4 things cluster bombs can do that JDAMs can't - We Are The Mighty
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4 things cluster bombs can do that JDAMs can’t

People think that the Joint Direct Attack Munition is an excellent system. Don’t get me wrong it is great when there is a point target you need to go away.


JDAMs usually land within 30 feet of their target thanks to the use of the Global Positioning System for guidance. In fact, a lot of other systems, including the Tomahawk cruise missile, use that system as their entire guidance package, or to supplement other precision systems.

But there are some things these precision-guided systems can’t do so well. In fact, the cluster bomb actually can do some things that the JDAM can’t – which is a reason why the United States has not signed the Oslo Treaty that bans cluster bombs.

Here’s a sample of situations where it proves useful.

4 things cluster bombs can do that JDAMs can’t
CBU-105 at the Textron Defense Systems’s trade booth, Singapore Airshow 2008 in Changi Exhibition Centre. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

1. Cluster bombs can hit multiple targets

This is the big thing. One JDAM can take out one target. Bridges or bunkers are the sort of thing the JDAM specialize it killing. But let’s take a look at a company of tanks. Here, we are talking anywhere from ten to fifteen vehicles.

This is the sort of target something like the CBU-87 cluster bomb was designed to handle. With 202 BLU-97 bomblets, it has a good chance of landing one or two on the thin top armor of tanks. One bomb can kill multiple tanks, or trucks, or enemy troops.

That can be very useful for an Special Forces A-Team in a fight for their lives.

4 things cluster bombs can do that JDAMs can’t
When a lot of tanks are coming, You don’t have time for JDAMs to kill them one-by-one. (Photo: Wikimedia)

2. Cluster munitions allow missiles to hit multiple locations

Next to the BGM-109B TASM Tomahawk anti-ship missile, the BGM-109D Tomahawk TLAM-D is often a forgotten missile. But the BGM-109D has the ability to hit multiple locations, something the latest Tactical Tomahawks can’t do.

This is because the BGM-109D’s BLU-97s – the same ones used on the CBU-87 – are carried in a series of packets. For instance, one missile could dump some of its bomblets on parked planes, then fly on to hit a supply base elsewhere. The BGM-109D, therefore can do the work of two TLAMs.

4 things cluster bombs can do that JDAMs can’t
A ZSU-23 is hit by BLU-97 sub-munitions like those used on the BGM-109D Tomahawk. (DOD photo)

3. Cluster bombs provide multiple effects in one package

The JDAM has one warhead that can go off one time. But a cluster bomb can carry different kinds of submunitions in the same case. Perhaps the best example is the CBU-89 GATOR – it carried two kinds of mines – one was an anti-tank mile, the other was anti-personnel. The JP233 was another – it combined both a runway-cratering munition with area-denial munitions.

The other thing is that even when you have a bomb that is all one type of submunition, some bomblets can be set to go off immediately, while others could be set to wait for a period of time (the famous delayed-action bomb – or in this case, delayed-action bomblets).

4 things cluster bombs can do that JDAMs can’t
The JP233 on display underneath the Panavia Tornado GR1 in the Cold War Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

4. Cluster bombs can provide surprises without going bang

Some cluster bombs don’t even need their submunitions to go bang. For instance, Designation-Systems.net notes that the CBU-94 and CBU-102 are “blackout bombs” that drop carbon fiber chaff over power lines. This shorts out an entire power grid.

The CBU-19, though, dispensed 528 bomblets filled with CS, better known as tear gas. If you ever saw “The Big Break” episode of the 1950s TV show “Dragnet,” you saw CS in use.

4 things cluster bombs can do that JDAMs can’t

Finally, some cluster bombs can also be guided in, thanks to the Wind-Corrected Munitions Dispenser program. In essence, these systems can also be dropped within feet of their aiming point.

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This veteran is restoring the same helicopter he flew in Vietnam

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This is the most powerful sidearm ever issued by the US military

In 1846, American firearms legend Samuel Colt teamed with Capt. Samuel Hamilton Walker to produce the most powerful sidearm ever issued to the U.S. military – the Colt Walker 1847.


Walker, a Texas Ranger (no joke) and officer in the militaries of both the Republic of Texas and the United States when Texas entered the Union, served in the American West’s many armed conflicts. He fought the Indian Wars and the Texian War of Independence as well as the Mexican-American War.

4 things cluster bombs can do that JDAMs can’t

After he was discharged from the Texas Rangers, Walker self-funded a trip to New York to meet Colt. The duo based their design on the five-round Colt Paterson revolver. Walker and Colt would add a sixth round to the chamber, along with a stationary trigger and guard. With that, they created the most powerful black powder handgun ever made.

With a 9-inch barrel and .44 caliber round, this weapon had an effective range of 100 yards and the muzzle energy of a .357 Magnum. At only 4.5 pounds, the Colt Walker 1847 was the most powerful U.S. military sidearm ever issued and the most powerful pistol until the introduction of the Magnum .357 in 1935. Walker himself carried two of his own pistols into Mexico during the war with the U.S. mounted rifles.

When one of his troops killed a Mexican soldier with the pistol at Veracruz, a medical officer reportedly remarked that the hand cannon shot hit with equal force and range as a .54-caliber Mississippi Rifle.

4 things cluster bombs can do that JDAMs can’t
(Warner Bros.)

There were some drawbacks to the design, including that sometimes the cylinders blew up in the shooter’s hand due to the amount of powder used — which was twice the amount used in similar weapons of the time. Colt recommended using 50 grains of powder, instead of the prescribed 60. Lard was sometimes used to keep all the cylinders from exploding at once.

Walker was killed leading troops through Huamantla, Mexico, during the Mexican-American War. Colt, who was bankrupt when he met Walker, rebuilt his business and reputation beginning with the Colt Walker 1847.

4 things cluster bombs can do that JDAMs can’t

The Colt Walker’s legacy lives on in the hearts of firearms enthusiasts and American historians. In 2008, an original model, with original powder flask, fetched $920,000 at auction. That model was sold by Montana’s John McBride, whose great-great uncle was a Mexican War veteran.

Watch below as two European enthusiasts load and shoot a reproduction of the Colt Walker 1847.

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How the Allies defeated one of their deadliest WWII adversaries

Entering the Imperial German Navy in 1911, Karl Dönitz, a Berlin native, served as a submarine commander in WWI as Hitler was coming into power. While underway on deployment in 1918, his UB-68 was badly damaged by British forces and eventually sunk, but Dönitz was captured and transported to a POW camp.


After nine months of captivity, Dönitz was released from custody back to German hands where he was appointed by General Admiral Erich Raeder to command and create a new German U-boat fleet.

Under his new position, he developed a U-boat patrolling strategy called “wolfpack” formations — meaning groups of submarines would maneuver in straight lines. Once the patrolling U-boats came in contact with enemy vessels, they would signal the wolfpack who would then charge forward and attack.

Related: This is the disease Hitler hid from the public for years

4 things cluster bombs can do that JDAMs can’t
Admiral Karl Dönitz meets with Adolf Hitler (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

In 1943, Dönitz replaced General Admiral Raecher as Commander-in-Chief (the same man who originally assigned him) and with his naval warfare expertise began winning Hitler’s trust.

During his role as Commander-in-Chief, Dönitz was credited with sinking nearly 15 million tons of enemy shipping, coordinating reconnaissance missions, and allowing his U-boat commanders to strike at will when they believed they could inflict the most damage. At that same time, he commanded of 212 U-boats and had another 181 on standby used for training. His tactics proved to be superior to those of his enemys until the invention of microwave radar which managed to spot his German created U-boats sooner than before.

After Hitler died, his last will and testament named Dönitz as commander of the armed forces and the new Reich president. For the next 20 days, he served the last leader of Nazi Germany until the British once again captured him on May 23, 1945.

During the Nuremberg Trials, Dönitz was charged with multiple war crimes and sentenced to 10 years in Berlin’s Spandau prison. Upon his release, he published two books and continued to state he had no knowledge of any crimes committed by Hitler.

The German admiral died on Christmas Eve, 1980.

Also Read: This is the legendary Nazi general who turned on Hitler

Check out the Smithsonian Channel video below to discover some of the German U-boats effects on the war.

(Smithsonian Channel, YouTube)
MIGHTY TACTICAL

Check out this active cooling system for your rifle

If you’re a precision shooter, or have ever been to the range with one, you know that at some point you’re going to have to stop and let a rifle cool down. A hot barrel is a less accurate one, and usually long range shooters aren’t the type that want to turn money into noise. To reduce the dreaded waiting period, MagnetoSpeed launched an active cooling system they named Riflekühl.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen devices like this; several years ago Caldwell released their Accumax Barrel Cooler. However, there were some downsides. First and foremost it only worked with the AR-15 and then only those that used 5.56-sized receivers – that limits the application severely. MagnetoSpeed tells us they have a more efficient system that can drop the temperature of a barrel to ambient levels with an average of seven minutes. Inserted through the ejection port, the Riflekühl has a magnet to keep it snugged up against the bolt and the nozzle seals against the chamber to allow for the most efficient airflow. As a bonus, the Riflekühl has a replaceable 50-micron air filter (especially handy for those in desert environments) and the red color means it can also serve double duty as a chamber flag.


Of course, this being MagnetoSpeed, their target market is going to be for the bolt action crowd. With that said, we’re told that so far it has fit into every AR-15 and AR-10 style rifle that they’ve tried it in (.22LR not included!).

4 things cluster bombs can do that JDAMs can’t

(Recoilweb)

Here’s some more information from MagnetoSpeed:

Tired of waiting and waiting for your rifle to cool down? MagnetoSpeed’s new barrel cooler, Riflekühl, is designed to get barrel temperatures down to intended operating levels quickly. The turbocharger inspired impeller is engineered to produce great air flow in a small package. Powered by a single CR123A Lithium battery (included), ambient air is forced through the extendable nozzle down the bore of the rifle. Designed to seal and push air flow down the barrel where it’s needed to efficiently cool barrels, typically under 7 minutes. Riflekühl doubles as a chamber flag and features an exclusive built-in air filter to prevent dust and dirt from being blown into your rifle. Spend less time waiting and more time shooting with the MagnetoSpeed Riflekühl.
4 things cluster bombs can do that JDAMs can’t

(Recoilweb)

Other features include:

‣Replaceable dust filter (50 Microns)
‣Strong neodymium magnet secures device to chamber
‣Included CR123 lithium battery lasts for dozens of range sessions
‣Spring loaded retractable nozzle designed for compact and durable storage
‣Belt/Pocket clip included for easy carry
‣Chamber seal for increased cooling efficiency
‣Red body serves as an empty chamber flag

Check out the video below or visit MagnetoSpeed online here for more information.

RifleKuhl

www.youtube.com

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

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These are President Obama’s criteria for targeted killings

In 2013, the Obama Administration drafted what became known at “the Playbook,” an 18-page drone strike policy guideline laying out how the President orders a targeted killing of an enemy combatant abroad. A few days ago, the administration released a redacted version of the policy as a result of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union.


4 things cluster bombs can do that JDAMs can’t
An MQ- Reaper remotely piloted aircraft performs aerial maneuvers over Creech Air Force Base, Nev., June 25, 2015. The MQ-9 Reaper is an armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long endurance remotely piloted aircraft that is employed primarily as an intelligence-collection asset and secondarily against dynamic execution targets. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Cory D. Payne)

The Presidential Policy Guidance (or PPG, the official name of Obama’s “playbook”) first place an emphasis on capturing the enemy, instead of raining death from above. If capturing the terrorist (referred to in the PPG as the “HVT,” or High-Value Terrorist) is not “feasible,” the policy outlines the steps to be taken to designate an HVT for “Lethal Action.”

1. We know who we’re supposed to be killing

According to the PPG, only “an individual whose identity is known will be eligible to be targeted.”

2. They’re definitely up to something

The strike will be approved if the “individual’s activities pose a continuing, imminent threat to U.S. persons.”

3. We definitely know where the person is

U.S. forces have to know with “near-certainty” that an HVT is present.

4. Only lawful combatants are hit

The attacking drone operator has to have “near certainty that non-combatants will not be injured or killed.”

5. REDACTED

4 things cluster bombs can do that JDAMs can’t
President Barack Obama attends a meeting on Afghanistan in the Situation Room in the White House. (White House photo by Pete Souza)

6. Capture isn’t a feasible possibility

This rule actually only means that capture isn’t feasible at the time of the operation. So this really just means the U.S. could capture the HVT or just wait and kill it later.

7. The HVT’s host country is no help

The government where the terrorist lives isn’t going to do anything about it, so we have to handle it ourselves.

8. We really just have to kill this person

“No other reasonable alternatives to lethal action exist.”

At this point, number five might be glaring at you, but there’s not even a hint at what the redacted criterion might be. Even the 2013 PPG summary memo released by the White House left out this factoid and any glimmer of its contents.

4 things cluster bombs can do that JDAMs can’t
President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 25, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Since Obama took office, there have been 373 drone strikes abroad, with an estimated 4,000 killed. (Up to 966 of those deaths were civilians.) Four Americans have been killed by such drone strikes, but only one – the 2011 targeting of American-born Yemeni cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki – was a planned target.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is how the British planned to shut down air bases in World War III

The Tomahawk strike on Shayrat Air Base in western Syria was pretty potent – after all, 59 of the missiles hit the place. But the base still had aircraft taking off and landing within a day of the strike. 


That system was called JP233, and while it doesn’t sound very fearsome, if World War III broke out, this was to be a key weapon in shutting down the Warsaw Pact’s air force.

The JP233 was quite a clever armament. According to the “Encyclopedia of Modern Air Weapons,” the system came in two pods. One would be hung in the rear of the aircraft carrying 30 SG357 runway-cratering munitions. Now, President Trump’s tweet that pointed out the ease of repairing runways is accurate. But this is where the second pod comes in.

The second pod, usually hung in front of the first one, carried 215 HB876 area-denial munitions. Or, in a more simple term: Land mines. These diabolical devices were designed to not only take out the trained runway-repair crews, they could also kill the vehicles that make runway repair a quick and simple task.

The Tornado would fly low and fast over the enemy airfield’s runways with the sub-munitions from two sets of pods slung underneath the fuselage scattering all over the place. If the enemy planes were in the air, they had no place to land. If they were on the ground, they were staying there until follow-up strikes could take care of them.

JP233 wasn’t just a one-trick pony. It could also be used on supply bases, highways, docks, railway yards… really just about any place where you wanted to create a bottleneck on land.

Thankfully, World War III never happened. But JP233 did see action in Operation Desert Storm on Iraqi runways. Press coverage at the time, such as a Jan. 23, 1991 article in the Los Angeles Times, blamed the Tornado’s anti-runway mission and use of JP233 for several crashes.

The blog Defence of the Realm, though, notes that of the six RAF Tornados lost during Desert Storm, only one was on a mission using JP233, and its loss was due to a crash during a low-level turn after carrying out a successful strike, not enemy action.

4 things cluster bombs can do that JDAMs can’t
A Tornado GR.1 that was donated to the National Museum of the United States Air Force. The Tornado was the primary delivery system for the JP233.(USAF photo)


Still, the JP233 took the blame, and between the public-relations black eye, and the 1999 Ottawa Treaty, it was retired. Under the terms of that agreement, all but a few examples sent to museums were destroyed.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This video of a drone with a flamethrower will haunt your dreams

Watch the video in the tweet below. Are you experiencing both amazement and fear? You’re not alone.

This video has been making the rounds on Twitter recently, but it was actually filmed a little over a year ago. According to Gizmodo, an electric-power maintenance company in Xiangyang, China, had been using these flame-throwing drones to burn off garbage and debris from electrical wires.


Is any of this safe? Who knows. But after watching this video, hopefully you’ve gained a new appreciation and/or fear of flying robots and what they’re capable of.

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These are 6 other weapons legal for open carry in the United States

As we all know by now, the Second Amendment protects the right for citizens of the U.S. to bear arms. In 48 states and territories, it is also legal for Americans to carry their weapons in the open, in public, in plain sight. While these “open carry” laws allow users to wear various firearms, it doesn’t allow for all weapons. Some non-firearms are legal for open carry, some aren’t so much.


 

4 things cluster bombs can do that JDAMs can’t

 

Depending on where you are in the United States, you’ll want to check the local ordinances before you strap on your other weapons. Seriously, this site is We Are The Mighty, not We Are The Lawyers — so check those laws.

1. Swords – California

In California, any fixed blade must be sheathed. But not only is it legal to openly carry a sheathed sword, it’s the law. Any kind of concealment for bladed weapons is a misdemeanor. Bladed weapons in most states where they are legal to carry, are usually illegal if they’re longer than five inches. Concealed blades, like cane swords, are always illegal.

 

4 things cluster bombs can do that JDAMs can’t
Just one of the many things wrong with the movie Blind Fury.

2. Religious Knives – U.S. Military and all States

Because Sikh religious practices sometimes require the use of a kirpan, a small sword used in religious practices. Because the bladed weapon is anywhere from three to nine inches long, it can be illegal in most states, but many state courts and legislatures found this violates the Sikh’s religious rights. The U.S. military allows for Sikhs to wear the bladed weapons in uniform.

4 things cluster bombs can do that JDAMs can’t
Also, turbans (photo via The Sikh Coalition)

3. Flamethrowers – Everywhere except Maryland and California

The perfect tool for melting snow and killing insects is now commercially available and legal for open carry in 48 states. Why? Because it runs on good ol’ 87 octane gasoline. Homemade flamethrowers were previously regulated based on the fuel they used. Now nothing can stop you from getting to work in those deep February snows.

4 things cluster bombs can do that JDAMs can’t
Pesky mosquitos!

4. Tomahawks – Not California, Colorado, or Texas

Unless you’re carrying a tomahawk made of wood and stone (in which case you should also be wearing a Native American headdress and traveling with a construction worker, policeman, and cowboy), then a tomahawk is actually a pretty popular weapon. Battle tomahawks are legal to own in most states that allow a fixed blade, except Colorado. Texas prohibits “any hand instrument designed to cut or stab another by being thrown.” In California, you should be on your way to a re-enactment or camping while holding your tomahawk, otherwise the law can give you a headache over it.

4 things cluster bombs can do that JDAMs can’t
But not the same headache you can give them.

5. Battle Axes – Washington State

Washington State Football Coach Mike Leach famously announced he uses a Viking battleaxe for home defense, instead of his firearms. It is legal to open carry any type of weapon in Washington State, so long as it is “not carried in a way that may cause others alarm.”

4 things cluster bombs can do that JDAMs can’t
Time for a kinder, gentler battleaxe.

One trailblazing action group is working on getting restrictions to battle axes lifted in Texas.

6. Ninja Stars – Montana

In Montana, it is legal to openly carry any weapon that is legal to own. So, throwing knives, lightsabers, ninja stars, you name it: anything not expressly forbidden by case law or state legislation is fair game. Go nuts, ninjas in Montana!

4 things cluster bombs can do that JDAMs can’t
Cowboy ninjas rejoice!

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Here’s some social media security tips from an Army special agent

Even the most innocuous data posted to a social media feed can be married up with other publicly available information to provide online criminals the tools they need to exploit members of the military or general public, an Army special agent said.

Special Agent Deric Palmer, program manager for the Digital Personal Protection Program, part of the Major Cybercrime Unit at the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, explained how those who aren’t careful or aren’t paying attention can unwittingly provide scammers and other online criminals all the information they need to exploit them.

Social media accounts, Palmer said, serve as fertile ground for digging up the kinds of information that can be used to impersonate someone, steal identities or break into other online accounts, such as banking or insurance.


A Facebook page, for example, might contain current and past physical addresses where a person has lived, phone numbers, email addresses, names of pets, significant events such as birthdays and anniversaries, hobbies and other interests. Just browsing a Facebook page, Palmer said, he can figure out your favorite music, books, TV shows, political and religious leanings.

4 things cluster bombs can do that JDAMs can’t

(Photo by Austin Distel)

All that, he said, serves as “an attack vector” that an unscrupulous person can use to communicate with users further and gain their trust. Additional communications can bring out even more details that might later be used to break into online accounts or exploit users in other ways. Some social media users, Palmer added, even volunteer critical information that could be used to access their online financial accounts that they’d never divulge if they were asked by a stranger.

Some online memes, he noted, pose as games that get users to volunteer information that, coupled with other easily obtainable information, can be used to exploit them. A quick search online reveals a simple graphic meme that purportedly allows users to choose “your new cat name” and then post the results, along with the meme itself, on their own social media feed.

For the “cat name” meme, users would use the last digit of their phone number as a selector for any of nine name prefixes, their zodiac sign to choose from a list of 12 middle names, and their favorite color to choose from a list of eight potential last names.

A user might end up with “Count Sassy Pants” as a silly name for their cat. When they post that on their social media feed, along with the meme image itself, would-be criminals will know their phone number ends in 8, they were born in either August or September, and that their favorite color is yellow. Coupled with data already on their social media feed, and with data that can be obtained from data brokers, the information makes it easier to exploit users, Palmer explained.

4 things cluster bombs can do that JDAMs can’t

Image memes such as this one ask users to construct and share on their social media feeds new, “fun” information that is constructed from their personal information.

Military personnel also are candidates to be impersonated online — malicious users might opt to use imagery of real-world service members available online to exploit other users. The U.S. military is one of the most trusted institutions in the nation, and online criminals, Palmer said, take advantage of that.

“The U.S. military is viewed as a prestigious club … It’s an indicator of prestige,” Palmer said. “It’s instant respect. If I can pretend to be a U.S. general, unwitting people will respect me immediately.”

With that respect, he said, a criminal can exploit other users while pretending to be a member of the U.S. military. Palmer’s advice to service members: don’t post your picture in uniform with the name tape visible. “It immediately makes you a target,” the special agent said.

Palmer offered some tips to avoid being scammed:

  • Immediate red flag! Be suspicious if you are asked for money or a wire transfer to pay for a purported service member’s transportation, medical bills, communication fees or marriage-processing charges.
  • Be suspicious if the person with whom you are corresponding wants you to mail anything to a foreign country.
  • Be aware that military members at any duty location or in a combat zone have access to mail, cyber cafes, Skype and other means of communicating with their families, and they have access to medical and dental treatment.
  • The military will ensure that family members are notified should a service member is injured.
  • Insist on a “proof of life.” The scammers will not video chat with you, because they know you will catch them in their lie.
  • Trust your instincts! If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

The special agent also provided eight points for better security online, and to make users less likely to be victimized by online criminals:

  • Permanently close old, unused accounts.
  • Enable two-factor authentication on any platform that allows it.
  • Use strong passwords, and use different passwords for every account.
  • On social media, accept friend requests selectively.
  • Configure the strongest privacy settings for each social media account.
  • Think before you post.
  • Limit use of third-part applications on social media applications, read the license agreement, and be sure exactly what those applications want to be able to access.
  • Change answers to security questions, and use false answers so that online criminals can’t use information they gather online to gain access to your accounts.

This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

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Two Air Force pilots eject in U-2 crash on West Coast

4 things cluster bombs can do that JDAMs can’t
USAF Lockheed U-2 Dragon Lady | U.S. Air Force photo


Two U.S. Air Force pilots have ejected after a U-2 spy plane crashed around noon local time during a training mission on the West Coast, a service spokesman said.

Lt. Col. Michael Meridith, a spokesman for the Air Force, confirmed the incident on Tuesday at the Air Force Association’s annual conference outside Washington, D.C., but he didn’t know the whereabouts or the condition of the service members. “It did crash,” he said when asked if the plane went down. “Two pilots ejected.”

Meridith said a search and rescue operation for the crew was under way.

The U.S. Air Force press desk later tweeted, “We can confirm a U-2 from @9thRW Beale AFB has gone down in Sutter County, CAA; 2 pilots have ejected; details to follow when available,” referring to the 9th Reconnaissance Wing.

But officials walked back their initial statements on the pilots’ condition as the day went on.

“We have no official confirmation on the pilots’ condition,” Beale Air Force Base tweeted later in the day. “We will provide updates when more information is available.”

Air Combat Command around the same time issued a similar statement to correct a previous one that wrongly stated the pilots had “safely” ejected and were “awaiting recovery with aircraft in isolated area.”

The U-2 Dragon Lady is a Cold War-era surveillance plane based at Beale Air Force Base in California. Trainer models of the aircraft hold two crew members.

This story has been updated.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

America’s nukes are absolutely tiny compared to Russia’s

Here in the United States, we tend to think of nuclear weapons in much the same way we think of the space race and the Cold War: like a relic of a bygone era in which America emerged victorious. Unfortunately, that era isn’t quite as bygone as it seems: space defense is once again a topic of serious concern, America is once more at the precipice of an international arms race, and both China and Russia have unveiled massive new nuclear weapons in recent years.


America does still boast the second-largest arsenal of nuclear weapons on the planet, lagging just behind Russia who, like the Soviet Union, has always invested heavily in deterrence through guaranteeing Armageddon. The problem is, America has largely chosen to rest on its nuclear laurels since the fall of the Soviet Union, resulting in a significant difference between the nuclear tech in Uncle Sam’s arsenals and that of America’s most powerful competitors.

4 things cluster bombs can do that JDAMs can’t

Russian Topol-M nuclear ICBM preparing for the annual Victory Day Parade.

(Vitaly V. Kuzmin via WikiMedia Commons)

The Air Force is currently on the hunt for the company that will build America’s next generation of nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), but until that contract has been completed, the U.S. will continue to rely on silo-launched Minuteman IIIs and submarine-launched Trident missiles, with yields of 475 and 100 kilotons respectively. These weapons are quite powerful, with the weaker trident producing an explosive yield more than six times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima and the Minuteman III clocking in at nearly five times more powerful than even that.

However, despite all the carnage one could deliver with 475 kilotons of nuclear fury, America’s mighty Minuteman III missiles are not only far behind Russian and Chinese competitors in terms of technology and the ability to counter missile defense systems, they are woefully underpowered.

4 things cluster bombs can do that JDAMs can’t

These mushroom clouds represent the yields of each nuclear weapon.

(Individual mushroom cloud courtesy of Flickr)

China’s newest ICBM, the DF-31, for instance, boasts a massive 1 megaton yield, or 1,000 kilotons. That means China’s new 42-foot nuclear missile has more than twice the destructive power of America’s workhorse ICBMs. Powerful as the DF-31 may be, if you’re impressed by that, you haven’t looked in Russia’s inventory lately.

Russia’s massively powerful RS-28 Sarmat, or simply, the Satan II, carries a whopping 50 megaton nuclear warhead. For those who aren’t fond of arithmetic, that’s the equivalent of 50,000 kilotons and is so powerful that America’s Minuteman III missiles barely even register by comparison.

4 things cluster bombs can do that JDAMs can’t

America’s ICBM’s would barely be visible compared to the RS-28 Sarmat’s yield.

(Individual mushroom cloud courtesy of Flickr)

Like China’s DF-31, the RS-28 Sarmat could forgo the single large warhead for a group of smaller ones, but the reduction in yield would likely be offset by the distribution of the weapon’s payload: in short, multiple warheads can destroy a larger swath of territory than a single large warhead tends to.

Of course, with Russian officials claiming their doomsday-weapon nuclear torpedo carries a positively gigantic 100-megaton warhead, even the Satan II isn’t the biggest kid on the nuclear block.

Of course, the sheer destructive yield isn’t the only measure of a nation’s nuclear capabilities, but it does pay to maintain a healthy frame of reference when it comes to ways the world could end. After all, when it would take more than 105 American ICBMs to match the destructive power of just one Russian nuke… we should all be a little concerned.
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Women in combat may cause Congress to end selective service process

The House Armed Services Committee will reexamine the Selective Service System’s viability and explore possible alternatives in this year’s review of the National Defense Authorization Bill, the legislation that sets the spending guidelines and policy directives for the coming fiscal year.


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A U.S. Marine with Fox Company, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), fires his weapon as part of a deck shoot aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8). (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Evan R. White)

Congressional staffers told the Military Times that the move comes after all the hand wringing over the idea of women registering for the draft now that they can be assigned to combat jobs in the military. Some of the representatives who sit on the House committee were part of a group who entered legislation to abolish the Selective Service System entirely, which they deem to be obsolete and outdated.

U.S. law says all male citizens of the United States and male immigrants (and bizarrely, illegal immigrants, too) have to register for the Selective Service System within 30 days of their 18th birthday. After the Vietnam War, President Gerald Ford abolished the draft, but President Jimmy Carter reestablished it as a response to the potential threat posed by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

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(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. William Tanner)

The SSS costs roughly $23 million per year to operate, but nobody’s actually been drafted since 1973. Even at the height of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, the option of instituting a draft was deemed unnecessary.

The draft isn’t dead yet, however. Before any changes are made to the current system, the Senate would also have to approve the legislation, and then it would move over to the President’s desk for his signature (or his veto).

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