GEAR & TECH

This is why the Challenger 2 is not the best tank

Since the end of World War II, the British Army has developed a number of outstanding tanks, starting with the Centurion. The Challenger 1 proved itself during Operation Desert Storm, where it recorded the longest-distance kill of another tank, while the Chieftain held the line for NATO during much of the later part of the Cold War.

The latest in this line of tanks is the Challenger 2. While it entered the fray too late for Desert Storm, it served in the Balkans and during Operation Iraqi Freedom. To date, its service has been just as outstanding as its predecessors.

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History

Here's how the Navy kept its river forces going in Vietnam

For a lot of sailors serving in the Vietnam War, especially those on aircraft carriers, the war effort was a matter of routine. For many, that daily routine didn't involve much combat. This wasn't true for all sailors, of course. The pilots who flew from carriers or land bases, the SEALs and members of the Underwater Demolition Teams, and Navy corpsmen all saw plenty of action, among others.

One other group of sailors who often saw combat was the Navy's riverine force. This force, known as the "Brown Water Navy," took on the Viet Cong (and later, the North Vietnamese Army) in the Mekong Delta. These days, there are much newer, riverine combat vessels in service, and "brown water" sailors have seen action during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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GEAR & TECH

This attack plane made a bomb of a movie

In 1986, the Naval Institute Press published Flight of the Intruder, the debut novel of Vietnam veteran Stephen Coonts. The book was an immediate hit. It held a place on the New York Times Bestsellers list for weeks on end, just as Tom Clancy's debut thriller, The Hunt for Red October, had done a couple years earlier, in 1984. The true star of that novel (apologies to Jake Grafton, the leading human in the story) was the Grumman A-6 Intruder, an all-weather attack plane.

The Hunt for Red October was made into a film and it was a smash hit. So, it seemed only natural that the movie adaption of Flight of the Intruder was a sure thing, too. It hit theaters in January, 1991. It cost $30 million to make and grossed less than half of that at the box office, managing a paltry $14,587,732. Top Gun, it was not.

From that moment on, airmen had a new motto: "Fighter pilots make movies, attack pilots make... sh*tty movies."

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GEAR & TECH

Why this old biplane from the 1940s is still hanging around

There are some planes that hang onto service even though time and technology have long passed them by. One of these planes, which first flew in 1947, is something that could've once been considered state-of-the-art... in 1918.

And yet, somehow, this plane is still in service with militaries today. The Antonov An-2 Colt is, arguably, an outdated junk-heap. Even the UH-60 Black Hawk is faster than this fixed-wing plane (the Black Hawk has a top speed of 183 mph, the Colt maxes out at a paltry 160). Additionally, the An-2 can haul a dozen passengers while the UH-60 can, in some cases, carry 22. Can you say "outclassed?"

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GEAR & TECH

These anti-sub ships show Japan learned from World War II

The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force is arguably the second-most powerful navy in the Pacific. With four small aircraft carriers (the Izumo- and Hyuga-class vessels are technically destroyers but, let's be honest, they're really carriers) and a good number of modern destroyers, this fleet can kick a lot of butt. But with so much eye-drawing firepower, it's easy to overlook one particularly important ship.

That ship is the Abukuma-class destroyer escort.

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GEAR & TECH

How the Pave Low ruled as a rescue and special ops helicopter

When people think about special operations helicopters, the specialized, stealthy Blackhawk that was used on the raid to take out Osama bin Laden comes to mind. One might even think of the MH-47D, a variant of the Chinook that was upgraded with several tools to better handle the special operations mission. But one helicopter dominated in the 1980s — not just the special operations side of things, but also in search-and-rescue.

The helicopter was the HH-53 Pave Low. And while the Pave Low did kick some serious ass — in Panama during Operation Just Cause, during Desert Storm, over the Balkans, and in Operation Iraqi Freedom — most of its combat experience comes from a time when they weren't "Pave Lows."

It was during another war — one where these birds went in on missions — that they became legendary.

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History

It took 50 years to recognize this Vietnam War hero

In the fog of war, it's not uncommon for outstanding pieces of heroism to go unrecognized — at least for a time. In the case of Joe Rochefort, a lack of recognition was one part needing to protect secrets and another part bureaucratic vengeance.

Other times, it simply takes a while for the necessary proof of heroism to be gathered. This was the case for Corporal Stephen Austin.

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GEAR & TECH

Why the Marines still love this old fighter

The AV-8B Harrier has been a mainstay of the United States Marine Corps for over three decades. The same could be said about some other fixed-wing aircraft or helicopters (some of which have been around even longer), but the Harrier has a cachet about it that no others can match.

Part of its clout may stem from the fact that many of the Marine Corps' most legendary squadrons have flown (or still fly) the Harrier. These squadrons include VMA-214, the famous "Black Sheep Squadron" led by Pappy Boyington, and VMA-211, the "Wake Island Avengers" who made a heroic stand at Wake Island and were tragically not reinforced.

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The world's largest international maritime warfare exercise is massive

The Rim of the Pacific Exercise, better known as RIMPAC, is the largest regular naval exercise in the world. Every even-numbered year, countries from around the globe take part in this massive operation. 15 nations took part in RIMPAC 2018 (China was disinvited), bringing together a total of 48 ships off the coast of Hawaii.

But there's much more to RIMPAC than ships.

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