New gear designs come and go. One troop’s packing list will look drastically different from the next generation’s. Rucksacks have gone through major overhauls since their inception and it feels like uniforms change faster than you can blink. But one piece of military gear has remained virtually unchanged since WWII: the anglehead flashlight.
Early flashlights were either huge and bulky or dim and short-lived — both were very impractical for troops fighting in combat. And then the TL-122 was first created.
The design was simple. It gave the flashlight a clip and an ergonomic bend so that it could be attached to a soldier’s body, leaving their hands free for fighting. The easily-interchangeable batteries and bulbs made it that much more desirable.
The design of the TL-122 was available to multiple manufacturers and used by many different countries. Only slight variations were made before the Vietnam War, including the TL-122 D, which gave it a new compartment to affix various filters. The red filter is one of the most useful because red light doesn’t hinder the eyes’ natural night vision and is far less conspicuous to enemies.
Later, a third option was added to the simple always-on/always-off switch: signal mode. Now, troops who set their flashlight to “signal mode” could push the button to turn it on and off. This feature re-sparked troops’ interest in learning Morse code, since you could now tap out a message and send it across the light using the tiny, little button. The TL-122 would later be rebranded as the MX991 by Fulton Industries and would be used by troops, law enforcement, and civilians.
Today, the flashlight hasn’t changed much. There have been changes in materials used to create the frame and the original bulb was replaced with a longer-lasting LED. Any modern-day soldier could pick up their grandfather’s anglehead flashlight from WWII and it’ll be practically the same thing they use today.
Ground combat is the US Army’s main domain, but a lot of that ground is surrounded by water.
That’s why the Army’s plan to get rid of most of its boats and the units overseeing them, caused immediate dismay.
As of November 2018, the Army’s fleet included eight Gen. Frank S. Besson-class Logistic Support Vessels, its largest class of ships, as well as 34 Landing Craft Utility, and 36 Landing Craft Mechanized Mk-8, in addition to a number of tugs, small ferries, and barges.
Landing craft move personnel and cargo from bases and ships to harbors, beaches, and contested or damaged ports. Ship-to-shore enablers allow the transfer of cargo at sea, and towing and terminal operators support operations in different environments.
“The Army has these unique capabilities to redeploy their forces or insert their forces into an austere environment if needed,” Sgt. 1st Class Chase Conner, assigned to the 7th Transportation Brigade, said during an exercise in summer 2018.
In 2017, the Army awarded a nearly billion-dollar contract for 36 new, modern landing craft. But in January 2018, then-Army Secretary Mark Esper, who is now secretary of defense, decided the Army Reserve would divest “all watercraft systems” in preparation for the service’s 2020 budget.
Esper said the Army had found billion that could be cut and spent on other projects.
Lt. Col. Curtis Perkins, center, commander of 401st Army Field Support Battalion-Kuwait, talks to crew aboard Army Landing Craft Molino Del Ray, Kuwait Naval Base, Kuwait, Aug. 6, 2019.
(Kevin Fleming, 401st Army Field Support Brigade)
The Army memo starting the process said the goal was to “eliminate all United States Army Reserve and National Guard Bureau AWS (Army Watercraft Systems) capabilities and/or supporting structure” — nearly 80% of its force.
The memo was first obtained by the website gCaptain.
The 170-foot-long, 25-foot-high fuselage of a C-17 cargo aircraft is lifted onto Army transport ship SSGT Robert T. Kuroda at Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station, July 22, 2009.
(US Navy/Gregg Smith)
The 170-foot-long, 25-foot-high fuselage of a C-17 cargo aircraft is lifted onto Army transport ship SSGT Robert T. Kuroda at Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station, July 22, 2009.
(US Navy/Gregg Smith)
Later in July, the listing for the Kuroda was taken down, according to The Drive. By the end of July, plans to auction nearly half of the Army’s roughly 130 watercraft were halted.
Before the auction was taken down, a id=”listicle-2640238370″ million bid was entered for the Kuroda, but that did not meet an unspecified reserve price for the ship, which cost million to construct.
Army mariners on a multiday transport mission aboard Army logistic support vessel Maj. Gen. Charles P. Gross from Kuwait Naval Base, Jan. 19, 2017.
(US Army/Sgt. Aaron Ellerman)
The order to halt reportedly came from acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and included a hold on the deactivation of watercraft positions and the transfer of Army mariners to other non-watercraft units.
US Army Reserve watercraft operators replicate a fire-fighting drill during a photo shoot aboard a logistics support vessel in Baltimore, April 7 and April 8, 2017.
(US Army Reserve/Master Sgt. Michel Sauret)
The Army confirmed in early August that it halted sales to conduct a study ordered by Congress, after lawmakers who disagreed with the plan moved to withhold funds for deactivations until the Army reviewed and validated its ability to meet watercraft needs.
A South Korea missile system that could be used to target North Korea Scuds will cost Seoul more than $800 million to develop, a Seoul defense committee said Nov. 17.
South Korea’s planned development for the system, which has the capability to destroy incoming ballistic missiles at an altitude of about 12.4 miles, comes at a time when North Korea may be on an “aggressive schedule” to deploy its first operational ballistic missile submarine.
South Korea’s defense committee said the purpose of M-SAM development is to “secure a medium-range and medium-sized interceptor system, in response to North Korea ballistic missile and aircraft attacks,” News 1 reported.
South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration and LIG Nex1 is developing the system.
Deployment was scheduled for after 2018, but plans came under scrutiny after Oct. 30, when a minor opposition party member claimed South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo had ordered the suspension of M-SAM development.
But Seoul confirmed Nov. 17 M-SAM plans are being pursued.
According to News 1, the M-SAM could play a crucial role in intercepting midrange ballistic missiles, similar to the way SM-3 missiles are being deployed with the Japanese navy.
South Korea could also deploy the SM-3, but would not be able to do so until its military upgrades the Gwanggaeto-3 batch-2 Aegis ships after 2023.
The missile plans are being followed through at a time when North Korea could be constructing a new submarine, according to 38 North.
“A probable launch canister support, or launch canister, appears to be present within the service tower at the missile test stand [in Sinpo South Shipyard] suggesting the ongoing ejection testing of submarine launch ballistic missiles,” writes U.S. analyst Joseph S. Bermudez, Jr.
North Korea has refrained from provocations for about two months, and analysts have offered reasons as to why Pyongyang has stayed quiet after weeks of tests.
We would’ve loved to have been a fly on the wall when someone walked into a room and said, “You know what the world needs more of? Motorcycles with miniguns on them!”
Did the people blessed with this kind of wisdom previously work as Sonny Barger’s life coach? It certainly seems like every 1-percenter’s wet dream. Were they perhaps former department of corrections employees who were fired over suggesting that electric chairs be replaced with electric bleachers?
Perhaps they once pitched an ad-campaign slogan to Honda along the lines of, “You meet the nicest people on a motorcycle with a cannon.”
Wherever the idea came from, it apparently didn’t fall on deaf ears.
What was once only possible in movies has finally been brought to life, and RECOIL was privileged to see it in action. Lane splitting just took on a whole new meaning.
Brainstorming sessions between Dillon Aero and Tailgunner Exhaust led to something that looks like the bastard son of Blue Thunder. The Tailgunner Dillon Aero M134X Interceptor, as it’s called, found its way to our email inbox — so we sent our editor, Iain Knievel, out to investigate the situation further. We were all curious to see if this thing was intended for anything other than a potential reboot of Street Hawk (congrats if you even remember that show).
Our research revealed that the M134X was truly an engineering masterpiece. That’s because the brains behind it really know their craft.
You may have seen the work of brothers Cal and Charlie Giordano, proprietors of Tailgunner Exhaust, not only in their Gatling gun-inspired exhaust systems, but creations such as a handmade submarine that have appeared in episodes of Modern Marvels. They decided to approach the minigun gurus at Dillon Aero about creating a promotional conceptual bike.
Unlike many concept vehicles that are all show and no go, this one was engineered to be fully functional and designed for the average rider to operate.
To our knowledge, mounting a functioning minigun to a motorcycle chassis was never attempted until now.
The 300 pounds of recoil generated by the 7.62 NATO-caliber M134 was enough to make people believe that such a feat defied the laws of physics and begged too many unanswerable questions. Even if it could be fired while riding, how long would it take before the frame began to tear? Could it be aimed with any degree of accuracy? Was the driver guaranteed a Darwin Award?
The bike was built not only to defy the naysayers of minigun versatility, but also as a way to deploy the weapon system to the field quickly or to catch a fast-moving vehicle. In order to create a bike that drove and handled well enough to do all this, they chose the proven Yamaha R1 Superbike chassis as the platform. Its aluminum frame and high power-to-weight ratio enables the package to be light on its feet.
To disperse the load, Tailgunner created an aluminum cantilever mount for the gun that attaches where the custom extended swingarm connects. The linear actuator enables the gun to be moved up and down by a switch located where the turn signal formerly resided. The custom fuel tanks were moved to the rear of the bike for better balance. Heavy-duty billet aluminum steering yokes were also specially made for the project. Body panels are all fabricated from aircraft-grade aluminum and covered in MultiCam wrap by Crye Precision. Believe it or not, the whole bike only weighs about 500 pounds.
An air intake was built into the mount and two external air filters were mounted up high to allow for better filtration and easy maintenance. The bike is powered by a Yamaha 1,000cc inline-four with a twin nitrous oxide system. It’s all mated to the six-speed Yamaha transmission. The electronics are powered by a 12-volt battery that runs the motorcycle, with a separate 24-volt battery mounted inside the swingarm to operate the gun. A large Samsung smartphone in front of the driver serves as instrumentation to keep it simple.
The motorcycle doesn’t have to be running to fire. The gun can be armed with a switch on the console in front of the driver. The trigger is very appropriately located where the horn button was. Aiming is accomplished by moving the cantilever up or down and steering the bike right or left. Although that’s really dead reckoning in terms of accuracy, a laser sight and gun-mounted camera may be added in the future, with reticles appearing on the smartphone.
After two years of trial and error, a finished bike finally met the standards of all parties involved. The M134X will be put up for sale when its promotional duties are completed, and it is, in fact, street legal (without the gun, of course, unless you have the proper permits). Tailgunner could even create a replica if the money’s there. Civilian and law enforcement versions are already in the works.
Not only have the minds involved disproven the notion that mounting a minigun on a motorcycle was impossible, but they showed that it could be done in a practical way. Who knows, maybe we’ll see M134Xs roaming the battlefield one day with additions such as smoke screens, oil slicks, or caltrops. It seems the fellas at Tailgunner figured out a way to channel the spirits of Richard Gatling and Burt Munro. Nice to know guys who can come up with things like this are on our side. Check out the full videos on RECOILtv to see the M134X in action.
Don’t think the fun stops there. Cal made this super shorty Timemachinist AR-M134X to complement the Tailgunner Dillon Aero M134X project. It’s an all-billet build based on a Sharps lower and a custom-made Timemachinist/Tailgunner Gatling-style upper.
Since the motorcycle itself and miniguns are nearly unobtainable to the public, you might be seeing AR Gatling Gun-inspired full-float tubes for sale in the future if the interest is there. The barrels don’t spin, but this pistol version has a Noveske 7.5 Diplomat barrel inside it.
While the AR-M134X was designed to look like a minigun barrel assembly, it was engineered to function as a high-performance handguard. Check out more of Cal’s work, such as his custom watches, at www.timemachinistwatches.com.
For over 20 years, American warfighters have worn the Joint Services Lightweight Integrated Suit Technology (JSLIST) on the battlefield and during training for their CBRN protection. But its days are numbered. Brought into service in the 1990’s and now nearing the end of its shelf life, the JSLIST will be replaced by the Uniform Integrated Protective Ensemble, Increment 2 (UIPE II) in the very near future. What will UIPE II look like? That’s not certain at the moment, but there are some new technologies and advancements that are likely to have an impact:
Better materials – Anyone who has worn the JSLIST remembers the black powder residue that coated your skin and uniform after taking it off. That’s because it had layers of activated charcoal that consisted mostly of carbon. Nowadays, carbon beads are all the rage and can provide adequate protection at a lighter weight.
Lamination of materials – A recent breakthrough in research proved that removing the air gap between layers of materials can lower the thermal burden on the soldier by a large margin. Picture this…future CBRN suits will most likely be layers of materials. So if you have an outer shell, a carbon bead layer, an aerosol barrier, and a comfort liner sewn together in one suit, the thin layers of air in between those materials will heat up. But laminating them together squeezes out all the air and ends up making the soldier cooler. And not just a little, but a lot. That’s huge.
Undergarments – Using the same concept as lamination, undergarments can keep the warfighter cooler than an overgarment by removing the air next to the skin. Research has shown that wearing an undergarment as close to the skin as possible reduces the heat stress. It will take some getting used to, but the UIPE increment 1 suit consists of an undergarment under the duty uniform and is being fielded now.
Conformal fit – Once again, getting rid of all that air brings the temperature down, so a closer fitting uniform with less material reduces the thermal burden on the warfighter while also reducing the potential for snagging on surfaces as he does his mission.
Better seams and closures – Contamination doesn’t get through a suit unless it has a path and those paths are almost always along seams and closures. Seams and closures are frequently the weakest points that allow particles to get through, but several advancements will counter that.
Omniphobic coatings – Have you ever seen that video of ketchup rolling off a dress shirt? Well, it’s out there and it works. Now think of how effective that concept can be for chemical agents. If 50% of the agent sheds off the uniform and falls to the ground before it has a chance to soak into the suit, that’s half the contamination that can reach the trooper. Omniphobic coatings are still in their early stages of development, but they could be game changers when matured.
Composite materials – Just because you can make a suit out of one material doesn’t mean you should. Future suits will have different materials in different areas, like stretchy woven fabrics in the torso (where body armor is) and knit materials that offer less stretch but more protection in the arms and legs.
Overall lower thermal burden – Here’s where the money is. Almost all of these factors contribute to the one big advantage everyone who’s ever worn MOPP 4 wants to hear – less heat stress – which equates to warfighters being able to stay in the suit and do their jobs longer with a lower chance of being a heat casualty. Break out the champagne.
Flame resistance – Because catching on fire sucks. Most uniforms these days have flame resistant coatings or fabrics, but therein lies the challenge. When you add up all the other technologies, the big question is how do you do it all? How do you coat a suit with omniphobics and flame resistance while also laminating composite materials, making it conformal fitting and lowering the thermal burden while also providing an adequate level of CBRN protection, which is the most important aspect of all? Really smart people are working on that.
A family of suits – Common sense tells us one size does not fit all. The DoD has a history of procuring one suit for everyone, like the JSLIST is now fielded to all warfighters. But slowly that has been changing. Everyone has a different job to do while wearing CBRN suits. Some warfighters need a low level of protection for a short period of time while others need more protection for longer periods. A family of suits instead of one is the answer.
MOPP 4 sucks. It’s just a basic tenet of warfighting. We embrace the suck and drive on, but with the progress CBRN suits have made recently, we won’t have to embrace quite as much suck as before.
The U.S. Air Force just proved it can externally mount an advanced stealth cruise missile on the B-1B Lancer for the first time, a step forward in plans to have the B-1 carry future ordnance — like hypersonic missiles — outside of its internal bomb bay.
In the demonstration, carried out by Air Force Materiel Command and Boeing Co., the B-1 carried an inert AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, known as JASSM, on an external pylon. Then, the aircraft demonstrated its “ability to safely release” a mounted AGM-158 separation test vehicle, according to Air Force Global Strike Command spokesman Lt. Col. David Faggard.
“The captive-carry event is actually not a test, but a demonstration to revalidate the previously dormant external carry capability pre-existing on the B-1,” Faggard told Military.com. “No major modifications were needed.”
He added, “This demonstration may pave the way possibly for the B-1B to carry hypersonic weapons externally.”
Members of the 412th Test Wing’s 419th Flight Test Squadron, Global Power Combined Test Force, carried out the proof-of-concept over Edwards Air Force Base, California, on Nov. 20.
“Adapting a small number of our healthiest B-1s to carry hypersonic weapons is vital to bridge between the bomber force we have today, to the force of tomorrow,” Gen. Tim Ray, head of AFGSC, said in a statement.
Earlier this year, the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee said it would allow the bomber retirements as long as the service keeps 24 combat-coded aircraft; lawmakers previously demanded the service keep at least 36 bombers always ready for combat.
The weapons’ trial “is a true testament to the engineering and operations’ teams who took this idea from concept to rapid test in a short amount of time,” Ray added. He has previously advocated steps to make the remaining bombers even more lethal.
“This is a major step forward in our global precision fires capability and it is important we pursue these technologies to remain ahead of our competitors,” he said.
The external hardpoints on the B-1B were once built to carry nuclear-tipped cruise missiles — a mission the long-range aircraft no longer has. The conversion process to make the B-1 non-nuclear began under the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, with the final conversion taking place in 2011.
While the external carriage demonstration reactivates the original design and inherent capability, the aircraft “will remain treaty-compliant,” Faggard said. “The expanded capabilities will be conventional-only,” he said.
If the Air Force pursues permanent modifications, the B-1’s hard points would be reconfigured to carry modern conventional weapons and the right-forward hardpoint that currently supports the targeting pod pylon — a tracking device used for target detection and identification — that has been in operational use for the past 15 years, Faggard said.
Kingston Reif, the director of disarmament & threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association, pointed out the Air Force has publicized increasing the B-1’s weapons’ payload — particularly with JASSM — for months now.
“This would not violate the treaty because the bomber is still only carrying conventional weapons,” Reif said Tuesday. “They’re not reinserting the electronics that would be required to make the bomber nuclear-capable, or to carry nuclear weapons.”
He added, “They’re doing something to reverse what they’ve previously done, but that doesn’t mean it’s a violation of the treaty.”
Upgunning the Missiles
The variable sweep-wing aircraft is capable of carrying both precision-guided and conventional bombs.
During the Syria strike in 2018, the B-1 struck targets using 19 JASSMs, marking the first operational use of any variant of the missile (the standard JASSM-A missile variant was used, not the new extended-range variant, known as JASSM-ER).
In August 2019, the Air Force proved it could transform the Lancer to hold more ordnance, a first step toward carrying hypersonic weapons payloads. The test, also conducted by Edward’s 419th Flight Test Squadron, demonstrated that crews could fasten new racks onto the B-1’s external hardpoints as well as reconfigure its internal bomb bays to hold heavier weapons.
The B-1 is also capable of carrying the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile, or LRASM. A single B-1B can carry up to 24 LRASMs; the Navy missile, which can autonomously locate and track targets while avoiding friendly forces, achieved early operational capability on the bomber in 2018.
The current initiative enables the B-1 “to carry 24 JASSMs [and or] LRASMs internally with 6 to 12 weapons externally,” Faggard said. The proposed increase means that two bombers would equal three bombers’ worth of weapons, he said.
The trial also determined that the B-1 can still carry a full, internal weapons complement even if JASSMs are positioned outside the bomb bay, Faggard said. Furthermore, the B-1 is able to employ internal weapons “without expending external weapons first,” he said.
Engineers are now reviewing the data collected during the Nov. 20 flight before the service moves on to the next phase of the demonstration: an external weapons release, Faggard said.
“This extensive engineering review will help the Air Force understand areas where we need to focus in order to maintain the B-1B as a multi-mission weapon system, potentially laying the groundwork for integration of future weapons on the aircraft,” he said.
The A-10 Thunderbolt II, popularly known as the Warthog, was originally designed as a “tank-killer”. In fact, the entire aircraft was essentially built around a 30 mm rotary cannon, known as the GAU-8 Avenger, a fearsome name for a gun capable of spitting out depleted uranium shells the size of soda bottles designed to shred heavy Soviet tanks and armored personnel carriers into mental confetti.
While the Avenger’s primary use has been as the A-10’s main weapon, seeing combat action from the Persian Gulf War onward, the US Army once considered making this cannon its own by mounting it on the very thing it was created to destroy: tanks.
In the late 1970s, the US Army began looking to replace their aging force of self-propelled anti-aircraft guns with newer, more effective systems that could do a similar job with even more lethality and effectiveness than ever before. The result of this search for new air defense artillery would be fielded alongside the Army’s newest and fighting vehicles — namely the M1 Abrams main battle tank and the M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle, as part of the service’s vision for the future.
A competition under the Division Air Defense name was thus created.
The goal of the DIVAD program was to design, build and field a self-propelled air defense gun system, able to engage and shoot down low-flying enemy aircraft with controlled bursts of shells from a cannon mounted on a turret. The system would be manned by a small crew, aided by a radar tracking system that would pick up targets and “slave” the gun to them before firing. In concept, the DIVAD vehicle could go anywhere, dig in and wait for enemy aircraft to appear, then shoot them down quickly.
One of the various participants in the competition, according to Jane’s Weapon Systems 1988-1989, was General Electric, fresh from designing the GAU-8 Avenger for what would be the Air Force’s next air support attack jet – the A-10 Warthog. General Electric had the bright idea to take a modified version of the Avenger and place it in a turret, configured to hold its weight while moving the cannon around quickly to track and hit new targets as they appeared.
The turret, in turn, would be mated to the chassis of an M48 Patton main battle tank as per program requirements, giving it mobility. Able to spit out shells at a rate of 3900 rounds per minute at an effective range of 4000 feet, the Avenger would’ve been a major threat to the safety of any aircraft in the vicinity, sighted through its radar.
However, General Electric’s entry, referred to as the Air Defense Turret, didn’t advance during the DIVAD program. Instead, Ford and General Dynamics were given prototype production contracts to build their designs for testing, with Ford ultimately winning the competition. Known as the M247 Sergeant York, Ford’s anti-aircraft gun system was much more conventional, significantly lighter and apparently somewhat cheaper to build than the Avenger cannon concept.
However, it under-performed severely, much to the embarrassment of its parent company and the Army.
The DIVAD program soon proved to be an abject failure, with nothing to show for pouring millions into the project and the Sergeant York prototypes. The M247 couldn’t adequately track target drones with its radars, even when the drones were made to hover nearly stationary.
In 1985, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger finally put the program out of its misery, noting that missiles were the future of air defense.
The Avenger cannon nevertheless does serve in a somewhat similar role today, functioning as the core of the Goalkeeper Close-In Weapon System, found on a number of modern warships around the world. Goalkeeper is designed to engage surface-skimming missiles aimed at naval vessels and obliterate them by putting up a “wall of steel” – essentially a massive scattered burst of shells which will hopefully strike and detonate the missile a safe distance away from the ship.
Still, one can’t help but wonder just how incredibly awesome mounting a 30mm Gatling cannon to a tank could have been, had the Army chosen to pursue General Electric’s idea instead of Ford’s.
The leader of a close US ally is turning to rival Russia for submarines, arguing that if his country were to buy American submarines, they would probably “implode.”
President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte lashed out Aug. 17, 2018, after the US warned the Philippines against purchasing Russian Kilo-class diesel-electric submarines. He accused the US of selling its ally only hand-me-down weapons that endanger the lives of Filipino troops, according to local outlet Rappler.
“Why did you not stop the other countries in Asia? Why are you stopping us? Who are you to warn us?” Duterte asked Aug. 17, 2018, at an event in his hometown of Davao.”You give us submarines, it will implode.” He asserted that the US sent his country “used” and “rusted” North Atlantic Treaty Organization helicopters, claiming the poor condition of the platforms led to the deaths of local forces.
“Is that the way you treat an ally and you want us to stay with you for all time?” he asked. “You want us to remain backwards. Vietnam has 7 submarines, Malaysia has 2, Indonesia has 8. We alone don’t have one. You haven’t given us any.”
Russian Black Sea Fleet’s B-265 Krasnodar.
Duterte’s latest outburst was triggered by a warning issued Aug. 16, 2018, by Randall Schriver, the US Department of Defense Assistant Secretary for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs.
“I think they should think very carefully about that,” he said, referring to the Philippine government’s interest in acquiring Russian submarines. “If they were to proceed with purchasing major Russian equipment, I don’t think that’s a helpful thing to do [in our] alliance, and I think ultimately we can be a better partner than the Russians can be.”
“We have to understand the nature of this regime in Russia. I don’t need to go through the full laundry list: Crimea, Ukraine, the chemical attack in the UK,” he added, “So, you’re investing not only in the platforms, but you’re making a statement about a relationship.”
An interest in Russian weapons systems has strained relations between the US and a number of allies and international partners in recent months. As Duterte pursues an independent foreign policy often out of alignment with US interests, the Philippines has increasingly looked to develop defense ties with Russia. The country is looking to Russia for submarines as it looks to modernize its military.
“For a nation with maritime territory specially island nation, its national defense is incomplete without (a) submarine,” Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in early 2018, according to the Philippine Star.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
Whenever you compare the merits of two firearms against one another, there will be a huge row. Just ask fans of the M1911 carbine, designed by John Moses Browning — which served in the American military as the primary sidearm for seven decades — what they think of the M9 Beretta.
But let’s take a look at two semi-automatic carbines that were in service about 70 years ago: The Russian SKS and the American M1 carbine.
Both were in service in World War II (prototypes of the SKS saw action against the Nazis) and both saw action in Korea and Vietnam. However, they’re very different.
A Marine covers personnel during the first flag-raising on Mount Suribachi.
(USMC photo by Staff Sergeant Louis R. Lowery)
The M1 carbine, first introduced in 1942, fires a special .30-caliber round that’s about an inch-and-a-third long (as opposed to the roughly two-and-a-half-inch length of the .30-06 round). It’s semi-automatic and can use a 15 or 30-round detachable magazine. It weighs about five pounds unloaded. Today’s troops carrying a lot of stuff — that light weight can be a back-saver. The 110-grain .30 carbine round could go 1,990 feet per second.
Malian troops stand at attention with SKS rifles.
(US Army photo by Staff Sergeant Samuel Bendet)
The SKS rifle introduced the 7.62x39mm cartridge to the world. It uses an internal 10-round magazine that is reloaded using stripper clips. In a way, this is much like how just about every modern (post-1898) military rifle prior to the M1 Garand was reloaded. The 7.62x39mm round propels a 123-grain bullet at 1,653 feet per second. The SKS weighs in at roughly eight pounds.
So, which of these rifles is better? Let’s be honest: Both have passed the longevity test. The M1 Carbine is still in service with Israel and Nicaragua, among other countries, and the SKS still sees action in places like Mali. But assuming all other things, like training and competency, are equal, a soldier with the M1 carbine would have a slight edge — at least at close range —due to the increased magazine capacity and the rifle’s lighter weight.
Sure, we all know about the F-16 Falcon, the F-15 Eagle, the Su-27 Flanker, the MiG-29 Fulcrum… all those modern planes.
But in the 1970s and the early 1980s, the mainstays of the tactical air forces on both sides of the Iron Curtain were the Phantom in the west and the Flogger in the east.
The F-4 Phantom was arguably a “Joint Strike Fighter” before JSFs were cool. The United States Air Force, United States Navy, United States Marine Corps, Royal Air Force, Fleet Air Arm, West German Air Force, and numerous other countries bought the F-4.
According to Globalsecurity.org, the F-4 could carry four AIM-7 Sparrows, four AIM-9 Sidewinders, and the F-4E had an internal cannon. The plane could carry over 12,000 pounds of ordnance.
Like the F-4, the MiG-23 was widely exported — and not just to Warsaw Pact militaries. It was also sold to Soviet allies across the world — from Cuba to North Korea. It could carry two AA-7 radar-guided missiles, four AA-8 infra-red guided missiles, and had a twin 23mm cannon.
Globalsecurity.org notes that the Flogger can carry up to 4,400 pounds of ordnance (other sources credit the Flogger with up to 6,600 pounds of ordnance).
Both planes have seen a lot of combat over their careers. That said, the MiG-23’s record has been a bit more spotty.
According to the Air Combat Information Group, at least 33 MiG-23s of the Syrian Air Force were shot down by the Israeli Air Force since the end of 1973. Of that total, 25 took place in the five-day air battle known as the Bekaa Valley Turkey Shoot. The total number of confirmed kills for the MiG-23s in service with the Syrian Air Force against the Israelis in that time period is five.
ACIG tallied six air-to-air kills by Israeli F-4s in that same timeframe (Joe Baugher noted 116 total air-to-air kills by the Israelis in the Phantom), with four confirmed air-to-air losses to the Syrians. That said, it should be noted that by the late 1970s, the F-4 had been shifted to ground-attack missions, as Israel had acquired F-15s and F-16s.
There is one other measure to judge the relative merits of the F-4 versus the MiG-23. The F-4 beats the MiG-23 in versatility. The MiG-23 primarily specialized in air-to-air combat. They had to create another version — the MiG-23BN and later the MiG-27 — to handle ground-attack missions.
In sharp contrast to the specialization of various Flogger designs, the F-4 handled air-to-air and ground-attack missions – often on the same sortie. To give one example, acepilots.com notes that before Randy “Duke” Cunningham engaged in the aerial action that resulted in three kills on May 10, 1972 – and for which he was awarded the Navy Cross – he dropped six Rockeye cluster bombs on warehouses near the Hai Dong rail yards.
In short, if the Cold War had turned hot during the 1970s, the F-4 Phantom would have probably proven itself to be the better airplane than the MiG-23 Flogger. If anything shows, it is the fact that hundreds of Phantoms still flew in front-line service in the early 21st Century.
China’s military has surged in capability and size in the recent decades, but that rise has come, partially, as a result of stealing, copying, or imitating technology developed by the U.S. and other countries. From drones to ships, here are six of the most recent copies:
LCAC / Type 726
The Chinese Type 726A Landing Craft, Air Cushioned is a near carbon copy of the Navy LCAC, the hovercraft used by the U.S. Navy uses to deliver everything, from bullets to tanks, to bare enemy beaches. The two vessels even have similar capabilities — both can carry 60 tons, but the U.S. LCAC can “overload” to 75 tons.
It’s unclear whether Star UAV System gained intel as a result of cyber espionage or through the Chinese government, if at all, but the similarities between the X-47B and the Star Shadow are hard to ignore.
But, they do manufacture it more cheaply, leading to an edge in exports. An answer to the MQ-9 Reaper drone also exists, the CH-5, but it lacks the altitude of the proper Reaper. It can reach a paltry 9,000 meters, compared to the 15,000 meters of the Reaper.
The Chinese heavy lift Y-20 aircraft at the Zhuhai Airshow in 2014.
(Photo by Airliners.net, CC BY-SA 4.0)
Y-20 / C-17
Rolling off the line in June, 2016, the Y-20 is slightly smaller and carries slightly less weight than the American C-17, to which it appears to be a close cousin. Despite its relative smallness, it’s still a massive transport aircraft capable of carrying Chinese main battle tanks and other gear across the planet.
China purchased Sikorsky S-70 helicopters, the civilian variant of the UH-60 Black Hawk, back in the 1980s. Eventually, they wore out, so China created the “homegrown Z-20,” which are basically UH-60s. They’re so closely related that commentators took to calling the Z-20 the “Copy Hawk.”
The Chinese Type 052 destroyer is an imitation of the U.S. Navy Arleigh-Burke class. The Chinese Haribing (DDG 112) is pictured above.
(U.S. Department of Defense)
Arleigh-Burke / Type 052
China’s Type 052 guided-missile destroyers have large radars, vertical missile tubes that can attack everything from submarines to enemy missiles, and a helicopter hanger, just like the rival Arleigh-Burke class in the U.S. arsenal — and their designs and appearances are very similar.
This is one case, though, where the technology appears to be more imitation than theft. Unlike the drones, the Y-20, and other programs, there’s little evidence that China gained direct access to Arleigh-Burke designs or technology. More likely, Chinese leaders observed the capability of the destroyer, tried to steal it, but figured they could approximate much of the system with their own engineers if necessary.
The Marine Corps is adopting a new precision sniper rifle to increase the lethality and combat effectiveness of scout snipers on the battlefield.
The Mk13 Mod 7 Sniper Rifle is a bolt-action rifle that offers an increased range of fire and accuracy when compared to current and legacy systems. It includes a long-action receiver, stainless steel barrel, and an extended rail interface system for a mounted scope and night vision optic.
The Mk13 is scheduled for fielding in late 2018 and throughout 2019. Units receiving the Mk13 include infantry and reconnaissance battalions and scout sniper schoolhouses. This weapon is already the primary sniper rifle used by Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, or MARSOC.
Fielding the Mk13 ensures the Corps has commonality in its equipment set and Marine scout snipers have the same level of capability as North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces, said Master Sgt. Shawn Hughes from III MEF.
“When the Mk13 Mod 7 is fielded, it will be the primary sniper rifle in the Marine Corps,” said Lt. Col. Paul Gillikin, Infantry Weapons team lead at Marine Corps Systems Command. “The M40A6 will remain in the schoolhouses and operating forces as an alternate sniper rifle primarily used for training. The M110 and M107 will also remain as additional weapons within the scout sniper equipment set.”
The Marine Corps identified a materiel capability gap in the maximum effective ranges of its current sniper rifles. After a comparative assessment was conducted, it was clear that the Mk13 dramatically improved scout sniper capabilities in terms of range and terminal effects.
The 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines Scout Sniper Platoon used the weapon for over a year (including during a deployment) in support of the 2025 Sea Dragon Exercise. Feedback from MCSC’s assessment, MARSOC’s operational use, and 3/5’s testing of the weapon system led to its procurement of the Mk13 for the Corps.
The Mk13 increases scout snipers’ range by roughly 300 meters and will use the .300 Winchester Magnum caliber round, a heavier grain projectile with faster muzzle velocity — characteristics that align Marine sniper capability with the U.S. Army and Special Operations Command.
“The .300 Winchester Magnum round will perform better than the current 7.62 NATO ammo in flight, increasing the Marine Sniper’s first round probability of hit,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Tony Palzkill, Battalion Gunner for Infantry Training Battalion. “This upgrade is an incredible win and will allow snipers to engage targets at greater distances.”
The Mk13 will also be fielded with an enhanced day optic that provides greater magnification range and an improved reticle.
“This sniper rifle will allow Marines to reengage targets faster with precise long-range fire while staying concealed at all times,” said Sgt. Randy Robles, Quantico Scout Sniper School instructor and MCSC liaison.
“The new day optic allows for positive identification of enemies at greater distances, and it has a grid-style reticle that allows for rapid reengagement without having to dial adjustments or ‘hold’ without a reference point,” he said. “With this type of weapon in the fleet, we will increase our lethality and be able to conceal our location because we are creating a buffer between us and the enemy.”
MCSC completed New Equipment Training for the Mk13 with a cross section of Marines from active-duty, Reserve and training units in early April 2018.
“The snipers seemed to really appreciate the new capabilities that come with this rifle and optic,” said project officer Capt. Frank Coppola. “After the first day on the range, they were sold.”
In a time where technology, ammunition and small arms weapon systems are advancing at an increasingly rapid rate, it is extremely important to ensure the Marine Corps is at the forefront of procuring and fielding new and improved weapon systems to the operating forces, said Gillikin.
“Doing this enables the Corps to maintain the advantage over its enemies on the battlefield, as well as to secure its trusted position as the rapid crisis response force for the United States,” he said.
The USS Gerald R. Ford, the Navy’s new supercarrier, can now land all of the service’s planes, except for its new stealth fighter.
The Advanced Arresting Gear has been given a green light to recover all propeller and jet aircraft, to include the C-2A Greyhound, E-2C Hawkeye and E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, and E/A-18G Growler, the Navy said in a statement Tuesday, noting the release of a new Aircraft Recovery Bulletin.
These aircraft can all conduct flight operations aboard the Ford.
The arresting gear is critical to the aircraft recovery process, the return of aircraft to the carrier. The Advanced Arresting Gear, one of more than 20 new technologies incorporated into the Ford-class carriers, is a system of tensioned wires that the planes snag with tailhooks, a necessary system given the shortness of the carrier’s runway. The AAG is designed to recover a number of different aircraft, as well as reduce the stress on the planes, with decreased manpower all while maintaining top safety standards.
“This achievement is another significant step toward ensuring the system can support the ship’s full air wing,” explained Capt. Ken Sterbenz, program manager for the Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment Program, in a statement.
An F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 flies over the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78).
(U.S. Navy photo by Erik Hildebrandt)
The Navy explained that the Advanced Arresting Gear gives the USS Gerald R. Ford “the warfighting capability essential for air dominance in the 21st century.”
Missing from the list of recoverable aircraft is noticeably the F-35C, a carrier-based variant of a new fifth-generation stealth fighter designed to help the Navy confront modern threats.
“The Nimitz-class and Ford-class aircraft carriers, by design, can operate with F-35Cs,” Capt. Daniel Hernandez, a spokesperson for the Navy acquisitions chief, previously told INSIDER.
“There are,” he added, “modifications to both carrier classes that are required to fully employ the capabilities of the F-35s and enable them to be more effective on a full length deployment.”
Those modifications are expected to be completed after the carrier is delivered to the fleet, meaning that when the Navy gets its aircraft carrier, which is already behind schedule and over budget, back from the shipyard, it will not be able to deploy with the F-35C.
An F/A-18F Super Hornet, assigned to the “Black Lions” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 213, prepares to land on the flight deck of USS Gerald R. Ford.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ryan Carter)
Congress has previously expressed concerns about the inability of the new supercarriers to launch and recover the new stealth fighters, as well as the Navy’s practice of accepting unfinished carriers to skirt budget constraints.
In particular, lawmakers called attention to the Navy’s plans to not only accept the Ford without the important ability to launch and recover F-35s but to also accept the subsequent USS John F. Kennedy without this capability.
It is “unacceptable to our members that the newest carriers can’t deploy with the newest aircraft,” explained a congressional staffer in June 2019.
The Navy argues that these carriers will be able to launch and recover F-35s by the time the relevant air wing is stood up.
The Navy continues to work the kinks out of the Ford, having fixed problems with the propulsion system, the catapults, and the arresting gear, among other systems.
The biggest obstacle, however, continues to be the Advanced Weapons Elevators, systems essential for the rapid movement of bombs and missiles to the flight deck for higher aircraft sortie rates.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.