The 6 most favored automatic weapons - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

The 6 most favored automatic weapons

Automatic weaponry has been a major asset to the United States Military for a long time now. There’s been a lot of innovation since James Puckle patented his famous gun in 1718 — arguably the world’s first “machine gun.” It should come as no surprise that much of this innovation was spurned on by centuries of warfare.


In the form of machine guns, submachine guns, and automatic rifles, the United States has used a slew of automatic weaponry on battlefields across the globe since World War I. Many of these weapons hold a special place in the hearts and minds of the service members who employed them. These are the favorites:

M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle

This is the youngest item on the list, but it’s certainly worth the mention — the M27 IAR began its service in the Marine Corps in 2010 after years of testing. A personal favorite of Marines all across the Corps (especially the one writing this article), this bad boy fires a 5.56x45mm NATO round and is magazine-fed (which is considered a major disadvantage to the automatic riflemen who employ it). It offers the option of semi-automatic fire for when fully automatic is not ideal.

Though there is plenty of debate surrounding the replacement of the M249, the M27’s magazine-fed, closed-bolt system is what makes it ideal for use within a fire team. It requires only the person carrying it to operate it. The downside is that the operator will have to carry a ton of extra magazines.

The 6 most favored automatic weapons
Use caution when talking sh*t about this weapon…
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by LCPL Casey N. Thurston)

 

M249 Squad Automatic Weapon

The M249 SAW was brought into service in 1984 and is still in use. The M249 was used by automatic riflemen in the Marine Corps and fires a 5.56x45mm NATO round. However, its weight and the fact that it takes two people to operate made it less than ideal within fire teams. Marines will still preach about the glory of the SAW and somehow recall its mechanical shortcomings with fondness.

The 6 most favored automatic weapons
Watch what you say about the M60 around Vietnam veterans, too…
(U.S. Army)

M60

If you talk to Vietnam veterans about the weapons they used, the M60 will undoubtedly come up in conversation as one of their favorites. It first entered into service in 1957. “The Pig,” as its known, fires a 7.62x51mm NATO round and was used as the Squad Automatic Weapon for plenty of infantry units until the introduction of the M249 SAW.

The M60 still finds use in the United States Military among Navy SEALS, Army helicopter door gunners, and on Coast Guard ships, but it’s slowly being phased out.

The 6 most favored automatic weapons
The Thompson had plenty of nicknames, including the “Chicago Typewriter.”
(Defense Imagery)

Thompson submachine gun

The “Tommy Gun” was used by law enforcement officers and criminals long before the military adopted it at the brink of the second World War. The Thompson saw service from 1938 to 1971 in the European and Pacific theaters of World War II, the Korean War, and during the Vietnam War.

The term “submachine gun” was coined prior to the development of automatic rifles to describe weapons capable of fully automatic fire that chamber pistol rounds. The Thompson, for example, fires a .45 Automatic Colt Pistol (ACP) round.

The 6 most favored automatic weapons
The BAR is favored by military buffs and firearm collectors alike.
(Hickock45 / YouTube)

Browning Automatic Rifle

The BAR was brought into service in 1918 and was used all the way up to the 1970s in a number of capacities. Most notably, this weapon was one of the main reasons the Marine Corps developed 13-man squads, which consisted of three fire teams with an automatic rifleman carrying a BAR in each. This structure is still used in the Marine Corps today.

The 6 most favored automatic weapons
Service members affectionately refer to the M2 as the “Ma Deuce.”
(U.S. Navy Photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Michael Sandberg)

M2 Browning machine gun

At the top of the list is another design from John Browning. Everyone’s favorite, the M2 Browning machine gun entered service in 1933 and fires the large .50 caliber Browning Machine Gun (BMG) round. Given its reliability and impressive versatility, this machine gun embodies the expression, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

This gun was introduced over 80 years ago and is still in service within the military with no signs of replacement.

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The US military is testing sealift  fleet like never before

The US military is currently conducting a massive sealift stress test during which ships will flex atrophied muscles needed to fight a great power conflict.

US Transportation Command (TRANSCOM), which oversees important military logistics activities, launched the large-scale “Turbo Activiation” sealift readiness exercise on Sept. 16, 2019, the command announced in a statement Sept. 17, 2019.

While these exercises, which began in 1994, typically include only a handful of ships, the latest iteration will involve 28 vessels from the US Navy’s Military Sealift Command (MSC) and TRANSCOM’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) Ready Reserve Force.


Navy Capt. Kevin Stephens, a TRANSCOM spokesperson, told Defense News that this is the largest training activation on record.

Ships located along the East, West, and Gulf Coasts will have five days to go from reduced operating status to fully crewed and ready for action. The no-notice activations are usually followed by sea trials.

The MSC, according to The War Zone, has 15 roll-on/roll-off (RORO) cargo ships, and MARAD has another 46 ships consisting of 35 RORO ships and 11 special mission ships. The MSC, Defense News reports, also has 26 pre-positioning ships.

These vessels are “maintained in a reserve status in the event that the Department of Defense needs these ships to support the rapid, massive movement of military supplies and troops for a military exercise or large-scale conflict,” TRANSCOM explained in a statement.

There are reportedly another 60 US-flagged commercial ships in the US Maritime Security Program available to serve, but they are not part of the reserve fleets.

These sealift ships would be responsible for moving roughly 90 percent of US Army and Marine Corps equipment abroad for a fight, but this force has been languishing for years.

The 6 most favored automatic weapons

(US Army photo by Steven J. Mirrer)

“We are not in a good position today,” Rear Adm. Peter Clarke, the director of Strategy, Policy, Programs and Logistics at Transportation Command, said of US sealift capabilities last year, according to USNI News. “We’re on the ragged edge,” Kevin Tokarski, the associate administrator at MARAD, explained at that time. “Foreign countries [especially China] are eclipsing us.”

There are also concerns that in the event of a major great power conflict, the US Navy may not be able to provide enough escorts, given that the service is smaller than it once was.

The ongoing stress test is a critical evaluation of the sealift force’s ability to surge ships, but also the “underlying support network involved in maintaining, manning and operating the nation’s ready sealift forces,” TRANSCOM explained.

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

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How Lockheed wants to make this Littoral Combat Ship a frigate

The Littoral Combat Ship program has had a rocky history, characterized by many ups and downs. USS Freedom (LCS 1), a variant designed by a team led by Lockheed, notched one of the highs during a 2010 deployment to Southern Command, during which it quickly racked up four drug busts. Unfortunately for the LCS, for every high, there have been many lows.


Both the Freedom- and Independence-class vessels experienced many breakdowns. Last year, one ship got iced in. Additionally, the basic armament suite just doesn’t pack that much of a punch — the littoral combat ships have a single 57mm gun, a launcher for the RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile, a few M2 .50-caliber machine guns, and an MH-60R Seahawk.

The 6 most favored automatic weapons

The littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) conducts flight deck certification with an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to the Sea Knights of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nathan Laird)

That kind of firepower isn’t bad for a Coast Guard cutter, but for a warship, it’s just wimpy. By comparison, Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates (which the littoral combat ships were to replace) pack a Mk 13 missile launcher that typically carries 36 RIM-66 Standard SM-1 surface-to-air missiles and four RGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, a 76mm gun, two triple 324mm torpedo tube mounts, and a Mk 15 Phalanx close-in weapon system in addition to an MH-60 helicopter.

As a result, the Navy has cut the LCS program from 52 vessels down to 40. Now, the Navy wants to buy guided-missile frigates. To that end, Lockheed is putting forth a version of the Freedom, called the “Freedom Frigate.” In essence, this is a LCS that will have a lot more firepower.

For starters, it will pack at least 16 cells in a Mk 41 vertical launch system and be able to fire RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles, the Standard family of surface-to-air missiles, RUM-139 Vertical Launch ASROCs, and BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles. Not only that, the new FFG(X) will also pack eight anti-ship missiles and countermeasures against enemy missiles and torpedoes.

The 6 most favored automatic weapons

This model at the SeaAirSpace expo in National Harbor, Maryland shows some of the upgraded firepower that the FFG(X) variant of the Freedom-class littoral combat ship will pack.

(Harold Hutchison)

The Navy plans to pick its new FFG in 2020. The Freedom is facing off against four other contenders, including one from Spain.

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Navy tests unmanned ‘swarmboats’ to patrol ports

Securing a port can be the type of job that hits the three Ds: dull, dirty, and dangerous.


Often, those charged with that security operate using rigid-hull inflatable boats or other small craft – often in proximity to huge vessels like Nimitz-class carriers or large amphibious assault ships.

One wrong move, and Sailors or Coast Guardsmen can end up injured – or worse.

However, the Navy may be able to reduce the risk to life and limb, thanks to a project by the Office of Naval Research called Control Architecture for Robotic Agent Command and Sensing, or “CARACaS.”

With CARACaS, a number of RHIBs or small craft can be monitored remotely, thus removing the need to put personnel at risk.

The 6 most favored automatic weapons
An unmanned rigid-hull inflatable boat operates autonomously during an Office of Naval Research (ONR)-sponsored demonstration of swarmboat technology held at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story. During the demonstration four boats, using an ONR-sponsored system called CARACaS (Control Architecture for Robotic Agent Command Sensing), operated autonomously during various scenarios designed to identify, trail or track a target of interest. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)

According to a U.S. Navy release, these “unmanned swarming boats” or USBs, recently carried out a demonstration in the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, where they were able to collaborate to determine which one would approach a vessel, classify it, and then track or trail the vessel.

The USBs also provided status updates to personnel who monitored their activity.

“This technology allows unmanned Navy ships to overwhelm an adversary,” Cdr. Luis Molina of the Office of Naval Research said. “Its sensors and software enable swarming capability, giving naval warfighters a decisive edge.”

A 2014 demonstration primarily focused on escorting high-value ships in and out of a harbor, but this year, Molina noted that this year, the focus was on defending the approach to a harbor.

The biggest advantage of CARACaS? You don’t need to build new craft – it is a kit that can be installed on existing RHIBs and small boats.

Check out this video of CARACaS-equipped USBs:

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The F-4 Phantom was inspired by this fighter

The McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom was a legend with over 50 years of service with the United States (yes, this included its service as a target drone). But every classic design has been inspired by something somewhere in the past.


The 6 most favored automatic weapons

In the case of the F-4 Phantom, the inspiration was the McDonnell F-101 Voodoo. What did this old century-series fighter end up contributing to the classic plane that saw action in Southeast Asia and the Middle East? Believe it or not, it was the engine placement. The first version of the Voodoo, the XF-88, was intended as a long-range escort fighter (beating out the Lockheed F-90). The F-101, the version the Air Force actually bought, was seen as a long-range interceptor fighter-bomber and recon bird.

The 6 most favored automatic weapons
A McDonnell F-101B Voodoo. (USAF photo)

How did they get that long range? The XF-88 and F-101 put the engines low in the fuselage. This added a lot of space for fuel storage – and that gave the plane long range. That helped with the XF-88’s mission of bomber escort, and the F-101’s mission of being a fighter-bomber, interceptor, and reconnaissance plane also was given a boost.

The 6 most favored automatic weapons
Missile bay where the F-101 carried AIM-4 Falcons. (Wikimedia Commons photo by Wiarthurhu)

According to MilitaryFactory.com, the F-101 had a top speed of 1,221 miles per hour, a maximum range of 1,550 miles, and was armed with three M39 20mm cannon, up to six AIM-4 Falcon missiles, a combination of AIR-2 Genie rockets and AIM-4 Falcons, or conventional or nuclear bombs.

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CF-101 Voodoo. (Wikimedia Commons photo by Bzuk)

The F-101 was a classic plane. It entered service in 1957, and was still in some Air National Guard units in 1983 — a 26-year service career in the United States. The plane’s long range made it a good fit for Canada as well. The Republic of China on Taiwan also acquired these planes. You can see more about this long-serving inspiration for the F-4 below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sRTNSGIttU
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This new Combat Rescue Helicopter is one step closer to the fleet

Lockheed Martin announced Oct. 25 the successful conduct of the Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH) Program Training Systems Critical Design Review. This event prepares the CRH program to proceed to assembly, test, and evaluation of the HH-60W helicopter’s training systems.


This marks an important step in developing maintenance and aircrew training devices, courseware products, and the training required to support the initial CRH maintenance and aircrew cadre. This progress is critical to the smooth entry of the HH-60W aircraft into the US Air Force fleet.

The joint Sikorsky and Air Force teams met over four days in September with key program participants from government and industry for an in-depth review.

Those attending included leaders from the USAF and key suppliers who took part in technical presentations. Operational combat rescue community representatives from USAF Air Education and Training Command and Air Combat Command also played an important role in the Critical Design Review.

The 6 most favored automatic weapons
California Air National Guard pararescuemen of the 129th Rescue Wing, Moffett Federal Airfield, Calif., climb up a moving rope ladder, from the chilly waters outside the Golden Gate Bridge, up to a HH-60G Pave Hawk. USAF photo by Tech. Sgt. Lance Cheung.

The USAF program of record calls for 112 helicopters to replace the USAF’s aging HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters, which perform critical combat search and rescue operations as well as personnel recovery for all US military services.

“I am really excited about achieving yet another program milestone in support of a six-month accelerated schedule. This capability is badly needed by the USAF rescue warriors that have continually engaged in combat operations since 1991. Sikorsky is absolutely committed to them and the accelerated schedule,” said Tim Healy, Sikorsky CRH program director. “The aircraft production is well under way, and with our training system design well understood by all parties, we can now begin assembly of the training devices and courseware as well.”

Also Read: These photos show how many amazing jobs the H-60 helicopter can do

The $1.5 billion Engineering Manufacturing Development contract includes development and integration of the next generation combat rescue helicopter and mission systems. This includes delivery of nine HH-60W helicopters as well as six aircrew and maintenance training devices and instructional courseware designed specifically for the HH-60W aircraft. The training devices run the spectrum from full motion simulators, full aircraft maintenance trainers, and discrete “part task training devices” for aircraft systems such as avionics, rescue hoist, and landing gear.

The flight simulators will conform to the highest FAA standards and include the capability to link with other simulators on the Combat Air Forces Distributed Mission Operations network. The flight simulators will be used to train the full aircrew allowing pilots and special mission aviators to train together. Avionics desktop trainers will have an array of touch screens mimicking the “glass cockpit” and include the ability to learn aircraft systems troubleshooting while in a classroom or squadron environment.

The 6 most favored automatic weapons
Artist rendering of the Sikorsky HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter. Image from Lockheed Martin.

The part task training devices are designed to train maintenance personnel and to provide hands-on training in operations, servicing, inspection, and component removal and installation.

The instructional courseware will provide interactive instruction and computer-based training for HH-60W maintainers and operators.

“This is an important step forward for the CRH program. The CRH team is working hard to provide our warfighters the capability they require to continue to conduct the critical personnel recovery mission far into the future. Having highly capable training devices and courseware that mirror aircraft capability absolutely underpins our ability to perform rescue operations,” said Dave Schairbaum, USAF CRH program manager. “This CRH training system will provide well-trained aircrew and aircraft maintainers to conduct this demanding mission.”

First flight of the HH-60W aircraft is expected in late 2018. Training devices and courseware are expected to be ready for training in early 2020.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The female Viper pilot with bigger balls than you is blazing trails

Capt. Zoe “SiS” Kotnik is the new commander of the F-16 of the Viper Demo Team (VDT).

On Jan. 29, 2019, Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, certified the new F-16 Viper Demonstration Team pilot and commander ahead of the 2019 season, at Joint Base Langley-Eustis. The final certification by the ACC Commander follows extensive training including four certifications, off-station training flights and more than 30 practice missions.


With over 1,000 flying hours in her eight years of military service “SiS”, originally assigned to the 55th Fighter Squadron at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, is the Air Force’s first female single-ship aerial demonstration pilot.

She will lead the team in about 20 locations across the world during the upcoming airshow season.

“What I’m looking forward to most is the potential to have an influence on younger generations,” said Kotnik in a public release. “I know firsthand how impactful airshows can be and what a difference it makes to young people to see just one example of what they too can do and who they can become. I hope to be a source of inspiration and motivation they can draw from to apply in their own lives.”

The F-16 VDT performs an aerobatic display whose aim is to demonstrate the unique capabilities of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, better known as “Viper” in the pilot community.

“These shows allow us to demonstrate the capabilities of the F-16 to a world-wide audience while highlighting the work of the airmen who keep the Viper flying,” said Master Sgt. Chris Schneider, F-16 VDT superintendent. “It’s not every day people get the chance to hear the sound of freedom roaring over their heads or watch a team of maintainers working together to make it happen.”

If you are interested in learning a bit more about her, here’s an interview “Sis” gave to LiveAirshowTV in fall 2018:

Meet Capt. Zoe “Sis” Kotnik – F-16 Viper Demo Team Pilot-Commander

www.youtube.com

This article originally appeared on The Aviationist. Follow @theaviationist on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

NASA has ended its Dawn Mission to the Asteroid Belt

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has gone silent, ending a historic mission that studied time capsules from the solar system’s earliest chapter.

Dawn missed scheduled communications sessions with NASA’s Deep Space Network on Oct. 31, 2018, and Nov. 1, 2018. After the flight team eliminated other possible causes for the missed communications, mission managers concluded that the spacecraft finally ran out of hydrazine, the fuel that enables the spacecraft to control its pointing. Dawn can no longer keep its antennas trained on Earth to communicate with mission control or turn its solar panels to the Sun to recharge.


The Dawn spacecraft launched 11 years ago to visit the two largest objects in the main asteroid belt. Currently, it’s in orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres, where it will remain for decades.

“Today, we celebrate the end of our Dawn mission – its incredible technical achievements, the vital science it gave us, and the entire team who enabled the spacecraft to make these discoveries,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “The astounding images and data that Dawn collected from Vesta and Ceres are critical to understanding the history and evolution of our solar system.”

Dusk for Dawn: NASA Mission to the Asteroid Belt

www.youtube.com

Dawn launched in 2007 on a journey that put about 4.3 billion miles (6.9 billion kilometers) on its odometer. Propelled by ion engines, the spacecraft achieved many firsts along the way. In 2011, when Dawn arrived at Vesta, the second largest world in the main asteroid belt, the spacecraft became the first to orbit a body in the region between Mars and Jupiter. In 2015, when Dawn went into orbit around Ceres, a dwarf planet that is also the largest world in the asteroid belt, the mission became the first to visit a dwarf planet and go into orbit around two destinations beyond Earth.

“The fact that my car’s license plate frame proclaims, ‘My other vehicle is in the main asteroid belt,’ shows how much pride I take in Dawn,” said Mission Director and Chief Engineer Marc Rayman at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). “The demands we put on Dawn were tremendous, but it met the challenge every time. It’s hard to say goodbye to this amazing spaceship, but it’s time.”

The data Dawn beamed back to Earth from its four science experiments enabled scientists to compare two planet-like worlds that evolved very differently. Among its accomplishments, Dawn showed how important location was to the way objects in the early solar system formed and evolved. Dawn also reinforced the idea that dwarf planets could have hosted oceans over a significant part of their history – and potentially still do.

“In many ways, Dawn’s legacy i­s just beginning,” said Princ­­ipal Investigator Carol Raymond at JPL. “Dawn’s data sets will be deeply mined by scientists working on how planets grow and differentiate, and when and where life could have formed in our solar system. Ceres and Vesta are important to the study of distant planetary systems, too, as they provide a glimpse of the conditions that may exist around young stars.”

The 6 most favored automatic weapons

This photo of Ceres and one of its key landmarks, Ahuna Mons, was one of the last views Dawn transmitted before it completed its mission. This view, which faces south, was captured on Sept. 1, 2018, at an altitude of 2220 miles (3570 kilometers) as the spacecraft was ascending in its elliptical orbit.

Because Ceres has conditions of interest to scientists who study chemistry that leads to the development of life, NASA follows strict planetary protection protocols for the disposal of the Dawn spacecraft. Dawn will remain in orbit for at least 20 years, and engineers have more than 99 percent confidence the orbit will last for at least 50 years.

So, while the mission plan doesn’t provide the closure of a final, fiery plunge — the way NASA’s Cassini spacecraft ended in 2017, for example — at least this is certain: Dawn spent every last drop of hydrazine making science observations of Ceres and radioing them back so we could learn more about the solar system we call home.

The Dawn mission is managed by JPL for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Dawn is a project of the directorate’s Discovery Program, managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. JPL is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Northrop Grumman in Dulles, Virginia, designed and built the spacecraft. The German Aerospace Center, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Italian Space Agency and Italian National Astrophysical Institute are international partners on the mission team.

Check out the Dawn media toolkit, with a mission timeline, images, video and quick facts, at:

https://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/toolkit

Watch the video “Dawn: Mission to Small Worlds,” with NASA Chief Scientist Jim Green, at:

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

More information about Dawn is available at:

https://www.nasa.gov/dawn

This article originally appeared on NASA. Follow @NASA on Twitter.

Articles

Israel stole Iran’s entire nuclear intelligence archive in one night

In 2016, Israeli intelligence officers pulled off one of the most daring but greatest achievements in its history. Mossad discovered the location of where Iran kept its most secret documents related to its nuclear program. It was all kept in a warehouse in Tehran’s Shorabad District.  

Then, in a single night, Israeli officers managed to enter the warehouse, steal a half-ton of top secret documents, and smuggle them all back to Israel. For two years the entire operation was kept secret from the world. 

Until Israel wanted to show the world that Iran had been planning to build a nuclear weapon the entire time. The revelation may have been the catalyst for President Donald Trump’s subsequent pullout of the 2015 Iranian Nuclear Deal. 

The 6 most favored automatic weapons
iran’s Ghadr-110 medium range ballistic missile being tested in March 2016 (Wikimedia Commons)

In February 2016, operatives from Mossad (Israel’s intelligence agency) were working in Tehran when they discovered the warehouse holding Iran’s most stunning nuclear secrets. The Mossad officers said the building looked like a “dilapidated warehouse” in a run-down neighborhood in Iran’s capital city.

They were able to break into the building, steal the documents, and escape back to Israel in one night. It took the Israelis more than a year to analyze the information, as most of it was written in Farsi. The trove of stolen documents consisted of 55,000 pages and another 55,000 files on 183 CDs.

Once analyzed, Israel shared the intelligence bonanza with the United States. Yossi Cohen, then head of Israeli intelligence, briefed President Trump. Cohen retired from his position in June 2021 and provided some insight into Israel’s effort to fight the Iranian nuclear program with Israeli television.

The 6 most favored automatic weapons
Mossad director for the raid, Yossi Cohen (Photo by Kobi Gideon-GPO Israel/ Wikimedia Commons)

Cohen first joined Mossad after graduating from college in 1982. In 2015, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed Cohen to the top spot at the agency. He told an Israeli television network that the intelligence raid in Tehran took two years to plan, during which the facility was under constant surveillance. 

Around 20 Mossad agents, of which none were Israeli citizens, were involved in the planning and execution of the raid and subsequent theft. When the raid finally went off in January 2016, Cohen and Mossad’s leadership watched the raid on TV from Tel Aviv.

The agents had to break into the warehouse, then crack 30 or more safes. Everyone survived the raid, although some had to be exfiltrated from Iran in the days and weeks following the break-in. 

According to the BBC, the level of detail the ex-Mossad chief divulges to local media is remarkable. No other intelligence head has ever explained so much about a secret operation in so much detail. 

Cohen said the agency was filled with excitement as they all watched the agents remove a half-ton of classified Iranian documents from the warehouse. Since Israel has discussed the information operation publicly, it’s unlikely to do much harm to ongoing Israeli intelligence operations. 

Later in the interview, Cohen touches on other Mossad operations in the ongoing shadow war between Israel and the Iranian Islamic Republic, including sabotaging the Natanz Nuclear Facility, where Iran is working to enrich much of its uranium. 

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Natanz Nuclear Facility, September 2007 (Wikimedia Commons)

The Mossad head told a journalist that he would be able to show her around the Natanz facility and acknowledged that many top Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated – without admitting to any involvement. 

“If the man constitutes a capability that endangers the citizens of Israel, he must stop existing,” Cohen said. He added that someone could be spared “if he is prepared to change profession and not harm us any longer.”


Feature image: by d-keller from Pixabay

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Navy’s USS Portland will test a prototype laser

With the decommissioning of the interim afloat staging base USS Ponce (AFSB(I) 15, ex-LPD 15), the Navy removed the prototype Laser Weapon System that had been on the ship which was built as an Austin-class amphibious transport. The Ponce’s replacement, USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3), did not get the laser.


Now, according to a report by the Daily Star, we have found out the lucky vessel that did get the laser. That ship is the San Antonio-class amphibious transport USS Portland (LPD 27).

The 6 most favored automatic weapons
The Afloat Forward Staging Base (Interim) USS Ponce (AFSB(I) 15) conducts an operational demonstration of the Office of Naval Research (ONR)-sponsored Laser Weapon System (LaWS) while deployed to the Arabian Gulf. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)

The Portland was commissioned in the middle of December, and is slated to be home-ported in San Diego. The vessel will not only test the Laser Weapon System, it will also serve as flagship for the upcoming RIMPAC exercise.

The United States sent the Laser Weapon System to the Middle East, where after a series of demonstrations, the captain of USS Ponce was authorized to use it as a defensive weapon. The Ponce was decommissioned last summer, and had been the subject of a rumored purchase by Argentina.

The 6 most favored automatic weapons
USS Ponce conducts an operational demonstration of the Office of Naval Research-sponsored Laser Weapon System. Navy photo by John F. Williams.

The Portland displaces 25,000 tons, and has a top speed of 22 knots. According to the Sixteenth Edition of The Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World, it can carry two LCAC (Landing Craft, Air Cushion), roughly 700 Marines, and up to four helicopters. It is armed with the Mk 31 launcher for the RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile and two 30mm Bushmaster II chain guns.

Other laser programs have been in the works as well. One concept involved installing a pallet with a High-Energy Fiber Laser on a H-60 airframe, turning a Blackhawk or Seahawk into a Laserhawk. The Army also tested a laser weapon on the AH-64 Apache. Both the Blackhawk and Apache had the ability to guide missiles like the AGM-114 Hellfire and AGM-123 Skipper with lasers. Another laser known as ATHENA was used to shoot down drones in another recent test.

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Why Germany could buy the Marines’ new helicopter

The CH-53K King Stallion is intended to be the new heavy-lift helicopter for the United States Marine Corps, replacing the CH-53E Super Stallion, which entered service in the 1980s. It’s currently being tested, and looks pretty impressive, to say the least. But the Marines may not be the only buyers.


Believe it or not, the German Luftwaffe (yes, the current German Air Force is still called the Luftwaffe, according to its official website) may end up a customer for this helicopter. Surprised? Don’t be. Germany actually operates a version of the CH-53, the CH-53G, a modified version of the CH-53D – a predecessor to the E models the Marine use. Sikorsky, a division of Lockheed, recently announced a strategic teaming agreement with Rheinmetall, a company Americans may know as the maker of the gun used on the M1A1 and M1A2 versions of the Abrams main battle tank.

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The Luftwaffe has 81 CH-53Gs on inventory, each capable of hauling two Wiesel tankettes. (Bundeswehr photo)

A representative for Lockheed told WATM that the agreement means that “German suppliers will do the sustainment and maintenance of the aircraft.  We will become a teammate to the German Armed Forces, to deliver what the customer wants – on time and parts assets they can rely on.” Lockheed also says that other partners may be added as the CH-53K competes with the CH-47F to replace the Luftwaffe’s fleet of CH-53Gs, which FlightGlobal.com notes totals 81 airframes.

WATM readers will note that the German CH-53Gs appeared in a recent article on the Wiesel, a small armored vehicle capable of packing the BGM-71 Tube-launched Optically-tracked Wire-guided missile. CH-53Gs can carry two of these tankettes internally, according to GlobalSecurity.org.

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Germany is one of the few countries to buy the CH-53 from the United States – Israel and Iran also bought export models. (Wikimedia Commons photo by Jwnabd)

Israel is another export customer that uses earlier versions of the CH-53, and the Lockheed representative noted that it had expressed interest in the CH-53K. The United States Navy also operates 28 MH-53E airframes in the aerial minesweeping mission and for cargo delivery. Learn more about the Lockheed/Rhinemetall team-up and Germany’s possible purchase of CH-53Ks in the video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gd5tG-AqFD4
MIGHTY TACTICAL

What Russia’s deadliest nuclear sub could do to the US

In the inky black water, a predator slowly rises from the depths of the Gulf of Mexico like an Old God or Godzilla, but even more devastating and lethal: The Russian submarine Yuri Dolgoruky with 16 nuclear-tipped Bulava cruise missiles on board. When it begins ripple-firing its missiles, it could send 96 warheads into American cities and military installations.

It’s a real submarine that’s in service right now, and it could annihilate American cities in a surprise attack.


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The Yuri Dolgorukiy in sea trials in 2010.
(Schekinov Alexey Victorovich, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Yuri Dolgoruky has 16 vertical launch silos for missiles and it can pack a single Bulava into each one with a range of almost 6,000 miles. That means it could surface west of Hawaii, fire east, and still hit New York City.

But that would force the Russians to fire their missiles past multiple American missile defenses. After all, some of America’s best missiles defenses are in Hawaii. So, it would be better for the subs to give up their range advantage by firing from a position with fewer defenses, like the Gulf of Mexico.

From there, the crew could still hit literally all U.S. states and most U.S. territories.

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(U.S. Army David James Paquin)

Eight warheads from a Peacekeeper missile hit targets during testing by the U.S. Navy. Russian MIRVs work in a similar way, allowing subs to hit multiple targets with one missile, but navies keep the potential spread of MIRV warheads secret.

And those missiles each carry 6 warheads with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles, or MIRVs, meaning that each warhead can hit a different target. And, each of those warheads has an estimated yield of 100 kilotons. So, the total explosive power is 9,600 kilotons spread over up to 96 locations, like U.S. military installations and cities. And, to top it all of, it’s thought to be capable of firing all its missiles in just 1 minute.

So, what would happen if the Russians actually attacked the U.S. with this or similar submarines?

Well, first, the Yuri Dolgoruky is part of the Borei class of submarines, and its 100-kiloton warheads cannot penetrate the most hardened installations. So, an attack on Cheyenne Mountain might degrade NORAD’s communication capabilities, but the base would survive.

Instead, the Russian planners would likely select other targets that would reduce America’s ability to respond and would maximize confusion and chaos immediately after the attack. So, we’re talking targets like The Pentagon, Kings Bay Naval Base in Southern Georgia, and Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri.

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(Screenshot from NukeMap)

A missile equipped with warheads on MIRVs could likely hit multiple targets in the Washington, D.C. area.

At most of these locations, all 6 warheads from a missile would likely be set to hit nearby locations at a single target. Navies keep the details of their MIRV capabilities secret because, obviously, they don’t want an enemy commander to know exactly what spread they can create with their warheads. But it’s unlikely that a missile striking against King’s Bay would have another logical target within range of the MIRVs. So, the missiles would probably drop all six warheads on or near the naval base.

The exception would be a strike against the Pentagon. When hitting the Pentagon, warheads could almost certainly also reach the White House, the Capitol Building, and maybe even nearby Forts Meade and Detrick and the U.S. Marine Corps Base Quantico.

For people on the ground, the next few seconds and minutes are key to survival. If you’re at ground zero and the bomb goes off, you have little chance. Absent a true, robust bomb shelter, you’re either dying when the blast hits you or when the building collapses around you. Literally just the over-pressurization of the air can kill you. The heat and radiation are just gravy.

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(Screenshot from NukeMap)

​A nuclear missile targeting the King’s Bay Naval Base in Georgia might not have the ability to spread its warheads far enough to hit other military targets, so it might stack them all on top of the base to ensure all the submarine pens and naval headquarters are taken out.

But outside of that, there are still acute dangers. At 2 miles from a blast, you can survive the immediate explosion but still die within seconds. If you see the flash of the bomb and step toward the window to get a better look, the over-pressurization wave will hit the glass as you step toward the window, creating a shotgun burst of glass that would go right into your face and torso.

But even if you avoid the glass exploding, you need to deal with your own injuries from over-pressurization and radiation while also fighting fires in your local area and rendering medical aid. If you fail to do first aid on yourself and those around you, you’ll all likely die of wounds. And fires are a real possibility, especially if there are dark surfaces or flammable debris where you are.

Many emergency planners even think there’s a risk that people will drive towards ground zero to check on loved ones, increasing chaos in the area and exposing themselves to additional higher levels of nuclear radiation.

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The Borei Class of submarines poses a significant threat to Russia’s enemies, but they will almost certainly never fire their nuclear missiles in anger since since doing so would demand a retaliatory strike against Russia.
(Russian Military)

Now, one good thing about a strike against U.S. military facilities is that many of America’s nuclear platforms were intentionally built far from population centers to reduce civilian casualties in a war. So, while D.C. is obviously a major city where hundreds of thousands would die in a strike, Kings Bay has about 60,000 people living on and near the base. Still a catastrophe, but at least a numerically smaller one.

Still, hundreds of thousands would die and dozens of U.S. nuclear bombers, submarines, and missiles would be wiped out, limiting our response capabilities. And all of that is with just one enemy submarine. Multiple submarines or submarines paired with jet or missile attacks would be even worse.

So, if Russia sailed one of its Borei-class submarines to our shores and did an attack like this, would they be successful? Or what if they used the Yasen-class with fewer warheads but larger payloads, would America be defeated in one sure stroke?

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USS Kentucky, a ballistic-missile submarine,departs for astrategic deterrencemission since 2016.
(U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Amanda R. Gray)

We would be devastated, for sure. But the reason that Russia would never even hope to conduct an attack like this is simple: Even if they were able to cripple the submarine base at King’s Bay, the Air Force bases in the Midwest, and the command and control at the Pentagon, America keeps nuclear submarines from King’s Bay on patrol. So, our response capability would be limited after an attack, but it’s nearly impossible to eliminate the capability all at once.

And those ballistic missile submarines are extremely resilient. If America were attacked, it would be the job of these submarines to retaliate, unleashing their own massive payloads of missiles against Russian targets with similar results. If four or five were on patrol, which is fairly standard, they could send dozens of nuclear missiles against Russian targets, causing even more devastation there than we suffered here.

While the nightmare can be scary (but also cathartic) to think about, it’s important to remember that it’s just a nightmare. The U.S. military maintains a robust nuclear deterrent to keep anyone from actually going through an attack like this. And our submarines, as well as the slightly less survivable bombers and missiles, ensure that no enemy could launch such an attack without losing their own country in the process.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Restored P-51 Mustang returns for mission over Germany

A restored P-51 Mustang, once flown by the late Brig. Gen. Robin Olds, iconic US Air Force fighter pilot, flew with 480th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcons during an event at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, May 28, 2019.

The event included aerial maneuvers by the P-51, formation flight training with F-16s and a presentation about Robin’s accomplishments by his daughter, Christina Olds.

Robin was a triple-ace fighter pilot who had 16 kills by the end of his career. The P-51 that arrived to Spangdahlem, named SCAT VII, was Robin’s seventh airplane which he flew in the last days of World War II. It was restored and is still flying around Europe in the same color scheme it had nearly 75 years ago.


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SCAT VII, a P-51 Mustang, on the runway at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, May 28, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Preston Cherry)

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Scat VII, a P-51 Mustang once flown by triple-ace fighter pilot Robin Olds, over Spangdahlem Air Base, May 28, 2019.

(Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Roidan Carlson)

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Scat VII, a P-51 Mustang once flown by triple-ace fighter pilot Robin Olds, alongside four F-16C Fighting Falcons at Spangdahlem Air Base, May 28, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Roidan Carlson)

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Scat VII, a P-51 Mustang once flown by triple-ace fighter pilot Robin Olds, alongside four F-16C Fighting Falcons at Spangdahlem Air Base, May 28, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Roidan Carlson)

The 6 most favored automatic weapons

Scat VII, a P-51 Mustang once flown by triple-ace fighter pilot Robin Olds, alongside an F-16C Fighting Falcon at Spangdahlem Air Base, May 28, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Roidan Carlson)

The 6 most favored automatic weapons

Scat VII, a P-51 Mustang once flown by triple-ace fighter pilot Robin Olds, with an F-16C Fighting Falcon at Spangdahlem Air Base, May 28, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Roidan Carlson)

The 6 most favored automatic weapons

Scat VII, a P-51 Mustang once flown by triple-ace fighter pilot Robin Olds, with an F-16C Fighting Falcon at Spangdahlem Air Base, May 28, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Roidan Carlson)

The 6 most favored automatic weapons

Scat VII, a P-51 Mustang once flown by triple-ace fighter pilot Robin Olds, alongside an F-16C Fighting Falcon at Spangdahlem Air Base, May 28, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Roidan Carlson)

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

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