Army kills contract for shoulder-fired airburst weapon - We Are The Mighty
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Army kills contract for shoulder-fired airburst weapon

U.S. Army‘s senior leadership has ended an agreement with Orbital ATK Inc. that spanned two decades over the XM25 25mm airburst weapon, a move that could put the troubled weapon system’s future into jeopardy.


The service’s XM25 Counter-Defilade Target Engagement System is a semi-automatic, shoulder-fired weapon that fires 25mm high-explosive, air-bursting ammunition.

Nicknamed “the Punisher” and designed by Orbital ATK and Heckler Koch, XM25 has long been the Army’s attempt to field a “leap-ahead” weapon designed to give infantry units a decisive edge against enemies hiding behind cover.

The XM25 has stirred excitement in the infantry community, but the complex system has also been plagued by program delays that have made it a target of Pentagon auditors.

Related: This sniper rifle company is trying to lighten the M240 medium machine gun

The latest trouble for the program came when the Army canceled its contract with Orbital ATK just one month ago.

“On April 5, 2017, the Army terminated the XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement (CDTE) contract with the prime contractor (Orbital-ATK) after it failed to deliver the 20 weapons as specified by the terms of the contract,” an Army spokesman told Military.com in a May 5 email.

“Despite extensive negotiation efforts, the contractor failed to provide an acceptable alternate resolution to the Government.”

The announcement follows reports that Orbital ATK filed a lawsuit in February against Heckler Koch in the Minnesota U.S. District Court seeking damages in excess of $27 million, according to a report by Reuters.

Army kills contract for shoulder-fired airburst weapon
The XM25 fires a programmable airburst 25mm smart round. It consists of the weapons system with a target acquisition control system mounted on top. | US Army photo

In the complaint, Orbital said it was seeking damages for breach of contract over the XM25 semi-automatic weapon system, which Orbital and Heckler Koch started developing more than 20 years ago.

Orbital said in the filing that Heckler Koch had failed to deliver 20 additional prototypes of the XM25 weapon systems, as contracted, and that its failure to do so meant the Army had raised the possibility of terminating its contract with Orbital, Reuters reported.

Heckler Koch has rejected all claims in the suit, according to the news agency.

Military.com reached out to both Orbital ATK and Heckler Koch for comment but did not receive a response by press time.

It’s unclear what the future is for XM25, but Army weapons officials appeared unsure of its status this week at the National Defense Industrial Association’s 2017 Armaments Systems Forum.

Following a presentation from the Army’s Project Manager Soldier Weapons, an audience member asked why the XM25 did not appear on any of the briefing slides covering the Army’s near-term, mid-term and far-term small arms programs.

Lt. Col. Steven Power, who runs Product Manager Individual Weapons, said, “The XM25 is still managed by my office” and then gave a long pause before adding, “I can’t speak right now about the status of that program.”

Power said, “I have been informed that it is not really my place to provide information ahead of other stakeholders.”

Col. Brian Stehle, head of Program Manager Soldier Weapons, said, “There is a requirement within the Army to have an air-burst, direct-fire capability within our formation. The Army is reassessing the actual requirement itself, and we are pursuing material solutions.”

The service has considered taking the XM25’s fire-control system and joining it to a weapon that shoots a 40mm air-burst grenade, a technology Army ammunition experts are developing, according to service sources who are not cleared to speak to the press.

The XM25 is an offshoot of the Objective Individual Combat Weapon program the Army began in the mid-1990s to increase the effectiveness of soldier firepower.

It features a target acquisition/fire control system that allows soldiers to identify a target, determine the range, and program the ammunition to explode above or near targets out to 600 meters.

But the stand-alone weapon has suffered from a barrage of criticism from both auditors as well as from military units.

In September 2016, the Defense Department’s Inspector General’s Office released a follow-on report to a March 2014 audit and concluded Army officials “could have managed the schedule, affordability, and quantity requirements of the XM25 program more effectively.”

Army kills contract for shoulder-fired airburst weapon
US Army photo

The service has repeatedly delayed the weapon’s initial production decision and failed to justify a basis of issue plan, the document states.

“Specifically, Army officials removed procurement funding from the XM25 budget, which extended the engineering and manufacturing development phase by 2 years,” it states. “Additionally, Army officials contributed to the initial production decision delay by placing a hold on the XM25 capability production document.”

But while the IG said the service’s decision to extend the development effort and XM25 research caused costs to climb between February 2013 and March 2016, it failed to specify actual dollar amounts.

Indeed, the report was heavily redacted, with blacked-out figures for not only cost increases but also quantities, including how many XM25s the Army intends to field as part of its basis of issue plan.

Problems with the program started Feb. 2, 2013, when the XM25 malfunctioned during its second round of operational testing in Afghanistan, inflicting minor injuries on a soldier.

The Army halted the operational testing when the XM25 experienced a double feed and an unintentional primer ignition of one of the 25mm high-explosive rounds, Army officials said at the time.

The warhead did not detonate because of safety mechanisms on the weapon. The service removed all prototypes from theater to determine the problem’s cause.

The XM25 had completed one 14-month battlefield assessment and was in the early stages of a second assessment when the double feed and primer ignition occurred during a live-fire training exercise.

According to PM Individual Weapon officials, the XM25 has not had any similar malfunctions since changes were incorporated into the weapon and ammunition, the audit states.

In March 2013, elements of the 75th Ranger Regiment refused to take the XM25 with them for a raid on a fortified enemy compound in Afghanistan, sources familiar with the incident said.

After an initial assessment, Ranger units found the 14-pound XM25 too heavy and cumbersome for the battlefield. They were also concerned that the limited basic load of 25mm rounds was not enough to justify taking an M4A1 carbine out of the mission, sources said.

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This is how China plans to ‘defend the world’

Chinese President Xi Jinping on July 30 presided over a massive military parade from an open-topped jeep, declaring, “The world is not peaceful, and peace needs to be defended.”


And as China’s show of force demonstrates, Beijing may have the will and the strength to replace the US as the world’s defender of peace.

“Our heroic military has the confidence and capabilities to preserve national sovereignty, security, and interests … and to contribute more to maintaining world peace,” Xi said at the parade, one day after US President Donald Trump lashed out at Beijing for its inaction regarding North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Army kills contract for shoulder-fired airburst weapon
Chinese President Xi Jinping. Photo from Moscow Kremlin.

China’s massive military modernization and increasing assertiveness have irked many of its neighbors in the region, and even as the US attempts to reassure its allies that US power still rules the day, that military edge is eroding.

China showed off new, mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles that it says can reach the US in 30 minutes, along with its J-20 stealth interceptor jets. And Xi inspected thousands of troops drawn from the 2 million-strong People’s Liberation Army on its 90th anniversary.

The historian Alfred McCoy estimates that by 2030, China, a nation of 1.3 billion, will surpass the US in both economic and military strength, essentially ending the American empire and Pax Americana the world has known since the close of World War II.

Army kills contract for shoulder-fired airburst weapon
Sailors aboard the Chinese Navy destroyer Qingdao. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist David Rush.

But China could achieve this goal patiently and without a violent struggle. China has employed a “salami-slicing” method of slowly but surely militarizing the South China Sea in incremental steps that have not prompted a strong military response from the US. However, the result is China’s de facto control over a shipping lane that sees $5 trillion in annual traffic.

“The American Century, proclaimed so triumphantly at the start of World War II, may already be tattered and fading by 2025 and, except for the finger pointing, could be over by 2030,” McCoy wrote in his new book, “In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power.”

China’s J-20 jet also most likely borrows from stealth secrets stolen from the US through a sophisticated hacking regime. Though China hasn’t mastered stealth technology in the way the US has, the jet still poses a real threat to US forces.

Army kills contract for shoulder-fired airburst weapon
Flypast of the Chengdu J-20. Wikimedia Commons photo by Alert5.

Meanwhile, the US is stretched thin. It has had been at war in Afghanistan for 16 years and in Iraq for 14, and it has been scrambling to curtail Iranian and Russian influence in Syria while reassuring its Baltic NATO allies that it’s committed to their protection against an aggressive Russia.

Under Xi, who pushes an ambitious foreign policy, China’s eventual supremacy over the US seems inevitable.

MIGHTY HISTORY

Here’s the gear an average soldier carried in the Civil War

In the chaotic days of the American Civil War, troops from both the sides used to storm the battlefield and go head-to-head in a ruthless campaign to destroy the opposition — an opposition filled with those they once called fellow countrymen. The multi-year war was the deadliest to ever take place on American soil. Approximately 620,000 people were killed during the war, leaving several Southern states in ruin.

To fight a ground war, troops need supplies. But back in the mid-19th century, the way we outfitted our troops was very different from today. Budgets and technologies were limited.

Outside of itchy and hot uniforms, the gear each man carried was very similar on both sides.


Army kills contract for shoulder-fired airburst weapon
The North and South duke it out while fighting in the Civil War.

There was a small variety of weapons to choose from. Most ground troops took up either a Lorenz, Springfield, or a Colt revolving rifle. In order to fire those weapons, they needed ammo, percussion caps, and black powder. All these items were usually stored in a cartridge box, typically mounted on a troop’s belt for easy access.

In the event that the enemy was quickly approaching and there wasn’t any time to reload, troops always kept a sharp bayonet close by. Swords and sabers were commonly used by officers and NCOs to cut through the enemy. When these blades weren’t tearing through blue or grey uniforms, they were used for directing troops.

Army kills contract for shoulder-fired airburst weapon
Two civil War troops are loaded up ready for combat.

It’s reported that many ground troops had to purchase their own mess kits, which usually contained a metal plate and cup. They would often store around three days’ worth of food in their haversacks. Tobacco, fruit, and some soap could also be found in their pouches.

Outside of food and ammo, troops often carried a copy of the Bible, a mirror, a sewing kit, and some playing cards. They didn’t have the weapon systems we have today, but modern infantrymen still carry virtually the same types of gear today — but our versions have seen some upgrades.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Russia’s really cool new robot tank probably doesn’t work

A new robotic tank with a disastrous performance history has reportedly entered service with the Russian army, according to multiple reports citing Russian state media.

Armed with anti-tank missiles, a 7.62 mm machine gun, and a 30 mm automatic cannon, the Uran-9 unmanned ground combat vehicle was designed for advanced fire support and reconnaissance missions over a 2-mile range.


But as of summer 2018, the revolutionary new weapon was still a very long way from being combat ready, according to Defence Blog, an online military magazine.

In June 2018, a leaked internal report from a senior researcher with the 3rd Central Research Institute of the Russian Defense Ministry surfaced online, revealing that the elite new unmanned system had performed poorly during combat trials in Syria.

The actual operational range is estimated to be closer to 300 to 500 meters, a fraction of what was initially promised.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiwBXXUPWE0
Кадры испытаний не имеющего аналогов в мире комплекса «Уран-9»

www.youtube.com

Furthermore, operators lost control of the vehicles repeatedly, 17 times for up to a minute and twice for 1 1/2 hours. Control problems tended to become more severe in urban environments where buildings interfered with the signal, potentially undermining a key practical purpose.

The main cannon experienced firing failures and delays. The internal targeting systems were unstable, and the machine components tended to break down, according to Task Purpose.

The senior research officer Andrei Anisimov concluded that the “modern Russian combat Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) are not able to perform the assigned tasks in the classical types of combat operations,” adding that it would be 10 to 15 years before the technology was ready, The National Interest reported.

Defence Blog reports that the Uran-9 also failed state tests after its blunders in Syria.

Yet, the Russian military has reportedly adopted the platform, which could mean that the problems have been addressed or that the robot will simply serve as a test bed for future developments.

“We are currently completing the production of the first series lot,” Vladimir Dmitriev, the head of Kalashnikov Concern, the manufacturer of the new vehicles, told the Russian media. “The Uran have a good scientific and technological potential for developing further products.”

Dmitriev said the testing in Syria led to improvements in the technology.

The US has been researching and developing unmanned fighting systems for more than a decade. The Army even had a prototype for a robotic tank known as the “Black Knight” back in 2007. The newly established Army Futures Command is looking at optionally manned fighting vehicles as a part of the new next-generation combat-vehicle program.

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

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The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 20 edition)

Here are the 5 news items you need to know about as you get your week started:


Now: Russia’s huge military upgrade hit another snag — and Putin is not happy

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Pentagon confirms death of IS leader in Afghanistan

The Pentagon says a military raid last month killed the head of the Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan.


In a statement May 7, the Pentagon confirmed the death of Abdul Haseeb Logari. At the time of the raid officials said they thought Logari had been killed, but were not certain.

Army kills contract for shoulder-fired airburst weapon
ISIS fighters in Iraq. (Photo via Flickr)

U.S. officials said Logari was among several high-ranking Islamic State in Afghanistan leaders who died in the April 27 raid. It was carried out by Afghan Special Security Forces in partnership with U.S. forces.

Also read: US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan

The Pentagon says Logari directed the March 8 attack against Kabul National Military Hospital, which killed or wounded more than 100 people.

The raid targeted a compound in eastern Afghanistan. Two U.S. Army Rangers were killed by what officials believe was friendly fire.

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America’s UN rep won’t rule out striking N Korea over new missile test

The United States could strike North Korea if it attacks a U.S. military base or tests an intercontinental ballistic missile, President Donald Trump’s U.N. ambassador said Monday.


In several television interviews, Nikki Haley praised China’s involvement in trying to pressure North Korea to cease missile testing and criticized Pyongyang’s leader, Kim Jong Un, as unstable and paranoid.

Asked about the threshold for U.S. action, Haley told NBC’s “Today Show” that “if you see him attack a military base, if you see some sort of intercontinental ballistic missile, then obviously we’re going to do that.”

Haley said the U.S. wasn’t looking for a fight and wouldn’t attack North Korea “unless he gives us reason to do something.”

The Trump administration has been working to rally support behind its efforts to pressure Pyongyang into abandoning its nuclear program and ending missile tests. Trump spoke again to the leaders of China and Japan late Sunday to discuss the matter.

The White House said in a brief statement Monday that Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping reaffirmed the “urgency of the threat posed by North Korea.” Trump has repeatedly promised that China will earn a better trade deal with the U.S. if it helps to exert pressure on its allied neighboring nation.

When asked what would happen if North Korea tests an intercontinental missile or nuclear device, Haley told NBC: “I think then the president steps in and decides what’s going to happen.”

North Korea has been aggressively pursuing a decades-long goal of putting a nuclear warhead on an intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, capable of reaching the U.S. mainland. North Korea conducted two nuclear tests last year alone, which would have improved its knowledge on making nuclear weapons small enough to fit on long-range missiles.

South Korean officials say there’s a chance the country will conduct its sixth nuclear test or its maiden test launch of an ICBM around the founding anniversary of its military on Tuesday.

Haley said the U.S. is working with China to pressure North Korea on the missile and nuclear testing and other issues, including the detention over the weekend of a U.S. citizen, bringing to three the number of Americans now being held there.

Haley said the detentions are North Korea’s effort to “have a bargaining chip” for talks with the U.S.

“What we’re dealing with is a leader who is flailing right now and he’s trying to show his citizens he has muscle,” Haley told “CBS This Morning.”

Articles

Watch the US Navy test its new ship against 10,000 pound bombs

When the US Navy fields a new ship, they don’t just take the engineer’s word for it that it can withstand nearby bombs — they test it out.


The USS Jackson, an Independence-class Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) meant for patrols in shallow water, just passed the first of three scheduled “shock trials.” The shock trials are composed of the ship sailing along as the Navy carefully detonates 10,000 pound bombs on either side of it. The results are then measured.

“The shock trials are designed to demonstrate the ship’s ability to withstand the effects of nearby underwater explosion and retain required capability,” according to a Navy statement.

“This is no kidding, things moving, stuff falling off of bulkheads … Some things are going to break. We have models that predict how electronics are going to move and cabinets are going to move, but some things are going to happen, and we’re going to learn a lot from this test,” US Navy Rear Adm. Brian Antonio told USNI News.

Army kills contract for shoulder-fired airburst weapon
USS Jackson (LCS 6) successfully completed the first of three scheduled full ship shock trials June 10. | US Navy photo

So far, the Jackson has passed the trials handsomely.

The Independence class, along with the Freedom class LCSs, represent the Navy’s vision of the future of surface warfare. Though both classes have suffered significant engineering difficulties, their modular design promises to revolutionize the way US Navy ships equip, train for, and deploy capabilities.

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Here are the best military photos of the week

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


AIR FORCE:

When the check engine light comes on… U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Jeremiah Davidson with the 153rd Maintenance Group, Wyoming Air National Guard replaces a turbine overheat detector on a C-130H Hercules aircraft, Sep. 26, 2016 in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Army kills contract for shoulder-fired airburst weapon
U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Charles Delano

Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron conduct a post-flight systems check on an E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System Oct. 20, 2016, following a mission supporting Operation Inherent Resolve. JSTARS uses its communications and radar systems to support ground attack units and direct air support throughout the area of responsibility.

Army kills contract for shoulder-fired airburst weapon
U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Miles Wilson

ARMY:

1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division Soldiers buddy-carry a simulated casualty to a casualty collection point during training at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., Nov. 11, 2016.

Army kills contract for shoulder-fired airburst weapon
U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Nikayla Shodeen

4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division paratroopers evacuate a simulated casualty during training conducted by U.S. Army Alaska at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Nov. 8, 2016.

Army kills contract for shoulder-fired airburst weapon
U.S. Army photo by Justin Connaher

NAVY:

CORONADO, Calif. (Nov. 14, 2016) The brightest moon in almost 69 years sets behind the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). The ship is moored and homeported in San Diego. It is undergoing a scheduled Planned Maintenance Availability.

Army kills contract for shoulder-fired airburst weapon
U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Abe McNatt

ARABIAN GULF (Nov. 14, 2016) An F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to the Fighting Swordsmen of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 32 launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). The ship and its Carrier Strike Group are deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.

Army kills contract for shoulder-fired airburst weapon
U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard

MARINE CORPS:

An AV-8B Harrier assigned to Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 223 conducting an aerial refuel near Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, Nov. 15, 2016.

Army kills contract for shoulder-fired airburst weapon
U.S. Air Force photo by Lance Cpl. Anthony J. Brosilow from MCAS Cherry Point.

Dr. Ernest James Harris, Jr., a Montford Point Marine, received the Congressional Gold Medal on November 12.

“Anyone who knows a Marine, knows they are a Marine regardless of race, religion or creed and nowhere this is truer than in war.”

—U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz

Army kills contract for shoulder-fired airburst weapon
U.S. Marine Corps photo

COAST GUARD:

Here is a portrait of one of our many courageous shipmates from Air Station Miami.

Army kills contract for shoulder-fired airburst weapon
U.S. Coast Guard photo

Hoisting operations. Thumbs up.

Army kills contract for shoulder-fired airburst weapon
U.S. Coast Guard photo

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This is why the UH-1 Huey became a symbol of the Vietnam War

The Vietnam War’s icon was arguably the UH-1 helicopter. Officially designated the Iroquois (‘Huey’ is more of a term of endearment), this helicopter has been the most-produced in history, first flying in 1956 — that means it has just over six decades of service with the United States military!


Over 7,000 Hueys were used in Vietnam, and 2,500 were lost during the war.

According to the Naval Institute Guide to World Military Aviation, the UH-1D had the ability to carry up to 16 passengers and crew.

The chopper could also carry just under 3,900 pounds of equipment in the cabin or 5,000 pounds in an external sling. It also could serve as a potent gunship, firing 70mm rockets, M60 machine guns in 7.62mm NATO, and M134 miniguns.

Army kills contract for shoulder-fired airburst weapon
Soldiers of the U.S. Amry 1/7th Cavalry disembark from a Bell UH-1D Huey at LZ X-Ray during the battle of Ia Drang. (U.S. Army photo)

The secret to the Huey’s success was a gas turbine engine that not only was able to perform at higher temperatures and in less-dense air than previous helicopters, but it was also much lighter than previous helicopter engines.

This allowed the Huey to be smaller (48-foot rotor diameter, 57 foot length) and lighter — making it fast (a top speed of 135 miles per hour) and maneuverable. It had a range of 315 miles, giving American troops the ability to strike hard and fast at a distance.

The chopper’s mobility meant that in a one-year tour, the average infantry soldier saw 240 days of combat. For some perspective, in the Pacific Theater during WWII, the average grunt saw 40 days over the nearly four years that conflict lasted.

Army kills contract for shoulder-fired airburst weapon
U.S. Marine Corps UH-1Y Venom flies during an exercise. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Today, versions of the UH-1 are still in service with the Marine Corps (the UH-1Y Venom), the Air Force (UH-1N), and Navy (UH-1N). The Army’s last Huey mission was flown on Dec. 15, 2016. According to an Army release, the helicopter was handed off to the Louisiana State Police a week later.

History, YouTube

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Strykers to be the Army’s short-range air defense solution

When the Stryker family of combat vehicles was developed and produced in the 1990s and 2000s, it was very diverse. There were many variants of the original M1128 made to fulfill a swath of roles, including command and control, medical evacuation, anti-tank, reconnaissance, and more. However, due to warfighting requirements of the time, one variant was never developed: an anti-air Stryker.


The Stryker performed well in Iraq and Afghanistan. So much so that the Army chose to equip the 2nd Cavalry Regiment with this vehicle. The problem, of course, is that looming, near-peer threats — primarily Russia — are not al-Qaeda or the Taliban. So, the 2nd Cavalry Regiment has been getting better Stryker-based vehicles to address a potentially more sophisticated threat. One such variant is the rapidly-fielded M1296 Stryker Dragoon, which gives the infantry fighting vehicle a 30mm Bushmaster II chain gun. Now, yet another new vehicle will join the force.

Army kills contract for shoulder-fired airburst weapon
A soldier with the 2nd Battalion, 263rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, looks into the distance at a drone, the target of crews for their annual two-week training, while a stinger missile is fired from the Avenger weapon system, at Onslow Beach March 15, 2013. (US Army photo)

According to a report by Defense News, the Stryker will be the basis for an interim short-range air-defense (SHORAD) solution for the Army. We took a look at one version of this vehicle last year, developed by Boeing and General Dynamics. This version was armed with AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, and a 30mm Bushmaster II chain gun.

Currently, the Army’s short-range air-defense needs are filled by M1097 Avengers, which are high-mobility multi-purpose wheeled vehicles equipped with a turret that holds eight FIM-92 Stinger surface-to-air missiles and an M3 .50-caliber machine gun. The Army had also deployed the M6 Bradley Linebacker, a version of the Bradley that replaced the standard launcher that holds two BGM-71 TOW missiles with one that holds four FIM-92 Stingers. The Linebackers, however, were converted to regular infantry fighting vehicles in 2006, according to Army-Technology.com.

Army kills contract for shoulder-fired airburst weapon
The M6 Bradley Linebacker was in service briefly, but the vehicles were converted to M2 infantry fighting vehicles. (US Army photo)

The first of the Stryker-based air-defense vehicles are slated to enter service in 2020, but they may not be alone. The Army is also rushing to field more Avengers in Europe, refurbishing several dozens that were previously awaiting disposal in Pennsylvania.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This ship helps French marines storm the beaches

The big-deck amphibious ship has long been a staple of getting troops from the sea to the shore with heavy equipment. The United States has built the most of these, but other countries have them, too. Perhaps the largest force of these vessels outside the U.S. Navy is that of the French Navy.


France’s force is centered on three Mistral-class amphibious assault ships. According to MilitaryFactory.com, the Mistral displaces 16,500 tons, about 7,000 tons less than a Commencement Bay-class aircraft carrier, and a top speed of 19 knots, about one knot slower than the World War II-era escort carrier. The Mistral can carry up to 35 helicopters and 900 troops.

Army kills contract for shoulder-fired airburst weapon
The Mistral-class amphibious assault ship Anwar el-Sadat, prior to being handed over to the Egyptian Navy. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

But like the American Wasp-class amphibious assault ships, the Mistral isn’t just limited to sending helicopters. This ship also has a welldeck, capable of operating landing craft. This allows the Mistral to deploy heavy armored vehicles like the LeClerc main battle tank.

France’s main landing craft for this ship is the EDA-R catamaran landing craft.

The Mistrals also have a decent self-protection suite. One primary weapon is the Simbad system, which carries two Mistral surface-to-air missiles. Yeah, the Mistrals are defended by a missile called… Mistral. They also have two 30mm cannon and four .50-caliber machine guns.

Army kills contract for shoulder-fired airburst weapon
The BPC Dixmude (L9015) moored behind the LaFayette-class stealth frigate Surcouf (F711) on the 14th of July 2011, one day after she arrived in Toulon from Saint-Nazaire for fitting out. (Wikimedia Commons)

The ships have seen some action, mostly in evacuating civilians or providing humanitarian relief. France built two more for Russia, but that deal got kiboshed after Russian proxies invaded Ukraine.

Egypt now owns the two vessels intended for the Russian Navy, and managed to MacGyver some air defenses.

You can see a video about the Mistrals below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FMMoJWk9bg
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The Army built a fake base to fool Saddam Hussein — and it worked

In August 1990, Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi Army invaded and occupied neighboring Kuwait in a move which brought swift condemnation from much of the rest of the world. In response, U.S. President George H.W. Bush ordered planes, ships, and troops brought in to Saudi Arabia as quickly as possible to help mount a defense against possible Iraqi aggression. As Iraqi troops massed at the Saudi-Kuwaiti border, Operation Desert Shield began in full force, as the Coalition forces grew to 48 nations.


The United States isn’t known for its passivity when it comes to aggression against its interests, however. The U.S. was actively planning a response to the Iraqi invasion and a subsequent liberation of Kuwait, which happened between January and February 1991 in what became known as Operation Desert Storm.

Army kills contract for shoulder-fired airburst weapon
We pretty much sent everyone. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Daniel Jackson)

During the military build-up, planners wanted to fool Saddam into thinking the Coalition forces would invade Kuwait near the “boot heel” of the country, while planning to really hit the Iraqi occupation forces with a “left hook” strategy. The centerpiece of this deception effort was at Forward Operating Base Weasel, an effort unlike anything since Operation Fortitude during WWII, the misinformation campaign designed to cover the real location for the D-Day invasions.

FOB Weasel was what Rick Atkinson, author of Crusade: The Untold Story of the Persian Gulf War called “a Potemkin base… giving the impression of 130,000 troops across a hundred square kilometers.” Army truck drivers wearing the red berets of paratroopers would shuttle vehicles between FOB Weasel and logistic bases.

Army kills contract for shoulder-fired airburst weapon

The U.S. army’s XVIII Airborne Corps established FOB Weasel near the phony invasion area. They set up a network of small, fake camps with a few dozen soldiers using radios operated by computers to create radio traffic, fake messages between fake headquarters, as well as smoke generators and loudspeakers blasting fake Humvee, tank, and truck noises to simulate movement. Inflatable tanks with PVC turrets and helicopters with fiberglass rotors were lined up on the ground as well. Inflatable fuel bladders, Camo netting, and heat strips to fool infrared cameras completed the illusion. The Americans even taped “Egyptian” radio traffic messages about the supposed American presence to be intercepted by the Iraqis.

Army kills contract for shoulder-fired airburst weapon
Photo: Wikimedia

As late as February 21st, Iraqi intelligence still thought the Americans were near the Kuwaiti boot heel, well after the Iraqis were expelled from Kuwait.