expression on their face. And in every case, that expression was a smile. And when you ask people, “Do you feel like you need to practice landings?” they say, “No, not really.” And that’s something that you did in all of your legacy airplanes. It’s not great empirical data, but it was enough to convince me that we had gotten to where I had hoped we would get to.
In the Harrier, I needed to practice hover because hovering was hard, especially if it was windy out. In this airplane, hovering is so easy that there have been pictures of pilots with their hands above the canopy rails showing, “Look, no hands” because once you put it where you want, it’s going to stay there until you tell it to move or it runs out of gas.
F-35 kicks into afterburner An F-35C kicks into afterburner over Eglin Air Force Base, Fort Walton Beach, Florida. To maintain a small radar signature, the jet carries weapons in internal bays and has antennas embedded in its skin. (Shannon E. Renfroe / US Navy)
Major Valerie “Twitch” Wetzbarger | F-35 instructor pilot, USAF 56th Fighter Wing, Luke Air Force Base
Wetzbarger flew the F-15E Strike Eagle for six years before transitioning to the F-35A. Before joining the 56th Fighter Wing, Wetzbarger flew F-15Es with the 492nd Fighter Squadron, RAF Lakenheath, U.K., and the 391st Fighter Squadron, Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. She deployed twice to the Middle East from 2014 to 2015.
After a February 2019 flight at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, F-35 instructor pilot Valerie Wetzbarger stands next to the F-35A. Luke received its first F-35 in 2014. (Senior Airman Aspen Reid / USAF)
The transition from a 4th-gen fighter to a 5th-gen fighter was like learning how to drive an automatic car from a manual. My dad was an F-4 pilot, and he always told me, “A jet’s a jet’s a jet, so don’t be intimidated by switching from one jet to another.” The F-35 actually handles a lot like the F-15E, with the difference being, the F-35 is a high angle-of-attack fighter with advanced control logic. [Angle of attack is the angle between the wing and the oncoming air.] Those of us not used to low speed, high-AOA performance from our previous aircraft must practice and adapt to those flight regimes.
The primary mission of the F-35 is suppression of enemy air defenses. The training missions that maximize our learning are when we can locate surface-to-air missiles, protect the other strikers in the formation, bomb or suppress the targets we’ve been assigned, and then fight our way out. That mission is very similar to the F-15E, but the information fusion, pilot interface, and physical capabilities in the F-35 take our efficiency across the formation and among partner nations to a whole new level.
I’m constantly learning as new capabilities present themselves and the tactics are upgraded, adapted, and changed every six months or so. Every time I teach a new mission set, I have to refresh my knowledge with the latest tactics and guidance. Keeping current and absorbing each other’s lessons is what it takes to be proficient as a fighter pilot in any community.
At Luke Air Force Base, we fly fairly complex missions while developing the mindset, “every wingman is a flight lead.” To execute effectively, we break down those missions into phases. Some of my favorite advice is, “Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.” This means slow down, do your part right the first time, and that will be quicker in the end. In the cockpit, it’s important to prioritize, execute efficiently, and move on to the next priority. That is your contribution to the overall team effort.
My husband and I both learned the F-35 at the same time, and with great experiences behind us we were ready to learn a new jet and discover how we could contribute to this new melting-pot community of fighter experience. I appreciate the Air Force leaders supporting us living together as a family and the squadron treating us as individual pilots. I have also enjoyed seeing more females in fighter cockpits as they realize that the fighter community supports them and their families.
The F-35 enables the U.S. Air Force to be a more integrated force. For example, in my squadron, Americans, Italians, and Norwegians work together and teach each other. Flying the same jet builds a stronger joint and coalition team and makes us more capable as a NATO unit.
At Luke Air Force Base, a Royal Australian Air Force maintainer walks on an F-35 wing, its skin made of composites. Thirteen countries have ordered the jet. (Staff Sgt Jensen Stidham / USAF)
Jon Beesley | Lockheed F-35 Chief Test Pilot, 2002–2011
With more than 23 years as a Lockheed Martin test pilot, Beesley worked on the development of the F-117 Nighthawk and F-22 Raptor, as well as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. On December 15, 2006, Beesley took the first F-35 prototype, designated AA-1, on its first flight.
For four years leading up to first flight, I spent a lot of time working on the STOVL Weight Attack Team, or SWAT. [Formed in April 2004, SWAT cut 2,700 pounds from the F-35B in six months.] That effort let us go in and fix quite a few things. There was at first a zealousness about commonality [among variants], and that’s very important to the airplane, but you don’t have to make bulkheads common to all variants. Nobody’s gonna pull into an Air Force or Marine Corps base and say, “I need a new bulkhead.” They’re gonna come in and say, “I got this bad mission system box.”
Ordinarily, if you’re getting a bunch of weight out, you’d really cripple the airplane, but in fact, all the variants became better. It was really kind of a magical moment.
But AA-1, the very first airplane, was built prior to SWAT to the original specifications. To decide how the airplane ought to fly, we did hundreds of simulations before the first flight. When we flew the first flight, we were flying an engine that had never flown before, and we were doing it in a single-engine airplane. We were also flying electrohydrostatic actuators. Lightning is a beautiful name for the airplane, because everything is electric, including the actuators. The fact that all of that stuff worked so well on the first flight was just thrilling to me because we didn’t anticipate it.
Long ago Jack Krings [test pilot and First Undersecretary of Defense under President Ronald Reagan], made a statement that always stuck with me. He said, “Air combat has always been about stealth.” If you look back even into World War I, pilots attacked out of the sun. Why? Well, they didn’t want to be seen.
Why does the F-117 look the way it does? Flat plates and simple shapes. Why do the F-22 and the F-35 look the way they do? You can almost see the evolution of computers. With the computers available in the late 1970s, the prediction of radar cross-section—how an airplane would reflect radar—was obviously a challenge. With 1970s computers, you design very simple surfaces, which tend to be flat. Just think how your personal computer improved between the 1970s and the 1990s and 2000s. By that time, we were able to predict the radar effects from curved surfaces and much more complex shapes. When you can allow the airplanes to look more like airplanes, you gain performance.
On the F-35, they used the Navy approach [to test maneuvers at high angle of attack]. That was to go up, disable all the limitations in the flight control system for an instant, get the airplane wrapped up, and then re-engage the whole flight control system to show that it would recover itself.
It’s the part of the airplane that people don’t understand. The F-35 is as maneuverable as any other airplane, except perhaps the F-22. Russian airplanes are also very maneuverable, but if you dig into [the Russian demonstrations of maneuverability], what you’re seeing is the capabilities of airplanes flown by exceptional pilots. What we were building with the F-35 is an airplane that everybody can fly. That’s the critical part of it.
Squadron Leader Andy Edgell | Royal Air Force, F-35 Patuxent River Integrated Test Force
Last year, Edgell flew as lead test pilot for the first F-35 flight trials on the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, including executing an unprecedented aft-facing landing. Previously a Harrier pilot, Edgell embarked in HMS Ark Royal and HMS Illustrious and led over 70 combat operations in support of British operations in Afghanistan.
During flight trials last fall on the HMS Queen Elizabeth, Royal Air Force pilot Andy Edgell is greeted by a sailor on the 65,000-ton vessel. (Dane Wiedmann / Lockheed Martin)
Lots of people want me to make the comparison between the Harrier and the F-35, but it is chalk and cheese. Whereas I don’t want fleet pilots to be thinking about how the F-35 is flying or responding, I’ll tell you that was pretty much all I was doing in the Harrier. I equate it to a unicycle. You have to continuously pedal; keep moving something, whether it’s your left hand, your right hand, your feet. F-35, you just sit there and go hands free and it will stay exactly where you’ve put it. Flying an F-35 to an aircraft carrier is an absolute pleasure, as opposed to a Harrier, which frankly can be borderline terrifying.
For tests in departure resistance, we truly had to trick the system. We would disengage all the self-protect mechanisms to put it into an out-of-control regime. And then we would allow the controller to wake up. It would recognize the situation it was in, and then it would get itself out of the situation. Absolutely fascinating. It will null all of the pitch rates, yaw rates, and roll rates to the extent that you can get it out the attitude that you’ve got it into.
When it comes to true departure resistance, we allowed the system to be 100 percent engaged, and we would [fly like] a very badly trained pilot. So everything that I have been taught not to do as a pilot since the age of—crikey, when did I first start flying? Maybe 13—I was being asked to do.
At Mach 1.2, I was asked to put in full left rudder, yank the stick into the back left corner, a couple of seconds later, reverse it over to the right-hand side, switch rudder pedals, and then push the stick all the way forward into the front left. No pilot in his right mind should ever be doing this. But it is the way we needed to get the data to ensure that this is a 100 percent robust aircraft. I distinctly remember one occurrence. I was full backstick [very nose high], and probably with a full left rudder-pedal input. And I was at about 5 1/2 or 6 G, at which point I needed to switch rudder pedals, but due to the G, I couldn’t lift my right leg up to reverse the rudder pedal! So I aborted the maneuver. The control room said, “Yeah, Test, you didn’t put the right rudder in.” I said, “Yeah, I know. I couldn’t lift my leg up.”
I can understand why people think that because it is so heavily computerized, flying the F-35 can’t be fun. The F-35 absolutely is fun to fly! It’s exhilarating because there is so much power. I vividly remember a pull-out of a dive. It was about a 70-degree dive to get to the actual test point, at 5,000 feet. I recovered full backstick, a pull-out to 50-degree angle of attack, and I could not believe how quickly the aircraft turned the corner. I had probably been flying the aircraft for about three years at that point, but at that moment, it absolutely took my breath away. Legalized hooliganism! All in the pursuit of data and good test points, of course.
An aft-facing landing on an aircraft carrier is an example [of a situation] where things are not going to plan. The ship may be dead in the water and the wind down the deck exceeds the limits for a tailwind landing, and you need to reverse the direction of your approach. It seems like a stunt—some might say a little unnecessary. But if that is what you need to do to recover your multi-million-dollar aircraft, then that is what you need to do. So we were really evaluating the handling of the aircraft—the propulsion, performance—when the wind is coming off the stern of the aircraft carrier. And it is disappointingly very, very benign. You just modify your pattern. There is nothing cosmic about it. The aircraft doesn’t really care what direction the ship is pointing in. It just seems a little bit bizarre. I did, for a moment, stare through the windows of the bridge. And you think to yourself, “This is a view that no one really gets.” You are flying nearly 200 miles an hour at about 105 feet, just pointing directly at the bridge. It certainly got some attention.
What’s wrong with this picture? The aircraft is facing aft, as Edgell executes the first aft-facing landing on a carrier. (Dane Wiedmann / Lockheed Martin)
Lieutenant Colonel Yosef Morris | USAF 4th Squadron Commander, 388th Fighter Wing, Hill Air Force Base
In 2012, Morris transitioned to the F-35 from the F-16. He was part of the initial cadre that stood up the first F-35 squadron at Edwards Air Force Base, and he led the 4th Fighter Squadron in 2017 and 2019 Red Flag exercises.
In the two years since [the 388th’s] last Red Flag exercise, the airplane itself has had some pretty significant advancements. A couple of months before the 2017 Red Flag, the Air Force declared that the squadron was what we call “initial operational capable.” So the jet still had some operating limitations—altitude, airspeed, Gs, things like that. The software on the aircraft, though very capable, still had some limitations in terms of some of the systems and some of the weapons it could control. Fast forward two years, and we’re operating with what’s referred to as full warfighting capability software. It’s a more advanced F-35 than it was two years ago.
[In the mission to suppress enemy air defenses,] we’re trying to prevent surface-to-air missiles from targeting other aircraft that are trying to get to different objectives. The F-35 has some really good sensors that can help us locate those threats. That’s a very satisfying mission to be able to target something that’s trying to shoot at you, especially when [you’re] helping out some other assets to get to a target and keeping them safe.
The jet is sort of like a big antenna. It is receiving emissions from things that are radiating. And sometimes the [F-35’s] radar is actively trying to get information on, for example, an adversary aircraft. We can mission-plan the sensors, depending on the type of mission.
And in a large-force environment like Red Flag, where there might be as many as 60 or 70 aircraft on the Blue side and 10 or 20 adversary aircraft, lots of things on the ground—that’s a lot of information to interpret. Reading the first sortie on the first day, I certainly felt overwhelmed with the amount of information. And the next sortie I flew, I could manage some of my sensors differently to give me just the information I needed for that particular mission. Figuring out how to declutter your display to match the scenario is one of the main skills we learn here that we can’t simulate in day-to-day training, because you don’t get to train with the rest of the Department of Defense on a daily basis.
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Scientists researching treatments for chronic fatigue syndrome say they face online abuse and harassment. Some are leaving the field
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LONDON – The emails, tweets and blog posts in the “abuse” folder that Michael Sharpe keeps on his computer continue to pile up. Eight years after he published results of a clinical trial that found some patients with chronic fatigue syndrome can get a little better with the right talking and exercise therapies, the Oxford University professor is subjected to almost daily, often anonymous, intimidation.
A Twitter user who identifies himself as a patient called Paul Watton (@thegodofpleasur) wrote: “I really am looking forward to his professional demise and his much-deserved public humiliation.” Another, Anton Mayer (@MECFSNews), likened Sharpe’s behaviour to “that of an abuser.”
Watton and Mayer have never been treated by Sharpe for their chronic fatigue syndrome, a little-understood condition that can bring crushing tiredness and pain. Nor have they met him, they told Reuters. They object to his work, they said, because they think it suggests their illness is psychological. Sharpe, a professor of psychological medicine, says that isn’t the case. He believes that chronic fatigue syndrome is a biological condition that can be perpetuated by social and psychological factors.
Sharpe is one of around a dozen researchers in this field worldwide who are on the receiving end of a campaign to discredit their work. For many scientists, it’s a new normal: From climate change to vaccines, activism and science are fighting it out online. Social media platforms are supercharging the battle.
Reuters contacted a dozen professors, doctors and researchers with experience of analysing or testing potential treatments for chronic fatigue syndrome. All said they had been the target of online harassment because activists objected to their findings. Only two had definite plans to continue researching treatments. With as many as 17 million people worldwide suffering this disabling illness, scientific research into possible therapies should be growing, these experts said, not dwindling. What concerns them most, they said, is that patients could lose out if treatment research stalls.
A spokesperson for Twitter said the platform “exists to serve the public conversation. Its strength lies in providing people with a diversity of perspectives into critical issues – all in real-time.” Where someone used anonymity for bad purposes, Twitter would take immediate action, the spokesperson added.
Chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis, or CFS/ME, is described by specialists as a “complex, multisystem, and often devastating disorder.” Symptoms include overwhelming fatigue, joint pain, headaches, sleep problems and isolation. It can render patients bed- or house-bound for years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, estimates the illness costs the U.S. economy $17 billion to $24 billion annually in medical bills and lost incomes. It is thought to affect as many as 2.5 million people in the United States.
No cause has been identified, no formal diagnosis established and no cure developed. Many researchers cite evidence that talking therapies and behavioural approaches can help in some cases. Yet some patients and their advocates say this amounts to a suggestion that the syndrome might be a mental illness or psychosomatic, a notion that enrages them. They would prefer that research efforts focus on identifying a biological cause or diagnosis.
One of those leading the campaign against research into psychological therapies for CFS/ME is David Tuller, a former journalist with a doctor of public health degree from University of California, Berkeley. Tuller, who describes himself as an investigator, not a campaigner, told Reuters he wants to help CFS/ME patients.
Crowdfunded by a global band of CFS/ME sufferers, their families and patient activists, Tuller has since October 2015 published more than 140 blog posts amounting to tens of thousands of words attacking studies of psychological treatments and conferences that have showcased them. He’s recently complained to the CDC, New York’s Columbia University and Netflix. In 2018, Netflix ran a docu-series about CFS/ME patients. It said it wanted to show the difficulties of patients “suffering from elusive and misunderstood illnesses.”
Tuller refers to researchers who explore and test treatments for CFS/ME that feature a psychological element as “insane” and a “cabal” suffering from “mass delusion.” They are bent on pursuing “bogus and really terrible research,” he told Reuters.
Sharpe no longer conducts research into CFS/ME treatments, focusing instead on helping severely ill cancer patients. “Itʼs just too toxic,” he explained. Of more than 20 leading research groups who were publishing treatment studies in high-quality journals 10 years ago, Sharpe said, only one or two continue to do so.
The world’s largest trials registry, clinicaltrials.gov, indicates that over the past decade there has been a decline in the number of new CFS/ME treatment trials being launched. From 2010 to 2014, 33 such trials started. From 2015 until the present, the figure dropped to around 20. This decline comes at a time when research into ways to help patients should be growing, not falling, because the condition is more widely recognised, scientists interviewed by Reuters said.
Reuters spoke to three specialists in CFS/ME in Britain, Denmark and the Netherlands who have reported receiving online abuse but continue to work in the field. The specialist in the Netherlands, a psychologist who works at a chronic fatigue treatment centre, said that a few years ago, research teams there had five treatment studies looking at cognitive behavioural therapies for CFS/ME patients. Now, they have no treatment studies at all. Junior researchers are wary of entering the field because of the abuse they’ve seen others suffer, said the specialist in Britain, a doctor who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Per Fink, a professor at the Research Clinic for Functional Disorders at Denmark’s Aarhus University Hospital, said he kept going because he didn’t want to let down patients, some severely ill, who are “open to any treatment that may help them.”
The term myalgic encephalomyelitis was first used in 1956 to describe a condition associated with post-illness fatigue among patients at London’s Royal Free Hospital. Thirty years later, the name chronic fatigue syndrome was coined. Now, the combination term CFS/ME is used by most people – patients, doctors and researchers – and by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
The trigger for the condition is not known, although it can follow a bout of severe illness or extreme physical endurance, or a viral infection such as glandular fever. There is no biomarker or blood test to establish diagnosis, and patients often face misunderstanding from family, friends and doctors. Patient advocates say the condition has a history of being dismissed as “yuppie flu” or plain indolence.
With no pharmacological or physiological treatments on the horizon, scientists and doctors explored psychiatry and psychology for ways to ease the symptoms. Some patients and campaigners say that diverted attention and funding away from scientific efforts to define what causes CFS/ME and how it can be properly diagnosed.
Simon Wessely, a professor of psychological medicine at King’s College London and former president of Britain’s Royal College of Psychiatrists, said he decided to stop conducting research into treatment approaches for CFS/ME several years ago because he felt the online abuse was detracting from his work with patients.
But he is still the subject of what he calls “relentless internet stalking.” Recent tweets directed at Wessely include one accusing him of playing “pathetic ego driven games” with the lives of people with CFS/ME, another saying “Wessely is a dangerous and evil individual” and another saying “We die, b/c of u.”
Wessely’s employers at King’s College London have taken advice on the potential risk and have instituted X-ray scans of his mail, he says. “Everything I say and do in public, and sometimes even in private, is pored over and scrutinised,” he said.
Wessely’s experiences are echoed by Aarhus University Hospital’s Per Fink, who runs a clinic that offers patients exercise and talking therapies.
Fink said he and the organisers of a conference he addressed at Columbia University in New York in October 2018 were hounded by complaints and protests from CFS/ME activists. A petition calling for Fink to be disinvited was signed by 10,000 people. Tuller – who in his blog wrote that the person who invited Per Fink to speak at the conference must be “uninformed or stupid or both” – called Fink a “scary guy” whose methods had “destroyed families.” Tuller urged readers of his blog to go to the Columbia conference and demonstrate.
Describing himself as a doctor and researcher “who just does my job in an attempt to help people,” Fink told Reuters his trip to New York was worse than anything he’s experienced before. “They are scaring people away,” he said. “Doctors don’t want to speak about it – they try to keep a low profile. And many researchers and clinicians say they won’t go into this area of therapy because it’s so difficult.”
Social media supercharge
The idea of critics or activists challenging researchers and seeking to hold science to account isn’t new. Most researchers say they are happy to engage in discussion. But with social media, email and internet now accessible from almost every home, mass communication gives online activists a voice with unprecedented power. In the field of CFS/ME research, it’s often personal. Those at the centre of it say it’s gotten out of control.
“The toxicity of it permeates everything,” Sharpe told Reuters.
The campaign to have evidence-backed treatments discredited was “doing a terrible disservice to sufferers from this condition,” said Wessely. “Patients are the losers here.”
“The toxicity of it permeates everything.”
At the heart of the attacks on Sharpe, Wessely and other chronic fatigue treatment researchers is a study known as the PACE trial, which sought to evaluate the effectiveness of different types of therapy in CFS/ME patients.
Published in The Lancet medical journal in 2011, the results found that cognitive behavioural therapy – designed to help patients change their thinking and behaviour – and graded exercise therapy – in which patients are encouraged to start from very low levels of daily activity and then incrementally raise them – are safe and moderately effective treatments for some people.
Richard Horton, the editor of The Lancet, said his journal had received emails and letters about PACE but has no plans to retract it. He said what is needed to allow for progress in any field of medical research is “an open and respectful approach by all parties to one another.”
In April last year, Tuller secured $87, 500 in online crowdfunding to “debunk” the PACE trial findings. He refers to the study as “a piece of crap” and “garbage” and says he is determined to see it discredited. At speaking events filmed and shown on YouTube, he has ripped up copies of the study to show his feelings about it. Tuller has also posted a 15,000 word review of it via the website of a Berkeley colleague.
Tuller cut his teeth as an AIDS activist in the 1980s. Now 62, he blogs, sends hundreds of letters and emails, and travels the world giving speeches and holding meetings as supporters send him donations and praise for his CFS/ME campaign. Tuller himself hasn’t conducted or published any peer-reviewed clinical trials on CFS/ME. He has co-authored a critique of PACE.
His argument is that the therapies evaluated in the PACE trial are based on a misguided hypothesis that CFS/ME patients suffer from “unhelpful” beliefs that they have a biological disease, and that their symptoms of fatigue are made worse by deconditioning due to inactivity. He also says he thinks the trial’s methodology was flawed. The scientists involved reject those arguments.
“My goal is to completely discredit the PACE trial,” Tuller told Reuters. “And if they have moved out of the research field, then that’s great,” he said of the CFS/ME researchers he’s targeting. “They shouldn’t be in the field. They shouldn’t be doing research at all.”
Tuller disputes that his campaigning amounts to harassment. In comments to Reuters in an interview and in emails, he said his criticisms are valid. And he added: “I refuse to act in the normal bounds of academia.” Asked about his motivation, he said he does not have the condition. He said he had a long-time friend who was diagnosed with CFS/ME in the early 1990s but has “no other personal stake.” He said his work is helping patients by “clearing out the bad science to make way for some good science,” such as research into the condition’s biological basis.
Feeling the heat
Another campaign, which goes by the acronym MAIMES, or Medical Abuse in ME Sufferers, operates from Britain. It has a standard letter for people to send to their local member of parliament demanding a public inquiry into the PACE trial. There’s also a Facebook page called “Abuse of ME Patients by Health Care Professionals” which has some 680 followers. The page runs stories from unnamed patients who accuse Sharpe and others of harming sufferers by calling them “lazy” and forcing them to exercise when they can’t.
The campaigner and doctor behind MAIMES, Sarah Myhill, has posted YouTube videos setting out her views: “I liken it to child abuse,” she says in one that has been viewed more than 8,000 times. “This amounts to a form of abuse, because these people” – CFS/ME patients – “do not have the energy to defend themselves.” Myhill has published several books advocating what she calls a “naturopath’s” approach to treating symptoms of CFS/ME – one using a tailored combination of nutrition, rest and medicines. She hasn’t published peer-reviewed research on the efficacy of her approach.
Myhill told Reuters that she had complained to the General Medical Council – the body that maintains the official register of medical practitioners in the UK – about Sharpe and other scientists involved in the PACE trial, but her complaint was rejected. Myhill showed Reuters the letter she received from the General Medical Council. It said it was “not able to identify any issues which would require us to open an investigation” into the researchers. Contacted by Reuters, the Council did not elaborate.
As well as dissuading researchers from working in the CFS/ME field, scientists fear that pressure from campaigners has also begun to show in the wording of guidance for patients and doctors from national health authorities. In the United States, the CDC has removed references to cognitive behavioural therapy and graded exercise therapy from its website.
The head of the CDC’s chronic viral diseases branch, Elizabeth Unger, told Reuters this was done to remove jargon and medical terms that are not widely understood by the public. “We received feedback that the terms were confusing and too frequently misinterpreted,” she said in an email response to questions.
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