The Army is upgrading to a new rifle optic - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Army is upgrading to a new rifle optic

On September 30, 2020, U.S. Army Contract Command awarded a $77,168,400 contract to SIG Sauer to equip soldiers with the Direct View Optic for use on the M4A1 carbine. The outgoing M150 Rifle Combat Optic, manufactured by Trijicon as the TA31RCO, provides soldiers with a fixed 4x magnification and is effective out to 500 meters. The new DVO allows the end-user to quickly switch between 1x and 6x magnification and boasts an increased effective range of 600 meters.

The Army is upgrading to a new rifle optic
A soldier fires an M4A1 equipped with an RCO (U.S. Army)

Introduced by the Army in 2007, the RCO makes up a relatively small portion of the service’s M4 carbine optics. Though equipment varies by unit, the majority of soldiers are issued rifles equipped with the M68 Close Combat Optic. Manufactured by Aimpoint as the CompM2, the CCO was accepted by the Army in 2000 and is a non-magnified red dot reflex sight designed for use with the M4 out to an effective range of 300 meters.

The Army has not said whether or not the DVO will eventually replace the CCO as well. While the CCO excels at close-quarters fighting thanks to its reflex reticle, the Army’s requirement for the DVO stated that, “The DVO will be capable of variable power magnification with minimum magnification of 1.0x with no rounding and maximum magnification greater than or equal to 6.0 power.” The “1.0x with no rounding” is important because it calls for the DVO to provide a true 1x magnification setting; many commercial Low Power Variable Optics provide close to, but not true, 1x magnification. This requirement is given reasoning in the Army’s notice. “Variable power magnification optics combine the capabilities of the non-magnified optic’s ability to engage close quarter targets with a fixed-magnification optic’s ability to detect, recognize, identify, and precisely engage targets at extended ranges,” the Army explained. “This allows the Soldier to have both critical capabilities without the limitations of either non magnified or fixed magnification optics.”

The Army is upgrading to a new rifle optic
The SIG Sauer Tango6T selected for use by DMRs and SOF (SIG Sauer)

Given these requirements, it would not be unreasonable to think that the Army may try to distribute the DVO across entire infantry squads. After all, the Marine Corps has already done just that with its new Squad Common Optic. On February 23, 2020, the Marine Corps announced that it had awarded a $64,000,000 contract to Trijicon to supply its infantry with the Variable Combat Optical Gunsight 1-8×28 mm rifle scope for use on the M4 carbine and M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle weapon systems. The SCO is set to begin replacing the Corps’ RCO during the first quarter of fiscal year 2021.

While the exact model of SIG Sauer LPVO is unknown, there is speculation that the DVO may be the company’s Tango6T 1-6×24 mm SFP scope. The Tango6T has already been selected for use on the Army’s M110A1 Squad Designated Marksman Rifle, a derivative of the Heckler & Kock G28/HK417, and general use by Special Operations Forces.

The contract allows for delivery of the DVO over the next five years. However, it is unknown how many of the new optic the Army plans to acquire from SIG Sauer, further lending to the theory that the DVO may replace the CCO as well.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Air Force wants new, high-tech helmets for flight crews

The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Human Systems Division working with members of the Advanced Tactical Acquisition Corps or ATAC, one of the center’s premier leadership development programs, are in the early stages of acquiring the next generation helmet for aircrews in fixed-wing aircraft with the exception of the F-35.

Recently, with recommendations from ATAC, the Human Systems Division awarded $600,000 in grants via AFWERX Vegas to three companies to develop and present prototypes for the helmet by the end of May 2019.


The team worked closely with AFWERX Vegas, an Air Force innovation hub specializing in engaging entrepreneurs and private sector vendors, to identify the pool of companies that could potentially develop the new helmet faster, more efficiently and with cutting edge technology.

Replacing legacy helmets on fixed-wing aircraft has become a priority in part because over time new requirements have added sub-systems, and devices, that the helmets were not originally designed for.

The Army is upgrading to a new rifle optic

A helmet sits turned on at a booth during AFWERX Helmet Challenge at the Enclave Las Vegas, Nev., Nov. 14, 2018.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bryan T. Guthrie)

“It (legacy helmet) is a 1980’s designed helmet that was not made to withstand and balance everything — technology — that we are putting on them,” said 1st Lt. Naomi Harper, a program manager with the Human Systems Division. “If the weight is off, the center of gravity is completely off, which can cause neck issues and pain. Our goal is to find a helmet that is lighter, has more stability and is compatible fixed-winged aircraft and equipment.”

Michael DeRespinis, program manager with the Human Systems Division said that working with AFWERX has been beneficial in that it has helped increase competition to replace the helmet and is facilitating the rapid delivery of prototypes.

DeRespinis also said that the division would like to select one of the prototypes and put that company on contract by Sept. 2019 for further development activity and future production.

Because of AFWERX Vegas, a process that in the past would have taken years to complete, will now only take months, which in turn will allow the Human Systems Division to field the helmets to aircrews faster.

The Army is upgrading to a new rifle optic

An Airman and an attendee of the AFWERX Helmet Challenge discuss new helmets at the Enclave Las Vegas, Nev., Nov. 14, 2018.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bryan T. Guthrie)

The ATAC team comprised of a group of competitively selected mid-level military and civilian acquisition professionals from across AFLCMC, the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Space and Missile Systems Center, are focused not only on supporting the Human Systems Division during this process, but also on figuring out the best way to transition technology.

“Innovation hubs like AFWERX are starting to spin up around the Air Force,” said Adam Vencill, a member of ATAC and a program manager by trade. “A challenge the Air Force has is getting products on contract that comes out of these hubs. We (ATAC members) were tasked to create a business model that helps that transition process.”

Nicole Barnes, ATAC contract specialist and member said that working with AFWERX, the Human Systems Division and being part of a rapid acquisition process has been rewarding. She added that the ATAC program is an example of leadership’s commitment to the workforce and to positive change.

This article originally appeared on the United States Air Force. Follow @usairforce on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Here’s what equipment the Navy uses to clear mines

Naval mine countermeasures have not gotten a lot of attention in the press, which is strange considering that the job is crucial. Of the last four US Navy ships damaged by hostile action, three were by mines — the other was an Oct. 2000 terrorist attack on the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67).


In 1988, the Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58) suffered severe damage from an Iranian mine, which put the vessel out of action for over a year. During Operation Desert Storm, the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG 59) and the Iwo Jima-class amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LPH 10) were both damaged by mines.

So, what keeps today’s Navy safe from deadly mines?

The Army is upgrading to a new rifle optic

USS Scout (MCM 8), an Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship, in Los Angeles for Fleet Week.

(U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Derek Harkins)

11 Avenger-class mine countermeasures ships

The Navy built 14 of these vessels, starting with USS Avenger (MCM 1), which was commissioned in 1987. Prior to that, the bulk of the Navy’s minesweeper force consisted primarily of World War II-era vessels. The other 13 Avenger-class vessels entered service within the following seven years. Eleven of these ships are still in service. USS Avenger and USS Defender (MCM 2) have been decommissioned, and one vessel, USS Guardian (MCM 5), ran aground and was a total loss.

These vessels have a top speed of 14 knots and a crew of 84 officers and enlisted. Their primary systems for mine warfare are remote operated vehicles that can descend hundreds of feet below the ocean to neutralize mines.

The Army is upgrading to a new rifle optic

A MH-53 Sea Dragon lowers its mine-hunting sonar.

(US Navy photo by MCSN William Carlisle)

30 MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopters

The Navy operates 30 of these heavy-lift helicopters that were acquired in the 1980s. While they bear a superficial resemblance to the CH-53E Super Stallion, there are some big differences. Most notable is the fact that they have larger sponsons to hold more fuel. They can also carry additional fuel tanks in the cargo compartment.

The MH-53E has a maximum range of 885 miles and a top speed of 172 miles per hour. These helicopters tow a mine-sweeping sled and can operate from any aircraft carrier or amphibious assault ship. These helicopters are slated to retire in 2025.

The Army is upgrading to a new rifle optic

A MH-60S Seahawk helicopter hovers while a technician drops down to handle a mine.

(U.S. Navy photo by MC3 Devin Wray)

256 MH-60S Seahawk multirole helicopters

This helicopter will assume the airborne mine-countermeasures role among the many other missions it carries out when the Sea Dragons retire. This versatile helicopter is responsible for vertical replenishment, combat search-and-rescue missions, anti-surface warfare, medical evacuation, and supporting special operations forces. They can operate from any carrier, amphibious vessel, or surface combatant.

This helicopter has a top speed of 180 knots and a maximum range of 245 nautical miles. While the 256 MH-60S helicopters purchased by the Navy offer a lot of versatility, the range and endurance are a significant step down from the Sea Dragon.

The Army is upgrading to a new rifle optic

USS Coronado (LCS 4), an Independence-class littoral combat ship, is intended to help replace the Avenger mine countermeasures ships.

(U.S. Navy photo by MC2 Kaleb R. Staples)

12 Littoral Combat Ships

So far, the Navy has commissioned 12 littoral combat ships. These ships were primarily intended to replace the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates, but also being given double duty in also replacing the Avenger-class mine countermeasures vessels. Their mine-clearing capability is based on a mission package that is centered around the use of MH-60S helicopters and remote-operated vehicles.

The littoral combat ship has been controversial due to numerous breakdowns and a smattering of other issues, and the production run is being cut short in favor of new guided-missile frigates.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The hilarious real reason why the F-22 can’t be hacked

Star Trek would be a lot less interesting if we found out the Enterprise didn’t run on an advanced isolinear computing system but instead ran on something like MS-DOS. We might laugh at how incredulous that work of science fiction would be. But in today’s U.S. Air Force, the F-22 – one of the most advanced fighters ever made – runs on a similar disparity.

But of course, the Air Force will remind you that it isn’t science fiction, it’s what they do every day.


The Army is upgrading to a new rifle optic

Every. Day.

The F-22 program was killed at the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in an effort to reshape the U.S. military. The F-22 was designed as an air superiority fighter to take on advance fighters from China and Russia in air combat, not support troops on the ground. At the time, American troops were focused on insurgencies and ground combat. Until the terrorists started flying F-14s, there was little perceived need for such a fighter. Now that the U.S. military is refocused on great power wars, the need for such a program is becoming more apparent.

The F-22 is the fastest combat aircraft in the U.S. Air Force, even after the development of the F-35. It can detect and attack enemy aircraft from miles away, even if the enemy isn’t yet able to detect the incoming Raptor. In one instance, a Raptor was able to pop up from underneath two Iranian F-4 Phantoms and tell them to go home, which they promptly did, presumably to change their shorts.

The Army is upgrading to a new rifle optic

It wasn’t like this, but it could have been.

Just the presence of a Raptor in a battlespace is enough to clear the skies of enemy aircraft. In a great power war with a country like China, the Raptor would be an indispensable part of the Air Force order of battle. Raptors will quickly disperse in order to keep China from targeting them with ballistic missiles. Their stealth and air combat abilities would then be used to escort C-17s and frustrate Chinese fighters, as well as any Chinese efforts to jam their communications. That’s due in large part to the pilots’ advanced training and the advanced stealth technology aboard the airframe. But the reason Chinese hackers couldn’t hack their computers is something different altogether.

The technology is more than 35 years old.

The Army is upgrading to a new rifle optic

Like this, except on one of the world’s most advanced killing machines.

When the billion fighter was cut from the Pentagon budget, there was a lot of joking surrounding the fighter, that the United States had developed a weapon it would never use in combat – after all, until that point the F-22 hadn’t flown a combat mission over either of the two wars the U.S. was actually fighting. Former Navy Secretary John Lehman, found a silver lining, telling the Wall Street Journal that at the very least, the plane’s computer technology was safe from Chinese hackers.

“No one in China knows how to program the ’83 vintage IBM software that runs them,” he said.

Ten years later, the F-22 has definitely flown combat sorties over Syria and the rise of China and Russia, and their fifth-generation fighters, some of the technology stolen from the United States, might have the Pentagon wishing they had more Raptors.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Lynx might be the most versatile helicopter ever

Some helicopters are loved because they carry a lot of firepower, like the AH-64 Apache. Others, like the CH-47 Chinook, are loved for their ability to haul troops and gear. Some helicopters, like the UH-1 Iroquois, are beloved icons from a past war. The AgustaWestland Lynx, however, is none of these things, but it has been a valuable asset for the Royal Navy and British Army for nearly three decades.


The typical Lynx has a crew of two, a top speed of 158mph, and a maximum range of 426mi, but it’s this chopper’s versatility that makes it stand out. Here’s a look at the Lynx in its various roles.

Troop carrier

As a troop carrier, the Lynx holds eight infantrymen. This is a small payload compared to the UH-1 (which is capable of holding 13 troops), but eight troops is the size of a British section (their term for a squad-sized unit). In this role, the Lynx usually packs two guns, either 7.62mm general-purpose types or .50-caliber heavy machine guns.

The Army is upgrading to a new rifle optic
A Lynx AH.7 in utility helicopter mode, where it can haul eight troops. (DOD photo)

Anti-tank gunship

In this role, a Lynx packs eight BGM-71 tube-launched, optically-tracked, wire-guided missiles. The TOW, as you might recall, has been a mainstay for the United States and a number of its allies since the Vietnam War. The Lynx also can carry 70mm rockets in pods, giving it more options for ground targets.

The Army is upgrading to a new rifle optic
The Lynx is also a potent tank-killer with the BGM-71 TOW missile. It also can carry 70mm rockets. (Royal Navy photo)

Maritime operations

The Lynx is used by a number of navies, from the Royal Navy and French Navy (the two original customers) to the South Korean and Royal Thai navies. The primary weapons of the Lynx are Stingray anti-submarine torpedoes and Sea Skua anti-ship missiles. The Lynx saw some use as an anti-sub chopper in the Falklands War, but in an actual engagement with an Argentinean sub, it used its Sea Skuas – not the weapon you’d expect.

The Army is upgrading to a new rifle optic
The Lynx HMA.8 served with the Royal Navy until its retirement last year, being replaced by the AW159 Wildcat. (DOD photo)

The Westland Lynx family of helicopters, in its various roles, will be around for a long time – especially with the development of the AW159 Wildcat, a souped-up, anti-submarine variant of the Lynx.

Articles

DARPA wants your mess cranks to be robots

The Army is upgrading to a new rifle optic


DARPA is making your next kitchen appliance in the form of a robot named Baxter that can learn to cook your favorite dishes from watching YouTube videos.

Also watch: The 7 coolest high-tech military projects

According to DARPA researchers at the University of Maryland, funded by the agency’s Mathematics of Sensing, Exploitation and Execution (MSEE) program, recently developed a system that enabled robots to process visual data from a series of “how to” cooking videos on YouTube. “Based on what was shown on a video, robots were able to recognize, grab and manipulate the correct kitchen utensil or object and perform the demonstrated task with high accuracy – without additional human input or programming,” DARPA said.

These scientists throwing the calculus of “cooking is as much of an art as it is a science” way off. Perhaps one day having a personal robot chef will be as commonplace as having a toaster, microwave or blender.

“If we have robots that are humanoid and they have hands, that will be the next industrial revolution,” said Yiannis Aloimonos, University of Maryland computer scientist. “I am particularly very happy to be participating in this revolution because it will change fundamentally our societies.”

Still, it’s hard to imagine Chef Ramsay getting any satisfaction out of yelling at a robot on an episode of Hell’s Kitchen . . .

The Army is upgrading to a new rifle optic

Here’s the robot in action.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Army doubles firing range for artillery and rockets

The Army recently demonstrated extended ranges for the guided multiple launch rocket system, and two 155mm cannon artillery precision munitions.

Aligning with the Army’s top priority — Long-Range Precision Fires — these changes support the force’s need for both close and deep-strike capabilities against a near-peer adversary.

Last fall, the Army conducted demonstrations of the new XM1113 and Excalibur M982 munitions from a prototype Extended Range Cannon Artillery, or ERCA self-propelled howitzer


The XM1113 Insensitive Munition High Explosive Rocket Assisted Projectile is slated to replace the Army’s aging M549A1 rounds. Currently, the M549 rounds can reach about 30 km.

The XM1113 reached 72 km during a demonstration, said Rich Granitzki, Long-Range Precision Fires Science and Technology Advisor for Combat Capabilities Development Command, or CCDC, at Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey.

The Army is upgrading to a new rifle optic

The XM1113 consists of a high fragmentation steel body with a streamlined ogive, the curved portion of a projectile between the fuze well and the bourrelet, and a high performance rocket motor. The projectile body is filled with insensitive munition high explosive and a supplementary charge. On gun launch, propellant gases initiate a delay device that will ignite the rocket motor, boosting velocity at an optimal time in the trajectory to maximize range.

(US Army photo)

Similarly, the Excalibur M982 is a Global Positioning System-guided, extended-range artillery projectile, supporting the Army’s next generation of cannon artillery.

During a limited-range test, the M982 exhibited an increase in range, going from 40 to 62 km, Granitzki added.

Moving forward, ammo modernization and improvements to cannon technologies will play a vital role in optimizing these and other armaments technologies to reach “extended ranges and to get increased rates of fire,” Granitzki said.

“We are still maturing our demonstrators, component technology and subsystems, in advance of future demonstrations to transition our systems to programs of record,” he added.

GMLRS

The Army has also made improvements to the XM30 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System, or GMLRS, nearly doubling its range.

The current XM30 rocket is a GPS-guided high-speed rocket equipped with small wing-like controls on the nose of the projectile to enhance accuracy. The XM30 system has an advertised range of 70 km, said Mike Turner, fire support capability area lead supporting CCDC Aviation Missile Center.

To extend the XM30’s range, the Army moved the control fins to the rear of the device, Turner said. In addition to the tail controls, the Army redesigned the nose of the rocket to make it aerodynamic, equipped the device with a light-weight composite motor, and added propellant.

The Army is upgrading to a new rifle optic

Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System.

(US Army photo)

In result, the new Tail Controlled Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System, or TC-G, reached 139 km during a demonstration at altitude.

“This takes a product that exists in the Army’s inventory and nearly doubles the range,” he said. “By moving the control surfaces to the rear, we’re giving it more control, maneuverability, and range.”

To support the new device, the Army fabricated a composite smooth-bore tube, ensuring a clean launch for the guided rocket,” said Brett Wilks, a TC-G program manager.

In theory, these tubes could be retrofitted to existing launch systems, resulting in no significant impact to current Army software or hardware, he added

CCDC completed the science and technology phase of the program in September 2018. The Army looks to transition the program to an initial operating capability in the next couple of years, Turner said.

“It is our mission at CCDC AvMC to look at future concepts and reduce risk. We showed the Army what’s capable for long-range missile systems,” he added.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Air Force will retire the B-1 for stealthy new B-21s

The Air Force is mapping a two-fold future path for its B-1 bomber which includes plans to upgrade the bomber while simultaneously preparing the aircraft for eventual retirement as the service’s new stealth bomber arrives in coming years.

These two trajectories, which appear as somewhat of a paradox or contradiction, are actually interwoven efforts designed to both maximize the bomber’s firepower while easing an eventual transition to the emerging B-21 bomber, Air Force officials told Warrior Maven.


“Once sufficient numbers of B-21 aircraft are operational, B-1s will be incrementally retired. No exact dates have been established,” Maj. Emily Grabowski, Air Force spokeswoman, told Warrior Maven. “The Air Force performs routine structural inspections, tests and necessary repairs to ensure the platform remains operationally viable until sufficient numbers of B-21s are operational.”

The Army is upgrading to a new rifle optic
U.S. Air Force artist rendering of B-21 Raider

The B-21 is expected to emerge by the mid-2020s, so while the Air Force has not specified a timetable, the B-1 is not likely to be fully retired until the 2030s.

Service officials say the current technical overhaul is the largest in the history of the B-1, giving the aircraft an expanded weapons ability along with new avionics, communications technology and engines.

The engines are being refurbished to retain their original performance specs, and the B-1 is getting new targeting and intelligence systems, Grabowski said.

A new Integrated Battle Station includes new aircrew displays and communication links for in-flight data sharing.

“This includes machine-to-machine interface for rapid re-tasking and/or weapon retargeting,” Grabowski added.

The Army is upgrading to a new rifle optic
Top view of B-1B in-flight.
(U.S. Air Force photo)

Another upgrade called The Fully Integrated Targeting Pod connects the targeting pod control and video feed into B-1 cockpit displays. The B-1 will also be able to increase its carriage capacity of 500-pound class weapons by 60-percent due to Bomb Rack Unit upgrades.

The B-1, which had its combat debut in Operation Desert Fox in 1998, went to drop thousands of JDAMs during the multi-year wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The B-1 can hit speeds of MACH 1.25 at 40,000 feet and operates at a ceiling of 60,000 feet.

It fires a wide-range of bombs, to include several JDAMS: GBU-31, GBU-38 and GBU-54. It also fires the small diameter bomb-GBU-39.

This article originally appeared on Warrior Maven. Follow @warriormaven1 on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Air Force just got new tankers – and they’re already too late

On Jan. 25, 2019, officials from Boeing and the Air Force gathered at Everett Field in Washington state to see off the first two KC-46 Pegasus tankers, celebrating with specially made cookies and classic rock.

When the tankers landed at McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas for delivery to the Air Force, it was the culmination of two decades of work, coming after two years of delays and more than $3 billion in penalties incurred by Boeing.


It also came more than six months after Congress made an official suggestion about the Air Force’s next tanker.

The Army is upgrading to a new rifle optic

Fire engines from the 22nd Civil Engineer Squadron fire department salute the first KC-46A Pegasus delivered McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, Jan. 25, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Michaela Slanchik)

In their markup of the 2019 defense budget in June 2018, members of the Senate Armed Services Committee expressed concern about growing threats to “large high-value aircraft in contested environments.”

The Air Force’s tankers allow greater operational availability and range for fighters and bombers, but “these assets are manned and increasingly difficult to protect,” the committee said.

“Given the increasingly challenging operating environments our potential adversaries are presenting, it is prudent to explore options for optionally unmanned and more survivable tankers that could operate autonomously as part of a large, dispersed logistics fleet that could sustain attrition in conflict,” the committee added.

Committee members recommended an extra million in spending on Air Force research, development, testing, and evaluation — bumping the total to .4 million.

The Army is upgrading to a new rifle optic

A KC-46A Pegasus aerial refueling tanker connects with an F-15 Strike Eagle test aircraft, Oct. 29, 2018.

(US Air Force photo by Master Sgt Michael Jackson)

Those lawmakers are not the first to broach the adoption of unmanned tankers.

Boeing is researching automation for its commercial aircraft, though that is partly an effort to address a protracted pilot shortage affecting commercial and military aviation. Russian aircraft maker Ilyushin is working on a similar project, aiming to develop an unmanned transport aircraft for use remote or difficult-to-reach areas.

In 2016, the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command chief, who oversees tankers and other transport aircraft, said the service was looking ahead to advanced technology for the KC-Z — a tanker that could enter contested areas and refuel advanced aircraft.

But Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said this weekend that the service is no longer looking for at single platforms to address major challenges.

The Army is upgrading to a new rifle optic

A KC-46A crew member starts to unload cargo at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, Sept. 17, 2018.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt Steven M. Adkins)

“The days of buying individual platforms that we then described as game changers — those days are behind us,” Goldfein said when asked about potentially buying a stealth tanker to support fifth-generation fighters like the F-35, according to Aviation Week.

“There actually are no silver bullets on the horizon,” he added.

The Air Force chief has said the service should look to prepare for a networked battlefield, fielding assets that can connect and share with each other. He returned that theme this weekend, while flying to Andrews Air Force Base.

The Army is upgrading to a new rifle optic

A KC-46A crew member inspects the refueling boom at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, Sept. 17, 2018.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt Steven M. Adkins)

“I actually don’t know if the next version of tanker operates in the air or operates at low Earth orbit,” he said, according to Aviation Week. “I don’t know if it’s manned or unmanned, and I actually don’t care that much as long as it brings the attributes we need to win.”

That new approach may see the head of Air Mobility Command working on the next tanker in coordination with the Air Force Space Command, which Goldfein said “makes perfect sense to me.”

While the future of the Air Force’s tankers remains open-ended, the KC-46 — of which the Air Force expects at least 36 by the end of 2019 — still has definite goals to meet. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, the service’s top civilian official, confirmed this month that the tanker’s wing refueling pods won’t be certified by the FAA until 2020.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This carbine was the predecessor to the AK-47

The AK-47 assault rifle is one of the most classic firearms of all time. It has seen combat all across the world — in the both the hands of national armies and various non-governmental entities, like terrorist groups, insurgencies, and drug cartels. But did you know there was a predecessor to the AK-47?


That rifle is the SKS, which, arguably, is responsible for popularizing the 7.62x39mm cartridge used in the AK-47. Officially, it was known as the SKS-45. This rifle, in some senses, is fairly similar to the M1 Garand. It’s semi-automatic (meaning it fires one shot each time the trigger is pulled) and has an internal magazine (albeit one loaded with stripper clips instead of the en bloc clip used by the M1). The SKS holds ten rounds of ammunition.

The Army is upgrading to a new rifle optic

Communist China made over eight million SKS rifles, including those held by these sailors with the People’s Liberation Army Navy.

(U.S. Navy photo)

Seeing action from World War II to the War on Terror

Some of the SKS prototypes saw action against Nazi Germany in World War II, but the rifle didn’t have a long service career with the Soviet Union. The AK-47’s introduction quickly shifted the stock of SKS rifles into the hands reserve units or allies. Other Soviet-friendly nations, including Communist China, produced it under license. The Chinese made at least eight million of these rifles.

In China, their version of the SKS, the Type 56 carbine, served for a long time alongside their version of the AK-47, called the Type 56 assault rifle. After the 1979 Sino-Vietnamese conflict, both of these weapons were replaced by the Type 81 assault rifle. Despite that, Russian and Chinese SKS rifles continue to see action across the world — the rifles are prominently mentioned in a 2003 report about guerrilla warfare in East Timor and have been spotted in the eastern portion of Ukraine, where Russian-backed rebels are fighting the central government.

The Army is upgrading to a new rifle optic

Many SKS rifles were passed on to Soviet allies during the Cold War.

(DOD photo by CMSgt Don Sutherland)

Because the rifle is not capable of fully-automatic fire, the SKS has been imported into the United States for the civilian market, where it has gained a lot of popularity. The SKS may have first seen action over 70 years ago, but it will likely see use, in one capacity or another, for decades to come.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Check out this Batman-like device that binds a suspect without using force

Police around the country have begun using a new tool that comes straight out of comic book lore: a device that shoots out a cord, binding a person’s arms or legs together.

The BolaWrap 100, which some media organizations have compared to a tool from Batman’s utility belt, was developed by Las Vegas-based Wrap Technologies. It allows the police to fire a Kevlar cord, and wraps tightly around a person.

Wrap Technologies has touted the benefits of the device as a way to subdue suspects without using force. But last week, when Los Angeles Police Department leaders told the city’s board of police commissioners that it intended to test the device for a trial period in January, the LA Times reported that critics pushed back at this notion.


One member of Black Lives Matter, Adam Smith, told commissioners the department would probably deploy the tool mostly in minority communities, according to the LA Times.

Wrap Technologies has said over 100 police agencies across the country currently use the Bola Wrap.

The Army is upgrading to a new rifle optic

(Wrap Technologies)

The Army is upgrading to a new rifle optic

(Wrap Technologies)

The Army is upgrading to a new rifle optic

(Wrap Technologies)

The Army is upgrading to a new rifle optic

(Wrap Technologies)

Or, it binds their legs together, restricting their movement.

The LAPD intends to start testing the device during a trial period in January.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Watch this U-2 spy plane get torn down in 2 minutes

The iconic U-2 spy plane debuted in 1955, and it’s still deployable thanks to a meticulous inspection called the Programmed Depot Maintenance every 4,700 flight hours.


This incredibly complex process requires technicians to disassemble and strip the paint off the entire plane to analyze every part and make repairs. Over 1,800 individual parts are removed and revised and 40,000 rivets inspected. After completion, the aircraft is reassembled and repainted before returning to the flight line.

For a plane that’s flown over the Soviet Union, Cuba, Korea and other places around the world since its secret introduction to the inventory, it has proven its worth. The Air Force keeps 33 of them on standby and plans to keep it flying until at least 2019.

This time lapse video from Sploid shows the entire process in under two minutes:

Sploid, YouTube

(h/t Kelsey D. Atherton at Popular Science)

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The way big ships are launched looks completely insane

Getting a new ship into the water is, presumably, the most important part of building a seafaring vessel. But not all ships are created equal — some are simply massive. They all need to get in the water somehow… can’t we just toss that bad boy in there?

Yes. The answer is yes, we can.

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Traditionally, shipbuilders construct a ship-launching slipway — this is, essentially, a ramp that will slide a ship of any size into the water at full force. There are four ways of going about this:


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1. Gravitational

This is something many of us have seen before. A ship slides sideways into the water on a ramp. That ramp has either been made slick with oil or wax, uses steel rollers, or detaches with the ship and is later recovered. The oldest ship-launching method was powered by gravity and is known as longitudinal oiled slideway launching. It uses minimal equipment, but makes heavy use of oil, which can pollute the water.

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…it’d be a whole lot cooler if you did.

2. Floating-out

Ships built in drydocks are typically launched this way. Using locks, the drydock is filled with water and the ship simply floats out when launched. This is a much less violent way of launching a ship than throwing it over the side of the dock, but it’s also way less cool. Think about that — you could just chuck the Disney Fantasy directly into the Caribbean…

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At least the boat was launched, right?

3. Mechanical

Why throw a ship into the water when you can place it there, like a reasonable, civilized person? For those less interested in a cool launch and more interested in keeping their smaller craft from sinking, a mechanical assist is a great option. Large ships, of course, can’t just be picked up and slowly moved, so this method’s for the lesser vessels.

Keep in mind, however, that introducing any additional element to launching a ship opens more areas for potential chaos.

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4. Air bags

This method is the safest for any size ship. The newest form of launching, employed primarily by Asian shipbuilders, uses these hardcore rubber airbags to slowly put a new ship to sea. It’s a safe way for smaller shipyards that may not have access to a slideway to get crafts in the water.

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