Startup Electriq-Global Is Developing a Water-Based Fuel

Australian-Israeli startup Electriq~Global is developing a type of fuel that is based on water, according to a company press release. Electriq~Global's system uses a liquid fuel made up of 60 percent water. The technology used in its system extracts hydrogen from the water-based fuel, which is then used to generate electric power.

The company, which was founded in 2013 and originally known as Terragenic, states that its water solution is more energy dense than existing battery systems, and safe at ambient temperatures and pressures. The new fuel will enable zero-emission vehicles, according to the startup.

Guy Michrowski, Electriq~Global's CEO, said the company is developing automotive prototypes now and expects to begin road testing in 2019. "The cost of the fuel will be half the cost of gasoline and will enable double the range," he added.

Fueling stations using the company's solution, dubbed Electriq~Fuel, would use two nozzles: one to pump in fresh fuel, and the other to remove spent liquids. This used fuel will be brought to a plant and replenished with water and hydrogen, so it can be reused. Michrowski said his fuel solution allows hydrogen-powered electric cars to replace the need for a big battery or high-pressure compressed hydrogen tanks. He noted that the catalyst needed to remove hydrogen will need to be replaced annually, but described the process as comparable to replacing a car's air filter.

The startup also has plans to disrupt power storage and public transportation, and has stated buses powered by Electriq~Fuel could have a range of 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) and be refueled in five minutes.

The U.S. Army Once Blew Up Tunnels In A German Town To Chase Away A Ghost

Military bases and their surrounding communities are hardly strangers to ghost stories, often situated on or near the sites of famous battles and infamous deaths. While they're good tales to tell on Halloween, rarely have they prompted any actual action. But one apparently did in 1970s, when U.S. Army soldiers are said to have destroyed a series of tunnels near their base in Germany to chase away a spirit – or at least try to put an end to the reported sightings.

The town of Freihung, situated some 10 miles to the east of the Grafenwoehr Training Area, a major installation that the Army has occupied since 1945, is home to the legend of Die Weisse Frau, or The White Lady. The medieval noblewoman is said to have haunted the area since dying in a castle that once stood in the center of town, which is now the location of Gasthof Alte Post hotel.

The exact cause of her death is unclear, but was supposedly sufficient to curse her soul to remain bound to the castle and its surroundings. The bulk of the reported sightings were in a series of underground tunnels underneath where the castle had stood, which the hotel was still using in the latter half of the 20th Century.

White ladies are a staple in ghost stories around the world, with their white clothing and pale appearance often associated with purity. The legends often deal with the loss of an immediate family member, such as a spouse or child. These should not be confused with “White Women,” which also make common appearances in German and other European mythology and are understood to date back to Old Norse legends about elf-like spirits inhabiting certain locations.

A member of the Grafenwoehr Public Affairs Office impersonates The White Lady of Freihung in 2012.

The White Lady of Freihung isn’t even the only one in the general area. Less than 15 miles to the south, a pair of these specters reportedly settled outside the town of Amberg after their unfortunate deaths in a separate castle.

Per that tale, two wealthy sisters, one of whom was blind, lived there together. After finding out her sighted sibling had been stealing her wealth, the blind one cursed their home, at which point it supposedly sunk into the earth, killing them both.

Though witnesses who claim to have seen the White Ladies of Amberg describe them as benign spirits, the ghost in Freihung is reportedly more aggressive. She wanders the streets at night and appears to drivers seated in the back seat of their cars as they drive through the area, according to the stories. She then disappears the moment they look back to check what they’ve seen in their rearview mirrors.

All of this apparently became too much for the proprietors of the Gasthof Alte Post in the 1970s. Army soldiers from Grafenwoehr eventually came in to seal the tunnels under the hotel for good with high-explosives, according to an official 2012 story from the base’s public affairs office.

US Army soldiers clear a room of mock enemies, not ghosts, in a shoot house at Grafenwoehr Training Area during a much more routine training exercise in 2013.

There’s no explanation for why the locals called in the American troops rather than German authorities or even civilian construction contractors. The demolition would have offered a training opportunity for Army engineering or other personnel, albeit a decidedly unorthodox one.

Whether they were actually trying to drive out the ghost or just put an end to reports of her sighting, it didn’t work. The legend of The White Lady persisted in Freihung, according to the 2012 Army news item.

It’s not clear if that’s still the case today. If she has moved on, it apparently took more than Army explosives to send her on her way.

Contact the author: jtrevithickpr@gmail.com

Hyundai and Kia Will Offer Even More SUVs To Win Over Americans

Korean brands Hyundai and Kia are betting a lot on crossovers and hoping for a big payout. A pair of recent interviews of the two companies' global CEOs by Automotive News reveals their planned road to success is filled with SUVs; by giving a "full" crossover lineup to both by the end of next year, Hyundai and Kia are responding to the crossover craze that’s been sweeping not just the U.S., but the whole world.

Neither brand is a stranger to SUVs. In fact, they both got in on the crossover trend fairly early with offerings like the Kia Sportage and the Hyundai Santa Fe. But the crossover field is more crowded and more competitive than ever, and Hyundai/Kia is getting serious about keeping up with the times.

"Our strategy is to launch more SUVs," Hyundai Motor Co. CEO Wonhee Lee said in an interview with Automotive News. "We will have a full lineup. We are trying to increase our adaptability. When the SUV market grows, we will be able to match that growth."

Despite Hyundai and Kia both offering a handful of crossovers, the majority of their sales volumes in the U.S. remains in smaller cars. They both still have a reputation for diminutive, affordable cars in an age where many American buyers are turning to its Japanese, German, and American rivals for crossovers. Both brands continue to struggle with consumer awareness when it comes to the American SUV market, and Lee says he wants he wants to change that by boosting ute sales to around 60 percent of Hyundai’s U.S. sales in the next three years.

Part of that strategy involves the recently revamped 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe, which very much benefited from a major refresh. Another part is giving Kia more crossovers which will include the three-row Telluride that's scheduled to hit dealers in Spring of 2019—plus a new compact crossover based on the SP Concept in the second half of next year. Some version of both crossovers is expected to show up in Hyundai’s lineup as well.

But what about pickup trucks? We heard near-confirmation of a Hyundai pickup in 2017 but little in the way of specifics since. If the plan is to give each brand an equal shot at utility models, it sounds like Kia might get its own version of the crossover truck if/when it does come to production.

Since Hyundai knows how hard it is to compete with the Big Three in the U.S. in full-size pickups, the Hyundai pickup would follow the approach of the SUV-based Honda Ridgeline. That means it would have unibody construction with front- or all-wheel drive along with a slightly smaller stature. The soonest we would see a Hyundai pickup hit the market is 2021, according to Lee.

"It's a new segment, so we don't have any data to give us a kind of confidence," Lee told Automotive News. "But we believe we can create a new segment for pickup trucks in the U.S. market.”

We’ve seen a major upswing in quality and reasons to get excited about Hyundai and Kia over the past few years, but its sales haven’t been reflecting that. This new crossover-focused strategy could be what the brands need to get more Americans to take them seriously.

The Finest Lineup of SEMA 2018 Is… The Toyota Corolla Hatchback?

SEMA 2018 is afoot, with the most outlandish modified vehicles on the planet making their presence known to the world.

Toyota is again present, and has crammed almost all of its SEMA eggs into the basket that is the Corolla Hatchback by displaying four re-imaginations of the car by different groups, including modified car publication Super Street, custom car shop SoCal Kustomz, and race teams Hoonigan and Papadakis Racing. Each designed a Corolla of increasing extremity—let's have a look at all four.

"Our Corolla Hatchback combines Japanese-inspired styling and custom-fitted parts," said Super Street editor Samuel Du. "We wanted to make it into something you might see on the floor of the Tokyo Auto Salon."

The publication did up its Corolla Hatchback with RS-R coilovers, Volk wheels, custom aero, and so-1998 underglow. It goes like it glows with an HPS intake and a titantium-tipped Apexi exhaust, and it'll stop too, courtesy of enlarged Wilwood front brakes. Its driver won't slide from its seat, either, courtesy of Corbeau bucket seats.

"We have been building cars since we were teenagers, but this is our first SEMA build," said SoCal Kustomz founder Julio Ixta. "A lot of our experience is with restoring classic cars, so the brand-new Corolla Hatchback was a different kind of challenge that we were excited to undertake."

Like the Super Street car, SCK's Corolla starts out with the basics: Coilover suspension, Motegi Racing wheels, sticky tires, a custom-built intake, and an exhaust with a Borla muffler. The SCK car, however, ditches the glow for go, and uses a Nitrous Express system to funnel canned boost into the engine—presumably inspired by the same thing as the car's livery, the original Fast and the Furious film. All of the interior was reupholstered in black leather, completing the Corolla's sharp looks inside and out.

"When I saw the new 2019 Corolla, the first thing I thought of was a rally car," said Hoonigan's project manager and photojournalist Larry Chen. "It also makes an ideal pursuit vehicle. It’s more maneuverable than traditional chase cars, which are usually bigger SUVs, and it has a smaller footprint in general."

Lifestyle brand and race team Hoonigan split the design of its Corolla between camera chase car and rally car, both roles in which it excels. For the former, it can carry a camera, collapsible crane, and gimbal, all controlled via remote LCD screens and joysticks.

Like the above, this Corolla rides on modified suspension and wheels, but it takes its philosophy in the opposite direction. RSR springs and ST Suspension spacers give the Corolla greater ground clearance, while downsized 17-inch Fifteen52 wheels increase sidewall size. An HPS Performance intake, AEM filter, and Ark Performance exhaust ease the Corolla's breathing.

Inside, passengers are ratcheted into NRG bucket seats by six-point racing harnesses, and outside, extensive body mods dress the Corolla like the junior rally car it is. The list includes Hella lights, an APR Performance lip, and a monochromatic replica of a classic rally Corolla livery.

And the best, we must confess, we have saved for the last, for the ruler of this Corolla land has 850 horsepower and rear-wheel-drive (at least, that's what we've come to understand).

Indeed, there's little left of the original Corolla Hatchback here. It's a fully-caged drift car built for use by professional drifter Frederic Aasbo, who took the outgoing Corolla iM to a second-place finish in the 2018 Formula Drift Pro standings. Its floorpan, engine, and body panels may be derived from the production car, but almost every component of this Corolla has been custom-fabricated for motorsport use.

As such, this is a savage machine, the likes of which we can only wish Toyota would make for the road. Alas, the days of the RWD Corolla are three decades past us, so the Toyota 86 will have to do.

Tyler Reddick Joins Richard Childress Racing for 2019 Xfinity Series Season

On Wednesday, Richard Childress Racing announced that Tyler Reddick, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro SS for JR Motorsports and a contender in the 2018 Xfinity Series championship, will join the organization's Xfinity program in 2019.

"I'm really looking forward to joining RCR in 2019," said Reddick. "RCR had a stout Xfinity program throughout the years with a lot of talented team members and resources available to its drivers," he added. Reddick also thanked his current team, JR Motorsports, for helping him advance in his racing career behind the wheel of their Chevrolets and also shared his eventual goal of racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series on Sundays.

Reddick, a native of Corning, California has two wins in the Xfinity Series. He also holds the current record for the closest finish (0.0004 seconds) in NASCAR history for his win in the 2018 season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway in February.

Tyler Reddick began racing when he was four years old and built his skills on dirt tracks where he has driven everything from mini sprints, midget cars, dirt late models, and sprint cars. Reddick transitioned to asphalt racing in 2012 at the age of 22. In 2012, Reddick began competing in the ARCA Racing Series and won his debut race at Rockingham Speedway in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.

Reddick began by competing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series from 2013-2016. During his time behind the wheels of the trucks, Reddick earned three wins, three pole awards, 25 top-five and 40 top-ten finishes. Reddick ran a partial Xfinity Series schedule in 2017 for Chip Ganassi Racing and began competing fulltime for JR Motorsports in 2018.

During the past two seasons in the Xfinity Series, Tyler Reddick found his way to the victory circle and is currently seated in the third position in the 2018 Xfinity Series Playoff Standings.

"Tyler has had a lot of success so far in his racing career, and we intend on continuing that success with him in 2019," said Richard Childress, chairman and CEO of the organization. "I'm confident that he will do a great job representing RCR on and off the track. Tyler is a talented driver who's not afraid to go after wins, and I look forward to seeing that drive to win on the track with us next season," Childress continued.

With his entry into Richard Childress racing, Reddick hopes to continue racing up front in the Xfinity Series while learning valuable racing lessons from one of the top Cup programs in the series.

As of this writing, RCR has not announced additional information on Reddick's car number, crew chief, or sponsorship for the 2019 season. However, knowing that Daniel Hemric, current driver of the No. 21 Chevrolet Camaro SS for RCR is moving up to the Cup series in 2019 where he will pilot the No. 31 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, currently driven by veteran Ryan Newman, I would not be surprised if Reddick moves into the No. 21 entry for next season.

Look Back At The Birth Of The B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber In This Intimate New Video Series

The B-2 Spirit was first unveiled to the public on November 22nd, 1988. Three decades later, it still captures imaginations and rightfully so. Its striking low-observable flying wing design looks as otherworldly now as it did in the late 1980s and it still contains many secrets even after all these years. Considering how similar the upcoming B-21 Raider design appears to be to its forebearer, it's amazing just how much Northrop got right when designing the world's first stealth bomber in an era when the cellular phone was still in its infancy. Now, the plane's maker, Northrop Grumman, has released a number of short but intimate videos to celebrate their stealth bomber legacy as they look forward to bringing its successor to life.

The video series, titled Crafting History, is extremely well produced and offers unique insights into the Advanced Technology Bomber (ATB) program from those who made the B-2 possible. Best of all, each episode's short run-times is absolutely packed with new footage and images of the B-2 dating back to its genesis. So on this, the spookiest day of the year, celebrate America's scariest flying machine—one that's literally named after a ghost—by watching the six installments below.

It's hard to imagine a USAF without a B-2 in its inventory, but that will be the reality by the early 2030s according to the flying force's new bomber roadmap. If the B-21's development continues along smoothly, the type will enter service in the middle of the next decade and it will replace the B-2s first before also displacing the B-1B fleet.

Although the B-2's very tentative out of service date is still nearly a decade and a half away, the aircraft will still be so sensitive in nature that finding a place for them to rest, or even how to destroy them outright, remains an unsolved problem. The stealthy F-117 Nighthawk fleet that came before the B-2 still suffers from a similar issue today, even after it was officially retired a decade ago, albeit a handful of the jets are still flying today.

Even with all the program's challenges and high cost, the B-2s have proven to be America's top silver bullet weapon and a national treasure. With just 20 Spirits in existence, the USAF's ability to make repeated, long-range, high-volume attacks on even the most defended and fortified targets will increase drastically once the far more numerous and capable B-21 Raider fleet becomes a reality.

In some ways, the B-2 can be looked at as an operational prototype of sorts, with the B-21 offering Northrop Grumman the opportunity to make the stealth flying-wing bomber concept all that it can be by leveraging modern materials science, existing high-tech components, and most of all, three decades of operational experience with the B-2. With this in mind, the B-21 is unlikely to disappoint, at least in terms of combat capability.

With that in mind, the B-21 would not be possible without the dedication of all the people that played a hand in its forbearer's genesis and helped give birth to the stealth bomber era.

Author's note: In all the footage and images presented in the videos, two moments stand out to me as highly interesting. First is this one showing the B-2 taxiing. The long structure atop the jet's center 'hump' is puzzling. It looks way too long and seems to be the wrong shape to be the aircraft's refueling receptacle.

Second is this image of the mockup of a cockpit. The panel layout is vaguely similar to the one that made it into the B-2 but the B-2 has a two-crew side-by-side cockpit. Was this for a technology demonstrator that predated the actual B-2 itself? Maybe the single station was going to be mirrored for the actual aircraft but there are other oddities. For instance, the panel is smaller, lacking the two lower side-by-side cathode ray multi-function displays. It also has a 'canopy severance' handle. The B-2 doesn't have a canopy but it does have hatches that its ejection seats fire through. A central windscreen support structure also seems to indicate that this is a single seat cockpit concept, or at least a tandem one.

What else interesting do you see in these new videos? Let us know in the comments below.

Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com

The Last Ford Crown Victoria Interceptor Is Retiring from the Vermont State Police

The venerable Ford Crown Victoria—the police car for over a generation before production ended in 2011—has finally reached the end of the road at another one of our nation's law enforcement agencies. This week, Vermont State Police announced the retirement of its last active-service Crown Vic, which is headed back into the shop for a thorough refresh before being auctioned off like the maple-scented collector's item it will one day become.

There's no doubt that the newest crop of police cruisers are far more efficient than the hulking Crown Victoria, but there's a certain je ne sais quoi about the old girl. The car's three-decade reign on American roads left its perfect three-box form (not to mention those instantly recognizable headlights) embedded in our national consciousness. It's still a visual shorthand for authority, and its dead-simple powertrain was one of the last bastions of simple serviceability in the automotive world.

But the P71, as the Police Interceptor model is known, is disappearing from speed traps around the country as cars from the final production year age out of service—generally, they have to hang up their steel wheels around 120,000 miles. The photo shared by Vermont State Police on Facebook is as symbolic as they come: the last Panther, at sunset, in autumn. No one ever called the Crown Victoria beautiful, but its straight lines, low hood, and overall demure appearance are aging with an undeniable stateliness.

The wheezy, 4.6-liter V-8 and four-speed automatic transmission haven't aged quite as well, its 250 horsepower looking more dated as the years tick on. While it's hard to imagine a Crown Vic keeping up with a Hellcat, straight-line speed is never what made the Crown Vic the country's default patrol car. Officers prized its airy cabin, surprising ruggedness, and mineshaft of a trunk; stressed-out fleet managers loved that its decades-long production run meant any part you could possibly need was never far from hand.

Modern cop cars all undergo a few key modifications to the intake, cooling, and electrical systems, but the Crown Victoria offered an inherent toughness that none of its replacements have been able to match. They also happen to look far less cool in police livery than the old Panther.

If you're sad about another piece of automotive history falling into unscrupulous private hands, don't be: Vermont State Police edited the post to add that they've held on to one "late-model" Crown Victoria and another example from 1997 model for posterity.

PT Cruiser Owner Gets 2 Years of Probation for Bellowing Stereo

On Tuesday, 25-year-old car audio system technician Dustin Hamilton of Central Saanich, Vancouver Island was sentenced to two years of probation, 15 hours of community service, and is banned from driving a specific stretch of road as punishment for a disruptive stereo in his Chrysler PT Cruiser.

Hamilton built the stereo in his PT Cruiser to enter sound system competitions that measure volume and clarity, according to CBC. Last year, Hamilton was banned from using the sound system in the town of his residence, making his Tuesday sentencing his second major run-in with the court system regarding his car. His sentence included a conditional discharge, which allows the charges to stay off of his record.

Hamilton's initial charge of "mischief" was the result of complaints by almost 20 of Hamilton's neighbors, whom he antagonized with his loud music. His lawyer attributed prescription steroids for Hamilton's behavior at the time, though the prescription has reportedly been changed to another treatment—evidently without effect on Hamilton's behavior.

Complainants against Hamilton reportedly included a registered nurse whose sleep was regularly impacted, a man with PTSD, a farmer whose sick horse fled every time Hamilton's car passed, and multiple families who claimed their children or pets were disturbed.

"Floors and windows were rattling when he'd go by and dishes would shake on the counter," added police Corporal Dan Cottingham. "Young kids were woken up in the middle of the night."

Hamilton has been banned from driving a stretch of road within his community, and his community service must be completed by the end of January 2019. Additionally, the one-year ban on operating his stereo within the town has been extended by another two years—maybe for the best considering the apparent impact he has on his community.

NATO Unfazed By Russia Plans To Fire Missiles Near Its Massive Exercise Off Norway

Russia, irked by the largest NATO-led exercise in decades occurring in and around Norway, has announced plans for its own drills, to include missile launches, in areas overlapping with where the Western alliance is training. NATO officials have downplayed the provocation, acknowledging the Kremlin’s right to use international waters, but have called on the Russians to “behave in a professional way” to avoid any incidents or accidents.

On Oct. 30, 2018, the Main Air Traffic Management Center of Russia issued a Notice to Airmen, or NOTAM, alerting civilian aircraft to 'rocket test firings' between Nov. 6 and Nov. 9, 2018, in an area of the Barents Sea north of Norway. This came a day after a similar notice emerged covering a zone further south in the Norwegian Sea and lasting from Nov. 1 to Nov. 3, 2018. Both areas are in international waters, but share space NATO had designated for its sprawling exercise, known as Trident Juncture, the live-fire portion of which runs through Nov. 7, 2018.

As of yet, there has been no official word from the Russian Ministry of Defense on the nature of its planned drills in either of these areas. On Oct. 31, 2018, the Kremlin did acknowledge a separate aerial training mission involving two Tu-160 Blackjack bombers flying over the Barents Sea and the Norwegian Sea. There are plans for a pair of Tu-95 Bear bombers to fly across a similar route, as well.

On Oct. 23, 2018, observers did spot two Russian Steregushchiy-class corvettes, along with an ocean-going tug and an oiler, leaving the Russian Navy’s main Baltic Sea base and heading into the North Atlantic. The first-in-class frigate Admiral Gorshkov, which only entered Russian service in July 2018, appears to be heading to join them, as is equally the new Ivan Gren landing ship.

Gorskhov can carry P-800 Oniks supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles and Kalibr land-attack cruise missiles, while the Steregushchiy class carries Kh-35 anti-ship missiles. Both types of ships can also carry various surface-to-air missiles and feature additional weapon systems, including large-caliber guns, automatic cannons, and torpedoes.

See the mapped areas Russia has set aside for its live-fire drills in the tweets below:

This uptick in activity is clearly meant to demonstrate Russia’s displeasure with Trident Juncture, which has the official objective of demonstrating the alliance’s ability to cooperate and defend one of its members from a “fictional” high-end adversary that is an obvious stand-in for Russia. More than 50,000 personnel, 65 ships, 250 aircraft, thousands of ground vehicles from more than 30 countries have converged on Norway and the surrounding area for the drill.

“Despite the pretty awkward attempts by representatives of the Alliance and its member states to present this military activity as defensive, it is obvious that this show of force is clearly of an anti-Russian nature,” the Russian Foreign Ministry had said in a statement at the start of the drill on Oct. 25, 2018. “We cannot ignore the fact that certain elements of the Trident Juncture 2018 will be carried out at objects located just 200 kilometers [approximately 124 miles] away from the Russian border.”

The Russian <em data-recalc-dims=Steregushchiy-class corvette Soobrazitelnyy, which, along with its sister ship Stoikiy, is headed into the North Atlantic." />

The Kremlin isn’t happy that non-NATO members Sweden and Finland are taking part, either. Both countries have been moving closer to the western alliance in response to Russia’s increasingly aggressive foreign policy, especially its illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region in 2014 and continuing support for separatists fighting that country’s government. In recent years, Russian officials have threatened both countries should they formally join the military bloc.

“The NATO side, of course, expands its anti-Russian information campaign in order to justify such dubious and provocative actions,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry had said in its statement the day Trident Juncture started. “It has a negative effect on the security of all the neighboring countries, it leads to deterioration of the military and political situation, and it certainly does not comply with the effort made toward creating new confidence-building measures in the Baltic Sea Region.”

But if Russia’s actions were meant to at least aggravate NATO or disrupt their plans, the bloc has been largely dismissive of any such concerns. The alliance said that the Kremlin alerted them in advance that they planned to conduct their own exercises. NATO officials had also briefed their Russian counterparts on various details about Trident Juncture to improve transparency and reduce the likelihood of any sort of dangerous misunderstanding. Russia also received an invitation to send observers to watch the drills directly.

"There is nothing dramatic about this. We have noted it and will follow the Russian maneuvers," Norwegian Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen told reporters on Oct. 29, 2018. “To let oneself be irritated by it would be a way of escalating things. They follow the rules and get to train as they wish,” he added the next day.

A French Tiger attack helicopter flies ahead of Dutch landing craft during a simulated amphibious operation as part of Trident Juncture 2018.

“I expect Russia to behave in a professional way. It will not change the plans of our exercise,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement on Oct. 30, 2018. “We will, of course, monitor closely what Russia does. But they operate in international waters and they have notified us in the normal way.”

“I have no issue with that as long as it doesn't interfere with what we do,” U.S. Navy Admiral James Foggo, who is head of both U.S. Naval Forces Europe and NATO’s Commander Allied Joint Force Command, and is the senior officer in charge of Trident Juncture, had said after Russia initially alerted the alliance of its plans on Oct. 26, 2018. He said he expected the Russians to be “professional” in their training activities.

In the past, Russia has conducted far more provocative activities near NATO training exercises and other routine activities, including Russian aircraft flying dangerously close to the alliance’s ships and aircraft, without providing any prior notification. Of course, there is still the possibility for such altercations to occur during Trident Juncture. The Kremlin’s ships firing missiles or other weapons potentially in close proximity to vessels or assets taking part in the excise without direct coordination does present clear risks.

Though Trident Juncture will continue as planned, the Russian maneuvers will be at least somewhat of a nuisance, potentially closing off entire areas for days at a time to NATO ships and aircraft. The top boundary of the area where Russia says it will fire missiles in the Norwegian Sea is off the coast from where NATO held a demonstration for media and VIPs on Oct. 30, 2018. It’s not clear how much any of this will necessarily matter, at least publicly, though.

“This is not war, there is not an imperative that I do something right now today," U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Brad Skillman, the commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 2, said after the landing ship dock USS Gunston Hall suffered an accident on its way to Trident Juncture, forcing it to return to port in Iceland on Oct. 22, 2018. “Well, what happens if you have high winds or heavy seas that day? You have to decide whether you want to pick up and move it to another day or you just want to cancel it.”

This same logic would almost certainly apply to Russia’s overlapping drills. The presence of the Russians ships may even turn out to be a positive factor for NATO forces in the end, since they will have an opportunity to more closely observe and gather intelligence about the Kremlin's capabilities and standard operating procedures. Russian submarines, highly capable intelligence collecting assets in their own right, are almost certainly in the area, as well, providing additional potential real-world targets for an exercise focused heavily on anti-submarine warfare.

In addition, the relatively limited duration of the Russian exercises, at least when it comes to their plans to fire missiles off the coast of Norway, indicates that the Kremlin doesn’t have the interest or lacks the capacity – or both – to directly challenge NATO on the high seas throughout the course of Trident Juncture. After the live-fire portion of the alliance’s exercise ends on Nov. 7, participates will move on a command post drill that runs through Nov. 23, 2018.

The Kremlin also has access to more indirect means of trying to disrupt the exercise that would present a far lower likelihood of sparking an actual incident and might even be hard to link to the Russian government directly. During its own massive drills along its western borders in September 2017, Russia jammed wireless and GPS networks in Scandinavia and the Baltic region.

A Russian R-330Zh Zhitel truck-mounted electronic warfare system that has the capability to jam cellular satellite communications.

NATO also believes the Russians were behind a series of cyber attacks to steal private information from personnel and potentially harass them on and offline. In recent years, the Kremlin has become expert in weaponizing information and disinformation, spreading unfounded conspiracy theories and dubious accusations against its opponents to deflect and distract from its own actions. A false news story about a U.S. military vehicle running over a boy in Lithuania during an exercise in June 2018 appears linked to this information warfare campaign.

None of this is to say that the dueling exercises couldn’t produce a more serious confrontation in the Barents Sea or the Norwegian Sea. A war of words between Russia and NATO over Trident Juncture has certainly been building since before the exercise even started. On top of that, U.S.-Russia relations have taken a recent dip again over the U.S. government’s plan to pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. The United States accuses Russia of violating that deal and fielding destabilizing ground-based nuclear-capable long-range cruise missiles, an issue you can read about in more detail here.

“NATO's military activities near our borders have reached the highest level since the Cold War times,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Oct. 31, 2018, echoing a common refrain from NATO, and the United States in particular, about aggressive Russian activities. Trident Juncture is “simulating offensive military action,” he added.

At present, the possibility of an actual incident between Russia and NATO seems remote, especially with the notice the alliance has received in advance and otherwise benign environment off the coast of Norway. Still, we will definitely be keeping a close eye on how things continue to evolve.

Contact the author: jtrevithickpr@gmail.com

These Are the 5 Most Haunting Movie Cars in American Cinema

Being Halloween, you might be inclined to settle in this evening and cue up a horror movie on Netflix while you pass out candy to trick-or-treaters. Given that you're reading The Drive, we can assume you're a car enthusiast, so you'd probably like your nightmare fuel to have four wheels and piston power.

We've got your back today with five of the spookiest cars ever to star in scary movies. Specifically, we're talking V-8-powered (with one possible exception), rear wheel drive, body-on-frame American iron. We're not sure exactly what makes that particular configuration so alluring to horror movie directors, but we think the success of a certain John Carpenter film might have something to do with it. Here are five of our favorites, in no particular order:

1.) Christine — 1958 Plymouth Fury

We'll get the obvious choice out of the way first. Prolific horror writer Stephen King is no stranger to having cars feature in his stories, like From a Buick 8 and Maximum Overdrive. However, it wasn't until John Carpenter's film adaptation of his story Christine that the car became truly terrifying.

In the book, the blood-red 1958 Plymouth Fury is possessed by the evil spirit of Roland LeBay, its previous owner. In the film, however, the car itself is a manifestation of pure evil. As the characters discover, it's damn near impossible to kill what was never truly alive in the first place—a point driven home by the chilling final shot, where a crushed and cubed Christine begins to slowly restore itself again to hunt down its victims.

2.) Death Proof — 1971 Chevy Nova

Anyone who calls themselves a child of the '80s is familiar with all-time good-guy Kurt Russel. However, in director Quentin Tarantino's 2007 cult classic Death Proof, he slides into the driver's seat of this sinister flat black Chevy Nova as the villain, Stuntman Mike.

While most movie stunt cars (and their drivers) are content to live and die behind the scenes of their respective films, the entire plot of Death Proof revolves around the Nova and its driver. Stuntman Mike takes sadistic pleasure in using his death-proof car to kill a string of attractive young women—until he meets his match.

3.) Evil Dead series — 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88

A pale yellow full-size Oldsmobile from the beginning of the Malaise Era is hardly the sort of thing to strike terror in the heart of viewers. The personal car of director Sam Raimi, this Oldsmobile became the on-screen ride of Bruce Campbell's chainsaw-wielding antihero Ash.

While not the scariest car on the list, it's certainly the most prolific—and the most versatile. The Delta 88 has done it all, from towing a trailer to traveling back in time to the year 1300. It's been upgraded with armor, guns, a spinning propeller, and even a bulldozer attachment at various times.

Best of all, it has a glovebox big enough to hold the Necronomicon between the owner's manual and your registration documents, plus a trunk cavernous enough to fit several years' worth of Fangoria back-issues and a formidable arsenal of demon-hunting weapons. Groovy.

4.) A Nightmare on Elm Street 1958 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible

This might seem like an odd choice given the focus of this list. Even though the car in question is on screen for just a brief scene at the very end of the first Nightmare on Elm Street, it's as bone-chilling as anything else in the film.

With Freddy Krueger seemingly defeated, Nancy wakes up from her nightmare, stepping outside into the sunshine with everything seemingly back to normal. Her mother's decided to stop drinking, and her friends are alive and well, pulling up to the curb in a shiny red Cadillac Series 62 convertible.

After Nancy hops in, the tattered convertible top springs up, upholstered in ugly red and green stripes like Freddy's sweater. The windows roll up, trapping them inside as the car rolls away before Freddy attacks Nancy's mother. It's a chilling reminder of the extent of Freddy Krueger's evil power, ensuring a long future for the franchise.

5.) Tie — The Duel & Joy Ride — 1971 Plymouth Valiant & 1971 Chrysler Newport, respectively

These two Mopars share a spot due to the simple fact that they both represent an entirely different kind of terror for the viewer than either Christine or Ash's Olds Delta 88. Both films revolve around a motorist messing around with a trucker, either through mean-spirited pranks or road rage, and paying the price.

For Americans, cars have almost always symbolized personal freedom, the ability to take to the open road whenever you want and drive wherever you want to go. Something like a big Chrysler Newport can glide over the road and make you feel like the king of the road; that is, until you encounter something even bigger, like a semi tractor-trailer.

Pursued by these giant behemoths, the cars that once symbolized freedom for their drivers become metaphorical prisons, or even coffins. Undermining the safety, independence, and autonomy of the things we take for granted every day is a classic horror technique, and is used to great effect in both films.