Check out these 4 rewarding military IT careers - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

Check out these 4 rewarding military IT careers

The military is flush with rewarding careers that require expertise with information technology and computer systems. As the military ramps up its use of technology to augment operations and defend against cyberattacks, these IT roles will become increasingly vital to the protection of the nation’s data and people. While some of these are traditional IT jobs, such as network and database administrators, cybersecurity specialists, and computer programmers, other roles are unique to the military environment.

If you’re interested in IT and serving our country, here are four intriguing military IT careers.


1. Cyberwarfare engineer.

The internet is the newest global battlefield. Seemingly everything is on the internet, and powerful entities want to damage their enemies’ vital infrastructure—including power grids and financial systems—through coordinated cyberattacks.

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Osan aircraft maintainers keep F-16’s ready during RED FLAG

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Peter Reft)

According to the U.S. Navy website, cyberwarfare engineers serve on the front lines by defending networks, searching for vulnerabilities in our enemies’ computer infrastructure, and developing systems that can exploit these vulnerabilities. They facilitate tactical operations through software development and programming, and they protect financial, personal, and governmental data from falling into the wrong hands.

Defense News reports that the base salary for this role is around ,000 a year, but it comes with various government benefits. It also notes that the U.S. Navy is hiring cyberwarfare engineers in an effort to “build a more informed and skilled software engineering cadre.” If you have a bachelor’s degree in or computer engineering and want to use your skills to defend the country, a career as a cyberwarfare engineer could be right for you.

2. Geospatial imaging officer.

Successful operations rely on understanding as much as possible about the location of enemy defenses, the surrounding terrain, nearby resources, and other information. According to Careers in the Military, geospatial imaging officers collect and analyze geospatial data from multiple sources, such as satellite imagery, topographical information, and other geographic intelligence, and they use this data to plan, organize, and execute tactical on-the-ground operations.

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(U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Sabrina Fine)

According to MyFuture, the average yearly salary for geospatial imaging officers is about ,000, and about 40 percent of professionals in this role have at least a bachelor’s degree. If you’re interested in geospatial technology and strategic defense, you might find a career as a geospatial imaging officer rewarding.

3. Intelligence specialist.

Today’s Military reports that intelligence specialists play a critical role in ensuring that military operations are planned using the most accurate and up-to-date information available about enemy forces and capabilities. IT specialists oversee the collection, production, analysis, and distribution of intelligence data to key military leaders and consumers.

Intelligence specialists have civilian-world counterparts in data scientists and research analysts. Candidates who are interested in this career should have strong analytical skills and an interest in computers, among other attributes. The average salary is about ,000 a year, according to Today’s Military, but intelligence officers with four-year degrees can earn much more—about ,000, on average.

4. Unmanned vehicle operations specialist.

The military uses unmanned vehicles to conduct remote surveillance, gather intelligence, attack targets, and explore dangerous terrain like the deep sea, among other applications. It needs skilled personnel to operate and maintain these vehicles, and that’s where unmanned vehicle operations specialists come in.

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(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joseph M. Buliavac)

These specialists use their background in computer science, programming, and systems administration to maneuver unmanned vehicles. On average, they make about ,000 a year, according to Today’s Military. If you like programming and operating robotic devices, this career might be for you.

As these positions illustrate, there are many ways to combine an interest in technology with the call of duty.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

How robots and drones might be used in future wars

The U.S. Army loves robots and wants its soldiers to love them, too. The U.S. Army Joint Modernization Command recently conducted its annual Joint Warfighting Assessment in the Pacific Northwest, with most of the testing at the Yakima Training Center. From late April to May 11, 2019, troops from Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s 2-2 Stryker Brigade and 2nd Ranger battalion, along with U.S. Marines from Camp Lejune and Camp Pendleton, tested new weapon concepts for a Pacific war scenario set in 2028.

One of the concepts they were testing was the “optionally manned vehicle,” which would allow leaders in the field to decide to switch their systems to remote operating systems instead of putting their troops on the line.


“The idea is that the robotics could be available, so when they pick that platform you can put the robotics on it, and now you can do the manned (or) unmanned team and push the robotics out on the battlefield,” explained Lieutenant Colonel John Fursmo, the officer commanding the opposing force for the exercise.

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The Assault Breacher Vehicle.

(Photo by Kevin Knodell/Coffee or Die)

Some of the vehicles that have been brought out for testing are actually quite old, brought back to life and stuffed with robotic capabilities by engineers tinkering with them like Frankenstein’s monster. Troops and engineers explain that it’s all about testing, experimentation and soldier feedback. “These are concepts, these are not necessarily the pieces of equipment we would actually use,” said Fursmo. “The Army still has to decide what it wants for this new combat vehicle that will replace some tanks and other armored vehicles.”

Fursmo pointed to an old M58 mobile recon vehicle that’s been retrofitted with remote control capabilities. “It’s a tracked vehicle, it’s been in the Army a very long time, [and] essentially the Army stopped using it several years ago because the mission itself was so dangerous that it was just decided it wasn’t worth it,” he explained. “But make it a robot and now it’s at least conceptually worth looking at it again.”

Robotics and digital tech are already changing the way wars both big and small are being fought around the world every day. What were once science fiction dreams (or nightmares) aren’t as far away as some might think. Some are already here.

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An experimental quadcopter mounted on a Stryker during JWA 19.

(Photo by Kevin Knodell/Coffee or Die)

Eyes in the Sky

Cavalry scouts often call themselves the ninjas of the U.S. Army. Though considered combat troops, their job is more often to scope out the enemy without drawing fire and to report their findings. “A big problem we have is seeing without being seen,” explained Major Dave Scherke, a cav scout squadron leader with the 2-2 Stryker Brigade.

A scout team might move with three troops aboard a Stryker and three dismounted on the ground. They use maps, rulers, and measuring tape to take down mission critical information while conducting route reconnaissance. “It’s very time consuming and, from a security standpoint, can leave you exposed,” Scherken said.

However, at Yakima Training Center, Scherke’s men have been testing the Sensor Enabled Scout Platoon concept. They’ve tested the “Instant Eye” quad copter, an aerial drone surveillance system. “We have that all the way down to the squad level. So instead of just having one of these for each one of my cav troops, now I have six of them, and that massively increases our ability to see over the ridge and see the enemy first,” Scherke explained.

The quad copter itself isn’t particularly unique — you can buy similar models at Best Buy. Drones have already become part of the new normal for warfare. In Iraq and Syria, ISIS militants have used store-bought drones to help them target mortars and have even modified them to drop grenades and other improvised explosives. During the battle of Mosul, frustrated Iraqi troops started purchasing commercial drones of their own to fight ISIS. Robots are everywhere.

However, the small drones the scouts are testing are equipped with the Instrument Set Reconnaissance and Survey (ENFIRE) system that uses software and algorithms that can help measure terrain features, roads, and even calculate how much weight a bridge is capable of supporting. “There’s a bridge classification app that tells you the whole bridge classification,” said Colonel Chuck Roede, the deputy commander of JMC. “It really allows the scouts to do the job we expect them to do.”

ENFIRE connects directly to systems in the Stryker itself, which connects to a larger network. “It takes all that information, aggregates it into a computer, and creates a route overlay,” Scherke explained. “[Plugging] into our mission command systems to send very rapidly [means] our logistics planners and our other maneuver planners can get that information right away. So it speeds up what our scouts can do, and now instead of having six scouts on the ground just doing this while other guys are securing them, you can put fewer scouts on the ground to do that mission.”

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Deep purple, the drone utilized by chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear specialist, prepares to lift off on an NBC reconnaissance mission at the Joint Warfighting Assessment 19 training exercise at Yakima Training Center, Yakima, Washington, April 29, 2019.

(Photo by Pfc. Valentina Y. Montano/302nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, U.S. Army)

The Instant Eye has night vision, infrared, and powerful zoom and camera clarity features for checking out targets, as well as signal tracking. “We can get some eyes on there without exposing our scouts and then bring indirect fires down to win that fight first because we want to be fighting an unfair fight,” said Scherke.

Cav scout Sergeant Joseph Gaska, who was in the field operating the prototype, told Coffee or Die that he was impressed with it. “As long as you’re high enough, you won’t hear it, so it’s not going to be that buzzing sound above your head,” he said of small, nimble drones’ ability to move nearly undetected. It has other ambitious features, too, Gaska noted. For instance, he said that if they were to somehow lose their connection to the drone, it’s programmed to remember where its handlers are and will return to them.

The Joint Warfighting Assessment JWA19 WA, UNITED STATES 04.28.2019

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Machines Doing The Dirty Work

One of the most difficult things ground troops are asked to do is breaching operations against enemy strongholds. The defending side nearly always has the advantage. Good defenders lay out layers of defense that can include walls, barbed wire, ditches, minefields, and countless other hazards and traps. “It’s a very challenging task because you have to imagine your opponent on the far side of that position ready to destroy you with every weapon system that they have,” Fursmo said. “If you can take humans out of that, you’re going to have fewer casualties — it’s really the most dangerous thing a ground force does.”

Troops in the field trained with various aerial drones for detecting chemical threats and minefields, but more of the efforts focused on ground-based systems. One of the key systems they were testing was the Assault Breacher Vehicle. Their ABV working prototype was built around the hull of an M1A1 Abrams tank armed with mine charges and a .50-caliber machine gun and equipped with plows and dozer blades.

“Basically, the concept of this vehicle is that this one vehicle with two operators can do what an entire platoon of engineers would be required to do in a breach,” U.S. Marine 1st Lt. David Aghakhan explained. “It’s not taking anything away from my capabilities — I can still manually operate it — but it gives me the option of saying ‘I don’t want to expose my Marines in this obstacle belt because it’s too dangerous,’ and I can pull them out and we can robotically operate it.”

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A soldier remotely operates a humvee from inside another humvee.

(Photo by Kevin Knodell/Coffee or Die)

Working from remote controls in command vehicles, soldiers and Marines could also remotely control other vehicles to move in and provide suppressing fire for the ABV as it worked to clear mines, smash berms, and deal with other obstacles. Captain Nicole Rotte, an Afghanistan veteran and commander of the 2-2’s engineer company, said that she was impressed with it.

“The challenge that I have is my planning factor for moving through a breach is 50 percent loss,” said Rotte. “So all these concepts, to be able to take an unmanned vehicle and bring them down the battlefield, to be able save soldiers from being lost in the breach, that’s awesome for me.”

Rotte said they only had minor technical issues that were easily solved by turning the systems off and on again. She added that if anything, she’s excited for the prospect of having more robots available to her and seeing what they can do.

Unmanning the Battlefield?

Some futurists have envisioned a world in which war was waged entirely by robots. The U.S. military and CIA have already used drones with operators in Nevada pulling the trigger to kill enemies as far away as Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia. However, while the vehicles are referred to as “unmanned,” they require regular maintenance — and usually have a human operator somewhere.

At times, U.S. military commanders have underestimated the strain on personnel in regard to upkeep and the long hours of operation. “The explosion in demand had created a snowball effect that never allowed the […] staff to take a pause and say, ‘Let’s normalize all the processes that we should be doing,'” the Air Force reported in one of its official annual histories from 2012. “Instead, normalization was put off to some future date after the pace of combat operations slowed down.”

But the wars continued, as did the extreme hours. Airmen working six days a week were constantly asked to work extra hours while leave got cancelled. They were never “deployed” but remained almost constantly on duty, remotely fighting wars in several countries that were continents away. “It’s at the breaking point and has been for a long time,” a senior Air Force official told The Daily Beast in 2015. “What’s different now is that the Band-Aid fixes are no longer working.”

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A remotely operated humvee with a robotic firing turret.

(Photo by Kevin Knodell/Coffee or Die)

Even without the logistical hurdles, many commanders (even those that fully embrace a robotic future for war) don’t believe grunts will ever become obsolete. “It’s technologically feasible to fly a drone from Nevada and have it circling over Iraq or Afghanistan. But the demands of the terrain, as Army soldiers we are so tied to the terrain — you need to have leaders on the ground to see and understand the terrain,” Roede said.

Col. Christopher Barnwell, head of the field experimentation division at JMC, said that while he could see a future where commanders could run a war without ever going to the field — adding that at this point communications are advanced enough that senior officers already don’t have to — he doesn’t think a good leader would choose to stay home while war is raging elsewhere.

“No commander I know would do that,” he said. “I feel like I need to be on the ground and see things with my own eyes and get a feel for what’s going. Technically possible? Yes. Likely? I don’t personally think so.”

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An Alabama Army National Guard Soldier with the 690th Chemical Company inspects a “deep purple” drone at YTC at Joint Warfighting Assessment 19, May 4, 2019.

(Photo by Pfc. Valentina Y. Montano/ 302nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, U.S. Army)

Battle Bots

While they don’t see human judgement being removed from the equation, some military planners are excited by the prospect of artificial intelligence to allow vehicles to move on their own on the battlefield.

“As the concept matures, as we bring in elements of AI, as we bring in some measures of autonomy, the ratio of operators to vehicles will drop so that eventually you’ll have one operator who can control maybe a squad or platoon’s worth of vehicles,” said Roede. He suggested that AI could allow vehicles to autonomously navigate terrain and even rally into formations as they haul supplies and weapons.

Barnwell suggested it potentially going even further — he can foresee a day in the future when leaders can delegate to robotic weapons systems in combat and allow them to autonomously pick and engage targets.

“You tell these robotic vehicles, ‘You’ve got this part of the engagement area, and you are free to shoot at enemy vehicles; anything north of the niner-niner grid line is enemy and you are free to shoot it,'” Barnwell said. “And because these vehicles have AI, they know what to shoot […] on their own.”

However, the prospect of robots that can autonomously kill enemies based on algorithms or pre-programmed targets sets has potentially serious ramifications. The recent battles for Mosul and Raqqa proved incredibly bloody. House-to-house fighting and heavy bombing and artillery strikes led to untold deaths of civilians trapped in the cities, and the work of rebuilding the infrastructure since the battles ended has been slow.

Military strategists believe that urban fighting could be the norm for the 21st century. More than half of the world’s population now lives in cities, and that’s expected to grow. In particular, there are concerns about the challenges posed by potentially fighting in massive megacities like Seoul, Shanghai, Tokyo, or Lagos. Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley has pointed out that the entirety of Mosul — Iraq’s second largest city — isn’t equal to a neighborhood in Seoul.

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Conceptual prototypes at Yakima Training Center.

(Photo by Kevin Knodell/Coffee or Die)

Heavily armed robots combing the streets of a densely populated megacity picking targets based on algorithms have the potential to cause a lot of unintended collateral death and destruction. Machines feel neither remorse nor pity.

Barnwell said that they’re already considering these potential problems. “Through programming, we would be able to figure out what are appropriate targets, what are not. What is the ROE (rules of engagement), what are we going to allow these things to shoot at by themselves, and what are we not going to allow them to shoot at by themselves,” he explained. “In a megacity, for example, we may not even employ this sort of thing — or we may, depending on what the intelligence tells us the enemy is out there.”

But Roede stressed again that fighting wars is going to remain a fundamentally human endeavor, adding, “I don’t think we’ll ever be at a place where we’ll let the machine make the final decision on anything.”

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

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This was the Air Force’s plan to turn a Boeing 747 into an airborne aircraft carrier

We’ve all see the Avengers movie featuring SHIELD’s massive flying aircraft carrier — you know, the one with the gigantic fans and stealth cloaking?


But what you may not know is that the concept of an actual flying carrier isn’t really anything new, and the US military has investigated it time and time again throughout its history. The most recent proposal for such a vehicle came in the form of a highly modified Boeing 747 called the Airborne Aircraft Carrier.

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The concept of a flying aircraft carrier isn’t as far fetched as it seems. (Walt Disney Television/ Photo via AgentsofShield WIKIA)

 

While oceangoing aircraft carriers can bring their complements of fighter and attack aircraft quite literally anywhere around the seven seas, areas deeper inland are far less accessible and sometimes require the use of larger numbers of support assets like refueling tankers, which aren’t always available for a variety of reasons.

The AAC concept tried to solve that problem by using a larger aircraft to fly smaller aircraft above or near deployment zones, where it would release its fighters to carry out their missions.

 

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A Sparrowhawk fighter hanging underneath the USS Macon airship during testing (US Navy)

 

In the 1930s, the US Navy first began exploring the idea of an airborne carrier by outfitting two dirigible airships, the USS Akron and the USS Macon, with a trapeze mechanism for recovering and launching small propeller fighter planes, along with an internal hangar for storage.

Both the Akron and Macon were lost in storms that decade, but not before they were able to successfully demonstrate that with enough practice and patience, aircraft could be deployed from airbases in the sky.

The onset of World War II made the Navy forget about this idea. But during the Cold War, the notion of having an airborne carrier was resurrected — this time by the Air Force.

At first, the Fighter Conveyor project attempted to put a Republic F-84 “parasite” fighter in the belly of a B-36 Peacemaker nuclear bomber, launched in-flight for reconnaissance operations. The creation of the U-2 Dragon Lady spy plane made the FICON project a moot point, sending it to the graveyard after four years of testing.

 

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A B-36 Peacemaker launching an F-84 parasite fighter as part of a FICON test (USAF)

Later on, famed defense contractor Lockheed proposed a gigantic nuclear-powered flying mothership with a crew of over 850 and an aerial endurance of 40+ days. The Air Force, by 1973, decided to go a slightly more conventional route instead.

At the time, the Boeing 747 was easily the largest civilian aircraft in the world, serving as a long-range passenger airliner and a cargo transport for a number of freight companies. It wasn’t wholly unreasonable to suggest that such an aircraft could be converted for use as an airborne carrier, fielding a small group of aircraft inside its cavernous interior.

The Air Force’s Flight Dynamics Laboratory, based out of Wright-Patterson AFB, was put on the case to determine the feasibility of such an experiment.

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Depictions of the microfighters the AAC would carry by the Flight Dynamics Laboratory (Photo from USAF)

The AAC project called for a Boeing 747-200 to be hollowed out and refitted with a two-level internal hangar that would hold “micro fighters”, small short-range fighter aircraft that could fight air-to-air and air-to-ground sorties after being dropped out of the underside of the jumbo jet. Should the fighters need an extension on their range, the AAC mothership could refuel them as needed from a rotating boom on its rear. Upon concluding their sorties, the micro fighters would simply fly underneath the AAC and be picked up by a mechanism, bringing them back into the hangar.

The AAC would also contain storage for extra fuel, spares and parts, as well as a magazine for missiles and bombs for the microfighters. In addition, sleeping quarters for the crew and pilots, and a small crew lounge for breaks in-between missions was also to be part of the hypothetical flying carrier.

All in all, the concept seemed to be absolutely doable and certainly something the Air Force seemed interested in pursuing, given that the report also projected that conventional Navy aircraft carriers would apparently be obsolete by the year 2000.

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The interior layout of the AAC proposal (Photo from USAF)

 

However, the project was stalled when research into the design and development of the AAC’s necessary microfighters went nowhere. An airborne warning and control version of the AAC was also proposed, replete with a pair of reconnaissance micro aircraft for surveillance missions; this was also shot down.

Eventually, the Air Force shelved the concept altogether not long after the Flight Dynamics Laboratory claimed it was possible.

While the US military hasn’t done much, if anything at all, to investigate flying aircraft carriers in the four and a half decades since, this seems to be an idea that just won’t go away. Maybe, just maybe, we might see these bizarre vehicles in the not-so-distant future, as technology advances and mission types evolve!

MIGHTY TACTICAL

From bazooka nukes to backpack A-bombs — 6 wild warheads the Cold War cooked up

In the United States of the 1950s and 1960s, there were a few things you could count on: poodle skirts, sock hops, rock ’n’ roll … and the ever-present specter of nuclear Armageddon. The technological innovation of the rocket age brought the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) into being, nukes that could conceivably end modern civilization in about an hour.

At the other end of the spectrum was a nearly farcical desire to bring nuclear weapons and nuclear power as the solution to every problem. Need a canal? A nuke will save millions of man-hours of digging. Need to improve your miles-per-gallon in your car? Trade your shitbox in for a nuclear-powered lead sled, and you’ll be able to drive around the world on a few ounces of uranium. 

While the more outlandish ideas never really got that far in the civilian sector, the military had no such constraints. In fact, when your evaluations are written based on how many bad guys your weapons can kill, it’s practically guaranteed to generate some truly exceptional flights of fancy. You can practically hear the meeting where someone asked, “But what if we made it nuclear?”

From the early days of the Cold War, NATO was confronted with overwhelming numbers from the Warsaw Pact. In 1961, for example, the Soviet Union had roughly a 2-to-1 numerical advantage in troops. While the West has always valued quality over quantity, quantity has a quality all its own. Accordingly, while strategic nukes threatened mutually assured destruction (MAD) upon the populations of the US and USSR, there was a whole family of tactical nukes designed merely for battlefield use. 

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Part of Operation Upshot-Knothole was a 15-kiloton shell test-fired from a 280 mm cannon on May 25, 1953, at the Nevada Proving Grounds on Frenchman’s Flat. Hundreds of high-ranking armed forces officers and members of Congress were present. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Nuclear artillery

Tactical nuclear missiles and bombs make intuitive sense, but as weapons were delegated to lower echelons, nuclear artillery gave new meaning to the term “danger close.” Starting with the 230 mm M65 “Atomic Annie” in 1953, “fire for effect” would have had a whole new meaning had the Cold War ever gone hot. Atomic Annie only ever fired one nuclear round in testing. It left service after the 203 mm M110 was fielded in 1963. But 155 mm nuclear shells stayed in the US arsenal until 1996.

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The Davy Crockett system required a three-man crew to operate and could be used in place of a turret on the back of a jeep. Photo courtesy of armyhistory.org.

Nuclear bazookas

If nuclear artillery isn’t exciting enough, try firing a nuclear weapon from a recoilless rifle, aka bazooka. The Davy Crockett came in both 120 mm (awesome) and 155 mm (more awesome) sizes and could be fired from either a tripod or the back of a jeep. Packing the equivalent of 15 to 20 tons of TNT, the Davy Crockett was intended to be a mainstay of the Army’s “Pentomic” divisions, which were designed around the presumably nuclear battlefield of a war in Europe. Thankfully, the Army decided that perhaps letting corporals roll around in jeeps with nukes wasn’t the best plan and retired the M28 and M29 in 1971. 

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Special Forces were once equipped with “backpack nukes,” which weighed about 90 pounds. Sandia National Laboratories archive photo.

Nuclear satchel charges

Being able to plant a time bomb and GTFO just in time has been a thing since before ’80s rocker Pat Benatar blew up Nazis in “Shadows of the Night.” Certain Special Forces detachments during the Cold War were equipped with the B54 atomic demolition munition, or “backpack nukes.” The B54 was designed to destroy critical infrastructure, either that of the enemy or to keep friendly assets from falling into enemy hands. With a 1-kiloton yield, the B54 wasn’t the most devastating weapon in the US arsenal, but tell that to the guy whose job it was to hump his way out of the blast radius.

Nuclear land mines

Leave it to the British to go full reductio ad absurdum and create the nuclear land mine. Unfortunately, it was not the sort of land mine where some poor Russian grunt takes a step and hears a click, followed by the biggest “oh shit” moment in history. The nuclear land mine was something more akin to a hand grenade placed underneath a corpse. As Soviet troops advanced, the mines would detonate behind their lines by command detonation or timer. Unfortunately (or probably fortunately) only two prototypes were built. 

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An F-106 Delta Dart aircraft after firing a training version of the Genie over a range. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Nuclear air-to-air missiles

Usually, aerial combat is the epitome of precision killing: knights of the air, dueling mano a mano. Or, if you were a pilot in the 1950s and ’60s, you could just shoot the enemy with a nuclear-tipped missile. In the early days of the Cold War, NORAD still envisioned massive bomber raids, much like those the US inflicted on Japan. With that in mind, the unguided Genie missile packed a 1.5-kiloton warhead.  

It may have been the first fire-and-forget air-to-air missile, in that pilots had to execute quick turns away from their targets after firing or they could forget about coming back. The Falcon missile later added semiactive radar homing to at least get the nuke within a reasonable distance of the target. You might wonder whether shooting nuclear weapons over the US to protect it against nuclear attack is counterproductive. Don’t worry; they tested the Genie by blowing one up directly over the heads of five Air Force officers as proof of concept. 

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A 1962 nuclear depth charge test. Wikimedia Commons image.

Nuclear torpedoes

Don’t leave the Navy out of the mix. They found that nuclear depth charges could effectively destroy submarines, albeit perhaps along with the ship dropping them. So, of course the solution was to put a rocket on the back of the depth charge to get it far enough away from the ship to keep the engagement from being a very localized version of mutually assured destruction. Submarines went on patrol with Mk45 nuclear torpedoes from 1959 all the way until 1976. Given how many close calls happened between US and Soviet subs during that time, that might not have been such a great idea.

While “if you can’t hit it, nuke it” is a valid design philosophy, it wasn’t a great military one. It makes one wonder if today’s military is similarly clueless as to the true utility of the cutting edge today, be that artificial intelligence or space travel. Regardless, I hope I’m still around in 2060 to make fun of them.

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

US Navy’s $13 billion supercarrier continues to have serious issues

Shipbuilders and sailors have fixed the propulsion plant problems on the USS Gerald R. Ford, the first of a new class of supercarriers that is behind schedule, over budget, and still struggling with development issues.

Work on the ship’s propulsion plant was completed toward the end of July 2019, the Navy announced in a statement Aug. 12, 2019.

Problems with the carrier’s propulsion system first popped up in January 2018 during sea trials. A “manufacturing defect” was identified as the problem. Troubles were again noted in May 2019 just three days after the ship set sail for testing and evaluation, forcing it to return to its home port early.


In March 2019, James Geurts, the Navy’s acquisition boss, told US lawmakers that scheduled maintenance on the Ford would require another three months beyond what was initially planned to deal with problems with its nuclear power plant, weapons elevators, and other unspecified areas.

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The USS Gerald R. Ford.

(U.S. Navy photo by Erik Hildebrandt)

The Navy said that the “Ford’s propulsion issues weren’t with the nuclear reactors themselves, rather the issues resided in the mechanical components associated in turning steam created by the nuclear plant into spinning screws that propel the ship through the water.”

While the completion of the work on the Ford’s power plant moves the ship closer to returning to sea, the carrier is still having problems with a critical piece of new technology — the advanced weapons elevators. The elevators are necessary for the movement of munitions to the flight deck, increased aircraft sortie rates, and greater lethality, but only a handful of the elevators are expected to work by the time the ship is returned to the fleet this fall.

Lawmakers recently expressed frustration with the Navy’s handling of the Ford-class carrier program.

“The ship was accepted by the Navy incomplete, nearly two years late, two and a half billion dollars over budget, and nine of eleven weapons still don’t work with costs continuing to grow,” Sen. Jim Inhofe, the Republican who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, said late July 2019.

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Sailors man the rails of the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Andrew J. Sneeringer)

“The Ford was awarded to a sole-source contractor,” which was asked to incorporate immature technologies “that had next to no testing, had never been integrated on a ship — a new radar, catapult, arresting gear, and the weapons elevators,” he continued, adding that the Navy entered into this contract “without understanding the technical risk, the cost, or the schedules.”

Inhofe said that the Navy’s failures “ought to be criminal.”

The Navy has been struggling to incorporate new technologies into the ship, but the service insists that it is making progress with the catapults and arresting gear used to launch and recover aircraft, systems which initially had problems. The elevators are currently the biggest obstacle.

“As a first-in-class ship, some issues were expected,” the Navy said in its recent statement on the completion of relevant work on the Ford’s propulsion system.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Corrosion is actually the US military’s most effective enemy

In 2009, the Department of Defense acquisition chief John J. Young, Jr. issued a mandate requiring the military departments to find new ways to reduce their use of hexavalent chromium (also known as hex-chrome or Cr6+). Hex chrome, which became infamous in the eyes of the public after the release of the film, Erin Brockovich, is a carcinogen that is harmful to humans and the environment. DoD maintenance facilities go to painstaking lengths to reduce the level of exposure sustained by their maintenance technicians due to hex chrome.


Hex chrome offers important corrosion prevention and control qualities in organic pre-treatments and primers used to coat a variety of military aircraft. For example, most coatings and primers used on legacy fighter and cargo aircraft such as the Navy’s F/A-18 and F-14, the Air Force’s C-130, C-5, and F-16 contain hex chrome, and the Army’s H-60 Black Hawk helicopter.

Chromate-based corrosion inhibitors are widely recognized as the best inhibitors available to the DoD. Their high level of performance means that they are still used prolifically as a coating for all types of military aircraft.

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An F-16 Fighting Falcon.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Kleinholz)

The Delicate Balance of Finding Alternatives to Hex Chrome

Complicating the issue of finding alternatives to hex chrome is the drastic cost of corrosion faced by the U.S. military. According to a study released by the DoD Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office, the DoD spent nearly $20 billion on corrective corrosion actions in fiscal year 2016. That expenditure amounts to nearly 20 percent of the entire DoD maintenance budget.

Moreover, corrosion experienced by Navy and Marine Corps aircraft costs approximately $3.43 billion annually and accounts for almost 28 percent of all maintenance costs. Corrosion-related maintenance prevents active aircraft from being ready for mission tasking for approximately 57 days each year.

The high cost of corrosion within the DoD persists despite its prolific use of carcinogenic, but best-in-class, chromate primers.

Navy experts who attack the problem of chromates walk a delicate line between finding an environmentally benign inhibitor and refusing to sacrifice so much performance that the DoD maintenance budget swells even further. Since 2009, the search by DoD and industry for a non-chromate primer has persisted alongside the expectation of finding an alternative that performs just as well as current chromate-based primers. Among DoD officials and engineers, this expectation has become known as the “as good as” requirement.

In response to Young’s 2009 mandate, experts at the Materials Engineering Division of the Naval Air Warfare Command – Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) in Patuxent River, MD, re-energized their internal primer research and development efforts in an effort to push the performance of non-chromated primers closer to that of chromated primers, since the products qualified at the time were the best available, but still not good enough for many naval aviation applications

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While the Naval Air Warfare Command’s Al-Rich primer already has been applied to an Army H-60 helicopter, a NASA C-130 cargo plane, and various pieces of Navy support equipment, Navy engineers are preparing to test it on other DoD aircraft and equipment.
(U.S. Army photo)

To address this shortcoming, NAWCAD materials engineer Craig Matzdorf and chemical engineer William Nickerson, now with the Office of Naval Research, have invented their own solution to the problem. Their patented Active Aluminum-Rich (“Al-Rich”) technology is a powerful anti-corrosion chemical composition created for use in coating systems. The Al-Rich primer is a metalized, sacrificial, chromate-free, high-performance, anti-corrosion primer for use in all situations where a chromated primer is currently used.

“Al-Rich is superior to existing coatings based on the novel aluminum pigment that actively overcomes corrosion by electrochemical means,” said Matzdorf. “Current coatings rely on chemical inhibitors like chromate, which are less effective at fighting galvanic corrosion. We anticipate that the Al-Rich primer will reduce galvanic and other types of corrosion and its effect on the Navy’s cost and availability.”

Key Technology Components in Al-Rich Primer

Although metal-rich primers have existed for quite some time, there were some underlying problems. First, the most traditional metal-rich coatings, such as zinc-rich coatings, are far too heavy for aviation applications and are not effective on aluminum. Second, other metal-rich coatings did not have the longevity of performance in harsh operating environments. “The Al-Rich primer employs two unique approaches to alleviate these key issues and to provide corrosion protection at the level of chromate primers,” according to Matzdorf.

The first key component of the technology is the use of a specialty aluminum alloy as the pigment inside the primer. The alloy composition of this pigment is specifically chosen for its high efficiency. In turn, this high efficiency, in combination with the low density of aluminum, allows the coating to be applied at normal aviation thicknesses, thus eliminating weight concerns.

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NASA C-130
(NASA photo)

The technology’s second key component is a proprietary surface treatment applied to the pigment. By subjecting the primer’s pigment to a surface treatment, both the pigment’s overall level of performance and the primer’s overall length of performance are increased. A surface-treated particle boosts the performance of this metal-rich primer to meet the “as good as” requirement.

According to Matzdorf, these two key technology components combine to create a truly novel approach to non-chromated and high-performance primers. One area of Al-Rich primer’s performance excellence is its ability to reduce fastener-induced corrosion. Each time a titanium or stainless steel fastener is punched into the aluminum body of an aircraft, a potent corrosion cell is created. These corrosion cells cause prolific and expensive corrosion damage. For reasons that are likely to stem from its ability to protect aluminum electrochemically, the Al-Rich primer excels at preventing fastener-induced corrosion as well as filiform corrosion. In many scenarios, the Al-Rich primer outperforms its chromated counterparts at preventing these rampant corrosion problems.

Applications and Future Testing

Thus far, the Al-Rich primer has been applied to an Army H-60 helicopter, a NASA C-130 cargo plane, two Coast Guard H-60 tail sections, and various pieces of Navy support equipment. Engineers at NAWCAD have extensive lab data on this product and are now looking to test it extensively on a variety of DoD applications. However, to do so, the Navy needs to procure large batch sizes of the new primer. Because the Navy is not in the business of manufacturing commercial quantities of chemicals, it has begun licensing this Al-Rich primer technology to equipped and capable businesses.

Through funding sponsored by the Office of Naval Research over the next few years, the Navy plans to apply the new Al-Rich primer to larger and larger portions of its assets. Successful field demonstrations will allow the Navy to comply with the DoD mandate regarding hex chrome. According to officials at NAWCAD and the DoD Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office, Al-Rich primers represent an exciting new entry into the non-chromated anti-corrosion primer market.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The gun that makes the Warthog’s BRRRRRT is also on ships

The A-10 Thunderbolt is arguably the best close-air support plane in history thanks, primarily, to its GAU-8 cannon. The seven-barreled, 30mm Gatling gun holds 1,129 rounds and can chew up a modern tank. Despite its massive success in the air, the GAU-8 has proven to be far more versatile. Believe it or not, the GAU-8 is also at the heart of a last-ditch, anti-missile system used by a number of navies. That system is called the Goalkeeper.


The Goalkeeper uses a combination of sophisticated radars to detect incoming threats, typically missiles, and fires rounds from its cannon to obliterate the target before it can harm the ship. In function, this defense system is very similar to the U.S.’s Phalanx — the albino-R2D2 looking thing found on virtually every American ship built since the 1980s. The Phalanx, by comparison, uses the M61, a 20mm Gatling gun. It’s been upgraded over the years and has an effective range of roughly one mile.

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A Goalkeeper CIWS. This uses the GAU-8, normally found on the A-10, to achieve twice the range of the Phalanx. (US Navy photo)

The Phalanx, however, cannot completely prevent a ship from taking damage — the system’s range is too short to guarantee full diffusion. That being said, the damage a ship endures after an incoming projectile is struck by the gun is from fragments rather than a direct hit. The ship may spend a lot of time replacing radars and fixing other gear, but it beats being sunk. The Goalkeeper, on the other hand, intends to reduce the risk of even that damage

According to NavWeaps.com, the Goalkeeper has almost twice the effective range of the Phalanx. The longer range and more powerful rounds mean that when an enemy missile is hit, not as many fragments hit the ship — and those that do will do so with much less energy. This reduces the damage done to the ship and can even make the difference between keeping a ship in the fight and going back to port for lengthy repairs.

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Goalkeeper close-in weapon system onboard HMS Illustrious. (Royal Navy photo)

The Royal Netherlands Navy and the Royal Navy initially used the system. South Korea later acquired a number of the systems for their surface combatants and the system now serves with the Peruvian, Belgian, Qatari, Chilean, and Portuguese navies.

See the Goalkeeper bring BRRRRRT to a ship in the video below!

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Watch this cockpit footage of an A-10 flying over Miami Beach

Filmed on May 26, 2018, the following footage shows Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Mike Schriever, a pilot in the 303rd Fighter Squadron, flying an A-10 Thunderbolt II alongside his wingman, Air Force 1st Lieutenant Tanner Rindels, over Miami Beach, Florida during the 2nd annual Salute to American Heroes Air and Sea Show, a two-day event showcases military fighter jets and other aircraft and equipment from all branches of the United States military in observance of Memorial Day.

The clip shows the two A-10s maneuvering close to an HC-130 “King” involved in a HAAR (Helicopter Air-to-Air Refueling) mission with two HH-60G Pave Hawks from the 920th Rescue Wing at Patrick Air Force Base in Cocoa Beach, Florida.


Dubbed Warthog, Hog or just Hawg, the A-10 Thunderbolt II, the “airplane built around the GAU-8 Avenger 30-mm hydraulically driven seven-barrel Gatling-type cannon” to fight the Soviet tanks in the European battlefields during the Cold War, is considered one of the most durable and lethal combat plane in the CAS (Close Air Support) mission. Interestingly, on May 25, 2018, the day before the video was shot, the U.S. Air Force released the official request for proposals for an A-10 Thunderbolt Advanced-Wing Continuation Kit (“ATTACK”) program under which it could buy as many as 112 sets of new wings for the service’s remaining, so-called “thin wing” A-10 Warthog attack aircraft.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The US military is getting a new pistol. Here are the sidearms it’s carried into battle since first taking on the British

US soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines are quickly receiving the the military’s newest pistols in massive numbers.

Three years after the M17 was adopted as the military’s new sidearm, Sig Sauer has delivered well over 100,000 of the handguns, which are based on its P320 model.

The M17 and the compact M18 variant are the latest in a long line of sidearms that US troops have carried into battle over the past 244 years.

The flintlocks

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A painting of Continental Army infantry by Henry Alexander Ogden. 
Library of Congress

The American military’s early sidearms were often privately owned. Officers, able to afford more expensive weapons, usually had dueling pistols, while rank-and-file soldiers made due with whatever they could get from local gunsmiths. This led to an array of armaments with varying calibers and qualities.

The Continental Congress tried to get a standard sidearm to the Continental Army. The pistol it chose was a direct copy of the British Model 1760 flintlock pistol. The Congress bought 2,000 of the pistols, dubbed the Model 1775, which were made by the Rappahannock Forge in Virginia.

The .62-caliber smoothbore single-shot flintlock, which included an iron or ash ramrod under the barrel, is considered the first US Army-issued handgun.

The pistol was well received during the Revolution. After the war, a new version, known as the Model 1805, was made at Harper’s Ferry. This flintlock saw service in the War of 1812 and remained the US Army’s standard-issue pistol for over 50 years.

Two Model 1805s are featured on the US Army Military Police Corps insignia, and a similar pistol can be seen on the US Navy SEAL emblem.

Colt revolvers

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Colt Walker Percussion Revolver, serial no. 1017. 
Metropolitan Museum of Art

In 1836, inventor Samuel Colt revolutionized warfare when his first revolver design was patented.

The new weapon allowed a soldier to fire six bullets in as many seconds without pausing to reload. It also used percussion caps, which allowed soldiers to shoot reliably in wet weather.

Colt revolvers were important weapons in the US arsenal for much of the 19th century, with at least four designs — the Colt 1847, the Colt M1848 Dragoon, the Colt Army Model 1860, and the Colt Single Action Army — seeing service.

The Colt 1847, known as the “Walker” for the Texas Ranger who helped design it, was based on previous Colt designs in service with the Republic of Texas and became the first mass-produced revolver in US service.

The Walker and the Dragoon, another .44-caliber revolver adopted by US Army cavalry and mounted-infantry units, saw service in the Mexican-American War and on both sides of the US Civil War.

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Lt. Gen. George S. Patton, with his ivory-handled Colt Single Action Army “Peacemaker,” pins a Silver Star on Pvt. Ernest A. Jenkins, October 13, 1944. National Archives

The most popular Colt design of the 19th century was the Colt Army Model 1860, a .44-caliber revolver adopted just before the Civil War. It was used in large numbers by the Union and the Confederacy — 130,000 were built for the Union alone, and over 200,000 had been made by the time production ceased in 1873.

The invention of metallic cartridges again revolutionized firearms, eliminating the need for percussion caps, a separate powder container, and ramrods. Colt’s most well-known model featuring this innovation was the Colt Single Action Army.

The new revolver fired a .45-caliber center-fire cartridge and was a huge success, becoming a standard sidearm for the US for more than 20 years. It saw action in every US war and military campaign until 1905 and was used extensively on the US Western frontier by bandits and government personnel alike, earning it nicknames like “the Peacemaker.”

Some soldiers, such as Gen. George S. Patton, carried their personal Colt SAAs with them as late as World War II.

The last revolver in US service was the M1917, a six-shot pistol made by Colt and Smith & Wesson and introduced for interim use. After World War I, M1917s were used mostly by support units, though they again saw frontline service with the Vietnam War’s tunnel rats.

M1911

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A US Marine reloads an M1911 MEUSOC .45-caliber pistol during an advanced marksmanship range, August 19, 2013. 
US Marine Corps

In 1911, the US military adopted what would become one of the most iconic firearms in history — the M1911.

Designed by firearms legend John Browning, the .45 ACP pistol was a semiautomatic, single-action, recoil-operated pistol capable of firing seven rounds from a magazine held in the grip of the gun.

The M1911 was one of the most popular weapons in American history. It was the standard-issue sidearm, with few changes, for all branches of the US military for more than 70 years and saw action in almost every American conflict during that period, including both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, and the US Invasion of Grenada in 1983.

The M1911 was officially replaced in 1985, but a number of special-operations units carried them into 21st century. It was so popular that the Marine Corps brought it back into limited service in 2012 in the form of the M45A1 CQBP.

M9

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A M9 in use. 
US Army

In 1986, the military selected the Italian Beretta 92 as the new sidearm for all branches.

Lightweight and modern, the pistol used the smaller 9 x 19 mm round, enabling it to carry 15 rounds in the magazine, double that of the M1911, but at the cost of less penetration power.

In service as the M9, the pistol was used by US troops for 30 years and saw action in Yugoslavia, the Gulf Wars, Afghanistan, and other operations during the War on Terror.

The Pentagon bought more than 600,000 M9s, but they had reliability problems and had gained a bad reputation by the 2010s. In 2015, the US Army and Air Force began searching for a replacement.

M17/M18

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Sgt. 1st Class Rocky Butler with the new M17 during weapons qualification, at Fort Hood, Texas, January 19, 2018. 
US Army/Staff Sgt. Taresha Hill

In January 2017, Sig Sauer’s P320 was announced as the winner of the XM17 Modular Handgun System competition. The pistol has two variants: the full-length M17 and the compact M18.

The Army received its first M17s in June 2017. The Air Force began its procurement in June 2019, and the Marine Corps started officially fielding the M18 in September.

The pistols can be configured for different missions and have a rail on which accessories like lasers and optical sights can be mounted. Their standard capacity of 17 9-mm rounds can be increased to 21 with an extended magazine.

The Pentagon plans to buy 420,000 M17s and M18s for $580 million over a 10-year period.

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

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This vet-owned company just shocked the gun world with its new H9 pisol

It’s so obvious that many wonder why they didn’t think of it.


And it’s so difficult, most have shied away from even trying.

But it looks as if new veteran-owned gun company has cracked the code with one a new pistol that’s causing big buzz at this year’s Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade show in Las Vegas.

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The new Hudson H9 combines the ergonomics and trigger of a 1911 with the reliability of a striker-fired action to do what few others have been able to achieve. (Photo from Hudson Manufacturing0

Made by Hudson Manufacturing, the new H9 is a double-stack 9mm that incorporates the straight-pulling 1911-style trigger with a striker-fired operating system. No other handgun has been able to incorporate the two sought-after features in one.

And the coolest part is that the company is run by a husband and wife Cy and Lauren Hudson who both deployed to southern Afghanistan in 2011 — one as a military contractor with the intelligence community, the other as an infantry officer with the 25th Infantry Division.

“In 2013 we began to research our favorite weapon systems and asked the question, ‘why can’t someone combine striker fired reliability with a 1911 trigger?’ ” the company said. “We were often met with skepticism and sometimes even discouraged from pursuing our vision. With a crude drawing and a knowledge base, the idea began to take shape.”

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(Photo from Hudson Manufacturing)

The H9 has a 4.28-inch barrel with an overall length of just over 5 inches. It’s remarkably slim at 1.25 inches and has a very low bore axis due in part to its reengineered nose that allows the barrel and recoil spring to sit lower on the frame.

The H9 has a 1911-style grip with G10 inserts and a Hogue backstrap. The handgun ships with a Trijicon front sight and packs a 15-round magazine.

But all that high-end engineering doesn’t come cheap, at an MSRP of more than $1,000, the Hudson H9 will appeal to those who want it all in a single handgun.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

5 of the best surplus firearms that you can still buy

The world of surplus firearms is an ever-changing one. Remember when you could buy a Tula Mosin-Nagant M91/30 from a sporting goods store for $80 or a spam can of .30-06 M2 for…heck, when you could find a spam can period? The problem with surplus is that when the supply dries up, that’s it. On the flip side, it also means that new supplies will (eventually) hit the market. In the gun market of 2020, suppliers are having a hard time keeping anything in stock. It seems like everyone walked into their nearest shop and asked to buy something that goes pew. Naturally, the first things to go were the AR-15s and 9mm semi-autos. Soon, the odd stuff like Mini-14s and 9mm Makarovs started going too. Where people tend not to look is military surplus and police trade-in. While these firearms have usually seen a fair amount of use and can be found in varying conditions, their price reflects this and most are extremely affordable. Here are some of the best ones that you can still buy…for now.


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Try to find an M9 in as good a condition as this.

1. Beretta Model 85BB Cheetah

Starting this list off strong, how does a compact Italian-made police pistol sound? Oh, and they’ve barely been shot. Currently on the market is a large supply Beretta Model 85BB Cheetah police surplus pistols from Italy. Chambered in .380 ACP, the Cheetahs feature alloy frames, steel slides, and 3.81″ barrels. In typical Beretta fashion, they use a DA/SA trigger and a manual thumb safety. Despite its compact size, the heavy weight of its metal construction and limited 8-round magazine mean that the Cheetah isn’t exactly the best option for a carry gun. However, the weight does help to mitigate recoil, of which there isn’t too much thanks to its .380 ACP cartridge. Costing between 0-400 depending on the condition, these pistols are a great choice for collectors and shooters alike. Did we mention that they are also California-legal?

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Yup, the mag release is on the bottom of the grip on the other side.

2. Beretta 92S

Yes, another Beretta, another Italian police surplus. If you’ve spent any time at all in the U.S. military, you’ll be familiar with the Beretta 92 as the M9 pistol. Recently, the armed forces have begun the transition to the more modern M17 weapon system, so it’s entirely possible that we’ll eventually see an influx of mil-surp M9s on the market. In the meantime, the 92Ss are nearly identical. The supply that’s currently on the market is older, so you could see almost as much wear and tear on them as the M9 that you qualified with depending on the one you get…almost. The big difference is the magazine release which is the antiquated European style located on the bottom of the left side of the grip. Who thought that was a good idea? Can you imagine John Wick fiddling with that button? But, at under 0 for a full-size duty gun, these Berettas are a good choice for someone who wants a 9mm Parabellum over the .380 ACP of the aforementioned Cheetah.

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In Soviet Russia, one out of two gets a rifle. (Paramount Pictures)

3. Mosin-Nagant M91/30

I didn’t say you couldn’t find them anymore. Trending around 0-300, the Mosins on the market today are in decent shape and tend to be the less sought after Izhevsk models. That said, they seem to shoot just as well as the Tula models, not that you can find a Tula these days. Weighing 8lbs and measuring nearly 50″ long, a Mosin is a good choice for a wall gun or a piece of Soviet-era memorabilia. With its 5-round stripper-clip fed magazine, bolt-action mechanism, and the rising cost of 7.62x54mmR, the idea of a bug-out Mosin is a thing of the past. That said, if you’re willing to shell out the extra cash, you can pick up arsenal refinished Mosins with original wood stocks that are in excellent condition. These rifles can range anywhere from 0-600 and generally include the proper kit of a sling, oiler, tools, and bayonet. The bayonet is actually an important accessory since Mosins were zeroed at the factory with the bayonet attached. Just don’t expect to pick one up and shoot like Lyudmila Pavlichenko or Vasily Zaitsev.

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A Russian-made SKS from 1945.

4. SKS

Yes, it’s another Communist-produced rifle, but this time you have a choice of Russian or Chinese surplus. Designed in 1944, the semi-automatic SKS was a step up from the bolt-action Mosin. Chambered in the intermediate 7.62x39mm cartridge, more ammo can be carried for the SKS compared to the Mosin. However, the SKS was quickly overshadowed by the venerable AK-47. With its full-automatic fire capability and 30-round detachable magazine, the AK made the SKS obsolete by the 1950s. Of course, this didn’t stop Communist countries from churning out over 15 million SKS rifles. Like the Mosin, the supply of SKSs is starting to dry up, so prices are starting to rise as availability drops. 5-round magazine versions can be had for under 0, and even the 10-round versions are legal in California thanks to the non-detachable magazine.

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You might buy one just for the iconic ping, and that’s ok.

5. M1 Garand

It wouldn’t be a surplus list without the good old M1 Garand. Called the greatest battle implement ever devised by none other than General George S. Patton himself, the Garand was carried into battle across the war-torn cities of Europe, through the swampy jungles of the Pacific, and into the frozen hills of Korea. With its semi-automatic action and 8-round capacity, the Garand gave our troops an edge over the 5-round bolt-action rifles that their enemies carried in WWII. Today, M1 Garands can be purchased through the Civilian Marksmanship Program at their physical locations in Alabama and Ohio or online. While supply has started to dry up on these once plentiful rifles, they can still be had in Field Grade, Service Grade, or CMP Special conditions at prices between 0-1080. While surplus .30-06 Springfield has just about dried up and new ammo designed for the M1 seems to be out of stock everywhere, it is possible to shoot commercial loads safely with a gas plug accessory.

Whether you’re looking for a collector piece or just want to exercise your 2nd Amendment rights, surplus firearms are an excellent option to consider. Because of the ever-evolving landscape of the surplus market, it pays to keep your eye on it so that you can hop on deals as soon as they spring up.

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The Marines are upgrading the Osprey with new weapons

The U.S. Marine Corps is progressing with a new project to arm its MV-22 Osprey aircraft with new weapons such as laser-guided 2.75in rockets, missiles and heavy guns – a move which would expand the tiltrotor’s mission set beyond supply, weapons and forces transport to include a wider range of offensive and defensive combat missions, Corps officials said.


“Currently, NSWC (Naval Surface Warfare  Center) Dahlgren explored the use of forward firing rockets, missiles, fixed guns, a chin mounted gun, and also looked at the use of a 30MM gun along with gravity drop rockets and guided bombs deployed from the back of the V-22. The study that is being conducted will help define the requirements and ultimately inform a Marine Corps decision with regards to armament of the MV-22B Osprey,” Marine Corps spokeswoman Capt. Sarah Burns told Scout Warrior in a written statement.

Adding weapons to the Opsrey would naturally allow the aircraft to better defend itself should it come under attack from small arms fire, missiles or surface rockets while conducting transport missions; in addition, precision fire will enable the Osprey to support amphibious operations with suppressive or offensive fire as Marines approach enemy territory.

Also read: V-22 Osprey Rockin’ Rockets Now

 Furthermore, weapons will better facilitate an Osprey-centric tactic known as “Mounted Vertical Maneuver” wherein the tiltrotor uses its airplane speeds and helicopter hover and maneuver technology to transport weapons such as mobile mortars and light vehicles, supplies and Marines behind enemy lines for a range of combat missions — to include surprise attacks.

The initial steps in the process will include arming the V-22 are to select a Targeting-FLIR, improve Digital Interoperability and designate Integrated Aircraft Survivability Equipment solutions. Integration of new weapons could begin as early as 2019 if the initiatives stay on track and are funded, Burns added.

Burns added that “assault support” will remain as the primary mission of the MV-22 Osprey, regardless of the weapons solution selected.

“Both the air and ground mission commanders will have more options with the ability to provide immediate self-defense and collective defense of the flight. Depending on the weapons ultimately selected, a future tiltrotor could provide a range of capabilities spanning from self-defense on the lighter side to providing a gunship over watch capability on the heavier scale,” Burns explained.

So far, Osprey maker Bell-Boeing has delivered 290 MV-22s out of a planned 360 program of record.

Laser-guided Hyra 2.75inch folding fin rockets, such as those currently being fired from Apache attack helicopters, could give the Osprey a greater precision-attack technology. One such program firing 2.75in rockets with laser guidance is called Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System, or APKWS.

Bell-Boeing designed a special pylon on the side of the aircraft to ensure common weapons carriage. The Corps is now analyzing potential requirements for weapons on the Osprey, considering questions such as the needed stand-off distance and level of lethality.

“We did a demonstration with Bell where we took some rockets and we put them on a pylon on the airplane using APKWS. We also did some 2.75 guided rockets, laser guided weapons and the griffin missile. We flew laser designators to laser-designate targets to prove you could do it,” Rick Lemaster – Director of Business Development, Bell-Boeing, told Scout Warrior in an interview. 

Lemaster also added that the Corps could also arm the MV-22 with .50-cal or 7.62mm guns.

New Osprey Variant in 2030

The Marine Corps is in the early stages of planning to build a new, high-tech MV-22C variant Osprey tiltrotor aircraft to enter service by the mid-2030s, service officials said.

While many of the details of the new aircraft are not yet available, Corps officials told Scout Warrior that the MV-22C will take advantage of emerging and next-generation aviation technologies.

The Marine Corps now operates more than 250 MV-22 Ospreys around the globe and the tiltrotor aircraft are increasingly in demand, Corps officials said.

“This upgrade will ensure that the Marine Corps has state-of-the-art, medium-lift assault support for decades to come,” Corps spokesman Maj. Paul Greenberg told Scout Warrior in a written statement.

The Osprey is, among other things, known for its ability to reach speeds of 280 knots and achieve a much greater combat radius than conventional rotorcraft.

Due to its tiltrotor configuration, the Osprey can hover in helicopter mode for close-in surveillance and vertical landings for things like delivering forces, equipment and supplies – all while being able to transition into airplane mode and hit fixed-wing aircraft speeds. This gives the aircraft an ability to travel up 450 nautical miles to and from a location on a single tank of fuel, Corps officials said.

“Since 2007, the MV-22 has continuously deployed in a wide range of extreme conditions, from the deserts of Iraq and Libya to the mountains of Afghanistan and Nepal, as well as aboard amphibious shipping.  Between January 2007 and August 2015, Marine Corps MV-22s flew more than 178,000 flight hours in support of combat operations,” Greenberg added.

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Corps officials said th idea with the new Osprey variant is to build upon the lift, speed and versatility of the aircraft’s tiltrotor technology and give the platform more performance characteristics in the future. While few specifics were yet available — this will likely include improved sensors, mapping and digital connectivity, even greater speed and hover ability, better cargo and payload capacity, next-generation avionics and new survivability systems such as defenses against incoming missiles and small arms fire.

Greenberg also added that the MV-22C variant aircraft will draw from technologies now being developed for the Army-led Future Vertical Lift program involved in engineering a new fleet of more capable, high-tech aircraft for the mid-2030s

“The MV-22C will take advantage of technologies spurred by the ongoing joint multi-role and future vertical lift efforts, and other emerging technology initiatives,” Greenberg added.

The U.S. Army is currently immersed in testing with two industry teams contracted to develop and build a fuel-efficient, high-speed, high-tech, next-generation medium-lift helicopter to enter service by 2030.

The effort is aimed at leveraging the best in helicopter and aircraft technology in order to engineer a platform that can both reach the high-speeds of an airplane while retaining an ability to hover like a traditional helicopter, developers have said.

The initiate is looking at developing a wide range of technologies including lighter-weight airframes to reduce drag, different configurations and propulsion mechanisms, more fuel efficient engines, the potential use of composite materials and a whole range of new sensor technologies to improve navigation, targeting and digital displays for pilots.

Requirements include an ability to operate in what is called “high-hot” conditions, meaning 95-degrees Fahrenheit and altitudes of 6,000 feet where helicopters typically have difficulty operating.  In high-hot conditions, thinner air and lower air-pressure make helicopter maneuverability and operations more challenging.

The Army’s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator, or JMR TD, program has awarded development deals to Bell Helicopter-Textron and Sikorsky-Boeing teams to build “demonstrator” aircraft by 2017 to help inform the development of a new medium-class helicopter.

Textron Inc.’s Bell Helicopter is building a tilt-rotor aircraft called the Bell V-280 Valor – and the Sikorsky-Boeing team is working on early testing of its SB1 Defiant coaxial rotor-blade design. A coaxial rotor blade configuration uses counter-rotating blades with a thrusting technology at the back of the aircraft to both remain steady and maximize speed, hover capacity and manueverability.

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The Bell V-280 offering is similar to the Osprey in that it is a tiltrotor aircraft.

Planned missions for the new Future Vertical Lift aircraft include cargo, utility, armed scout, attack, humanitarian assistance, MEDEVAC (medical evacuation), anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, land/sea search and rescue, special warfare support and airborne mine countermeasures, Army officials have said.

Other emerging technology areas being explored for this effort include next-generation sensors and navigation technologies, autonomous flight and efforts to see through clouds, dust and debris described as being able to fly in a “degraded visual environment.”

Meanwhile, while Corps officials say they plan to embrace technologies from this Army-led program for the new Osprey variant, they also emphasize that the Corps is continuing to make progress with technological improvements to the MV-22.

These include a technology called V-22 Aerial Refueling System, or VARS, to be ready by 2018, Greenberg explained.

“The Marine Corps Osprey with VARS will be able to refuel the F-35B Lightning II with about 4,000 pounds of fuel at VARS’ initial operating capability.  MV-22B VARS capacity will increase to 10,000 pounds of fuel by 2019.  This will significantly enhance the F-35B’s range, as well as the aircraft’s ability to remain on target for a longer period,” he told Scout Warrior.

Related: These are the Army’s high-tech helicopters that will fly in 2030

The aerial refueling technology on the Osprey will refuel helicopters at 110 knots and fixed-wing aircraft at 220 knots, Lemaster added.

“The intent is to be able to have the aircraft on board the ship have the auxiliary tanks on board. An aircraft can then fill up, trail out behind the Osprey about 90-feet,” he explained.

The VARS technology will also be able to refuel other aircraft such as the CH-53E/K, F-18, AV-8B Harrier jet and other V-22s, Greenberg added.

The Corps is also developing technology to better network Osprey aircraft through an effort called “Digital Interoperability,” or DI. This networks Osprey crews such that Marines riding in the back can have access to relevant tactical and strategic information while in route to a destination.  DI is now being utilized by the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit and is slated to be operational by 2017.

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This is what makes the sabot round so deadly

One of “Murphy’s Laws of Combat” is that “The best tank killer is another tank. Therefore tanks are always fighting each other … and have no time to help the infantry.”


One of the reasons this rings true is because the rounds used by tanks to kill tanks are so darn effective.

The round that became known as the “Silver Bullet” from American tanks is the M829A1 for the M256 main gun on the M1A1/M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks used by the Army and Marine Corps (plus the Saudis, Egyptians, Moroccans, Australians, Kuwaitis, and Iraqis). This round uses a hardened dart dubbed a “sabot” to punch through an enemy tank.

And the M829A1 did a lot of that in Desert Storm.

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A view of an Iraqi T-72 main battle tank destroyed in a Coalition attack during Operation Desert Storm near the Ali Al Salem Air Base (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Joe Coleman)

The M829A1 is an armor-piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot – APFSDS – round. The long-rod penetrator is usually no more than 1.25 inches wide and is held in a “shoe” that enables it to be fired in a gun whose bore is a little under five inches long. When the round is fired and exits the barrel, the shoe flies off, and the round is on its way.

The long-rod penetrator then flies downrange towards the target. Once it hits, the round just punches through the armor. The result is the enemy tank tends to blow up in what tankers call a “Jack in the box.”

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Troops hold M829 sabot rounds. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Eric Taylor, 1BCT PAO, 1st Cav. Div)

How well does it work? Well, in Tom Clancy’s “Armored Cav,” the stories abound. One “silver bullet” killed two T-72s with one shot. Another, fired from an Abrams tank that was stuck in the mud, penetrated a sand berm before it blew up a T-72.

That was the M829A1. Since 1991, the United States has switched to the M829A2, which made improvements to the depleted uranium penetrator. Globalsecurity.org notes that the M829A2 round was late replaced by the M829A4, which has even further improvements to the penetrator and adds changes to the sabot.

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(Youtube screenshot)

Check out the video below to see what the sabot does so lethally well.

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