Defense industry steps up in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY SURVIVAL

Defense industry steps up in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic

As COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on the world, the list of negatives grows and grows. People are out of work and stuck at home, many businesses have closed, and schools have shut their doors, many for the remainder of the school year. Everything has stopped…everything except the growing number of ill people and the medical professionals and supplies needed to care for them.

The shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic is staggering, but fortunately, many have stepped up to help mitigate this problem in a variety of ways, including a growing list of companies in the defense industry.

Theodore Roosevelt once said “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are,” and that’s exactly what these companies are doing.


Strike Industries

Strike Industries is making surgical mask covers that extend the useful life of surgical masks for front line medical personnel. The cover is a sleeve that holds a standard surgical mask and is made from 50/50 nylon cotton. It includes its own ear (or head) loops that are more durable than those found on standard, disposable surgical masks. SI is selling the masks at their cost, about .

Strike Industry’s Danny Chang explains that disposable surgical masks have three layers; two moisture-repellant exterior layers sandwiching an electrostatically-charged inner layer. He says any fluids or moisture that seep into the mask reduces the electrostatic charge in the middle layer and the loss of the static charge over time reduces the masks ability to filter particles.

Strike’s cover adds another, water-resistant layer to the front and back of surgical masks that extends the life of the mask by reducing the amount of moisture that reaches it from the interior (the wearer’s breath, coughs, and sneezing) and the exterior (spray, splash, and airborne droplets.)

“At a time when supplies for N95 masks and even disposable surgical masks are super low,” says Chang, “this is just another barrier/layer to help. I found out from medical professionals that they are supposed to replace disposable surgical masks if it gets wet or every 2-3 hours, normally.”

Strike Industries Public Service Announcement

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Chang warns, “We aren’t saying this mask sleeve/cover is for medical use, but when times are tough, something is better than nothing.” Since masks of all types are in short supply and people are being asked to wear them longer than they are normally meant to be worn, covers that extend the life of a mask seem like a good idea. He says he’s heard some hospitals are even spraying disposable surgical masks with aerosol cleaners to be reused.

KelTec

KelTec is 3D printing N99 capable masks to supply local hospitals. One of the company’s engineer’s, Toby Obermeit, is working with the Medical University of South Carolina to make improvements to their S.A.F.E. mask design, as well as creating a variety of additional cartridge options. These designs will be publicly available to help fill the immediate needs of healthcare and first responders everywhere. The masks, when used with the correct filters, can be of N99 quality, are reusable, and currently feature replaceable Roomba Filters.

“After Toby studied the original S.A.F.E. filter cartridge design, he then optimized it by making it faster and easier to print” said Marketing Manager, Matt Stanek. “He submitted this improved design to MUSC, and officials at the University were so impressed that they asked for help with the next generation mask design.”

The Original S.A.F.E. Mask design required cutting and gluing a HEPA filter, however the new designs utilize various Roomba Filters, making them much easier to assemble.

“We’ve accomplished a lot.” said Obermeit. “We’ve made improvements to the mask itself, as well as created multiple cartridges which take different types of filters. There is even a mask design that has an integrated filter cartridge.”

KelTec, meanwhile, quickly repurposed their 3D printers for the N99 quality masks to supply local hospitals.

“Caring about each other, our families and neighbors is in our DNA,” concluded Marketing Director Derek Kellgren. “These are difficult times and we have friends, family members, neighbors and customers on the front lines. We’re just glad we can be of some help, given how much they’re helping us and our communities.”

KelTec, known for innovation and performance, is one of the top firearms manufacturers in the world, employing nearly 300 American citizens, many of whom are Veterans.

Links to 3D printer files: Optimization of Filter for Original Design, Next Generation Mask Design, New Designs for Roomba HEPA Filters, Mask Built-in

Mustang Survival

Mustang Survival is a Canadian company known for its technical apparel solutions for maritime public safety professionals, maritime military, and marine recreational users. They design, engineer, and manufacture life vests, survival suits, and dry suits that are built to withstand even the most rugged marine environments. On April 1st, Mustang Survival launched production of the first 500 isolation gowns. The gowns are a Level 3 certified PPE, fully waterproof, and designed and engineered to bring new levels of safety to frontline healthcare workers.

Increased demand for PPE, there was a need to get ahead of the problem and look to local sources to solve it,” says Mark Anderson, Chair of the BC Apparel Gear Association and Director of Engineering at Burnaby-based Mustang Survival; who, through years of experience in outfitting frontline defenders and public safety teams, is in a unique position to help.

“Our 50 year history of developing innovative solutions for both Military and public safety professionals combined with the unique advantage of being part of a cutting edge design community here in Vancouver provides us with the ability to adjust and pivot our focus on developing a solution,” said Anderson.

Nielsen-Kellerman Company

Nielsen-Kellerman Company designs, manufactures and distributes rugged, waterproof environmental and sports performance instruments for active lifestyles and technical applications, including Kestrel Weather Environmental Meters, Kestrel Ballistics Meters for long range shooting accuracy, NK Electronics for Rowing and Paddling, and Blue Ocean Rugged Megaphones PA Systems. Nielsen-Kellerman has begun using its facilities and employees to produce face shields for the medical professionals helping to combat COVID-19.

On the first day of its effort, over 250 face shields were produced, with plans to further ramp up production and maximize their donations. When asked about their participation, Alix James, President and CEO of Nielsen-Kellerman talked about how impressed she is with the way American sporting goods and outdoor manufacturers have jumped in immediately to help where they could.

The company’s initial effort was to buy the materials and have volunteers from its staff build them. That resulted in around 500 face shields being built and donated to Temple University Hospital and St. Christopher’s Children’s Hospital. But after talking with the hospitals James discovered the need for PPE was much larger than she’d realized. That led the company to source materials for another 10,000 shields in an effort to build and supply shields for as long as they can.

James says that the PPE shortage will eventually ease as large companies with automated manufacturing systems switch gears, but it takes time for these big producers to shift production. So, in the short term, companies with domestic manufacturing are filling the gap.

“And that is the value of investing in preserving our industrial manufacturing base,” says James. “I hope to see us adjust some of our policies in the future to better support American manufacturing – particularly for critical supply chains like medical equipment, drugs and food. We’ve always emphasized keeping defense production on our shores, but this pandemic has really shown us that other areas are important from a strategic standpoint as well.”

Mystery Ranch

Mystery Ranch makes some of the finest packs and load carriage systems on the market, with designs for military applications, wildland fire, mountaineering, and hunting. In light of the COVID-19 crisis, Mystery Ranch has stepped up to provide over 250 masks to their local hospital in Bozeman, MT.

Mystery Masks

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Using the materials they already have on hand, and halting all other production, Mystery Ranch is providing Bozeman Health Deaconess staff with masks that are soft, antimicrobial, and breathable. Mystery Ranch has also donated elastic to the Gallatin Quilt Guild who has been spearheading the project.

Outdoor Research

Outdoor Research makes a lot of different outdoor gear and apparel, including tactical gloves built to withstand rugged environments. During the pandemic, OR has converted their Seattle factory in order to make personal protective medical equipment. OR has committed to producing upwards of 200,000 masks per day. Outdoor Research will be manufacturing ASTM level 3 masks in April/May, N95 masks by May/June, and will immediately begin producing ASTM Level 1 face masks.

“Our 39-year history of rapidly developing cutting-edge Outdoor, Military and Tactical products provides Outdoor Research the ability to quickly shift to supporting the personal protective needs of the medical community,” said CEO Dan Nordstrom. “Our entire company is fully committed to ensuring that doctors, nurses, health-care workers and first responders have the personal protective equipment they require to effectively care for their patients. We are working with state and local officials to better protect our employees in this environment as we ramp up production in the following days and weeks.”

Versacarry

Versacarry, based out of Texas, is known for its premium leather holsters and other accessories ranging from belts to mag pouches. Effective immediately, Versacarry has chosen to use part of its manufacturing capacity to produce face masks and shields instead of firearms accessories. Versacarry expects to be able to produce in excess of 20,000 units of each product weekly. Versacarry has even placed a contact form on their website so people can request supplies for the organization they work for.

Smith Optics

An arm of Smith Optics, its Elite Eye Protection side of the house supplies eyewear and goggles to the U.S. Special Operations community. In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the company is working with a crowdsourced donation program called Goggles for Docs to relieve personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages among front line medical personnel across the U.S.

The effort is supported by volunteers and donations to provide ski goggles to health care workers that lack eye protection while treating COVID-19 patients. Smith is currently sending new and used goggles to fulfill hospital requests, and encourages those with time or an older set of goggles to contribute by visiting gogglesfordocs.com.

This article originally appeared on Recoilweb. Follow @RecoilMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Read voraciously: General Miller’s reading recommendations

During my recent interview with General Scott Miller, he said, “If you are a serious practitioner in the military, you have to be a voracious reader. If you’re not well-read, it becomes readily apparent.”

He went on to say that intentionally devoting time to reading helps him understand the potential consequences of his actions beforehand. General Miller mentioned a number of books, both fiction and non-fiction, that are worth reading.

General Miller recommended military leaders read Once an Eagle. He echoed Stan McChrystal’s comments in a previous episode on the benefits of this book, saying that his views of the protagonists changed as he gained more experience in his military career.

He encouraged younger leaders to use historical fiction as a starting point when reading history. He said that a book like Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield should pique a person’s interest and get them to ask what really happened during that time period. Additonally, he recommended  Killer Angels by Michael Shaara to encourage readers to learn more about the Civil War as they read about the fictional discussions between generals that led to victory or defeat. He also offered Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry, and The Centurions and The Praetorians by Jean Larteguy.  Last year, I wrote about 10 passages from the Centurions that made me reflect on leadership and war after General Miller handed me a copy and encouraged me to read it.

He also highlighted Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights on China, The United States, and the World by Graham Allison and Robert D. Blackwill. The book captures key insights from the Grand Master on global affairs, violent extremism, and the global economy. He pointed out that Lee Kuan Yew was a sought after leader because of the wisdom he exhibited leading Singapore from a post- World War II backwater nation into a highly developed country.

General Miller also mentioned he is rereading Ghost Wars by Steve Coll because of the book’s relevance to the current challenges he faces. It helps him to think through some of the moves local and regional actors will make as he looks to responsibly end a war. He recently finished Blood and Oil: Mohammed bin Salman’s Ruthless Quest for Global Power by Bradley Hope and Justin Scheck.  He stressed the importance of books like these because they go deeper into the lives of global and regional leaders than stories we read and see in the media.

He emphasized the importance of books that help us think about what we might face in the future, so he recommended Burn-In: A Novel of the Real Robotic Revolution by P.W. Singer and August Cole.

Finally, he recommended that leaders try to pull ideas from what they read and put them into practice whenever possible. For those who have worked with him, they know he is a student of the profession. He’s spent a career integrating his intellectual pursuits into his approach to leading organizations at every level. The preceding list is a great place to start for anyone looking to emulate and learn from his leadership.

This article originally appeared on From the Green Notebook. Follow @fromthegreennotebook on Facebook.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Navy secretary bets his job that he can fix USS Ford

Like most first-in-class warships, the USS Gerald R. Ford has had problems during its construction and testing, especially because of the array of new technology it carries.

But the $13 billion aircraft carrier has attracted special attention, and now Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer is putting his job on the line to guarantee one big problem will be resolved.


The Ford’s new Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System has been a particular focus for President Donald Trump. He expressed dismay with the system in May 2017 and has mentioned it several times since, bringing it up at random on several occasions.

Other officials, including the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, Sen. James Inhofe, have objected to protracted issues with the carrier’s Advanced Weapons Elevators, which use magnets rather than cables to lift munitions to the flight deck.

Defense industry steps up in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic

President Donald Trump speaking with Navy and shipyard personnel aboard the Gerald R. Ford in Newport News, Virginia, in 2017.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication 1st Class Joshua Sheppard)

None of the carrier’s 11 elevators were installed when it was delivered in May 2017 — 32 months late. But the Navy accepted and commissioned the carrier, and after a year of testing at sea, in July 2018 it entered its post-shakedown period.

The start of the post-shakedown period was delayed by another defect, and it was extended from eight months to a year to take care of normal work and work that had been put off, like the installation of the elevators and upgrades to the Advanced Arresting Gear, which has also faced technical problems.

The Navy has said the elevators will be installed and tested by the end of the post-shakedown period in 2019. Six will be certified for use at that time, but five won’t be completed until after July 2019.

Spencer said Jan. 8, 2019, that during a discussion at the Army-Navy football game in December 2018 he gave Trump a high-stakes promise.

“I asked him to stick his hand out — he stuck his hand out. I said, ‘Let’s do this like corporate America.’ I shook his hand and said the elevators will be ready to go when she pulls out or you can fire me,” Spencer said at an event at the Center for a New American Security, according to USNI News.

“We’re going to get it done. I know I’m going to get it done,” he added. “I haven’t been fired yet by anyone — being fired by the president really isn’t on the top of my list.”

Defense industry steps up in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic

Tugboats maneuvering the Gerald R. Ford into the James River.

(US Navy photo)

Spencer also said Trump asked him about EMALS. He told the president that the Navy had “got the bugs out” and that the system and its capabilities were “all to our advantage.”

Inhofe is also raising the stakes.

“The fleet needed and expected this ship to be delivered in 2015,” he told Bloomberg on Jan. 7, 2019. “Until all of the advanced weapons elevators work, we only have 10 operational aircraft carriers, despite a requirement for 12.”

Inhofe has told the Navy he wants monthly status reports on the carrier until its elevators are working.

The Ford is the first of its class, and the next Ford-class carrier, the USS John F. Kennedy, is under construction by Huntington Ingalls at Newport News, Virginia, where it reached the halfway point in 2018.

The Navy told legislators early January 2019 that it would go ahead with a plan to buy the next Ford-class carriers, CVN 80 and CVN 81, on a single contract, known as a “block buy.”

Defense industry steps up in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic

A crane moving the lower stern into place on the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy at Huntington Ingalls Shipbuilding in Newport News, making the second Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier 50% structurally complete, on June 22, 2017.

(US Navy photo)

The Navy has said it will spend about billion on the first three Ford-class carriers, and it has touted the block buy as a way to save as much as billion over single contracts for the third and fourth ships. The program as a whole is expected to cost billion.

“This smart move will save taxpayer dollars and help ensure the shipyards can maintain a skilled workforce to get the job done,” Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia said after the Navy informed lawmakers of the decision.

Inhofe, however, remains wary.

He told Bloomberg that he looked forward to “the greater predictability and stability” provided by the block buy but called the purchase “a significant commitment” requiring “sustained investments for more than a decade” to get the billion in savings estimated by the Navy.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

Articles

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators

A new documentary, “National Bird,” exposes the secret drone war being carried out in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, and elsewhere from the ground level of the strike and from the perspective of three military operators who used to pull the trigger.


“When you watch someone in those dying moments, what their reaction is, how they’re reacting and what they’re doing,” Heather Linebaugh, a former drone imagery analyst, says in the film. “It’s so primitive. It’s really raw, stripped down, death.”

Also read: Osprey crash shows how dangerous Marine aviation can be

Though unmanned systems have been used for many years to carry out surveillance, it wasn’t until after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks — on February 4, 2002 — that a drone was armed and used for targeted killing. That 2002 strike apparently killed three civilians mistaken for Osama bin Laden and his confidantes, a theme that went on to play out again and again.

Defense industry steps up in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic
US Air Force photo

Armed drones have operated since in Afghanistan and many other countries in which the U.S. is not at war, including Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan. They have been used to strike militants and terror leaders over the years — a program accelerated under the Obama administration — but it has come at a deadly cost, with thousands of innocent civilians killed, to include hundreds of children.

“I can say the drone program is wrong because I don’t know how many people I’ve killed,” Linebaugh says.

Linebaugh and two others, introduced only by their first names Daniel and Lisa, tell equally compelling stories from their time in the military’s drone program. The film gives them a chance to shine a light on what is a highly secretive program, which officials often describe as offering near-surgical precision against terrorists that may someday do harm to U.S. interests.

Instead, the three offer pointed critiques to that narrative, sharing poignant details of deaths they witnessed through their sophisticated cameras and sensors. The most disturbing thing about being involved with the drone program, Daniel said, was the lack of clarity about whom he killed and whether they were civilians.

“There’s no way of knowing,” he says.

Defense industry steps up in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic
Screenshot via www.liveleak.com

Though the testimony of the three operators is compelling, the documentary’s most important moments come from a visit to Afghanistan, where the documentary showcases a family that was wrongly targeted by a strike. It was on February 21, 2010, when three vehicles carrying more than two-dozen civilians were hit by an Air Force drone crew.

“That’s when we heard the sound of a plane but we couldn’t see it,” one victim says.

Filmmaker Sonia Kennebeck mixes witness statements with a reenactment of overhead imagery and voices reading from the transcript prior to the strike. A later investigation found that the operators of the Predator drone offered “inaccurate and unprofessional” reporting of what they saw.

During the incident, the drone operators reported seeing “at least five dudes so far.” Eventually, they reported 21 “military-age males,” no females, and two possible children, which they said were approximately 12 years old.

“Twelve, 13 years old with a weapon is just as dangerous,” one drone operator says. The operators never got positive identification of the people below having weapons.

That’s because the group consisted only of innocent men, women, and children, according to the documentary. Twenty-three Afghan civilians were killed, including two children aged seven and four.

“We thought they would stop when they saw women, but they just kept bombing us,” the mother of the children says.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, then the commander of U.S. forces in the country, apologized for the strike. Four officers involved were disciplined.

The documentary cuts through the defense of drones as a “surgical” weapon that only kills the bad guys. As many reports have made clear, the US often doesn’t know exactly who it is killing in a drone strike, instead hazarding an “imperfect guess,” according to The New York Times, which is sometimes based merely on a location or suspicious behavior.

That imperfect guess has often resulted in the death of innocent locals — or, as was the case in 2015, the death of two men, an American, and an Italian, who were being held hostage by militants.

As Daniel points out in the documentary, the presence of drones on the battlefield has only emboldened commanders, who no longer have to risk military personnel in raids and can fire a missile instead. That viewpoint only seems to be growing, as the technology gets better and drones continue to proliferate around the world.

Defense industry steps up in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic
Airman 1st Class Christian Clausen | US Air Force

The drone may continue to be the “national bird” of the U.S. military for a long time, but perhaps the documentary can start a conversation around their use and whether they create more terrorists, as has been argued, than they are able to take out.

“Not everybody is a freakin’ terrorist. We need to just get out of that mindset,” says Lisa, a former Air Force technical sergeant, in the documentary. “Imagine if this was happening to us. Imagine if our children were walking outside of their door and it was a sunny day, and they were afraid because they didn’t know if today was the day that something was going to fall out of the sky and kill someone close to them. How would we feel?”

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Air Force tested its personnel with real cyberattacks

In November 2018, the Air Force targeted its personnel at bases in Europe with spear-phishing attacks to test their awareness of online threats.

The tests were coordinated with Air Force leaders in Europe and employed tactics known to be used by adversaries targeting the US and its partners, the Air Force said in a release.

Spear-phishing differs from normal phishing attempts in that it targets specific accounts and attempts to mimic trusted sources.


Spear-phishing is a “persistent threat” to network integrity, Col. Anthony Thomas, head of Air Force Cyber Operations, said in the release.

“Even one user falling for a spear-phishing attempt creates an opening for our adversaries,” Thomas said. “Part of mission resiliency is ensuring our airmen have the proficiency to recognize and thwart adversary actions.”

Defense industry steps up in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic

Sailors on watch in the Fleet Operations Center at the headquarters of US Fleet Cyber Command/US 10th Fleet, Dec. 14, 2017.

(US Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist Samuel Souvannason)

The technique has already been put into real-world use.

Just before Christmas in 2015, Russian hackers allegedly used spear-phishing emails and Microsoft Word documents embedded with malicious code to hit Ukraine with a cyberattack that caused power outages — the first publicly known attack to have such an effect.

In December 2018, the US Department of Justice charged two Chinese nationals with involvement in a decade-long, government-backed effort to hack and steal information from US tech firms and government agencies.

Their group relied on spear-phishing, using an email address that looked legitimate to send messages with documents laden with malicious code.

For their test in November 2018, Air Force cyber-operations officials sent emails from non-Department of Defense addresses to users on the Air Force network, including content in them that looked legitimate.

The emails told recipients to do several different things, according to the release.

One appeared to be sent by an Airman and Family Readiness Center, asking the addressee to update a spreadsheet by clicking a hyperlink. Another email said it was from a legal office and asked the recipient to add information to a hyperlinked document for a jury panel in a court-martial.

“If users followed the hyperlink, then downloaded and enabled macros in the documents, embedded code would be activated,” the release said. “This allowed the threat emulation team access to their computer.”

Defense industry steps up in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic

US Cyber Command.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo)

Results from the test — which was meant to improve the defenses of the network as a whole and did not gather information on individuals — showed most recipients were not fooled.

“We chose to conduct this threat emulation (test) to gain a deeper understanding of our collective cyber discipline and readiness,” said Maj. Ken Malloy, Air Force Cyber Operations’ primary planning coordinator for the test.

The lessons “will inform data-driven decisions for improving policy, streamlining processes and enhancing threat-based user training to achieve mission assurance and promote the delivery of decisive air power,” Malloy said.

While fending off spear-phishing attacks requires users to be cognizant of untrustworthy links and other suspicious content, other assessments have found US military networks themselves do not have adequate defenses.

A Defense Department Inspector General report released December 2018 found that the Army, the Navy, and the Missile Defense Agency “did not protect networks and systems that process, store, and transmit (missile defense) technical information from unauthorized access and use.”

That could allow attackers to go around US missile-defense capabilities, the report said.

In one case, officials had failed to patch flaws in their system after getting alerts about vulnerabilities — one of which was first found in 1990 and remained unresolved in April 2018.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Navy just tested its newest unmanned surface vehicle

An unmanned surface vehicle suddenly appeared on the Potomac River Test Range and, much like the ospreys that inhabit the area, it was on a mission to traverse the river – autonomously.

Nearby, an osprey watched the unusual sight from its nest as an array of autonomous guns and missile systems were lined up on a pier.


Distinguished visitors gathered on that pier to see the sight – a demonstration of Textron Systems’ Common Unmanned Surface Vehicle. They listened intently as Navy and corporate leaders discussed their collaboration to weaponize a CUSV capable of multiple missions.

“The reason we collaborate is because we as a nation find ourselves in a situation where we can no longer take time to deliver capability to our warfighters,” John Fiore, Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division technical director, told government, defense contractors, and military personnel at the March 28, 2018 event. “We as a warfare center and you as industry are tasked to make sure our Sailors and Marines can deploy, execute their mission, and come home safely to their families and loved ones.”

NSWCDD engineers explained how the weapon technologies they developed will be evaluated for integration with Textron Systems’ CUSV to create a new modular autonomous weapon system to impact the Fleet’s maritime operations. There is currently no program or acquisition in place to implement these efforts, as they are in the early development stages without funding or planning to implement into the Fleet.

“Our first project is what we are calling a Surface and Expeditionary Warfare Mission Module which will consist of our engagement technology paired with our Battle Management System (BMS) controlling a Longbow Hellfire Missile,” said Chris Nerney, NSWCDD technical program manager for Unmanned Systems. “The idea is a mission package that could slide into the CUSV modular mission bay and provide a direct and indirect fire capability.”

Defense industry steps up in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic
A Scan Eagle unmanned aerial vehicle launches from the Potomac River Test Range.
(U.S. Navy photo)

The Navy and Textron Systems plan to prove the developmental concept that combines direct and indirect fire capability with a gunfire demonstration in late 2018, followed by a live missile shoot in 2019.

“We are creating a modular surface and expeditionary warfare payload with a gun and a missile weapon system to be evaluated for integration onto the common unmanned surface vehicle,” said Kevin Green, NSWCDD technical lead for Ship-to-Shore Precision Engagement Integration and Prototype. “This payload could enable warfighters to counter fast attack craft and fast inshore attack craft and it could provide ship-to-shore fire support for expeditionary and special operations forces. It also gives us a baseline development effort to operate and perform further research and development.”

Meanwhile, Nerney, Green, and their Textron Systems collaborators are envisioning how new payloads in the CUSV mission bay could benefit warfighters in various missions from maritime interdiction and special operations to surface warfare encounters that include engaging fast attack craft and fast inshore attack craft as well as other threats.

“We’re demonstrating the realm of the possible, proof of concept, and leveraging a Textron developmental craft and proven weapon systems with the Hellfire, BMS, and other capabilities,” said Wayne Prender, Textron Systems vice president of Control & Surface Systems. “Now, we’re bringing those technologies together and implementing them in an autonomous way that’s unique and new.”

For surface and expeditionary warfare missions, warfighters could use a modular, plug and play unit designed to fit the CUSV mission bay. This mission module includes sensors for targeting, a weapon station with a gun, and a launcher system for missiles. It could provide capabilities to enable a myriad of missions outlined in the Unmanned Surface Vehicle Master Plan.

NSWCDD engineers are creating the payload in response to guidance outlined in the Navy’s recent USV Strategic Roadmap and the Marine Corps Operating Concept. Moreover, they determined that weaponizing a USV with both direct and indirect fire capability could expand the USV mission portfolio to include surface warfare, maritime security, and maritime interdiction operations in addition to special operations forces and expeditionary forces support.

Defense industry steps up in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Scott Youngblood)

“We are developing automated weapon systems that provide tactically effective automation of the entire kill chain, and we’re doing so with minimal dependence on what is usually an unreliable datalink,” said Green. “Our experience integrating unmanned systems has taught us that the weapon systems must be just as automated as the platforms themselves in order to reduce the number of operators and operate reliably beyond line of sight.”

Specifically, Sailors and Marines could be able to use the Battle Management System to fire missiles and precision guided munitions from the CUSV. They would use the autonomous system for detection, tracking, and direct fire engagement.

“If the decision was made to outfit the CUSV with a variety of payloads, it could be deployed from nearly any large ship and could be deployed in significant numbers from a U.S. Navy ship or a Joint High Speed Vessel type platform to perform a variety of roles,” said Nerney. “We are focused on the Mine Countermeasures Unmanned Surface Vehicle today because it’s the Navy’s only program of record unmanned surface vehicle platform. It’s also our concept of modular plug and play weapon systems integrated onto a USV that can be scaled up or down as appropriate. If the Navy or Marine Corps decide to build big unmanned surface vehicles, we could scale the guns and missiles up. If the decision is to go with swarms of small USVs, then we could scale the system down accordingly.”

Between now and the live fire test, NSWCDD and Textron Systems will work together to rapidly develop and integrate as proofs of concept a variety of surface and expeditionary warfare payloads for the CUSV to include operations with unmanned air and subsurface vehicles.

“Our partnerships with industry allow us to move fast,” said Fiore. “If you’re the one that’s going to be giving this capability to warfighters, I want you to be effective in doing that. That’s what motivates us and that’s why we collaborate. That’s why it’s so important for us to have you here today with your equipment and have you partnering with us.”

The Navy’s collaboration with Textron Systems began in 2011 when the developmental Common Unmanned Surface Vehicle was developed and used in a variety of Navy demonstrations.

In December 2017, the company signed a cooperative research and development agreement with NSWCDD. The agreement covers the integration of missile, designator, and remote weapon station payloads to Textron Systems’ developmental CUSV with its 3,500-pound payload capacity on the deck and a payload bay measuring 20.5 x 6.5 feet.

Defense industry steps up in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) of Scan Eagle launches off flight deck of Amphibious Assault Ship USS Saipan
(U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Patrick W. Mullen III.)

The company previously contracted with the Navy to develop the new Unmanned Influence Sweep System – minesweeping units towed by the CUSV – which will perform a mine countermeasure mission in support of a littoral combat ship.

“Building on the UISS program as the foundation, we signed the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with Dahlgren,” said Prender. “We began to prototype surface warfare packages and other payloads that will strengthen the flexibility and potential capability of our platform and continue to inform the Navy and Marine Corps and overall surface community what the realm of the possible can be as they begin to expand the use of unmanned systems – in this case unmanned surface vehicles.”

The CRADA points out that NSWCDD will develop a government-owned open architecture weapon control system to include both hardware and software. Implementations of this design will enable rapid development to support and control a variety of precision guided weapons. This open architecture concept will allow vendors to provide munitions and subsystems for future capabilities as long as the munitions and subsystems support the government owned interfaces.

“We are only limited by our imaginations,” said Nerney. “Other ideas in the works for mission packages include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. We can develop mission packages to support the carrying and launching of UAV’s – armed and unarmed. This will give us a hunter-killer over-the-horizon capability by pairing the armed common unmanned surface vehicle with an armed Firescout, laser weapon, or vessel-stopping equipment.”

This article originally appeared on the United States Department of Defense. Follow @DeptofDefense on Twitter.

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India gets into the global nuke game with test of Agni V ICBM

While North Korea is in the headlines over Kim Jong Un’s push for intercontinental ballistic missiles, India has quietly carried out its own arms race and is building a very solid nuclear triad for strategic deterrence.


According to a report from Bloomberg News, India’s efforts are bearing fruit — a marked contrast to those of the North Koreans, which apparently drove Kim Jong Un to get blackout drunk and demand apologies from his generals.

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Agni missile. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

The missile India tested was the Agni V, which GlobalSecurity.org notes has a range of about 2,700 nautical miles. This would allow the missile to hit most of the People’s Republic of China.

An Arms Control Association fact sheet estimates India has about 110 nuclear warheads, but a November 2015 report from the Institute for Science and International Security claimed India could have enough plutonium to make up to 230 nuclear weapons.

India made news earlier this year when it commissioned the nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine INS Arihant. This submarine, capable of carrying four K-4 intermediate-range ballistic missiles, puts India into the “boomer club” with the United States, France, the United Kingdom, China, and Russia.

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INS Arihant. (YouTube screenshot)

Bloomberg News reported that the Agni V missile was launched from a Road Mobile Launcher. The Federation of American Scientists notes that the Soviet Union’s SS-25 Sickle (later taken over by the Russian Federation) was also designed as a road-mobile system.

According to Designation-Systems.net, the United States planned to use the MGM-134 Midgetman as a road-mobile system, but it was cancelled at the end of the Cold War.

The Indian Air Force has a number of aircraft that could carry nuclear weapons, including the MiG-27, the Jaguar, and GlobalSecurity.org reports that Indian Tu-142 “Bear F” anti-submarine escorts have been wired to accept air-launched cruise missiles.

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America says goodby to its first hispanic Navy admiral, Diego Hernandez

Retired Navy Vice Adm. Diego Hernandez, who was the first Hispanic-American to serve as vice commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, has died at the age of 83.


According to a report by the Miami Herald, Hernandez, a Vietnam War veteran who was shot down twice and awarded the Silver Star among other decorations, passed away on July 7 after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease. Hernandez was best known as the Navy’s highest-ranking officer of Hispanic descent.

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A Navy F-4 Phantom drops bombs over Vietnam. Hernandez flew 147 missions in the Vietnam War, and was shot down twice. (US Navy photo)

Born in 1934, Hernandez came from a working-class family in Puerto Rico. In 1955, after graduating from the Illinois Institute of Technology, he entered the Navy. In 1956, he was designated a Naval Aviator. After flying 147 combat missions over Vietnam, he attended the Naval War College and served on the faculty.

His later career included tours commanding VF-84 (the famous “Jolly Rogers”), Air Wing Six, the carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67), and the Third Fleet.

During his time at the Third Fleet, Hernandez played a major role in integrating Alaska into United States Pacific Command and turning that force into one that was ready to take on the Soviets around the Aleutian Islands and off the Kamchatka Peninsula.

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USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67), one of the commands Vice Adm. Hernandez held during his 36-year military career. (US Navy photo)

“Duke’s task was to turn this ‘McHale’s Navy’-style lash-up into a proper combat-oriented staff. It fell to Duke to awaken the whole Pacific Fleet to this, shall we say, cold reality,” retired Navy Capt. Charles Connor told the Miami Herald.

After commanding the Third Fleet, Hernandez took the post as vice commander as NORAD, which also made him the deputy commander of Space Command.

“He had his hands on the red buttons with all our atomic warfare,” former Miami mayor Maurice Ferré told the Miami Herald.

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Adm. Hernandez was deputy commander of NORAD, which included the Cheyenne Mountain Complex. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

After his retirement, he served with the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Center for Minority Veterans as a member of the Advisory Committee. He also helped plan for the future transportation needs of Miami-Dade County, highlighted by the opening of the Port Miami Tunnel in 2014.

Admiral Hernandez’s funeral will be held Saturday at Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic Church in Miami Lakes.

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The US missed its chance to wipe out ISIS fighters on this road of death

A convoy of stranded Islamic State fighters has generally dispersed throughout Iraq and Syria, depriving the US of the ability to strike them in one place, The Washington Post reports.


The convoy of terrorists came to be after a complex peace deal was struck between ISIS, the Lebanese government, the terrorist group Hezbollah, and the Assad regime. ISIS agreed to evacuate an area near Lebanon in return for safe passage to area it controls near the Iraqi-Syrian border. The US military expressed anger at the deal, pledging to strand the convoy in the middle of the desert and kill as many fighters as possible without endangering the lives of women and children.

“If they try to get to the edge of ISIS territory and link up with ISIS there, we’ll work hard to disrupt that,” Operation Inherent Resolve commander Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend told Pentagon reporters Aug. 31. Townsend’s spokesman Army Col. Ryan Dillon similarly told The New York Times, “If we do identify and find ISIS fighters who have weapons — and like I said, we can discriminate between civilians and ISIS fighters — we will strike when we can. If we are able to do so, we will.”

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US Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve commanding general, speaks with Airmen, Marines, and coalition personnel thanking them for the many contributions in support of OIR during an all-call. USAF photo by Tech Sgt. Andy M. Kin.

The fighters, however, appear to have dispersed to different parts of Iraq and Syria, though some parts of the convoy remain marooned in the desert. A section of the fighters have found their way to towns in Iraq, which also was angry about the safe passage given to the terrorist group. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi recently called the peace deal an “insult to the Iraqi people,” adding “honestly speaking, we are unhappy and consider it incorrect.”

The Iraqi Security Forces are currently in the midst of ISIS clearing operations throughout the country after a series of battlefield victories in Mosul and Tal-Afar. The terrorist group still controls some territory and will likely be defended by some of the freed ISIS fighters.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Marines will likely get the Army’s new pistol next year

The Marine Corps has budgeted enough money into its proposed fiscal 2019 budget to buy 35,000 of the U.S. Army’s new Modular Handgun System, according to budget documents.


The Army awarded Sig Sauer a contract worth up to $580 million in January 2017 to make the 9mm Modular Handgun System as a replacement for service’s Cold War-era 9mm M9 pistol, made by Beretta USA.

Also read: Want to buy the Glock that lost the Army handgun competition? You might just get your chance

The Corps also uses the M9, but Marine officials have remained tight-lipped on whether the service will commit to choosing the MHS as its new service pistol.

The Marine Corps did, however, include the MHS in the Family of Infantry Weapons Systems section of the Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Estimates Justification Book.

“The Modular Handgun System will be purchased to replace the legacy M9, M9A1, M45A1, and M007 pistols with a more affordable and efficient pistol for maintenance,” the document states. “The MHS also provides modularity and greater shooter ergonomics over the current models, which will allow for more accurate fire for military personnel of different sizes.”

Marine Corps Systems Command officials declined to comment on the budget submission.

Military.com also reached out to Sig Sauer for comment but did not receive a response by press time.

The $28.3 million earmarked for the Family of Infantry Weapons Systems “supports the first year of procurement and fielding of M27 Infantry Automatic Rifles (IAR), Modular Handgun Systems (MHS), Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System (CSASS), M320 Grenade Launchers, and Tow Objective Gunner Protection Kit 2.0 (TOGPK 2.0),” the document states.

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Compact XM18, above left, and the full size XM17, lower right. (Photo by US Army)

The budget document does not provide a total dollar amount for the MHS, but lists the unit cost of 35,000 Sig Sauer MHS pistols at $180 each. Army weapons officials have so far declined to give a unit cost for MHS.

The Army’s 10-year MHS agreement calls for Sig Sauer to supply the Army with full-size XM17 and compact XM18 versions of its 9mm pistol. The striker-fired pistols can be outfitted with suppressors and accommodate standard and extended-capacity magazines. There is also an accessory rail for mounting accessories such as weapon lights.

More: This is the Glock the Army rejected for its new combat handgun

The Army intends to purchase 195,000 MHS pistols, mostly in the full-size XM17 version.

The Marine Corps may be leaning more toward the smaller XM18 model, according to a “sources sought” solicitation posted on FedBizOpps.gov on Feb. 13, 2018.

“The Program Manager Individual Combat and Equipment (PM ICE), Marine Corps Systems Command (MARCORSYSCOM), is seeking industry input that identifies potential sources for holster sleeve for the Modular Handgun System (MHS) (P320 Sig Sauer handgun) Compact ([XM18]) version,” the solicitation states.

Companies have a deadline of March 30, 2018, to submit concept proposals, the solicitation states.

Related: Here’s why the maker of the Army’s new handgun is suddenly playing defense

Army weapons officials first announced that the Marine Corps was considering purchasing 35,000 Modular Handgun Systems at the National Defense Industrial Association’s 2017 Armaments Systems Forum May 2017.

Sig Sauer beat out Glock Inc., FN America, and Beretta in the MHS competition, an effort the Army launched in late August 2015.

Sig’s victory formally ended the Beretta’s 30-year hold on the Army’s sidearm market.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses

The U.S. Army’s new boss recently got a chance do shoot-house training with the latest Microsoft-based, smart soldier glasses.

Ryan McCarthy, who is now serving as acting secretary of the Army, and incoming Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville traveled to Fort Pickett, Virginia earlier this spring to try out early prototypes of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System, or IVAS.

The Army awarded a $480 million contract to Microsoft in November 2018 to develop IVAS — a high-tech device that relies on augmented reality to create a synthetic training environment for soldiers. The experience is reportedly similar to first-person shooter video games. The system is being designed to also be worn in combat, projecting the operator’s weapon sight reticle into the glasses.


“He and I literally put them on, and we went through a shoot house together,” McCarthy told Military.com on a flight to Fort Knox, Kentucky.

“Here’s the thing — they are empty rooms, because we had the synthetic feed.”

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The Army’s new Integrated Visual Augmentation system is a single platform that uses augmented reality where soldiers and Marines can fight, rehearse, and train.

McCarthy then described how the IVAS device presented targets that resembled enemy fighters from terrorist groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

“I literally came in a room … and they looked like Taliban targets and ISIS guys with black turbans,” he said. “They had one where they had a guy holding a civilian. It looked like a very good video game.”

IVAS is part of the Army’s effort to create a synthetic training world so soldiers can run through many repetitions of combat scenarios, such as clearing urban areas and engaging enemy forces, without having to leave home station and travel to training facilities.

Leaders can view the data compiled by IVAS during the training to show soldiers where they need improvement.

McCarthy and McConville were joined by Army and Marine Corps sergeants who also took a turn with IVAS.

“We had a bunch of NCOs from the 75th Ranger Regiment and the 1st Marine Division, and they did the shoot house and reminded me that I have been out for a while,” McCarthy chuckled, referring to the days when he served in the Ranger Regiment. McCarthy served in the Army from 1997-2002.

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Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy.

McCarthy acknowledged that these were early prototypes of IVAS that need further development.

“You would do it for a little bit, and they would go out and [engineers] had to make a tweak and they would get the screen back up,” McCarthy said.

Rangers and Marines liked the technology, he said.

“The one thing that they all really liked about it was the greater depth perception,” he said.

“It was like a pair of glasses … and literally when you are walking through a room and seeing the target, I had depth perception to my left and right, so I could see down the hallway.”

IVAS replaces the service’s Heads-Up Display 3.0 effort to develop a sophisticated situational awareness tool soldiers can use to view key tactical information before their eyes.

Officials hope to complete the prototyping phase on IVAS by 2020; when the system might be fielded to soldiers is still unclear.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why a drunk traffic fatality was the last straw for US troops in Japan

Early in the morning of Nov. 19, 2017. an Okinawa-based Marine drove his truck while impaired – at three times Japan’s legal limit. The Marine ran a red light, driving into oncoming traffic and hitting another truck driven by 61-year old, Jun Tamanaha. Tamanaha was killed in the incident.


The Marine is identified as Pvt. First Class Nicholas James-McLean.

“I would like to convey my deepest regret and sincere condolences to the family and friends of the Okinawan man who died as a result of this accident. We are still gathering facts and working with the Japanese authorities who are investigating the accident and its causes,” Lt. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson, commander of Marine Forces Japan and III Marine Expeditionary Force said in an official statement.

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Lt. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson, listens to questions from Japanese media at Camp Courtney, Okinawa, Japan. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Nelson Duenas)

In response, U.S. Forces Japan commander Lt. Gen. Jerry Martinez ordered all Japan-based troops banned from buying or consuming alcohol until further notice.

“Marines, Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen must return to quarters and cease consuming alcohol effective immediately,” says the order from III Marine Expeditionary Force. “Off base liberty is NOT permitted in Okinawa. Authorized leave is to be conducted outside Okinawa.”

This was not a knee jerk reaction. Over the years, there have been many incidents involving U.S. troops stationed in Okinawa under the influence of alcohol. This sparked many local Japanese protests against the troops stationed there.

In July 2017, some 25,000 protested after a Marine drunkenly broke into a house and molested a young girl. In June 2016, 65,000 protesters assembled after an American contractor raped and murdered another local woman. One of the largest to date was in 1995, after three service members abducted and raped a 12-year-old girl, causing 85,000 protesters to rally.

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Okinawans protesting the 40,000 troops stationed on the island. (Image via YouTube)

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17 reasons why the M1 Abrams tank is still king of the battlefield

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US Air Force photo by Tech Sgt John Houghton


Since first coming into service in 1980, the M1 Abrams tank has become a staple of US ground forces. The 67-ton behemoth has since made a name for itself as an incredibly tough, powerful tool that has successfully transitioned from a Cold War-era blunt instrument to a tactical modern weapon.

Also read: The US Army is testing a faster and more lethal variant of the Abrams tank

In the slides below, find out how the M1 Abrams became, and remains, the king of the battlefield.

Here is one of the first M1 Abrams in 1979. The Abrams entered service in 1980, but didn’t see heavy combat until Desert Storm in 1991.

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DoD photo by Eddie McCrossan

The Abrams was the first tank to incorporate British-developed Chobham composite armor, which includes ceramics and is incredibly dense.

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Ultimate Factories/National Geographic Television And Film

Despite the British-designed armor, the Abrams tanks were made in Ohio and Michigan.

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Ultimate Factories/National Geographic Television And Film

Source: GlobalSecurity.org

The Abrams is highly mobile, with a top speed of more than 40 mph and an impressive zero-turn radius.

via GIPHY

Source: Federation of American Scientists

Also, in special conditions like loose sand, dirt, or packed snow, the Abrams can actually drift.

via GIPHY

The M1 Abrams sports a 120 mm smooth-bore cannon capable of firing a variety of rounds.

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US Army photo by Maj. Adam Weece

Like with any armored unit, their success depends partly on the hardware and partly on the crew. Here, a loader expertly queues up a round capable of melting through an enemy tank’s armor.

via GIPHY

Source: YouTube

In addition to the main cannon, the Abrams sports a M2H Browning .50-caliber machine gun, a staple of the US military since World War II. In some cases, the guns can be remotely fired.

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US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Cody Haas

The M1 Abrams is just plain tough. Watch it roll over a car bomb without even closing the hatch. This would tear a lesser tank to shreds.

via GIPHY

Source: YouTube

The US as well as Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Australia use the Abrams as their main battle tank.

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US Army photo by Sgt. Marcus Fichtl, 2nd ABCT PAO, 4th Inf. Div.

When the Abrams finally saw combat in 1991, it impressed operators with it’s effective rounds and virtual invulnerability to Iraqi tank fire. No Abrams was destroyed by Iraqi tank fire during the Persian Gulf War.

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PHC D. W. HOLMES II, US Navy

Source: US General Accounting Office

In fact, the only Abrams lost during the Persian Gulf War were destroyed by friendly fire, sometimes on purpose so they couldn’t be reclaimed by Iraqi forces.

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US Department of Defense

The Abrams benefited from having superior range and night-vision abilities compared to their Soviet-made counterparts.

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Ultimate Factories/National Geographic Television And Film

During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Abrams became involved in urban warfare while clearing cities. Urban warfare is the worst situation for tanks, as their range is limited by buildings and they can be attacked from above, where their armor is weakest.

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US Army, Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon II

Source: USA Today

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US Military

Source: USA Today

In his book “Heavy Metal: A Tank Company’s Battle to Baghdad” Maj. Jason Conroy reports a lopsided victory where an Abrams unit destroyed seven Soviet-made T-72 tanks at point-blank range with no losses on the US side.

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M1 Abrams tanks conduct a live fire range day. | U.S. Army photo

Today, the Abrams remains the US’s main battle tank, one of the most successful tanks of all time, and the king of the battlefield.

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US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Justin T. Updegraff

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