It’s been a big year for all of us at Sandboxx News, and we couldn’t be more grateful to our audience for making us a part of your lives. In January of 2020, we set about building Sandboxx News on the foundation this company had already established with the Sandboxx Blog. Our goal was simple: To provide information, motivation, and entertainment to America’s service members and families. As the editor-in-chief around these parts, I’m incredibly proud to say that I believe we’ve been doing just that.
2020 may have been the craziest year in the news this nation has yet to experience: From pandemics to wildfires, from politics to foreign policy. Throughout, Sandboxx News has strived to maintain its apolitical approach to the issues facing America’s warfighters. In order to achieve that, we hired more than a dozen writers hailing from every aspect of America’s defensive infrastructure. Our roles boast Navy SEALs, Army Rangers, Green Berets, CIA officers, fighter pilots, military spouses, and more. At Sandboxx, we understand the military because it’s who we are, and we couldn’t be prouder to serve this community that we hold so dear.
So without further ado, here are 10 of the biggest stories Sandboxx News published this year, as chosen by you, the readers.
10. B-1B GUNSHIP: BOEING’S PLAN TO RUN BIG GUNS ON THE LANCER
The B-1B Lancer has long served as America’s only supersonic heavy payload bomber, but for a time, Boeing considered extended its life as a high-speed gunship that would combine the firepower of the Spooky AC-130 gunship with the speed and maneuverability of an oversized fighter.
9. YOU CAN MAKE IT THROUGH NAVY SEAL TRAINING IF YOU CAN DO THIS
The sand invades every crevice and fold in your skin and clothing like a kind of unfinished cement mixture hellbent on rubbing your exposed patches of water-softened skin until they chafe and bleed. Just when the bright southern California sunshine dries you out, and you feel that blessed warmth that you remember so well from before you started Navy SEAL training, the BUD/S instructors once again order you into the surf zone like maniacal dads gleefully throwing their children into a pool for the first time. Learn to swim, or die.
8. SEA RAPTOR: THE NAVY’S SWEEP-WING F-22 THAT WASN’T TO BE
The U.S. Air Force’s venerable F-22 Raptor is widely seen as the world’s most capable air superiority fighter, but for a short time, it was nearly joined by a sister platform modified specifically for the Navy in the NATF-22.
7. AI WINS FLAWLESS VICTORY AGAINST HUMAN FIGHTER PILOT IN DARPA DOGFIGHT
DARPA’s AlphaDogfight trials have officially come to a close with Heron Systems’ incredible artificial intelligence pilot system defeating not only its industry competitors, but going on to secure 5 straight victories against a highly trained U.S. Air Force F-16 pilot, without the human pilot scoring a single hit.
6. WHY IS AMERICA BUYING THE F-15EX INSTEAD OF MORE F-35S?
The U.S. Air Force is now poised to begin purchases of Boeing’s new and improved F-15EX, a fourth generation platform that has drawn its fair share of controversy in recent months. This purchase will mark the first time the Air Force has purchased an F-15 in more than 20 years, prompting some critics to question the logic behind investing hundreds of millions of dollars into an old workhorse in this era of advanced stealth technology.
5. 9 BEST MILITARY BASES IN THE U.S. BASED ON LIFESTYLE
If you’re getting ready to pick your “dream list” for your very first duty station, you may be a little unsure of what locations to choose for your top choices. Each branch has a variety of billets they must fill, so keep in mind you won’t necessarily get your first choice. When looking at your options based on your position, think about what you love to do on your off-time. What are your hobbies? Do you enjoy the indoors or outdoors more? What lifestyle amenities do you appreciate in your life now?
4. AN F-35 PILOT’S TAKE ON THE ONLY ‘STEALTH FIGHTER’ LOST IN COMBAT
One of the sayings we have in the fighter pilot community is that the enemy always gets a vote. What this means is that no matter how good your intel is, how smart you think you are, or how inferior the enemy appears to be, they always reserve the right to do something you aren’t expecting. Using their ingenuity and will to win, they can choose a course of action that catches you off guard and forces you to react. A good example of this is Col. Dale Zelko’s second mission during the Kosovo War.
3. XP-79: THE US FIGHTER BUILT TO RAM ENEMY BOMBERS
In the waning days of World War II, the world of military aviation was at a turning point. By the close of 1944, America’s prop-driven B-29 Superfortress was pushing the limits of extended-duration bombing missions thanks to technological advances like its uniquely pressurized cabin and remote-controlled defensive turrets. On the other side of the fight, the Nazi Messerschmitt Me 262, the world’s first operational jet aircraft, was proving that the days of propeller driven fighters were numbered. In a very real way, the future of warfare in the skies was so in flux that, in the minds of many, just about anything seemed possible.
2. MEET THE ‘DEADLIEST RECRUIT’ EVER TO PASS THROUGH PARRIS ISLAND
On Thursday, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island issued a press release identifying Marine Recruit Austin Farrell as the deadliest recruit ever to pass through the Corps’ infamously difficult rifle qualification course. Farrell grew up building and shooting rifles with his father, and when it came time to qualify on his M16A4 service rifle, the young recruit managed a near-perfect score of 248 out of a maximum possible 250 points on Table One.
1. HERE’S WHY THE PENTAGON SAYS YOU SHOULD DELETE TIKTOK
The Pentagon recently released guidance to all service members advising that they delete the popular social media application “TikTok” from their smart phones, and a number of military branches have heeded the call by mandating its deletion on all issued digital devices. Some commands are even going further, encouraging troops to delete the application from their personal devices as well.