Here's a friendly reminder of how big the A-10 Warthog's gun is - We Are The Mighty
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Here’s a friendly reminder of how big the A-10 Warthog’s gun is

Here’s a friendly reminder of how big the A-10 Warthog’s gun is
The GAU-8/A Avenger Gatling gun next to a VW Type 1. Removing an installed GAU-8 from an A-10 requires first installing a jack under the aircraft’s tail to prevent it from tipping, as the cannon makes up most of the aircraft’s forward weight. | US Air Force photo


On Thursday, we saw for the first time the brand new F-35B/C variant’s GAU-22 25 mm gun pod firing, and as impressive as it was, it’s not even close to the best gun on the force.

What you’re looking at above is the biggest asset for, and the biggest argument against, the A-10 Warthog. You can plainly see how the massive, 4,000 pound (including ammo), almost 20-foot long GAU-8 Avenger dwarfs the classic VW bug next to it. The firepower of that gun has become the stuff of legend over the last decades.

But that’s the problem; this picture was taken in the late 1970s. As big and awesome as this gun is, much has changed in aviation, in the battle space, and in the world since it was first fielded. Case in point — you just don’t see VW bugs on the road anymore.

So while the A-10 still holds the title of best and biggest gun, the close air support of the future makes different demands on a weapons system. Even though it may still have useful days ahead, the A-10’s days at the top are numbered.

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5 general officers who were almost certainly crazy

These five American generals and admirals did things that played with the thin line between cunning and crazy, but they were awesome at their jobs so most everyone looked the other way.


1. A Navy admiral dressed up in a ninja suit to ensure his classified areas were defended.

 

Here’s a friendly reminder of how big the A-10 Warthog’s gun is
Photo: US Navy

 

Vice Adm. John D. Bulkeley was an American hero, let’s get that straight right out of the gate. He fought to attend Annapolis and graduated in 1933 but was passed over for a Naval commission due to budget constraints. So he joined the Army Air Corps for a while until the Navy was allowed to commission additional officers. In the sea service, he distinguished himself on multiple occasions including a Medal of Honor performance in the Pacific in World War II. War. Hero.

But he was also kind of crazy. As the commander of Clarksville Base, Tennessee after the war, Bulkeley was worried that his Marines may not have been properly protecting the classified areas. So, he would dress up in a ninja suit, blacken his face, and attempt to sneak past the armed Marines. Luckily, he was never shot by any of the sentries.

2. Lt. Gen. George Custer was obsessed with his huge pack of dogs.

 

Here’s a friendly reminder of how big the A-10 Warthog’s gun is

 

Gen. George Custer had “crazy cat lady” numbers of dogs with between 40 and 80 animals at a time. It’s unknown exactly when he began collecting the animals, but while in Texas in 1866 he and his wife had 23 dogs and it grew from there.

Custer’s love of the animals was so deep, his wife almost abandoned their bed before he agreed to stop sleeping with them. On campaign, he brought dozens of the dogs with him and would sleep with them on and near his cot. Before embarking on the campaign that would end at Little Bighorn, Custer tried to send all the dogs back home. This caused his dog handler, Pvt. John Burkman, to suspect that the campaign was more dangerous than most.

Some of the dogs refused to leave and so Burkman continued to watch them at Custer’s side. Burkman had night guard duty just before the battle, and so he and a group of the dogs were not present when Native American forces killed Custer and much of the Seventh Cavalry. It’s unknown what happened to the dogs after the battle.

3. Gen. Curtis LeMay really wanted to bomb the Russians.

 

Here’s a friendly reminder of how big the A-10 Warthog’s gun is

 

Air Force Gen. Curtis LeMay is a controversial figure. On the one hand, he served as the commander of Strategic Air Command and later as the Air Force Chief of Staff. He shaping American air power as it became one of the most deadly military forces in the history of the world, mostly due it’s strategic nuclear weapons.

On the other hand, he really wanted to use those nukes. He advocated nuclear bombs being used in Vietnam and drew up plans in 1949 to destroy 77 Russian cities in a single day of bombing. He even proposed a nuclear first strike directly against Russia. Any attempt to limit America’s nuclear platform was met with criticism from LeMay. Discussing his civilian superiors, he was known to often say, “I ask you: would things be much worse if Khrushchev were Secretary of Defense?”

4. LeMay’s successor really, really wanted to bomb the Russians.

 

Here’s a friendly reminder of how big the A-10 Warthog’s gun is

Gen. Curtis LeMay may have been itchy to press the big red button, but his protege and successor was even worse. LeMay described Gen. Thomas Power as “not stable,” and a “sadist.”

When a Rand study advocated limiting nuclear strikes at the outset of a war with the Soviet Union, Power asked him, “Why are you so concerned with saving their lives? The whole idea is to kill the bastards … At the end of the war, if there are two Americans and one Russian, we win.”

5. Gen. “Mad” Anthony Wayne made his soldiers fight without ammunition.

Here’s a friendly reminder of how big the A-10 Warthog’s gun is
Portrait: Anna Claypoole Peale

 

In the Revolutionary War, bayonets played a much larger role than they do today. Still, most generals had their soldiers fire their weapons before using the bayonets.

Not Gen. “Mad” Anthony Wayne. He was sent by Gen. George Washington to reconnoiter the defense at Stony Point, New York. There, Wayne decided storming the defenses would be suicide and suggested that the Army conduct a bayonet charge instead.

Shockingly, this worked. On the night of July 15, 1779, the men marched to Stony Point. After they arrived and took a short rest, the soldiers unloaded their weapons. Then, with only bayonets, the men slipped up to the defenses and attacked. Wayne himself fought at the lead of one of the attacking columns, wielding a half-pike against the British. Wayne was shot in the head early in the battle but continued fighting and the Americans were victorious.

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Investigators say crashed Marine KC-130 ‘blew up in mid-air’

 Marine aircraft crashed in Mississippi Monday night and all 16 passengers on board are dead.


Fred Randle, Leflore County emergency management director, confirmed that there were no survivors in the crash and all 16 victims were .

The plane crashed in a soybean field in Leflore County, located about 100 miles north of Jackson, Miss. The debris from the crash scattered throughout a five-mile radius.

Here’s a friendly reminder of how big the A-10 Warthog’s gun is
Scene of the crash in a farmer’s field in Mississippi. (Photo via News Edge)

A Mississippi state trooper told WMC Action News 5 that the plane had a great deal of ammunition on board, making investigation efforts difficult.

“There’s a lot of ammo in the plane. That’s why we are keeping so far back. We just don’t know what it’ll do. It burns a bit then goes out, burns a little more then dies down,” the trooper said.

Investigators also told the news crew that they believe the plane exploded in mid-air.

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Here are the best military photos of the week

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


AIR FORCE:

A special missions aviator from the 41st Rescue Squadron looks out from an HH-60G Pave Hawk over Grand Bay Bombing and Gunnery Range at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., May 20, 2016. Airmen simulated different combat and rescue situations to synchronize efforts between a variety of Air Combat Command airframes.

Here’s a friendly reminder of how big the A-10 Warthog’s gun is
U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Daniel Snider

An F-15E Strike Eagle soars above Grand Bay Bombing and Gunnery Range at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., May 20, 2016. Multiple Air Combat Command aircraft conducted joint aerial training, showcasing the aircraft’s tactical air and ground maneuvers, as well as their weapons capabilities.

Here’s a friendly reminder of how big the A-10 Warthog’s gun is
U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Daniel Snider

ARMY:

A soldier conducts physical training while deployed with Task Force Red Wolf during Exercise Beyond The Horizon 2016 at San Marcos, Guatemala, May 30, 2016.

Here’s a friendly reminder of how big the A-10 Warthog’s gun is
United States Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Phillip Butterfield

A soldier observes a Bradley Fighting Vehicle maneuver on an objective during a U.S. Army Central combined arms live-fire exercise, part of Exercise Eager Lion, at the Joint Training Center, Jordan, May 24, 2016. Eager Lion is an annual two-week interoperability exercise that aims to increase the partnership ties between the U.S. and Jordanian militaries.

Here’s a friendly reminder of how big the A-10 Warthog’s gun is
U.S. Army photo by Sgt. David N. Beckstrom

NAVY:

NORFOLK, Va. (June 1, 2016) Master Chief Ship’s Serviceman Alberto Sanchez, center, judges a barber competition as part of Surface Line Week Atlantic. Held annually in Norfolk, Surface Line Week brings Sailors and federal civilians together for friendly athletic and professional competitions.

Here’s a friendly reminder of how big the A-10 Warthog’s gun is
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Justin Wolpert

NORFOLK, Va. (June 1, 2016) Seaman Tristen Blair, assigned to the USS Monterey (CG 61), hugs his mother Karla Blair before the ship departs Naval Station Norfolk with the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group (CSG). The ships are deploying in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operation as well as the Great Green Fleet initiative. While deployed, CSG ships and aircraft will employ operational procedures and energy conservation measures in order to enhance operational capabilities, enabling strike group units to go farther, stay longer and deliver more firepower without having to refuel.

Here’s a friendly reminder of how big the A-10 Warthog’s gun is
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Shelby M. Tucker

MARINE CORPS:

Marines assigned to Officer Candidate School (OCS) participate in the Combat Course aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, May 11, 2016. The mission of OCS is to educate and train candidates in order to evaluate and screen individuals for qualities required for commissioning as a Marine Corps officer.

Here’s a friendly reminder of how big the A-10 Warthog’s gun is
U.S. Marine Corps Combat Camera photo by Cpl. Laura Mercado

Marines assigned to Officer Candidate School participate in the Montford Point challenge aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, May 19, 2016. The challenge consisted of a supply run where the Marines went through obstacles and faced similar physical challenges as the Montford Point Marines.

Here’s a friendly reminder of how big the A-10 Warthog’s gun is
U.S. Marine Corps Combat Camera photo by Cpl. Laura Mercado

COAST GUARD:

This Memorial Day we honor and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and our freedom.

Here’s a friendly reminder of how big the A-10 Warthog’s gun is
U.S. Coast Guard Photo

Pictured here is USCG Cutter Marcus Hanna anchored near the Isle of Shoals in New Hampshire. Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Kenny Galanif.

Here’s a friendly reminder of how big the A-10 Warthog’s gun is
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Kenny Galanif.

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Army and Marines in no rush to chamber a common 5.56mm round

So it doesn’t seem that the Army or the Marine Corps are in any hurry to explain to Congress why they don’t use a common 5.56mm round.


The final joint version of the Fiscal 2017 National Defense Appropriations Act includes a provision requiring the secretary of defense to submit a report to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees explaining why the two services are using different types of 5.56 mm ammunition for their M16A4 rifles and M4 carbines.

The bill has already passed the House and is expected to be voted on and approved by the Senate this week before going to President Obama’s desk for his signature.

This is not the first time Congress has gotten its dander up over this subject. Lawmakers asked both services to explain the same thing last year, but Marine Corps leaders said they need to do more testing of the Army’s M855A1 enhanced 5.56mm round.

Here’s a friendly reminder of how big the A-10 Warthog’s gun is
U.S. Marines and U.S. Army soldiers do not use a common 5.56mm round. Congress wants to know why. (Photo: DoD)

I reached out to the Marine Corps yesterday and the Army today to ask about how they planned to deal with the request. I could almost hear the head-scratching as if neither service had heard anything about it.

According to the provision, the report must be submitted within 180 days after the bill, which includes the entire defense budget for the coming year, is enacted.

If the secretary of defense does not determine that an “emergency” requires the Army and Marine Corps to use the two different types of rifle ammo, they must begin using a common 5.56mm round within a year after the bill is passed, it states.

OK so here is the back story for those you out there who don’t know it.

The Army replaced the Cold-War era M855 5.56mm round in 2010 with its new M855A1 enhanced performance round, the end result of more than a decade of work to develop a lead-free round.

The M855A1 features a steel penetrator on top of a solid copper slug, making it is more dependable than the current M855, Army officials have maintained. It delivers consistent performance at all distances and performed better than the current-issue 7.62mm round against hardened steel targets in testing, Army officials maintain. It penetrates 3/8s-inch-thick steel at ranges approaching 400 meters, tripling the performance of the M855.

The Marine Corps had planned to field an earlier version of the Army’s M855A1 until the program suffered a major setback in August 2009, when testing revealed that the bismuth-tin slug proved to be sensitive to heat which affected the trajectory or intended flight path.

The setback prompted Marine officials to stay with the current M855 round as well as start using the MK 318 Special Operations Science and Technology round developed by U.S. Special Operations Command instead. Commonly known as SOST ammo, the bullet isn’t environmentally friendly, but it offered the Corps a better bullet after the Army’s M855A1 round failed.

Since then the Marine Corps has purchased millions of MK 318 rounds.

The MK 318 bullet weighs 62 grains and has a lead core with a solid copper shank. It uses an open-tip match round design common with sniper ammunition. It stays on target through windshields and car doors better than conventional M855 ammo.

The Army quickly replaced the bismuth-tin slug in its new round with a copper one, solving the bullet’s problems in 2010, Army officials said.

The new Army round also weighs 62 grains and has a 19-grain steel penetrator tip, 9 grains heavier than the tip on old M855 ammo. Seated behind the penetrator is a solid copper slug. The M855A1 consistently penetrates battlefield barriers such as windshields more effectively than the M855, Army officials contend.

What is interesting is that the Corps was supposed to run tests on the current M855A1 round back in 2010. In 2015, Marine Brig. Gen. Joseph Shrader, then commanding general of Marine Corps Systems Command, told a congressional panel there were plans to test the M855A1 rounds again.

Military.com would really like to know what those tests show. We are going to continue to follow this story with great interest.

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VA health care foiled again by sudden money shortage

The Department of Veterans Affairs warned June 14 it was unexpectedly running out of money for a program that offers veterans private-sector health care, forcing it to hold back on some services that lawmakers worry could cause delays in medical treatment.


It is making an urgent request to Congress to allow it to shift money from other programs to fill the sudden budget gap.

VA Secretary David Shulkin made the surprising revelation at a Senate hearing. He cited a shortfall of more than $1 billion in the Choice program due to increased demand from veterans for federally-paid medical care outside the VA. The VA had previously assured Congress that funding for Choice would last until early next year.

“We need your help on the best solution to get more money into the Choice account,” Shulkin told the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “If there is no action at all by Congress, then the Choice program will dry up by mid-August.”

The department began instructing VA medical centers late last week to limit the number of veterans it sent to private doctors so it can slow spending in the Choice account. Some veterans were being sent to Defence Department hospitals, VA facilities located farther away, or other alternative locations “when care is not offered in VA,” according to a June 7 internal VA memorandum.

The VA is also scrambling to tap other parts of its budget, including about $620 million in carry-over money that it had set aside for use in the next fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. It was asking field offices to hold off on spending for certain medical equipment to help cover costs, according to a call the department held with several congressional committees June 13.

It did not rule out taking money from VA hospitals.

Here’s a friendly reminder of how big the A-10 Warthog’s gun is
David Shulkin (Photo by Robert Turtil, Department of Veterans Affairs)

Shulkin on June 14 insisted that veterans will not see an impact in their health care. He blamed in part the department’s excessive use of an exception in the Choice program that allowed veterans to go to private doctors if they faced an “excessive burden” in traveling to a VA facility. Typically, Choice restricts use of private doctors only when veterans must wait 30 days or more for an appointment or drive more than 40 miles to a facility.

Medical centers were now being asked to hew more closely to Choice’s restrictions before sending veterans to private doctors, Shulkin said.

He described the shortfall in the Choice program as mostly logistical, amounting to different checking accounts within the VA that needed to be combined to meet various payments.

Some senators were in disbelief.

They noted that VA had failed to anticipate or fix budget problems many times before. Two years ago, the VA endured sharp criticism from Congress when it was forced to seek emergency help to cover a $2.5 billion budget shortfall due in part to expensive hepatitis C treatments, or face closing some VA hospitals.Congress allowed VA to shift money from its Choice account.

“I am deeply concerned,” said Sen. Patty Murray, D- Wash., explaining that VA should have “seen this coming.” She said veterans in her state were already reporting delays in care and being asked to travel to VA facilities more than 4 hours away.

Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, the top Democrat on the panel, expressed impatience.

“For months we’ve been asking about the Choice spend rate and we were never provided those answers to make an informed decision,” he said. “No one wants to delay care for veterans — no one — so we will act appropriately. For that to happen this late in the game is frustrating to me.”

Major veterans’ organizations said they worried the shortfall was the latest sign of poor budget planning.

Carl Blake, an associate executive director at Paralyzed Veterans of America, said the VA has yet to address how it intends to address a growing appeals backlog as well as increased demands for care. “The VA could be staring at a huge hole in its budget for 2018,” he said. “It’s not enough to say we have enough money, that we can move it around. That is simply not true.”

The shortfall surfaced just weeks after lawmakers were still being assured the Choice program was under budget, with $1.1 billion estimated to be left over in the account on Aug. 7, when the program was originally set to expire. That VA estimate prompted Congress to pass legislation last March to extend the program until the Choice money ran out.

Shulkin said he learned about the shortfall June 8.

Currently, more than 30 per cent of VA appointments are made in the private sector, up from fewer than 20 per cent in 2014, as the VA’s 1,700 health facilities struggle to meet growing demands for medical care. During the 2016 campaign, President Donald Trump criticized the VA for long wait times and mismanagement, pledging to give veterans more choice in seeing outside providers.

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Border agents in Arizona intercepted an Xbox crammed with meth

Here’s a friendly reminder of how big the A-10 Warthog’s gun is
US border agents uncovered 3 pounds of meth hidden in an Xbox in September 2016. | US Customs and Border Patrol


US Customs and Border Patrol agents in Nogales, Arizona, intercepted 3 pounds of methamphetamine crammed inside an Xbox gaming system on September 15.

The agents came across the narcotics when a 16-year-old resident of Nogales attempted to transit the Morley Pedestrian crossing into the US from Sonora, Mexico.

Also read: Mexican cartels may have used a ‘homemade cannon’ to fire drugs over the border

According to a CBP release, a narcotics-detecting canine directed attention to the Xbox, and after an inspection, the agents seized the drugs, which had an estimated worth of about $10,000.

The 16-year-old was arrested and turned over to Homeland Security Investigations.

Synthetic drugs like meth have become increasingly common as producers and traffickers adjust to factors like marijuana legalization and widespread heroin use in the US.

“That has shifted the marketplace in a way. It means that Mexican illicit-drug exporters have had to … diversify their offerings,” David Shirk, a professor at the University of San Diego, told Business Insider. “They have moved into … heroin as a source of revenue, but also … into other, I would say, synthetic drugs, like MDMA and various forms of methamphetamine.”

While seizures at the border can only reveal so much about the black-market drug trade, reports from Customs and Border Patrol indicate that heroin and other synthetic drugs are frequently intercepted at the US-Mexico frontier.

Here’s a friendly reminder of how big the A-10 Warthog’s gun is
Meth seizures were up all along the US border in 2014. | DEA 2015 NDTA

On September 9, a search of a Chevy Tahoe crossing the border at Brownsville, Texas, uncovered 37 pounds of what was believed to be methamphetamine, valued at $740,000. That same day, a search of a Nissan Murano at the Laredo, Texas, border crossing turned up 12 pounds of crystal meth and 4 pounds of heroin, worth a total of nearly $360,000.

In two separate incidents on September 9 at the border crossing at Nogales, Arizona, 17 pounds of meth valued at more than $52,000 was found in the wheel well of a Dodge van, while later that day a 16-year-old woman was found to have nearly 3 pounds of heroin worth almost $48,000 in her undergarments.

On September 13 at the Nogales port of entry, a Mexican woman was found to be carrying three pounds of heroin worth $50,000 in a can of baby formula. On September 15, agents in California found more than 43 pounds of meth worth about $175,000 concealed under the floor mats of a gray 2014 Nissan Sentra.

The following morning, a vehicle search in Ocotillo, California, not far from the US-Mexico border, uncovered 33.5 pounds of fentanyl — the highly potent drug linked to the US’s overdose epidemic — worth $1.5 million hidden in the car’s seats.

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5 civilian products adapted for military use

Military technology is often adapted for the civilian market. From the internet and GPS, to Hummers and parachutes, there are a surprising amount of everyday tech and products with military origins. Companies also like to market products to civilians as “military grade” to highlight their toughness. Sometimes, though, products go in the other direction. Here are five products that started on the civilian market before they were adopted by the military.

Here’s a friendly reminder of how big the A-10 Warthog’s gun is
The internet was invented by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (U.S. Air Force)

1. Hunting Rifles

Here’s a friendly reminder of how big the A-10 Warthog’s gun is
A Marine aims his Winchester Model 70 in Vietnam (USMC)

The most famous American sniper of the 21st century is the late Navy SEAL, Chris Kyle. From the previous century though, it’s Marine legend Carlos Hathcock. During the Vietnam War, Hathcock amassed an incredible 93 confirmed kills. Although the aforementioned Kyle holds a greater kill record of over 160, it must be noted that Hathcock’s first rifle wasn’t nearly as advanced as the SEAL’s. In fact, it was bought off the rack. In October 1966, Major (then-Captain) Edward Land was tasked with creating a Marine sniper program in Vietnam. However, he had no sniper rifles with which to arm his Marines. The best that the Corps’ armories had to offer were WWII-era M1 Garand and M1903 Springfield rifles. Like a good Marine, Land improvised, adapted and overcame this issue.

He scrounged 12 Winchester Model 70 sporting rifles that were procured by Special Services for deer hunting at Camp Pendleton, California. The mounts, rings and scopes for the rifles were purchased through the PX in Okinawa. A second batch of Model 70s was acquired from the Marine competition team after the National Match rules were changed to require service members to compete with service rifles. Although Land eventually replaced the Model 70s with the Remington M40, which was designed with input from Marines like Hathcock, it too was based on a civilian rifle: the Remington Model 700. Today, the Model 700-derived M40 and M24 sniper rifles are still in service with the Marine Corps and Army respectively.

2. Hydration Carriers

Here’s a friendly reminder of how big the A-10 Warthog’s gun is
An airman drinks from a desert-camouflaged CamelBak (U.S. Air Force)

If you went through basic training within the past 10-15 years, you’ll be familiar with the Bladder, Hydration System. Of course, Drill Sergeants and DIs yelling at you to drink water just call them CamelBaks. Like Kleenex or Band-Aid, the brand name has become synonymous with the product that it’s known for. CamelBak Products, LLC was started by an EMT named Michael Eidson who came up with the CamelBak concept before competing in the “Hotter ‘n Hell” bike race in Wichita Falls, Texas. Seeking a more convenient hydration solution than plastic water bottles, Eidson filled an IV bag with water and stuck it in a tube sock. He pinned the sock to the back of his jersey, ran a drinking tube from the IV over his shoulder, and secured it with a clothes pin. With the addition of its iconic slogan, “Hydrate or Die,” CamelBak products found a foothold in the civilian market.

During the first Gulf War, troops brought personal CamelBaks with them to stay hydrated on the desert battlefield. The hydration carriers soon became a popular item amongst troops and military exchanges began stocking them. By the second Gulf War and the wars in Iraq/Afghanistan, CamelBaks became the standard for portable hydration in the military. In 2012, 40% of CamelBak’s business came from U.S. and foreign government contracts. These days, troops are issued unbranded hydration systems. However, they’re still called by the brand name that started it all.

3. Low Power Variable Optics

Here’s a friendly reminder of how big the A-10 Warthog’s gun is
Army marksmen train with M110A1s equipped with LPVOs (U.S. Army)

Prior to the Global War on Terror, advanced weapon optics like red dot sights were restricted to special forces. Today though, you’d be hard-pressed to see a service rifle without some sort of red dot or magnified scope on it. So, when a new kind of optic swept the civilian competition shooting world, the military took notice. Magnified scopes have been used to improve the accuracy of rifles since the 1800s. The technology was limited to high, and generally fixed, magnification to aid in long-distance shots. However, in 1922, the world was introduced to the Low Power Variable Optic. The LPVO allowed a shooter to adjust its magnification from 1x up to 4x in the case of the first model. Civilian competition shooters later took to the LPVO as it allowed them to engage targets at close and long range in matches with varying target distanches. For much of the GWoT, the Army and Marine Corps utilized Aimpoint red dots and the Trijicon ACOG with a fixed 4x magnification. Now though, line Marines will be issued the Trijicon VCOG 1-8x LPVO as the Squad Common Optic. Similarly, the Army is replacing the ACOG (known in the Army as the RCO) with a Sig Sauer 1-6x LPVO designated as the Direct View Optic.

4. Two-Piece Competition Belts

Here’s a friendly reminder of how big the A-10 Warthog’s gun is
Rangers of B Co 3/75 gear up with two-piece belts. Note the inner belt (left) and the outer belt (right) going over it (U.S. Army)

The infantry needs to be able to carry everything they need in a fight. This means that troops squeeze supplies and equipment onto every possible location on their body. Belts have been used by troops to hold pistols, knives, canteens, medical kits and more. During much of the GWoT, troops that used so-called “battle belts” relied on large, padded belts. However, these belts could be bulky and are more prone to shifting from the waist to the hips as the user moves. An alternative belt was found, again, in the world of competition shooting. Needing a secure and consistent belt to draw, reholster, and reload from, competition shooters employ a two-piece system. An inner belt is secured on the waist through belt loops while a stiff outer belt velcroes over it. The result is a less comfortable, but very stable and secure platform. Today, many special units like the 75th Ranger Regiment and Army Special Forces are issued these types of belts. Other troops choose to buy them on their own for military use.

5. Off-roaders

Here’s a friendly reminder of how big the A-10 Warthog’s gun is
Soldiers of 1-4 IN ride in a four-wheeler made by Polaris (U.S. Army)

When the military needs a new vehicle, it can spend billions of dollars in development alone. Sometimes, though, a vehicle already exists on the civilian market that suits the military’s needs. Such is the case with many of the military’s small off-roaders. Polaris Inc. is well-known for its ATVs and four-wheelers. They’re used by civilians for recreation, land management, and even medical rescue. The rugged, mobile, and compact vehicles also made sense for military use. Polaris manufactures the MRZR, derived from its popular RZR four-wheeler line, and the Sportsman MV850 ATV for the military. Small off-roaders like these helped move scouts and special forces across the tough mountain passes during the War in Afghanistan. Now, the Army is bringing this type of mobility to the squad level with the Infantry Squad Vehicle. The light unarmored truck is based on the commercially-available Chevrolet ZR2 Bison. In fact, GM Defense says that the ISV features 70% off-the-shelf components including the frame, suspension, driveline, engine, transmission, axles and brakes.

Feature Image: U.S. Air Force photo

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US Navy fleet commander vows to solve collisions, says bodies found

The commander of the US Pacific Fleet said August 22 that divers found bodies inside a damaged destroyer and another was recovered by Malaysia’s navy, while he vowed the Navy will figure out the cause of four accidents involving American naval vessels in Asia so far this year.


Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the Hawaii-based fleet, told a press conference in Singapore that Navy and Marine Corps divers located remains in sealed compartments in damaged parts of the John S. McCain, which collided with an oil tanker east of Singapore early August 21.

Swift said Malaysia’s navy reported finding a body, possibly of one of the 10 missing U.S. sailors, but it remains to be transferred and identified. The Malaysian side, in a statement, said that the body will be transferred August 23.

“We will conduct a thorough and full investigation into this collision — what occurred, what happened, and how it happened,” he vowed.

Here’s a friendly reminder of how big the A-10 Warthog’s gun is
Adm. Scott H. Swift, the commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, speaks to Sailors during an all-hands call. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jermaine M. Ralliford

Noting that the collision occurred within two months of one involving another Navy destroyer, the Fitzgerald, off Japan that left seven US sailors dead, and there were two other accidents in the region this year involving warships, the admiral said, “One tragedy like this is one too many.”

The Lake Champlain, a Navy cruiser, hit a South Korean fishing boat in May and the Antietam, a guided-missile cruiser, ran aground in Tokyo Bay in January.

Swift said naval authorities will “find out whether there is a common cause at the root of these events and, if so, how we solve that.”

He said the Navy has so far seen no indications of sabotage, such as cyber interference, but he did not rule out that possibility, saying, “We are not taking any consideration off the table and every scenario will be reviewed and investigated in detail.”

Here’s a friendly reminder of how big the A-10 Warthog’s gun is
Damage to the portside is visible as the Guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain. Photo by US 7th Fleet Public Affairs.

Earlier, the Navy’s top officer, Adm. John Richardson, ordered the entire fleet to take an “operational pause” for a day or two.

The Navy said the collision caused significant damage to the hull of the destroyer, resulting in flooding to nearby compartments, including crew berthing, machinery, and communications rooms, but the crew managed to halt further flooding and the ship was able to sail under its own power to Singapore’s Changi Naval Base.

The John S. McCain was traveling to Singapore for a routine port visit when it collided with the Alnic MC, a Liberian-flagged oil and chemical tanker, in waters east of Singapore and the Strait of Malacca.

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US Army adds 84mm recoilless rifle to platoon arsenal

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US Army Special Forces soldiers train with the Carl Gustaf recoilless rifle in Basra, Iraq. | Wikimedia Commons


U.S. Army infantry platoons will soon have the 84mm Carl Gustaf recoilless rifle, a devastating anti-armor system, as a permanently assigned weapon.

Service officials completed a so-called conditional material release authorization late last year, making the M3 Multi-Role Anti-Armor Anti-Personnel Weapon System an organic weapon system within each infantry platoon, IHS Jane’s 360 recently reported.

The service is also working on an effort to achieve Full Material Release of the M3 later this year.

Army light infantry units began using the M3 in Afghanistan in 2011, but only when commanders submitted operational needs statements for the weapon.

The breech-loading M3, made by Saab North America, can reach out and hit enemy targets up to 1,000 meters away. The M3 offers the units various types of ammunition, ranging from armor penetration and anti-personnel, to ammunition for built-up areas, as well as special features like smoke and illumination.

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A civilian instructor coaches two paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Divisions’s 1st Brigade Combat Team on how to use a Carl Gustaf 84mm recoilless rifle during a certification class at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. | US Army photo

Special operations forces such as the 75th Ranger Regiment have been using the 84mm weapon system since the early 1990s. The M3 became an official, program of record in the conventional Army in 2014.

The M3 has enjoyed success with units such as the 25th Infantry, 10th Mountain and 82nd Airborne divisions in Afghanistan.

The launcher weighs approximately 22 pounds, with each round of ammunition weighing just under 10 pounds. By comparison, the AT4 weighs about 15 pounds and the Javelin‘s launcher with missile and reusable command launch unit weigh roughly 50 pounds.

The CMR allowed the system to be quickly fielded to operational units before the more exhaustive full materiel release process is completed, Jack Seymour, marketing director for Saab North America, told IHS Jane’s.

The current plan is to equip all brigade combat teams with one M3 launcher per platoon.

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‘Lion Capturing’ was the worst military work detail in history

Work details and additional duties are a part of military life — always have been and likely always will be.


We’ve all been on a terrible detail. Some of us get stuck vacuuming the flightline or doing some other kind of FOD cleanup.

Others have it worse.

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Way worse.

In Basic Training, I was on the Day Room Crew, which meant I had to chase dust bunnies for a half hour twice a day. It’s much better than having to chase real bunnies. Or lions. I wouldn’t want to chase real lions, either.

Luckily for me, that is not (usually) a detail that happens in the modern U.S. military.

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Most of the time, anyway. (Texas State photo)

In the Roman Legions, however, it was a fairly common practice. While many are aware of the Roman propensity for forcing people to fight animals of all kinds for fun and profit, few actually consider the logistics of getting animals to Rome – or who catches those animals.

In 2002, The Guardian newspaper talked to Roger Wilson of Nottingham University about where these animals originated and who set out to take them alive. Archeologists discovered the logistical network through a series of bone fragments, mosaic art, and written records dating back to the days of the Roman Empire.

Interestingly enough, some of these troops weren’t on a special work detail. This was their job.

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Good thing he’s wearing a reflective belt.

The troops caught lions in what is today known as Armenia. They captured bears and boars from Northern Europe as well as elephants; giraffes; ostriches; leopards; and hippos from the African frontiers. All of them had to be subdued without spears, knives, or even tranquilizers. The legions could not risk killing the animals.

“Such was the ferocity of these beasts that their capture demanded special skills and the creation of a special post. An inscription in Cologne talks of the capture of 50 bears in a six-month period,” Wilson told The Guardian.

Wilson also said that posting men at the empire’s frontier to capture exotic animals was a good way to keep them occupied. It may have taken the troops quite a bit of time. But like modern forces, they could be very resourceful in completing the mission.

They would beat drums and drive the animals toward legions carrying nets. Sometimes they trapped the animals in deep pits. Other times they wore sheepskins and constantly distracted the animals until they dropped from exhaustion.

Here’s a friendly reminder of how big the A-10 Warthog’s gun is

The troops would be constantly on the move, as the games required a seemingly unending number of animals. In the year 80 alone — the opening days of the Colosseum in Rome — Romans used more than 5,000 animals in the games.

When the animals were killed, they were likely thrown into mass graves with humans killed in the games.

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Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are looking for badass vets to star in new reality show

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(Photo by Matt Baron/BEI/BEI/Shutterstock)


Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are producing a new reality show for Verizon’s Go90 mobile video network. The show, called The Runner, will feature a contestant trying to make his or her way across the country without being caught by a team of pursuers or the audience. The winner of the game will get over $1 million.

The Runner is casting the show in two groups: Runners and Chasers. According to the show’s producers Runners must be shrewd, in good shape and independent. Runners have no one to rely on but themselves. The ideal runner is adaptive, resilient, street smart and great with strategy.

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Chasers must apply as a two-person team. The team must be outgoing, clever, competitive, and in good shape. It doesn’t matter if the team consists of friends, relatives, or co-workers as long as they can strategize and win.

The producers are specifically looking for military personnel with SERE or other survival training or a special operations background.

The deadline to apply is Thursday, April 28.  Apply at www.TheRunnerCasting.com.

 

 

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This ship defense weapon hits inbound enemy missiles

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Raytheon


The U.S. Navy and numerous NATO partners are developing a new, high-tech ship defense weapon designed to identify, track and destroy incoming enemy anti-ship cruise missiles and other threats, service officials explained.

The Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile Block II, or ESSM, is a new version of an existing Sea Sparrow weapons system currently protecting aircraft carriers, destroyers, cruisers, amphibious assault ships and other vessels against anti-ship missiles and other surface and airborne short-range threats to ships, Navy officials said.

The ESSM Block 2 is engineered with what’s called an active guidance system, meaning the missile itself can achieve improved flight or guidance to its target by both receiving and actively sending electromagnetic signals, said Raytheon officials.

The ESSM uses radar technology to locate and then intercept a fast-approaching target while in flight; the use of what’s called an “illuminator” is a big part of this capability, Raytheon officials said.

The current ESSM missiles use what’s called a semi-active guidance system, meaning the missile itself can receive electromagnetic signals bounced off the target by an illuminator; the ESSM Block 2’s “active” guidance includes illuminator technology built onto the missile itself such that it can both receive and send important electromagnetic signals, Navy and Raytheon officials explained.

Block 2 relieves the missile from the requirement of having to use a lot of illuminator guidance from the ship as a short range self-defense, senior Navy officials have said.

A shipboard illuminator is an RF signal that bounces off a target, Raytheon weapons developers have explained.  The antenna in the nose in the guidance section [of the missile] sees the reflected energy and then corrects to intercept that reflective energy, the Raytheon official added.

The emerging missile has an “active” front end, meaning it can send an electromagnetic signal forward to track a maneuvering target, at times without needing a ship-based illuminator for guidance.

“The ESSM Block 2 will employ both a semi-active and active guidance system.  Like ESSM Block 1, the Block 2 missile, in semi-active mode, will rely upon shipboard illuminators,” Navy spokesman Dale Eng, Naval Sea Systems Command, told Scout Warrior in a written statement.

Also, the missile is able to intercept threats that are close to the surface by sea-skimming or diving in onto a target from a higher altitude, Navy officials explained.  The so-called kinematic or guidance improvements of the Block 2 missile give it an improved ability to counter maneuvering threats, Navy and Raytheon officials said.

ESSM Block 2 is being jointly acquired by the U.S. and a number of allied countries such as Australia, Canada, Denmark, The Netherlands, Norway and Turkey. All these countries signed an ESSM Block 2 Memorandum of Understanding, or MOU, designed to solidify the developmental path for the missile system through it next phase. The weapon is slated to be fully operational on ships by 2020.

“The ESSM Block 2 will be fired out of more than 5 different launching systems across the NATO Seasparrow Consortium navies.  This includes both vertical and trainable launching systems,” Eng added.

U.S. Navy weapons developers are working closely with NATO allies to ensure the weapon is properly operational across the alliance of countries planning to deploy the weapon, Eng explained.

“The ESSM Block 2 is currently in the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase. The ESSM Block 2 will be integrated with the various combat systems across the navies of the NATO Seasparrow Consortium nations,” Eng said.

The ESSM Block 2 weapon is part of what Navy officials describe as a layered defense system, referring to an integrated series of weapons, sensors and interceptors designed to detect and destroy a wide-range of incoming threats from varying distances.

For instance, may ships have Aegis Radar and SM-3 missiles for long-range ballistic missile defense. Moving to threats a litter closer, such as those inside the earth’s atmosphere such as anti-ship cruise missiles, enemy aircraft, drones and surface ships, the Navy has the SM-6, ESSM, Rolling Airframe Missile and SeaRAM for slightly closer threats.  When it comes to defending the ship from the closest-in threats, many ships have the Close-In-Weapons System, or CIWS, which fires a 20-mm rapid-fire Phalanx gun toward fast approaching surface and airborne threats.

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