Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant

When Nick Sinopoli saw the first reports of the crash that claimed NBA star Kobe Bryant, his daughter and 7 others, his gut told him the cause. “I knew right away what probably happened,” he said.

IIMC, or Inadvertent Instrument Meteorological Conditions, is when a pilot flies into clouds or low visibility conditions unexpectedly. Aviators who suddenly find themselves without any ground references can become dangerously disoriented. Without their eyes to tell them which way is up or down they often lose control. In fact, the National Transportation Safety Board reports that 86% of all general aviation and helicopter pilots crash when “punching in” the clouds. While Congress, the FAA and other organizations try to find a solution, it’s obvious that  the problem isn’t better equipment or more training. Nobody could find a solution to prevent these senseless deaths. Sinopoli discovered this the hard way.

Nick Sinopoli grew up in Austin, TX., home to legendary guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughn. His father loved his music so much that he moved his family to Austin in 1982. Ray Vaughn’s tragic death in a helicopter crash shook the world. In fact, celebrities like Patsy Cline, Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, The Big Bopper and John F. Kennedy Jr. also perished in similar accidents like the one that ended Bryant’s life on January 26, 2020. Sinopoli is no stranger to this type of tragedy himself.

Nick’s friend Rusty Allen, who got him his first helicopter ride, was killed in 2012 when he became disoriented and flew into the ground. “He was the first person I knew who died in an aircraft accident,” he said. Soon after, Nick graduated from Purdue with an engineering degree and went to flight school. There he learned how to “fly instruments”, while his eyes were covered with a piece of cardboard called a hood. On one particular training flight, his hood got stuck in his helmet while Nick was flying towards the runway and his teacher had to yank it out. This moment made an impact on him. He marveled that this antiquated training tool had never been improved. 

Pilots use solid visors to cover their eyes, simulating them being in the clouds. The technology hasn’t changed since Jimmy Doolittle first flew with a “vision restriction device” in 1929. Nick put his skills as an engineer to work, designing a new controllable hood that would mimic flying into the clouds unexpectedly. It’s this transition from being able to see, to not having anything but your cockpit gauges to orient you, that puts inexperienced pilots into a panic. The FAA calls it the “startle effect”. 

Nick knew he had to find a way to solve this nearly 100 year old problem. He said, “I constantly thought about it. It was all consuming. I knew it was my hill to die on. I realized that if anyone was going to stop these accidents, that it would have to be me.” After countless trial and error, Sinopoli perfected his design and sold his car to pay for the patent, which was granted in 2016.

The visor is made of a special material that goes from opaque to clear when electricity is applied. A tap on the ICARUS app lets the instructor select any level of visibility and choose how fast the visor becomes clouded. Pilots can now be forced to train in “bad weather” every time they take off, honing their planning skills from day one. “Making good decisions is just as important as being able to fly in deteriorating conditions. If you can train pilots to make better decisions then people don’t die. It’s just that simple. Everyone who has perished in these kinds of accidents would be alive today if the pilot had just stepped back and made a better decision before they got themselves into trouble,” Sinopoli says.

Now when pilots are faced with low visibility, it will not be the first time they’ve experienced it. Every day can be a bad weather day with ICARUS. “We can simulate the worst weather conditions that you’ll ever find yourself in. Best of all, you’ll be able to feel the true sensations of actual flight. A Green Beret told me that the first time the bullets start flying, you’re not going to suddenly become a good warrior. You have to realistically train like you fight before you see combat. What makes IIMC so deadly is that pilots could never train for it in the aircraft, until now,” Nick said. This is called primacy, or “first learned is best learned.”

ICARUS works equally well in airplanes and helicopters. It’s been requested by universities, flight schools, helicopter EMS operators, law enforcement, government agencies and military testers, including foreign militaries. Training for dangerous dust landings will also be safer with Nick’s invention. Multiple devices can be controlled from the app. You can also train snowy landings, smoke in the cockpit for aerial firefighting, etc. Sinopoli explained, “You can train brown-out dust landings with your entire crew in a parking lot on a clear day. That saves time, money and it’s obviously safer.” The applications for his invention are ever expanding. 

Pilots have already trained with the invention, earning their “instrument rating” with the FAA. Military and civilian instructor pilot Pedro Vargas has flown with ICARUS in airplanes and helicopters and says, “The ICARUS Device is a game changer. I was blown away after I flew with it the first time! It literally changes everything that the aviation world thought they knew about flight training.” Once pilots see what the device does, they instantly recognize how the revolutionary invention has finally solved the most dangerous problem affecting both civilian and military flying.

While it’s easy to see the value in training costs, damaged equipment and maybe even eventual insurance savings, this veteran-run venture has only one goal in mind, to save lives. Nick says, “We’ve been using the same technology for 91 years. Kobe Bryant’s pilot had recently been through a special bad weather training course in a simulator before the crash. It obviously didn’t work. None of the people on his helicopter had to die. A century of new technologies and regulations are not the ultimate solution to saving lives. The solution is better pilots.”
Check out this amazing device at www.icarusdevices.com for more info.

Articles

6 ways the US could beef up its short-range air defense

According to DefenseNews.com, the Army is desperate to re-build its short-range air-defense capabilities. One big reason is the fact that Russia has become much more aggressive, making the need to deal with planes like the Su-25 Frogfoot close air support plane a distinct possibility.


So, here are some ideas on how America’s military can get some more surface-to-air punch.

Right now, the main system used by the Army for short-range air defense is the FIM-92 Stinger – used on the Avenger air-defense system and by grunts who carry it by hand.

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant
The Air Defense Anti-Tank System (ADATS) is a dual-purpose short range surface-to-air and anti-tank missile system based on the M113A2 vehicle. The ADATS missile is a laser-guided supersonic missile with a range of 10 kilometres, with an electro-optical sensor with TV and Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR). The carrying vehicle also has a conventional two-dimensional radar with an effective range of over 25 kilometres. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

1. The MIM-146 ADATS

This system was looked at by the Army in the 1980s, but at the end of the Cold War it got cancelled. Designation-Systems.net notes that Canada did buy 34 systems.

With a speed of Mach 3, and a range of six miles, ADATS has more reach than the Stinger. Canada deployed it on a M113 chassis – the U.S. Army has lots of those – and also tested a new version on the LAV III, their version of the Stryker, according to the Rheinmetall Defense web site.

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant
AMRAAMs mounted on a Humvee. Versions of this have been called HUMRAAM, CLAWS, or SLAMRAAM. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

2. NASAM and 3. HUMRAAM/CLAWS/SLAMRAAM

The AIM-120 AMRAAM has been a bedrock of American air-to-air capability for the last 25 years. However, Designation-Systems.net notes that Norway lead the way in developing a version used as a surface-to-air weapon.

The Marines tried out a Humvee-mounted version many called HUMRAAM, but was known as CLAWS, for Complimentary Low-Altitude Weapon System. Army-Technology.com reported that the United States Army was looking at a system, of its own called SLAMRAAM. It would seem to be a quick way to get systems in service.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4PXou0aGiE

4. C-RAM

While originally purchased to defense bases in Iraq and Afghanistan against mortars and rockets, C-RAM is based on the Mk 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon System, or “CIWS,” that was intended to kill missiles like the Russian AS-4 Kitchen. Aircraft and helicopters might not be a problem for the system to track, either.

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant
The amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) conducts a live-fire exercise with the ship’s RIM 116 Rolling Airframe Missile weapon system. Bataan is underway conducting composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) with the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group in preparation for an upcoming deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Petty Officer Nicholas Frank Cottone)

5. RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile

Also a Navy point-defense missile system, the RIM-116 is another option for short-range air defense. According to a Navy fact sheet, it weighs about seven tons, has a 7.9-pound warhead, and is supersonic. Designation-Systems.net notes that it has a range of five nautical miles and infra-red guidance. This would be an excellent complement to the SLAMRAAM or CLAWS.

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant
A MIM-115 Roland fired from Launch Complex 32. (DOD photo)

6. MIM-115 Roland

This is a missile that was widely used by adversaries and allies alike, including France and Germany and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

Designation-Systems.net reported that the U.S. tried it out in the 1980s, but never really deployed it. Army-Technology.com adds that the latest version, the VT1, has what amounts to a range of just under seven miles and a speed of almost 2,800 mph. This is probably the most “off-the-shelf” system to purchase — and it would help our allies by lowering the per-unit cost.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Here’s how airmen keep B-52 bombers flying on a moment’s notice

The US Air Force B-52H Stratofortress has been in service since the 1950s and is still a major player in the mission of deterrence to our adversaries.

The maintainers of the 2nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 96th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, deployed out of Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, traveled to RAF Fairford, England, to ensure the success of Bomber Task Force Europe 20-1.

“Our mission is to give confidence to our allies to show we are capable of going anywhere, anytime,” said US Air Force Senior Airman Braedon McMaster, 2nd AMXS 96th AMU electronic warfare journeyman.


Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant

US Air Force airmen perform maintenance on a B-52 Stratofortress at RAF Fairford in England, Oct. 18, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt Philip Bryant)

Maintainers accomplish their mission by providing routine and unscheduled maintenance to the B-52s to ensure it is ready to fly at a moment’s notice.

“Back home, people are focused on their job and will occasionally help out here and there,” said US Air Force Tech. Sgt. Joshua Crowe, 2nd AMXS 96th AMU B-52 expediter.

“Here, what seems to work is that everyone is all hands on deck. You may have an electronic countermeasures airman change an engine or an electrical environmental airman helping crew chiefs change brakes.”

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant

US Air Force airmen assigned to the 2nd Bomb Wing prepare a US Air Force B-52H Stratofortress for take off during Bomber Task Force Europe 20-1, at RAF Fairford, England, Oct. 23, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Duncan C. Bevan)

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant

US Air Force 1st Lt. Kevan Thomas, a pilot assigned to the 96th Bomb Squadron, does a preflight inspection on a US Air Force B-52H Stratofortress during Bomber Task Force Europe 20-1, at RAF Fairford, England, Oct. 23, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Duncan C. Bevan)

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant

US Air Force Airmen 1st Class Thomas Chase, left, and Christian Lozada, right, 2nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron 96th Aircraft Maintenance Unit crew chiefs, walk around a B-52H Stratofortress to conduct final pre-flight checks at RAF Fairford, England, Oct. 21, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stuart Bright)

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant

US Air Force Staff Sgt. Stephen Zbinovec, 2nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron 96th Aircraft Maintenance Unit crew chief, inspects the inside of the engine of a US Air Force B-52H Stratofortress after it has landed at RAF Fairford, England, Oct. 18, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stuart Bright)

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant

US Air Force Maj. “Feud,” a pilot assigned to the 96th Bomb Squadron, looks out at two US Air Force B-52H Stratofortresses during Bomber Task Force Europe 20-1, over the Baltic Sea, Oct. 23, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Duncan C. Bevan)

The airmen of the 96th AMU are excited to be a part of the BTF for a variety of reasons.

“Being able to join with our allies is exciting,” Crowe said. “We [join them] from home too, but here it feels different.”

Spending time in England not only allows the maintainers to accomplish extra training, but they also use it to become closer and build trust with each other.

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant

US Air Force Maj. “Feud” and US Air Force 1st Lt. Kevan Thomas, pilots assigned to the 96th Bomb Squadron, prepare to fly by Tallinn Airport as a show of force during Bomber Task Force Europe 20-1, in Tallinn, Estonia, Oct. 23, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Duncan C. Bevan)

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant

Two US Air Force B-52H Stratofortresses assigned to the 96th Bomb Squadron fly in formation during Bomber Task Force Europe 20-1, over the Baltic Sea, Oct. 23, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Duncan C. Bevan)

Without the 96th AMU at RAF Fairford, the B-52s would not be able to fly. “It’s like your car,” Crowe said. “If you are driving your car and you don’t have anyone to take care of any of the parts that break, you may be able to drive it once or twice but that will be it.”

The mission of the BTF is to assure our allies and deter our adversaries, and maintainers play a major role in ensuring we are able to accomplish our mission to respond at a moments’ notice.

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant

Two US Air Force B-52H Stratofortresses parked after arriving at RAF Fairford in England, Oct. 10, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt Philip Bryant)

“The B-52 is capable of going anywhere and in any point of time,” McMaster said. “It launches fast and it puts fear into the hearts of our adversaries.”

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

6 weapons that even a car salesman couldn’t sell

Let’s face it, some weapons have a combat record so impressive that they practically sell themselves. Others, however, aren’t so lucky — but they still manage to find their way into the hands of various militaries.

We’d love to be a fly on the wall during the sales pitches for the following weapon systems. It’d take the most skilled used-car salesman to get someone to sign on the dotted line for these duds.


Now, this isn’t an exhaustive list. If you’ve got some weapons you’re looking to pawn off on us, feel free to give your pitch in the comments.

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant

The long range of the Koksan would be the centerpiece of any sales pitch.

(USMC photo by Albert F. Hunt)

Koksan self-propelled howitzer- one of the most useless weapons ever

If a used car salesman finds you admiring this North Korean self-propelled howitzer on the lot, then they know they’ve found themselves a potential sucker customer. He’ll be quick to sell you on howitzer’s 37-mile range. Pay no attention to the slow rate of fire, the relative lack of mobility, or the comically long barrel — no, no. Think about that range.

“Why, you can hammer a Paladin LONG before it can get an Excalibur round in play. This baby can reach out and touch a target from beyond the horizon!”

Did he fail to mention the F-16s and A-10s that’ll quickly bomb it out of existence? Whoops.

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant

In some ways, the Vought F7U Cutlass looks good, but you get the sense that driving a Ford Pinto would be a better (and safer) weapon.

(US Navy)

Vought F7U Cutlass

This sleek plane sported a design that was well ahead of its time — and that’s about all it had going.

“This bird is the sleekest jet — doesn’t she look futuristic?

Unfortunately, the future was grim for many who took to the skies (or attempted to) in this plane. It had an extremely ugly flight record — over 25 percent of all Cutlasses built were lost in accidents.

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant

The agility and endurance of the Zero would be top selling points.

(Imperial Japanese Navy)

Mitsubishi A6M Zero

Next, we move down the lot to Japan’s classic fighter, the Mitsubishi A6M Zero. Yes, it dominated at the start of World War II, but we all know how the story ended — not so happily for the pilots. It was nimble and it had long “legs,” but it got that agility and endurance in an aeronautical, Faustian bargain.

Our eager salesman might say, “this is a nimble plane that won’t leave you with a huge gas bill!”

That’s because you won’t live to see that bill. Just one hit turned this plane into a fireball plunging to the ground. A useful weapon if you don’t mind dying.

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant

The only way someone would buy a Brewster F2A is if they didn’t check the PlaneFax report…

(US Navy)

Brewster F2A Buffalo

This plane has the distinction of going head-to-head with the Wildcat for a Navy contract — and winning.

“This plane? She’s a winner. You know the Navy only wants quality — and they picked Brewster. Shouldn’t you?”

Just make sure you don’t open your history books to the Battle of Midway. Its performance there would have you changing your mind.

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant

Lots of firepower and stately accommodations for the admiral and staff… but a kludge under the hood.

(US Navy)

Kirov-class nuclear-powered battle cruiser

These ships feature massive firepower and have all the accommodations that an admiral would love. But in many other ways, they are a kludge. Combined nuclear and steam propulsion? If you think doing proper maintenance on a Ferrari is tough, take a look at this hot mess.

“But it’s got luxurious staterooms and plenty of firepower — who could pass that up?”

Pay no mind to the fact that you can man two Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers with number of crew it’d take to operate a single Kirov.

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant

When they switched from these 6.1-inch guns to eight-inch guns, these cruisers became some of the most blatant floating arms-control-treaty violations in history.

(Imperial Japanese Navy)

Mogami-class heavy cruiser

This vessel’s combination of heavy firepower and high speed is hard to beat. Ten eight-inch guns, a dozen torpedo tubes packing the Type 93 Long Land, and a top speed of 35 knots — who wouldn’t love that combo? Well, the vessels had a shaky combat history after helping sink USS Houston (CA 30) and HMAS Perth in the Sunda Strait. But that’s the least of your worries as a potential buyer.

Let’s just say that these vessels make Russia’s Iskander missile look like an honest mistake in terms of violating treaty compliance. According to the London Naval Treaty, cruisers were to displace no more than 10,000 tons — Mogami and her sisters came in at 13,440 tons. They didn’t survive long enough for treaty compliance to be a worry — all four of vessels of this class were lost in war.

“This ship has it all: Speed, firepower…”

How about something that doesn’t violate arms-control treaties?

MIGHTY TACTICAL

X-20 Dyna-Soar: America’s hypersonic space bomber

Decades before America’s Space Shuttle would roar into the sky, the United States already had plans to field a reusable spaceplane. Born out of Germany’s World War II efforts to create a bomber that could attack New York and continue on to the Pacific, Boeing’s X-20 Dyna-Soar was to be a single-seat craft boosted into the sky atop American rockets.

It would soar in the sky in the blurred line between earth’s atmosphere and the vacuum of space, bouncing along the heavens before releasing its payload over Soviet targets miles below. The X-20 was a 1950s science fiction fever dream born of the nuclear age and the earliest days of the Cold War… And according to some experts, it very likely would have worked.

Operation Paperclip and the burgeoning Cold War

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant
Kurt H. Debus, a former V-2 rocket scientist who became a NASA director, sitting between U.S. President John F. Kennedy and U.S. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson. WikiMedia Commons)

As World War II came to a close, the United States and Soviet Union’s relationship with one another was already beginning to sour. Nazi Germany’s war machine had torn through the continent, often on the backs of Germany’s state-of-the-art military technology, but geopolitics is a game of theater and pragmatism in equal measure. While the world ached for justice, defense officials in both America and the Soviet Union already saw the Cold War looming large on the horizon. Justice mattered in the minds of these leaders, but not quite as much as surviving the next great conflict to come.

Nazi technology had given Germany an advantage on multiple military fronts, and both America and the Soviet Union knew the scientists responsible for these technological leaps would soon be looking for a means to escape prosecution for their roles in the conflict. Both nations, recognizing the strategic advantage their knowledge could offer, quickly set about capturing as many Nazi scientists and researchers as they could. In the United States, this effort to leverage Germany’s scientists came to be known as Operation Paperclip.

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant
V-2 rocket launching, Peenemünde, on the north-east Baltic German coast. (1943)

In all, Operation Paperclip, which was organized by the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency (JIOA) and largely executed by the U.S. Army’s Counter Intelligence Corps, brought some 1,600 German scientists, engineers, and technicians to the United States following the war, where they were given roles in America’s ongoing military and technological efforts. NASA’s famed Wernher von Braun, the man who developed the Saturn V rocket that brought America to the moon, was perhaps the most high profile German scientist to come through Paperclip, but among the others were Walter Dornberger and Krafft Ehricke.

In their newfound roles at Bell Aircraft, an American aircraft manufacturing firm, Dornberger and Ehricke first proposed the concept of a sort of vertical-launched bomber and missile in one. In Germany, they had called this theoretical platform the Silbervogel, or Silver Fish. Today, the plan seems quite logical: The vehicle would be sent aloft atop a rocket booster and propelled all the way into a sub-orbital but exoatmospheric altitude where it would briefly enter space, before gliding down toward the atmosphere and being “bounced” back up thanks to the vehicle’s wings.

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant
Diagram of the planned X-20 Dyna-Soar (WikiMedia Commons)

Today, the idea of launching a reusable spaceplane into a suborbital altitude practically sounds run of the mill, thanks to similar concepts being leveraged by everything from nuclear ICBMs to the most advanced, cutting-edge hypersonic weapons, but Dornberger and Ehricke’s proposal was submitted in 1952 — five years before the Soviet Union would launch the world’s first man-made satellite into orbit. Operation Paperclip was devised specifically to leverage Germany’s scientists to help kick-start America’s own exotic military programs, and in hindsight, it’s hard to argue that the effort wasn’t a success, regardless of the ethical implications.

Working in the shadow of Sputnik

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant
Replica of Sputnik 1 (NASA)

On October 1, 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, the world’s first man-made satellite. It was a small, metal sphere, measuring only about 23 inches in diameter, with four external radio antennas trailing behind it broadcasting signal pulses back to Soviet scientists, as well as the rest of the world. What followed has come to be known as the “Sputnik Crisis” in the Western world.

America had been the de facto world leader in terms of both military and economic might following the end of the Second World War, but the success of Sputnik placed America’s supremacy into question. The Soviets had matched America’s nuclear weapons with a test of their own in 1949, and again with the hydrogen bomb in 1953. Now, instead of matching America’s success, the Soviets were starting to take an intimidating lead.

The United States had taken to developing Dornberger and Ehricke’s concept in three separate programs: a rocket bomber (RoBo), a long-range reconnaissance vehicle (Brass Bell), and hypersonic weapons research. Just days after Sputnik 1 launched, the U.S. re-organized their efforts, combing all three programs into the new single Weapons System 464L program, also known as Dyna-Soar.

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant
Artist’s rendering of the X-20 Dyna-Soar (NASA)

The new Dyna-Soar effort was to mature in three stages. Dyna-Soar 1 would be a research vehicle. Dyan-Soar 2 would add reconnaissance, and Dyna-Soar 3 would incorporate bombing capabilities. America intended to work fast, planning to test the first iteration by 1963 in glide trials, with powered trials to follow the next year. By then, the Dyna-Soar 2 was expected to exceed Mach 18 in powered flight. A missile based on the Dyna-Soar program was expected to enter service by 1968, with the spaceplane itself operational by 1974.

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant
(U.S. Air Force image)

In order to meet these deadlines, proposals were fielded by both Bell Aircraft and Boeing. Despite Bell’s head start, Boeing ultimately secured the contract and set about work on developing what was to be the X-20 Dyna-Soar.

Building a Dyna-Soar

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant
(Boeing photo)

By 1960, the spaceplanes overall design was largely settled, leveraging a delta-shape and small winglets for control in place of a traditional tail. In order to manage the incredible heat of reentry, the X-20 would use super alloys like the heat-resistant René 41 in its frame, and molybdenum, graphite, and zirconia rods all used for heat shielding on the underside of the craft.

“It was a hot-temperature structure using a nickel super alloy,” said Dr. Richard Hallion, former Air Force chief historian.

“The leading edges of the wing would be made of an even more exotic alloy. There was provision for active cooling.”

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant
(Air Force artist rendering of the X-20 Dyna-Soar)

That same year, astronauts were chosen to fly America’s new space bomber. Among them was a thirty-year-old Navy test pilot and aeronautical engineer named Neil Armstrong, who would go on to leave the program in 1962.

By the end of that same year, the program was given the designation X-20 and it was unveiled to the public in a ceremony held in Las Vegas. America’s mighty B-52 Stratofortress was chosen to air-drop the X-20 for in-atmosphere flight tests, and the first firing of the rocket booster intended for higher altitude drop-tests was also a success. The project was incredibly ahead of its time, while somehow also being entirely feasible with the technology of the day. In the early 1960s, it seemed all but assured that America would soon be flying space bombers.

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant
(U.S. Air Force photo)

Once built, the X-20 Dyna-Soar’s first mock-up measured 35 and a half feet long with a 20.4-foot wingspan. It used three retractable struts for landing. Although it would have its own A-4 or A-9 rocket engine to help it reach an exoatmospheric trajectory, it would effectively glide throughout most of its mission, dipping down into the atmosphere just far enough to create lift, which it would use to bounce back up, skipping across the air enveloping the earth like a stone over a pond. It would continue to skip until it had lost enough velocity to prevent another bounce back up, at which point the pilot would glide the craft back down to earth just like the Space Shuttle.

The X-20 Dyna-Soar goes extinct

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant
(U.S. Air Force)

Although the X-20 concept was quite literally out of this world, it was still technically feasible, and early tests suggested that the Dyna-Soar may indeed work as advertised. However, the program was also incredibly expensive, and with the new National Aeronautics and Space Administration moving forward with its Gemini program, America’s civilian leaders were becoming more interested in fielding an actual spacecraft they could use to compete with the Soviets, rather than a weapon that offered little in the way of international prestige.

“If we had pursued it as a black-world program like the U-2, it might have gone ahead,” explained Hallion. “I never saw any technical issue that would have been a show stopper.”

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant
Artist’s rendering of an X-20 during a glide (WikiMedia Commons)

On December 10, 1963, the X-20 program was canceled. The United States had invested $410 million in its development, or more than $3.5 billion in 2021 dollars, but the Dyna-Soar was still a long way off from being the space bomber it was intended to become. Even per Hallion’s positive recollection of the effort, the X-20 was still at least two-and-a-half years away from working and would have required at least another $370 million to complete. A space bomber would indeed offer global range, but in 1957, the U.S. Air Force had demonstrated that the B-52, the same bomber tasked with helping test the X-20, could circle the globe all on its own, without any need for pricey rockets.

Upon canceling the X-20 program, the U.S. government diverted its remaining funding to the Manned Orbiting Laboratory effort that used Gemini spacecraft to demonstrate the value of a crewed military presence in Earth’s orbit.

But the X-20 was not completely swallowed up by history. Elements of the program could be found in NASA’s Space Shuttle, and of course, the Space Force’s secretive X-37B bears more than a passing resemblance to the X-20. The X-37B is not touted as a space bomber and almost certainly isn’t, but the reusable spaceplane may, in fact, be one of America’s most capable reconnaissance assets.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

These night-vision goggles could let troops shoot around corners

US Army soldiers will soon be deploying with game-changing new night vision goggles as the service wraps up the final round of testing this week.

Troops will be putting the Enhanced Night Vision Goggles – Binocular (ENVG-B), recognized as one of the most advanced night vision optics available, to the test at Fort Drum in New York at the last of ten limited user events. Once the testing is complete, the ENVG-B will enter full-rate production with fielding scheduled for this fall, PEO Soldier announced April 22, 2019.

An armored brigade combat team set to deploy to South Korea this fall is expected to be the first unit to deploy with the new system, according to Army Times.


Highlights of the new night vision goggles include dual-tubed binoculars for improved depth perception and increased situational awareness, white phosphorous tubes (a higher-resolution improvement over the traditional green glow), and improved thermal capabilities that allow soldiers to see through dust, fog, smoke, and just about anything else that might impair a soldier’s vision on the battlefield.

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant

(PEO Soldier)

But, the really impressive capability is the ability to wirelessly connect the new goggles to the Family of Weapon Sights-Individual (FWS-I) for Rapid Target Acquisition. With the picture-in-picture setup, soldiers can fire accurately from the hip or point their weapon around a corner to observe or fire on targets effectively while remaining hidden.

This capability “enables soldiers to detect, recognize and engage targets accurately from any carry position and with significantly reduced exposure to enemy fire,” the Army explained.

“Now, if a soldier’s on a patrol, weapon’s down at his hip, all of a sudden a threat pops, instead of having to flip up a goggle, shoulder his weapon, reacquire, he has that aim point in his field of view, and he can actually shoot from the hip,” a BAE Systems spokesman previously told Business Insider. The FWS-I, along with the highly-capable monocular ENVG IIIs, were developed by BAE. The new ENVG-Bs were developed by L3.

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant

ENVG-B

(PEO Soldier)

Army officials have spoken highly of the new goggles and their improved capabilities.

“It is better than anything I’ve experienced in my Army career,” Lt. Gen. James Richardson, deputy commander of Army Futures Command, recently told Congress, according to Army Times. He said there had been been a marked improvement in marksmanship, explaining that Rangers had “gone from marksman to expert” with the help of the new optics.

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant

ENVG-B

(PEO Soldier)


Referring to the Rapid Target Acquisition capability, Brig. Gen. Dave Hodne, director of the Army’s Soldier Lethality cross-functional team, told reporters last fall that he “can’t imagine, right now, any future sighting system that will not have that kind of capability.”

The new goggles are also suitable for augmented reality, an option that allows the Army, and later the Marines, to turn the optics into a virtual reality platform for synthetic training.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Hackers are trading stolen passwords ‘like Pokémon cards’ on the darkweb

If you’re reading this, it’s time to change all of your passwords.

That’s because there’s a good chance that your login information — or, at least, a past version of it — is circulating among secret networks where hackers trade stolen passwords or sell them for profit.

These secret networks are only growing, according to Alex Heid, chief research and development officer at SecurityScorecard, a cybersecurity firm.

“Within the hacking underground community, credentials are bought, sold, and traded for free like Pokémon cards,” Heid told Business Insider. “There are dozens of different hacking forums that have terabytes of information going back 10-plus years.”


These forums primarily operate on the darkweb, a network of encrypted sites that don’t show up in search algorithms. Login credentials and passwords that make it to these forums typically come from massive data breaches, which have happened frequently throughout the past year — in one recent example, 4.9 million DoorDash users’ data were stolen just last week.

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant

(Photo by Alex Ware)

Hackers are using increasingly sophisticated database software to aggregate “combo lists” of millions of login credentials, according to Heid.

Even if hackers only have one set of credentials — for example, a user’s DoorDash login — they can easily make inroads into the user’s accounts on other sites. Hackers use “checkers,” or programs that can take a user’s email address and quickly determine if it’s being used as a login on other sites. From there, hackers typically try to log into those other sites using the same password, betting that their targets use the same password across platforms. In many cases, they’re successful.

“The people who are getting hit by that are the low-hanging fruit who reuse the same passwords,” Heid said.

With hacking becoming increasingly profitable and hackers’ software becoming more sophisticated, there’s no indication that this trend will slow down any time soon. In the meantime, Heid advises that users change their passwords and ensure that passwords are different across different services.

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

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 pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant
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 pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant
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

The Marines want a missile to chase down moving ships in the South China Sea and other contested waterways

The US Marine Corps says it needs ground-launched missiles that can seek out and eliminate enemy ships sailing in contested waterways.


“Part of the homework that the Navy and Marine Corps have done over the past six months is how we think we’re going to need to operate in the future as an integrated naval force,” Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday.

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant

“That means the Marine Corps assumes a role which we have not had in the past 20 years, which is how do we contribute to sea control and sea denial,” he added.

The Marines have practiced striking stationary ships from land and sea with missiles launched from High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, but now the service wants to take it a step further and hit ships on the move.

Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday, Lt. Gen. Eric Smith, commander of Marine Corps Combat Development Command and deputy commandant for Combat Development and Integration, said the Corps wants a system with an active seeker that can chase down a moving ship, something it doesn’t currently have.

“We have to have a system that can go after that,” Smith told lawmakers. “That is what matters in a contested environment in the South China Sea or in the [Indo-Pacific Command] area.”

Changing the calculus of an adversary

The Marines are currently looking at the Naval Strike Missile (NSM), which has a range of roughly 750 nautical miles, as a Ground-Based Anti-Ship Missile (GBASM) solution.

Smith said the service will test fire the system in June.

The NSM is “capable of sea-skimming, high-g maneuverability, and the ability to engage targets from the side, rather than top-down,” according to written testimony submitted to the HASC.

The missile is already deployed aboard Navy littoral combat ships, one of which deployed to the Pacific with the missile last year.

The NSM would be fired from a mobile launch platform based on an unmanned Joint Light Tactical Vehicle called the Remotely Operated Ground Unit for Expeditionary Fires, or ROGUE-Fires, vehicle. The missile and the vehicle together are the Navy Marine Expeditionary Ship Interdiction System (NMESIS), the testimony says.

The GBASM and ROGUE-Fires vehicle are “rapid prototyping and development initiatives” for the Corps, according to documents submitted as part of the service’s 2021 budget proposal.

Both have proven successful in war games and simulations, Berger said Thursday.

“Game-changer is probably an over-the-top characterization, but it definitely changes the calculus of an adversary,” Berger said.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F5e619785fee23d329c37fd13%3Fwidth%3D700%26format%3Djpeg%26auto%3Dwebp&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.insider.com&s=900&h=07d08e99d3e0918ddb1e5df0094c3b788915fbe59964fa07a2b8e055022dc9fc&size=980x&c=2056043177 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F5e619785fee23d329c37fd13%253Fwidth%253D700%2526format%253Djpeg%2526auto%253Dwebp%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.insider.com%26s%3D900%26h%3D07d08e99d3e0918ddb1e5df0094c3b788915fbe59964fa07a2b8e055022dc9fc%26size%3D980x%26c%3D2056043177%22%7D” expand=1]

US Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey conducts a Tomahawk missile flight test in the western Pacific, August 17, 2018.

US Navy/MCS 2nd Class Devin M. Langer

Range beyond restrictions

The fiscal year 2021 budget proposal included a request for 48 Tomahawk missiles, likely the maritime variant, which appears to be first for the Corps.

“What we need is long-range precision fires for a small unit, a series of units that can, from ship or from shore, hold an adversary’s naval force at risk. That missile is going to help us do that,” Berger told the SASC.

The Navy is pursuing a number of long-range anti-ship missiles, among them the Maritime Strike Tomahawk, a maritime variant of the land-attack cruise missile with an active seeker to track moving ships.

Berger said the Tomahawk “could be the answer or could be the first step toward a longer-term answer five, six, seven years from now.”

With the collapse last year of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty — which banned ground-launched missiles with ranges between 500 km and 5,000 km (310 miles and 3,100 miles) — after the US withdrew in response to alleged Russian violations, the Marine Corps has more freedom when it comes to ground-launched missiles.

Asked if the request for Tomahawks was a result of the US withdrawal from the INF Treaty, Berger said he “would assume so” but “hadn’t linked the two together.”

“We just knew we need a long-range precision fires beyond the range that we were restricted to before,” he added.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

How the Navy would defend a fleet under attack at sea

Naval fleets are predominantly created and organized for power projection, taking the fight to the enemy on their turf to ensure that American are safe at home. But the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps do practice defending the fleet at sea should it come under a direct attack.

Here’s how they do it:


Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant

The guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60) fires its Phalanx close-in weapons system during live-fire training exercises in the Atlantic Ocean on August 31, 2018.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael Chen)

The Navy has a number of weapons that are custom designed for protecting ships and personnel. Perhaps one of the most famous of these is the Phalanx Close-In Weapons System. This is the final, goal-line defense against anything above the waterline. Basically, it’s R2-D2 with a 20mm, multi-barrel gun.

The Phalanx is typically associated with cruise missiles, and that’s because it’s one of the few weapons that can destroy cruise missiles in their final attack. But it’s also perfectly capable of attacking other threats, especially slower-moving items in the air, like planes and helicopters.

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant

The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) travels alongside the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) during a replenishment-at-sea.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class William Rosencrans)

Of course, the Marines aren’t content to wait for threats to approach the Navy’s Phalanx, and so, on larger ships like LHAs and LHDs, the Marines can drive their vehicles onto the decks and fire the guns off the ship, striking attack boats or enemies on nearby shores with anything from the .50-cal. machine guns to 25mm Bushmaster cannons to rounds from a 120mm Abrams cannon.

All of that’s in extremis, the-enemy-is-at-the-gates kinda of defense. The next ring out is provided by cruisers and destroyers who try to keep all the threats away from the heart of the fleet.

The beefier of these two is the cruiser. For the U.S. Navy, that’s the Ticonderoga class. It has 122 vertical-launch cells that can fire a variety of missiles. Lately, the Navy has been upgrading the cruisers to primarily fire the Navy’s Standard Missile-3. This baby can hit objects in space, but is predominantly designed to hit targets in the short to intermediate ranges from the ship.

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant

The guided missile destroyer USS Dewey (DDG 105) conducts a tomahawk missile flight test while underway in the western Pacific.

(U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Devin M. Langer)

But the Ticonderogas, and their destroyer sisters, the Arleigh-Burkes, can also carry Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles, Standard Missile-2s, and Evolved SeaSparrow Missiles. Need to hit something below the waterline? Try out the ships’ Mk. 46 or Mk. 50 torpedoes. Both ship classes can fire the torpedoes via rockets, and the Ticonderoga can fire them directly from tubes.

The Tomahawk is the weapon that really increases the fleet’s range, hitting ships at ranges of almost 300 miles and land targets at over 1,000 miles. As attackers get closer, the fleet could start firing the shorter range weapons, like the anti-submarine rockets and SeaSparrows.

But there’s an overlap between the Tomahawks’ range and that of the fleet’s most powerful and longest-range protection: jets. The carrier groups and amphibious readiness groups have the ability to launch fighter and attack jets. As time marches on, these jets will be F-35Bs and Cs launching from carriers and Landing Helicopter Assault and Landing Helicopter Dock ships.

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant

A U. S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet launches from the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman in the Norwegian Sea, October 25, 2018.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Adelola Tinubu)

For now, though, its mostly Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets taking off from carriers and Marine Corps AV-8B Harriers taking off from the LHAs and LHDs. The Harriers can only reach out to 230 miles without refueling, but the Hornets have a combat radius of over 1,000 miles without refueling.

And both planes can refuel in the air, usually guzzling gas from modified Super Hornets, but the Navy is working on a new, specialized drone tanker called the MQ-25 Stingray.

The Super Hornets pack 20mm cannons as well as a variety of air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground missiles and bombs, but their greatest ability to cripple an enemy attack comes from another plane: The E-2 Hawkeye.

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant

An E-2C Hawkeye, assigned to Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron, approaches the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush.

(U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Roland John)

The Navy’s E-2C Hawkeye Airborne Early Warning and Control plane is unarmed and slower than most of its buddies in the sky, but it’s a key part of the Navy’s fleet defense and offense thanks to its massive radar. That radar can see out 340 miles and track over 2,000 targets. It can actively control the interception of 40 targets, helping guide friendly fighters to the enemy.

So, when the Navy’s fleets come under attack, enemies have to either catch them off guard, or fight their way through the concentric rings. Their land-based assets are susceptible to attack from over 1,000 miles from the fleet thanks to ground-attack aircraft and Tomahawks. Their ships are vulnerable at similar ranges from aircraft and 300 miles from the Tomahawks.

As they draw closer, they face SeaSparrows and Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and their fighters can come under surface-to-air missile attacks from the Standard Missile-2. If they actually draw within 20 miles, they start facing the Navy’s deck guns and torpedoes. A short time later, the Marine get in on the fight with their vehicles driven up onto decks.

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant

A Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine participating in Exercise Keen Sword with Submarine Group 7 and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force sailors and staff.

(U.S. Navy photo by Chief Electronics Technician Robert Gulini)

And all of that’s ignoring the possibility that a nuclear submarine is in the water, just waiting for a surface contact to fire their own torpedoes at.

Of course, a determined enemy could use their own large fleet to push through those defenses. Or, a crafty enemy could wait for a fleet to transit a chokepoint and then attack from the shore or with a large fleet of fast attack craft.

That’s the kind of attack the U.S. fears from Iran in the Straits of Hormuz. At it’s most narrow point, the strait is only 35 miles wide. U.S. ally Oman is on one side of the strait, but that still leaves any ships passing through within relatively easy range of Iran, even if they’re hugging the Omani shore.

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant

The expeditionary mobile base platform ship USS Lewis B. Puller transits the Strait of Hormuz, Oct. 22, 2018.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialists 3rd Class Jonathan Clay)

And so, fast attack craft from Iran would be able to target one or two ships as they pass through the Strait, sending dozens of speedboats against the ships, preferably while those ships armed with Phalanxs and missiles are out of range or blocked by other vessels.

And that’s why the Navy makes such a big deal about chokepoints, like the Straits of Hormuz, or certain points in the South China Sea. Multi-billion dollar assets with thousands of humans aboard, normally well-protected at sea, are now within range of relatively unsophisticated attacks from American adversaries.

So, while the Navy needs to protect its fleets at sea, that’s the relatively easy part of the equation. The scarier proposition is taking an attack near hostile shores or being forced to sail into range of the enemy’s shore-based aircraft, where the fleet’s overwhelming firepower finds a strong counter that could cripple it.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This 35-year-old supersonic Russian fighter sees combat worldwide

During the Cold War, the F-111 Aardvark and the slightly larger FB-111 Switchblade were some of the fastest — and best — strike planes the United States Air Force had in its inventory. The F-111 never saw much in the way of export sales (the United Kingdom canceled a planned purchase, Australia bought less than two dozen), but the Russian counterpart to this fast and lethal bomber was sold far and wide.


That plane was the Sukhoi Su-24 “Fencer.” This plane was in the news just a year ago as the perpetrator of one of Russia’s more notorious buzzing incidents. It shouldn’t be a surprise that this plane was selected for those dangerous buzzing missions, though. In a very real sense, the Fencer was operating in its element.

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant
Left side view of a Soviet Su-24 Fencer fighter/bomber aircraft. (Photo from DoD)

Like the F-111, the Su-24 is intended to operate at low levels and at high speeds. It can carry up to 8,000 kilograms (roughly 17,600 pounds) of ordnance, which typically ranges from missiles, like the AS-13 Kingbolt, to dumb bombs and rocket pods. The Su-24 also has an internal 23mm gun that carries 500 rounds of ammo.

Throughout its decades-long service, the Su-24 has been exported all over the place. It saw action with Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War and Desert Storm. Russia used it during combat operations in Chechnya, Syria, and against Georgia. The plane also saw action in the Libyan Civil War. Other countries with Fencers on hand include Ukraine, Algeria, and Sudan.

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant
Three-view recognition drawing of the Su-24. (Photo from DoD)

Most of the 1,400 Su-24s built were configured as bombers, but the plane did see two major variants. One, the Su-24MR, known as the “Fencer E,” is a tactical reconnaissance version. The other, the Su-24MP, is an electronic intelligence version known as “Fencer F” by NATO.

Learn more about Russia’s answer to the F-111 Aardvark in the video below.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OGESCmreZw
(Dung Tran | YouTube)
MIGHTY TACTICAL

This Green Beret will make you a mental commando: Holiday Edition

‘Tis the season for the giving of gifts. ‘Tis also the season of FOMUG (Fear Of Messed Up Gifting). We get it. It’s hard out there for an elf. Team WATM would like to offer you some guidance.


For the aspiring operator or inspired survivalist:

~Tactical training from the man who took Ryan Curtis back to school~

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant
A typical Fieldcraft Survival classroom.  (Go90 Oscar Mike screenshot)

For our final installment of the Mighty Holiday Gift Guide, we want to politely remind you that going out and getting active with a group of likeminded individuals is, when all is said and done, the best kind of therapy for what ails the modern psyche.

Whether you deployed to combat zones or burned your PT belt as soon you could specialize into admin; whether you’re a veteran looking for new purpose on the homefront or a civilian curious about what happens when you push beyond the bounds of civilization; let us suggest, with all requisite seasonal jollity, that you seek out a school like Fieldcraft Survival, squad up with their Tribe and give yourself the gift of training under an expert like Mike Glover.

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant
He’ll make your mind quiet and your aim true.

As a Special Forces Weapons Specialist, Sniper, Assaulter/Operator, Recon Specialist, Joint Terminal Air Controller (JTAC), Team Sergeant, and Operations SGM, Glover spent 18 years acquiring the kind of skillset that would make him a force multiplier in the field and, upon transitioning, the kind of dude who would have to start a survival school.

Covering a range of topics from Pistol and Carbine Training for Gunfighters and Off Road Survival to Active Shooter Tactical Trauma, Fieldcraft Survival strives to prepare its trainees physically and, more importantly, mentally to competently tackle a murderer’s row of worst case scenarios.

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant

Look, it’s easy to return to the comforts of home and get complacent. Honestly, if that’s what you want to do, you’ve earned the right. But brotherhood is what you miss the most about the military. And those bonds can be made anew, out in the bush and the muck, shoulder to shoulder, facing just the right amount of suck to bring up the best in you. When you give yourself a task and a purpose and a struggle to overcome, you invest this second life of yours with meaning.

The holidays can get pretty materialistic. But if you give yourself the right gift – the gift of a challenge – the person you want to be, or wish you were, might be out there waiting for you, just few weeks hard march into next year.

Go get ’em.

And Happy Holidays, from all of us at We Are The Mighty.

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant
Because obviously yes goddamnit. (Go90 Oscar Mike Screenshot)

The 2017 We Are The Mighty Holiday Gift Guide is sponsored by Propper, a tactical apparel and gear company dedicated to equipping those who commit their lives to serving others. All views are our own.

Speaking of Propper, they’re giving away twelve tactical packs filled with gear from our Holiday Gift Guide. Click this link to enter.

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant

Articles

6 kick ass fusions of old weapons with new technology

While the high-tech weapon systems of today are cool, there is always a sense of nostalgia for older weapons. So, what if you could get the best of both? Say, give a classic weapons system a boost from modern technology – or use a blast from the past to make a modern system much better?


Here are a few options:

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant
The M50 Ontos was a marginal tank killer but was devastating against infantry. Imagine what a .50, digital targeting and a remote operation system could do? (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Old System: M50 Ontos

New Systems: Thermal imaging sights, digital fire control and laser range finder from the M1 Abrams; Common Remotely Operated Weapons Station with M2 .50-caliber machine gun

The M50 Ontos is an obscure vehicle that never really had a chance to fulfill its role as an anti-tank weapon, but it proved to be a potent weapon against infantry. Six 106mm recoilless rifles tend to make a point very well.

But the Ontos had to get close to guarantee hits. It also lacked secondary armament beyond a M1919 .30-caliber machine gun. But what if the Ontos had the fire-control system and thermal sights of the M1A2 Abrams? Now the 106mm rifles can gain more accuracy from further out.

The Common Remotely Operated Weapons Station with Ma Deuce can give the Ontos a better chance to keep an enemy RPG team from getting too close.

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant

Old System: M551 Sheridan

New System: M256A1 120mm Gun

The M551 Sheridan once provided a lot of firepower for the 82nd Airborne Division. The air-drop capability meant that the paratroopers were far less likely to be mere speed bumps. And the 152mm cannon could do a number on buildings and bunkers.

But let’s be honest, the gun could be less than reliable, especially when using the MGM-51 Shillelagh missile. So, why not go with the same gun used on the M1A2 Abrams tank? Not only does this gun have the ability to beat just about any tank in the world today, logistics are simpler.

That counts as a win-win.

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant
Oshkosh Defense

Old System: M40 106mm Recoilless Rifle

New System: Joint Light Tactical Vehicle

While systems like the BGM-71 TOW and FGM-148 Javelin provide a punch, those missiles can be expensive. But the need for fire support remains.

So, why not look for something cheaper? The M40 recoilless rifle could fit that bill. The shells are cheap, pack a decent punch, but they also can limit collateral damage in ways that a missile can’t (there’s no need to worry about burning fuel).

Think that is a stretch? In his book, “Parliament of Whores,” P.J. O’Rourke recounted how an Army unit pulled recoilless rifles out of storage for Operation Just Cause.

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant
The A1 Skyraider was one of the most badass CAS planes in Vietnam. What about making it into an A-10 equivalent? (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Old System: A-1 Skyraider

New Systems: AGM-114 Hellfire, Joint Direct Attack Munition, Paveway Laser-Guided Bombs, M230 chain gun, Sniper ER Targeting pod — aka a crap ton of modern aerial firepower.

The Spad did much of what the A-10 does now: it loitered, carried a big bomb load, and was generally loved by ground troops.

So, what would be a more interesting fusion than to do to the Spad what was done for the A-10 – to wit, give it the ability to use precision-guided weapons?

The Spad could carry up to 8,000 pounds of bombs. Imagine how many targets one equipped with JDAM or Hellfire could take out in a single sortie!

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant
Ready the guns! Full broadside!…(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Old System: Sail Frigate USS Constitution (IX 21)

(Relatively) New System: M116 75mm Pack Howitzer

USS Constitution (IX 21) kicked a lot of butt during her service career. But imagine what this lightweight (1,439 pounds) howitzer would do.

It’s hard to imagine which would be the bigger game-changer in a fight: The higher rate of fire that the M116 would provide, or the high-explosive shells it could shoot up to five and half miles away.

Army pilot’s invention could have saved Kobe Bryant
(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Old System: 8-inch/55 Mk 71 Gun

New System: Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer

Let’s face it. The later versions of the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers could use a little more anti-surface punch. The answer may lie in bringing back the Mk 71, an eight-inch gun capable of firing up to 12 rounds a minute. This could also help alleviate the shortfalls in fire support with the retirement of the Iowa-class battleships and the truncation of Zumwalt production from 32 vessels to three. Eight-inch rounds abound, and the precision guidance used on Excalibur, Copperhead, and Vulcano could be adapted to this gun as well.

Old System: W48 155mm nuclear projectile

New System: Excalibur, Copperhead and Vulcano precision guidance systems

With a yield of .072 kilotons (that is 72 tons of TNT), the W48 was intended for use against tactical targets from a 155mm howitzer. But artillery rounds can miss (no, it’s not about hitting the ground). But suppose you merged the W48 with the Excalibur, creating a W48 Mod 2? Now, that 128-pound package puts that .072-kiloton warhead within ten feet of the aiming point. Excalibur is not the only option: The laser-guided Copperhead and OTO Melara’s Vulcano packages would make the W48 a very potent weapon.

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