Check out the Army's augmented reality helmet display - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

Check out the Army’s augmented reality helmet display

Several new technologies are being developed that, once combined, will provide Soldiers an unprecedented overview of the battlefield.


That assessment came from Army personnel at Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center’s Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate here, who hosted a recent media visit.

Those technologies involve the marriage of micro-displays with augmented reality.

Micro-display

The Army’s preferred method of acquiring new technologies is to use what industry is already developing for consumers, or modifying that technology for its own use, said Rupal Varshneya, an electrical engineer at CERDEC.

The Army employs its scientists and research laboratories for designing needed technologies that industry is not interested in pursuing, she said. Such was the case when the Army needed a very bright, high-definition micro-display, about the size of a postage stamp.

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Rupal Varshneya, an electrical engineer at Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center’s Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate, Fort Belvoir, Va., looks through a micro-display.
(U.S. Army photo by David Vergun)

First off, the Army approached makers of smartphone, tablets, TVs and even the gaming industry, she said. None of them were interested in making the micro-display because they didn’t foresee consumer demand or profit potential.

So Army researchers at CERDEC went to work.

David Fellowes, an electrical engineer at CERDEC, said researchers worked in stages building displays with progressively greater capability. About eight years ago, they developed a monochrome version.

Then, several years later, researchers developed a new silicone technology and manufacturing methods that enabled the micro-display to increase in brightness, he explained.

“If you’ve ever tried looking at your cellphone on a sunny day, it’s really hard,” he said. The increase in display brightness was such that Soldiers would now be able to see the tiny micro-display in sunlight.

Although the technology was being developed for dismounted Soldiers, other program managers took notice, he said. For example the program manager responsible for Apache helicopters wanted their pilots to have them for head-mounted displays.

They are not yet fielded for the Apaches, but a contract for them has already been signed. Other program managers wanted them for night vision goggles and even for weapons sights, he added.

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An early monochrome version of a micro-display developed by researchers at Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center’s Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate, Fort Belvoir, Va.
(U.S. Army photo by David Vergun)

The next step, he said, was to develop an extremely high resolution, 2048-by-2048-pixel display in full color. That advancement came to fruition recently, and some of them were on display.

Augmented reality

The next phase of development had to do with taking the improved micro-display and pairing it with augmented reality, using the Nett Warrior system.

Sgt. 1st Class Justin Nelson, in charge of Soldier testing at CERDEC, was suited up in the Nett Warrior System, with a helmet-mounted micro-display attached. The media could see what he was seeing in his micro-display on a large TV screen.

Previously, Soldiers had a small radio attached to their chest, he said. Whenever they needed to get location coordinates or other data they had to look down and lost situational awareness to their front. Nelson compared it to a person walking across a busy street looking down at a cellphone. “Not good.”

The micro-display attachment to the helmet allows Soldiers to stay focused on what’s in front of them, he said.

The micro-display not only gives Soldiers a clear view of what’s ahead of them, night or day, it also can accommodate overlays such as maps and symbols showing friendly forces and enemy forces. In this way, it replaces traditional night vision goggles.

Furthermore, information that’s wirelessly fed into the micro-display, such as maps and symbols, can be shared among other Soldiers using the device, as well as leaders in the tactical operation center, he said.

Check out the Army’s augmented reality helmet display
A newer full-color version of a micro-display developed by researchers at Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center’s Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate, Fort Belvoir, Va.
(U.S. Army photo by David Vergun)

They all have the ability to share the same picture of the battlefield and can add or manipulate the symbols as needed, he said.

Researchers are also adding micro-displays on the Soldiers’ weapons and feeding that display into the one attached to the

Soldiers’ helmets via a tablet worn on the waist. That enables Soldiers to get a split view of what’s around them plus the target the weapon is trained on, he said.

So if the rifle is pointed rearward and the Soldier is looking forward, the image shows both views, he explained, adding that creates novel ways for Soldiers to fire their weapons, such as shooting over a wall without being exposed.

The entire system is currently being tested by Soldiers at Fort Benning’s Maneuver Center of Excellence, he said.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Air Force wants to recall 1,000 retirees to active duty

Good news for U.S. Air Force retirees: The service has expanded plans to not only welcome back retired pilots into active-duty staff positions, but also combat system officers and air battle managers.

To help alleviate its manning shortage, the service is encouraging retirees from the 11X, 12X and 13B Air Force Specialty Codes to apply for the Voluntary Retired Return to Active Duty Program, it announced May 23, 2018.


It could take in as many as 1,000 former airmen.

“Officers who return to active duty under VRRAD will fill rated staff and active flying staff, test, training and operational positions where rated officer expertise is required,” said VRRAD Rated Liaison Maj. Elizabeth Jarding of the Air Force’s Personnel Center.

“We can match VRRAD participants to stateside or overseas requirements where they’ll fill critical billets that would otherwise remain vacant due to the shortage of rated officers,” Jarding said in a service release.

Airmen who are currently in rated positions in those specialties but have already put in their retirement orders will also be welcome to extend their service in the VRRAD program, the release said.

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Capt. Brad Matherne, 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron pilot.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brett Clashman)

The program expansion comes as the Air Force faces a growing deficit of 2,000 pilots, or roughly 10 percent of the total pilot force.

Previously, the VRRAD program — one of many efforts the service is making to ease the shortage — accepted only the 11X career field and remained limited in scope, said Air Force Personnel Center spokesman Mike Dickerson.

“The program was limited by law to a maximum of 25 participants and for a maximum 12-month tour, which limited officers to serving in non-flying staff positions,” Dickerson told Military.com on May 23, 2018.

Active-duty tour lengths have now increased to a minimum of 24 months and a maximum of 48 months, he said. VRRAD participants will deploy only if they volunteer, unless they are assigned to a combat-coded unit, the release said.

“Many who inquired expressed interest in the stability afforded by a longer tour. In addition, longer tours also afforded the potential to utilize these officers in flying as well as non-flying positions, providing more time to requalify and be effectively utilized in various airframes,” Dickerson said in an email.

To date, the 2017 VRRAD program has approved 10 officers, and five have returned to active duty, he said.

“We anticipate that will continue with the expanded authorities,” Dickerson said, adding the officers currently in the program could expand their tour lengths.

Some of the criteria for the expanded VRRAD program have changed: Eligibility applies to rated officers who received an active-duty retirement within the last five years or those in the window to retire within 12 months of their VRRAD date of application, the personnel center said.

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(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Samuel King Jr.)

Airmen must have previously served in the ranks of captain, major or lieutenant colonel, and must be under age 50. Those who are 50 and older may be considered on a case-by-case basis. Previously, the criteria applied to those age 60 and younger in those ranks.

“Applicants must be medically qualified for active duty and have served in a rated staff position within 15 years or been qualified in an Air Force aircraft within 10 years of application for flying positions,” the release said.

Officers who retired for physical disability reasons are not eligible to apply.

The personnel center will accept applications for VRRAD until Dec. 31, 2018, or until all openings are filled, the release said. Those who return to active duty will not be eligible for the service’s aviation bonus nor promotion consideration.

In 2017, the Air Force asked for expanded authorities for its retention shortfalls. As a result, in October 2018, President Donald Trump signed Executive Order 13223, which allowed the service to recall up to 1,000 former pilots.

The Air Force has said it does not plan to force anyone back on active duty involuntarily in any capacity. Officials said at the time they would work through how they could best use the executive order to voluntarily recall pilots.

Officials said additional VRRAD application procedures and eligibility requirements can be found on the VRRAD page of the AFPC public website.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @military.com on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

‘Bring every ship in’: Former Navy secretary says it’s time for drastic measures to fight coronavirus

Former Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said the US fleet is facing an “acute problem” with the coronavirus pandemic and that it needs to make drastic measures to combat the disease.

In a “Pod Save The World” podcast released on Wednesday, Mabus pointed out why Navy sailors and Marines were particularly susceptible to the disease. News of the podcast was first reported on by the Navy Times.


“People do not have any way to social distance on any Navy ship, but particularly a carrier,” Mabus said. “You’ve got almost 5,000 people here. And they literally are on top of each other.”

Mabus said it was “distressing that it doesn’t look like they have a plan” implemented after the political scandal that roiled aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt earlier this month.

As of Wednesday, 615 sailors aboard the ship tested positive. The majority of its crew members have been evacuated to in hotels in Guam, where the ship is in port.

The ship’s commander, Capt. Brett Crozier, was relieved of command on April 2 after he emailed a letter to his colleagues about the urgent situation aboard his ship. The letter was eventually leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle, which published its contents. Crozier was fired for what the then-acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly described as circumventing the chain of command.

Modly later resigned on April 7, after he visited the USS Theodore Roosevelt and delivered a profanity-laced speech about the situation on the ship.

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USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) sails in the US 5th Fleet area of operations.

Wikimedia Commons

According to Mabus, Capt. Crozier’s instincts were correct.

“I think what they need to do is bring every ship in,” Mabus said. “Offload, like the captain said, offload most of the crew … a little bit in a rolling fashion … leave a very skeletal force on board, sanitize the ship, quarantine people for two weeks, make sure nobody’s got COVID.”

“And then once they go back on that ship, whether it’s in port or it’s going to sea, they don’t get off the ship until this crisis is mitigated,” Mabus added.

Mabus admitted that the unorthodox approach of calling in every ship in the service was not ideal, but added it was necessary given the spread of the disease.

“It’s going to be hard because they may be inport in Norfolk or in San Diego, and once they go back on the ship and the ship is COVID-free, they’re not going to get off to see their families,” Mabus said. “But if we don’t do that, I think you’re going to see the situation that played out on the [USS Theodore Roosevelt] play out over and over again — not just on those big ships, but virtually every ship that we have in the Navy.”

Mabus’ comments come as the Defense Department reported over 5,000 coronavirus cases. Over 2,800 of the personnel are US service members, 85 of which are hospitalized as of Wednesday. One Navy sailor has died after contracting the coronavirus.

Mabus served as the Navy secretary from 2009 to 2017 and also served in the Navy as a surface warfare officer in the 1970s.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

The military origin of ‘turning a blind eye’ to something

There’s something to be said for aggressively pursuing the job you want. For British Admiral Horatio, Lord Nelson, that opportunity came at the Battle of Copenhagen when the famous admiral disobeyed the orders of a less-famous, less successful one in the funniest way possible.


Lord Nelson was arguably England’s most famous military mind, and without a doubt, one of its most famous admirals. By the time the British engaged the Danes at Copenhagen, Nelson had been commanding ships for more than 20 years and had been in command as an Admiral for nearly as long. But Nelson wasn’t in overall command of the British at Copenhagen. That honor fell to Britain’s Sir Hyde Parker, but Sir Hyde wasn’t as aggressive as Lord Nelson, certainly not aggressive enough for Nelson’s taste.

Until the Battle of Copenhagen, Parker was considered a very good commander, commanding Royal Navy ships for some 40 years in fights from Jamaica to Gibraltar. But Hyde was more of an administrator than a battlefield leader, sticking close to the rules of naval combat. This wasn’t a problem for anyone until 1801, when he ordered the Royal Navy at Copenhagen to disengage.

Nelson wasn’t having it.

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Unlike Parker, Nelson was known to flaunt the doctrine of naval warfare at the time. He is famous for saying, “forget the maneuvers, just go straight at them.” Nelson was aggressive without being careless and had a sixth sense for the way a battle was flowing. From his ship closer to the fight, he could tell that the attack needed to be pressed. Parker was further away from the fighting, in a ship too heavy for the shallower water closer to Copenhagen. So when he was ready to disengage – as doctrine would have him do – he raised the flag signal.

Nelson is said to have put his telescope up to his blind eye, turned in the direction of Parker’s flagship, and allegedly said:

“I have a right to be blind sometimes. I really do not see the signal.”
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Nelson knew the battle would go his way, and even though some of his ships did obey the disengage order, most of the frigates did not. The battle began to turn heavily in favor of the British, with most of the Danish ships’ guns too heavily damaged to return fire. Denmark would be forced into an alliance with the British against Napoleonic France and received protection from Russia. For his actions, Nelson was made a viscount, and Parker was recalled to England, where he was stripped of his Baltic Sea command.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This cocktail recipe was kept secret by U.S. Marines for over 200 years

The story begins in pre-revolutionary Philadelphia.


As a result of early trading with Caribbean countries, colonists along the fishing ports massed great quantities of rum and citrus fruits.

These fish houses, as they were called, kept punch bowls of Fish House Punch in their outer foyers to entertain guests as they waited to be seated.

The combination of rum, brandy, lemon juice, water, and sugar gained a reputation for packing a punch among early colonists, including Continental Marines.

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U.S. Marine Corps legend, Gen. Victor “Brute” Krulak (center) insisted that this drink be served at every one of his birthday celebrations after 1940.

“The recipe for true Fish House Punch was kept secret for almost 200 years,” according to Gary and Mardee Regan’s review on Fish House Punch, located on the Amazon.com website. “The Formula was first developed at the Fish House Club, also known as the State in Schuylkill, or simply the Schuylkill Fishing Company in Philadelphia, an organization formed in 1732 by a group of anglers who liked to cook.”

According to the Regans, the Fish House Punch recipe fell into public hands some time around the beginning of the 20th century, and the formula has been seen in print many times over the past hundred years.

Nevertheless, for those who mix this historical punch, the history surrounding it is legendary and so is the taste.

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.

Check out the Army’s augmented reality helmet display

(Wrap Technologies)

Check out the Army’s augmented reality helmet display

(Wrap Technologies)

Check out the Army’s augmented reality helmet display

(Wrap Technologies)

Check out the Army’s augmented reality helmet display

(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 CULTURE

MightyScopes for the week of March 18th

It’s Noadamus again, and I’m here welcome to the magical land of right now. Where the past is done and what it means is open to interpretation, the future is so far away you may never live to see it. Right now is the only moment you are guaranteed. Lightning could strike you down a second from now, a car could wander into your lane an hour from now, but right now, you are alive.

So, you should totally check out your horoscope, because if you are gonna die, you might as well open your mind hole to some wisdom from the stars first. Besides, you’ll probably be fine — this week.

See you soon, and remember, do flutter kicks.

Sincerely, Noadamus.


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Pisces

If you find yourself complaining about free food and booze, stop. It’s free. If you don’t like it, don’t eat it. This is a good general rule. Most of the great things we are all blessed with in this life are not of our own making. You’re tall? You can’t take credit for it. You’re naturally creative? It’s a gift. When you take those gifts and develop them and feed them in healthy ways, you should feel both proud and grateful. When your life is perfect, little problems keep you from getting bored and complacent. This week will reminded you to pay attention and review your weaknesses and spend some real time addressing them. It could quite literally save your life this week. So do that PMCS and don’t finger drill it, corporal.

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Aries

You have so many secrets that they are beginning to escape into other areas of your life. Wouldn’t it be easier to say f*ck it and just be yourself? You claim to be authentic and you are, for the most part, but don’t try so hard. Who cares if your friends don’t like your relationship choices? They don’t even like their own relationship choices. And if you find yourself doing the walk of shame back to the barracks right before morning PT, everybody will know about it before formation anyway. No point in hiding, so hit the shower and get out there, Marine.

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Taurus

This week starts at a steady pace jumps to a sprint by the weekend. You are relentless. Grind everyone to dust with your continuous pace. Keep yourself centered and use this inertia to propel yourself into the future. While everyone around you is spinning, troubles roll right off your back this week. Keep moving this week and your efforts will be soon rewarded. If additional fitness or combatives training presents itself, jump on it. You’ll thank me for it later.

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Gemini

A whole lotta excitement is coming your way in the relationship department, but not all of it is good. As the week starts, your social circle is displeased with your relationship choices, but by the end of the weekend, they will have accepted the idea and everyone will probably party their faces off, which means at least everyone’s doing something together. You have many things happening in the background, and by next week they will demand almost all of your attention.

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Cancer

You might find yourself wondering how your job can be so incredibly rewarding and terribly soul-crushing at the same time. This is the duality of life, which the Cancer sign represents, btw. Things change — constantly — but before you decide to change things on your terms, take a knee, face out, and drink water. Do what needs to be done this week, the rest might resolve itself. Besides, worrying about it only affects the way you feel.

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Leo

This week is a gift; technically, every moment is a gift, but this week is also a time of advancement. Let me rephrase —this is the time where you do the work that will pay off with incredible success later. Spending all week at the range? That will come to fruition soon. Embarking on a new fitness program? A more functional and aesthetically pleasing form awaits you in the near future. Your home and family life is far from perfect, but it is improving. Be grateful for what you have right now while working for a better future. You’re welcome, Chief. Consider yourself counseled.

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Virgo

While you might not be the most adventurous person out there normally, this week ramps your risk-taking impulses up 11. Admittedly, you are extremely well suited to be victorious at the current moment, but no one wins at everything. So if the reward is not worth the risk, it’s a waste of valuable and limited time. Go kick some ass and have fun doing it; you deserve it.

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Libra

The politics of power rule your home and family life, which is especially true at the moment. However, in addition to being oppressive and restricting, your familial connections are likely to aid in your investment or earning capacity. The secret to gaining this advantage without being consumed by family melodrama: Assert yourself as a powerful and influential member of the family who wishes to improve and grow the family with said advantage, then go do it.

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Scorpio

You want the good news or the bad news first? The good news — finances are improving. The bad news — you are still spending way more money than you are bringing in. Money is meant to be spent, right? Totally, but wasting is different than spending. Your relationship is consuming other areas of your life, which is not a bad thing. Just remember you can’t go along with it now and complain about how your life is no longer your own later.

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Sagittarius

One of your least favorite things is demanding way too much of your time this week. Yes, it is making you money and providing you with a sense of identity and purpose, but it is also getting in the way of doing whatever you want. Work can be tedious and a job does restrict your freedom, to some degree. But it increases your ability to so many other things you want in your life. So, put on those combat boots and get your ass to formation. Besides, civilians don’t get paid to blow sh*t up. Unless they are in demolitions, or mining, or maybe some other stuff, too…. Just shut up and move out.

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Capricorn

Holy intensity, Bat Person! (no trademark infringements here) You are so smoldering right now; just be careful to maintain control over yourself so you don’t explode. Your creativity is ramped up to high this week. I’m not just talking about your much-neglected hobbies. We are talking all creativity. From innovative ideas at work to new moves on the field to your secret poetry (I won’t tell anybody) to creating babies. In this extremely fertile period in your life, remember: Always practice safe poetry.

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Aquarius

Listen up, private. The federal income tax system is not a conspiracy to steal the hard earned wealth of the average citizen. Okay, maybe it is a little, but it is also supposed to go to improving and maintaining public services and areas facilities of public use. So, even though you ‘don’t believe in taxes,’ you can still be audited (and just might be this year). So, you should probably review all of those ‘expenses’ you claimed this year.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Hackers used fake horoscope apps to spy on users

Conversations with Google Home or Amazon Alexa have never been strictly confidential — both companies have admitted that they send some audio snippets to workers who listen to voice recordings to help improve the software.

But a group of whitehat hackers have now demonstrated that third-party apps hosted by Google Home or Alexa can also log users’ conversations, even after tricking users into thinking the apps aren’t active.

Developers at Germany’s Security Research Labs created four Alexa “skills” and four Google Home “actions” that pose as astrology apps or random number generators but are designed to secretly listen to people’s voice and send a transcript back to third-party servers. Certain versions of the app mimic Alexa or Google Assistant, pretending to offer a software update and asking users to input their password.


All eight of the apps passed Amazon or Google security checks, meaning they could have been made available for public download on either platform, according to the researchers.

“Customer trust is important to us, and we conduct security reviews as part of the skill certification process,” an Amazon spokesperson told Business Insider. “We quickly blocked the skill in question and put mitigations in place to prevent and detect this type of skill behavior and reject or take them down when identified. It’s also important that customers know we provide automatic security updates for our devices, and will never ask them to share their password.”

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A Google spokesperson told Business Insider that the company is taking steps to prevent similar issues going forward.

“All Actions on Google are required to follow our developer policies, and we prohibit and remove any Action that violates these policies. We have review processes to detect the type of behavior described in this report, and we removed the Actions that we found from these researchers. We are putting additional mechanisms in place to prevent these issues from occurring in the future,” the Google spokesperson said.

Here’s how the apps work: First, they gave users the expected message — either a randomly generated number or a brief horoscope. Next, the apps go silent, giving users the impression that the software has closed, while still listening to conversations and sending a copy of transcripts to a third-party server.

The malicious apps can also impersonate Alexa or Google Home to ask users for sensitive information. As demonstrated in the videos below, the apps give the impression that the software has closed, then impersonate Alexa to prompt users to input their password to download a software update.

Smart Spies: Google Home Phishing

www.youtube.com

Smart Spies: Amazon Alexa Phishing

www.youtube.com

The researchers have already taken the apps offline and said they have privately reported their findings to Google and Amazon.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

America might need to derail an Indian purchase of the T-14

Russia may have a major buyer interested in its next generation T-14 Armata battle tank.

Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat is currently on an official visit to Russia, where he will tour several military facilities and discuss defense deals worth over $10 billion, according to Russian and Indian media.

One of the topics of conversation will be the T-14 Armata battle tank and other platforms part of the Armata universal chassis system, according to The Diplomat, which cited Indian defense sources.


Russia’s Armata Universal Combat Platform is based on a single chassis that can be used for other Armata vehicles, such as the T-14 tank, the T-15 (or Terminator 3) Infantry fighting vehicle and the Koalitsiya-SV self-propelled howitzer.

In November 2017, India announced it was looking for 1,770 combat vehicles to replace its aging arsenal of Soviet armored vehicles, made up mostly of Soviet T-72s tanks.

New Delhi plans to build whichever vehicles it ends up choosing in India with help from the manufacturer.

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A 2S35 Koalitsiya-SV.

But a US law known as the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which President Donald Trump signed in August 2018, could throw a wrench in any future deals.

CAATSA sanctions any country trading with Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors, but sanctions could be avoided by a new provision in the National Defense Authorization Act that allows the president to exempt sanctions on any purchases.

Initially, Moscow said it would put 2,300 T-14s into service by 2020, but has massively scaled back procurements due to budget constraints.

Moscow signed a contract for 132 T-14 and T-15 platforms in late August 2018, with the first nine getting delivered in 2018, and the rest by 2021, Russian state-owned media outlet TASS reported.

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

Articles

4 high-tech gadgets that will make America’s newest carrier awesome

The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier PCU Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) – PCU stands for Pre-Commissioning Unit – completed its sea trials earlier this month. This was supposed to have happened a while ago – in fact, the Navy retired USS Enterprise (CVN 65) in 2012 based on the assumption the Ford would be ready in 2015.


The Gerald R. Ford, like the Littoral Combat Ship and the Zumwalt, had its design hiccups. But it also has a number of new technologies – major advances over the Nimitz-class that has been a bulwark for America since 1975.

So, what makes this $10.44 billion carrier so special? Why spend $26 billion to make a whole new design? Well, here is some of what we got for it:

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U.S. Navy photo

1. More Flight Deck Space

The Gerald R. Ford’s flight deck has been re-designed to help generate at least 25 percent more sorties per day than the Nimitz-class carriers can. Among the ways this was done was to reduce the number of aircraft elevators from four to three. The carrier’s island has been moved back by 140 feet, and it is 20 feet shorter. They also moved it three feet more from the center.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication 1st Class Joshua Sheppard

2. EMALS

The Electro-Magnetic Aircraft Launch System is perhaps the biggest change on these vessels. The traditional method to launch planes for decades has been the steam catapult. While it has done the job, there is a huge price paid by the aircraft. Really, the entire carrier launch and recovery cycle has been a case of officially-sanctioned Tomcat, Hornet, Phantom, Hawkeye, Viking, and Greyhound abuse.

Or, in a shorter version, carrier planes get the sh*t beat out of them.

EMALS is different. According to a 2007 DefenseTech.org article, it allows much more precision in terms of how much force is used to launch a plane. This lessens the stress on the airframe, allowing a combat plane to last longer. That precision also allows it to launch lighter and heavier planes than the current steam catapults.

There are other benefits, too, including fewer steam pipes around the ship, and reduced maintenance requirements.

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An F-14B Tomcat is catapulted from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) during evening flight operations in the Persian Gulf on Dec. 4, 2004. DoD photo by Airman Kristopher Wilson, U.S. Navy. (Released)

3. Advanced Arresting Gear

The carrier landings – really controlled crashes – are another item that new technology will change. Like EMALS, this system is intended to reduce the stress on airframes. This system has been plagued by trouble, drawing fire from the DOD’s Inspector General. The San Diego Reader reported that the IG claims the system is still “unproven.”

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher Gaines

4. New Reactors

The carrier is also debuting the new A1B reactors from Bechtel. The big change here is that the plant delivers 300 percent of the electrical output that the reactors on board the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and her sisters can. GlobalSecurity.org notes two other benefits: The A1B requires less manning, and it has about half of the pipes, valves, condensers, and pumps. This cuts the maintenance requirements a lot.

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USS Gerald R. Ford underway, propelled by two A1B reactors. (US Navy photo)

All in all, if everything works, the Gerald R. Ford will be able to do more than a Nimitz can do, while having less crew on board.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Now we know why Kim Jong-un killed his brother

Kim Jong Nam was the heir apparent to the world’s only dynastic Communist regime. His fall from grace came when he was apprehended in Japan trying to get into Disneyland Tokyo. Since then, the son of the late Kim Jong-Il and half-brother to current North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un was stripped of his inheritance and eventually exiled, paving the way for Kim Jong-un’s rise to power. Even that came to an end.


Kim Jong-Nam was assassinated in a Malaysian airport in 2017, under the guise of a prank, with VX nerve agent. And now we know why – he was informing the CIA.

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The avid gambler was sprayed in the face with the toxic agent and would die after a seizure before he could ever reach the hospital. VX is the most potent of all nerve agents. Colorless and odorless, it will trigger symptoms in seconds if inhaled. It can cause paralysis, convulsions, loss of consciousness, respiratory failure, and death. Kim Jong Nam was dead within minutes of his exposure. Two women approached him on his way home to China and rubbed their hands on his face.

Worst of all, Kim was carrying atropine autoinjectors on his person at the time, an indication that he was expecting such an attack from his younger brother. Reports indicate that Kim Jong Nam had been marked for death for at least five years – since his brother first took power.

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Kim Jong-un came to power in 2012 after the death of Kim Jong-Il.

Now, the Wall Street Journal reports the reason why Kim Jong Nam was doomed to die was his cooperation with the American Central Intelligence Agency. For years, Kim regularly met with agents and contacts in the CIA, though the exact details on the nature of his relationship to the agency are unclear. Since Kim Jong Nam had been exiled from the Hermit Kingdom for more than a decade, what he could tell the CIA about the situation in Pyongyang is not known. The Wall Street Journal added that Kim was likely in contact with intelligence agencies from other countries, especially China’s.

Kim’s purpose for going to Malaysia was to meet with a Korean-American businessman, suspected of being a CIA operative himself, on the resort island of Langkawi. After his killing, members of his family were taken from Macau by North Korean dissident groups and are now in hiding.

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That time Russian troops repelled Germans with just their mangled faces

Built in the 19th century, the Osowiec Fortress was constructed by the Russian Empire in what is now eastern Poland as a way to defend its borders against the Germans. It was a strategic location for Russian troops.


On September 1914, German forces turned their attention to the fortress and launched a massive offensive, looking to gain control of the stronghold.

They bombarded the fortification with artillery guns for six days straight. However, the Russian troops managed to successfully counter their incoming attacks and continued to man the fort.

Also Read: That time pancakes helped fight the Japanese in WWII

 

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Osowiec Fortress as it stands today, as a museum. (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

Despite Russian fortitude, the Germans remained optimistic as they decided to deploy their massive 420mm caliber cannon known as “Big Bertha.” The Germans pounded the fort and expected a quick surrender from the Russians within. Although the fort suffered greatly, it didn’t crumble, sustaining heavy fire for months to come.

In early July 1915, German Field Marshal Von Hindenburg took command and came up with a new offensive.

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German Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg (left) (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

 

 

The Germans decided to use poisonous gas on their enemy knowing that the Russian troops didn’t have gas masks. 30 artillery guns hit the range and launched 30 gas batteries at the fort on Aug. 6.

A dark green smog of chlorine and bromine seeped into the Russian troops positions. The grass turned black. Tree leaves turned yellow. Russian copper guns and shells were covered in a coat of green chlorine oxide.

Four Russian companies stationed at the fort were massacred as they pulled the poison into their lungs.

Related: 6 easy ways for a grunt to be accepted by POGs

Once the gas cleared, 14 German battalions surged in to finish the job. As they approached, Russian troops from the 8th and 13th companies, who came into contact with the poison, charged the Germans. Their faces and bodies were covered in severe chemical burns and the troops reportedly spit out blood and pieces of infected lung as they attacked.

Seeing this gruesome images caused the German troops to tremble and quickly retreat. In the process, many got caught up and twisted in their own c-wire traps.

Within the next two weeks, the fort’s survivors finally evacuated the area. Later on, the newspapers reported this story, calling it the “Attack of the Dead Men.”

Check out Simple History‘s animated video below for more about this incredible story.

 

(Simple History | YouTube)

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Master fitness trainers help soldiers prepare for combat

Master Fitness Training instructors work tirelessly to coach soldiers from across the Army in developing new ways to prepare them for combat, while in the process, helping increase readiness and lowering profiles up to 40%, says the fitness school NCOIC.

Wanting to better understand the effectiveness of the fitness program, Master Sgt. Joseph Komes, U.S. Army Physical Fitness School noncommissioned officer in charge, used a roster based on thousands of soldiers, all previously certified at the school, and sent a questionnaire to understand the school’s effectiveness.

Shortly after, the responses started pouring in.


“What I started seeing was that trainers were increasing their unit readiness,” he said. “The way I measured unit readiness was only by PT scores and profile rates, because, I’m just one guy in an office trying to figure out if what we’re doing is working.”

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(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Michael J. MacLeod)

Komes also determined individual units, armed with certified fitness trainers, decreased their profile rates by close to 40%. However, Komes added, “I don’t know if those individuals were on a two-week profile and they just ended up falling off during the training program or what.”

That said, the responses were useful and answered his question. In addition, it gave fitness instructors at the school a better understanding of how worthwhile their program is, and with the Army Combat Fitness Test in its second phase of implementation, the timing couldn’t be better, he said.

Scheduled to be the test of record in October 2020, the ACFT is the Army’s largest physical fitness overhaul in nearly four decades. Like physical readiness training, something the instructors are experts in, the ACFT is part of a larger “reset” to build a more combat-ready force.

To meet the demands of the six-event ACFT, instructors from the school have already certified thousands of soldiers from around the Army to develop physical programs to bring back to their units. In addition, the selected soldiers are trained on a variety of skills vital to the ACFT, including how to set up the testing field, as well as supervising and grading the test.

According to Komes, in the past, physical training programs “lost touch” with combat readiness. Regarding PT, soldiers were forced to “run four days out of the week and ruck on the fifth,” which led to injuries and an overall decrease in a soldier’s lethality.

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Georgia Army National Guard Soldiers conduct a sunrise run during annual training at Fort Stewart, Ga., Jan. 11, 2017.

(U.S. Army photo by Capt. William Carraway)

He added, “That’s just the way PT was always done, and it’s our job is to help soldiers sit down and strategically assess their mission, and prevent injuries from happening. [They should think] Okay, I have a training event nine weeks from now — where we’re going to enter a building and clear room — how do we physically, and safely prepare for this?”

That’s where the master fitness trainer comes in, he said.

“These days, we have better knowledge to increase overall unit performance during a deployment,” he said. “[Master Fitness Training instructors] are doing their best to implement that [knowledge] and shape the future for the Army.”

When fitness instructors certify trainers, they’re thinking of each individual soldier and the unique needs required to be successful — even at that basic level, he said.

“We’re looking at them as individuals and not just as just a big mass,” Komes said. “I think with the ACFT around the corner, it seems like that’s the mindset that’s important, because every person has their own requirements.”

Komes added, it’s vital for trainers to know their soldiers and know what they need to be successful on the ACFT.

“Our trainers understand that we have to physically prepare individuals to complete the Army’s mission,” he added. “It’s very humbling for us to give soldiers, from all three components of the Army, the tools to succeed because the folks who leave here go back to those individual soldiers.”

“Everyone is different,” he said. “Some soldiers could be attached to National Guard units, and implementing a PT program once a month is challenging, or they could be military police and work odd shifts.”

Being able to “crack the code and see the challenges from different perspectives” is a daily task the trainers and instructors grapple with, he said, adding, that “having a fitness trainer all the way down to the platoon level” would be ideal. However, the trainers who leave the fitness school only reach the company level, for active duty.

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U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Danny Gonzalez, Recruiting and Retention Command, New Jersey Army National Guard, carries two 40-pound kettlebells during the Army Combat Fitness Test

(New Jersey National Guard photo by Mark C. Olsen)

“We already know each individual is different, but each individual platoon is different, too,” he said. “Each platoon is training for a different goal.”

That’s also where certified master fitness trainers come in, he added. “Certified trainers are able to go to their units with a wealth of knowledge, and look at essential task list and identify the most daunting task and develop a physical fitness program based on those tasks to increase the overall performance.”

When Komes first arrived at the fitness school in 2012, the ACFT wasn’t a thought on anyone’s mind. Today, it seems to be everyone’s first thought, he said.

This change leaves the instructors with a large responsibility on their backs — to ensure the force is ready. But, it’s a responsibility they carry with pride, he said.

“When we conduct MFT training, we ensure each certified trainer has a plan for their unit,” he said, adding thousands of certified trainers are among the force already.

“They’re out there, they’re already in units, and hopefully commanders understand what they bring to the fight,” Komes said.

For soldiers uneasy with the ACFT, Komes recommends they reach out to their local master fitness trainer, or identify who it is through their chain of command.

The Master Fitness Training Course is broken into two phases — a self-paced, 60-hour online phase and a two-week, 76-hour in-residence phase. The curriculum covers everything from exercise science, PT program design, leadership, physical fitness assessment and unit physical readiness programs, aligned with current Army doctrine and regulations.

After graduating from the course, soldiers are equipped to advise units on physical readiness issues and monitor unit and individual physical readiness programs.

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

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