Governments paid millions for this fake bomb detector - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

Governments paid millions for this fake bomb detector

It was a miracle device. The makers of the Alpha 6 device claimed it could detect ivory, explosives, drugs, and more. The UK, Saudi Arabia, India, and Pakistan all fell for it. Egypt ordered a million dollars’ worth. Thailand paid $33,000 dollars for a single unit.


Governments paid millions for this fake bomb detector
13 Thai state agencies bought the Alpha 6 devices.

 

But it was really a bunch of plastic parts filled with shredded paper, assembled in the UK and made in China (who actually also bought a number of the devices).

It was promised to governments in Iraq and Afghanistan, especially for its reported ability to detected bombs up to three miles away, but it was about as effective as any divining rod. When the British government suspected the fraud, it banned the export of the Alpha 6.

 

Governments paid millions for this fake bomb detector
Seems legit.

 

The creators claimed that it used the body’s static electricity to power an antenna, which would make the device point to the contraband material. A card or paper would be attached to the device, with an image of what it was to be looking for.

A single Alpha 6 cost around seven dollars to make. The British couple producing them sold their “devices” for upwards of $105 million over more than 10 years. They sold thousands of the Alpha 6s – no more than a plastic handle with an antenna.

 

Governments paid millions for this fake bomb detector
An Alpha 6, as shipped.

The whole situation would be funny if it weren’t so tragic. The devices were sold to the Iraqi government during much of the Iraq War, and Iraqi troops – often defending allied troops – depended on the Alpha 6 to do its job. No one knows if the bogus detectors led to the death of any allied troops in Iraq or Afghanistan.

When the British justice system caught up to the fraudsters, their assets were seized and they were given prison sentences of up to three years.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

How the Indian Navy suddenly became a major power

The Indian Navy has quietly become one of the most powerful navies in the world, and it’s still on the upswing. You might be surprised, thinking to yourself, “how did the land of the peace-loving Mahatma Gandhi become a major military power?”


Truth is, the Indian Air Force has long been a power in South Asia. Not only have they improved on Russian-era jets, but they’ve also built their own jets and helicopters. Meanwhile, the Indian Navy has also become a major power. It has operated aircraft carriers continuously since 1961, a streak second only to the United States Navy. Not even the vaunted Royal Navy can match that (and no, the HMS Ocean doesn’t count).

Governments paid millions for this fake bomb detector
The largest and the first indigenously-built, 40,000-ton aircraft carrier (IAC) named INS Vikrant is undocked on June 10, 2015. (Photo from Indian Navy)

But one of the biggest areas in which India is advancing is in submarines. The nation’s success is built upon a tradition of very advanced sub-operations. India is one of six countries to have operated a nuclear-powered submarine. In fact, they quietly commissioned the nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) INS Arihant just last year.

Related: This is what would happen if China and India went to war

The Indians aren’t stopping there. While SSBNs are important to establishing a survivable deterrent, India also needs to protect those subs or to take the fight to an enemy navy far from shore. According to NDTV.com, India is now pursuing plans to build six nuclear-powered attack submarines.

Governments paid millions for this fake bomb detector
India’s first nuclear sub, the Charlie-class SSGN, dubbed the INS Chakra. (U.S. Navy photo)

India already has some experience with nuclear attack submarines. The Indian Navy leased a Charlie-class, nuclear-powered, cruise-missile submarine from the Soviet Union in the 1980s, called INS Chakra. Recently, India acquired a more modern Akula-class, nuclear-powered attack submarine from Russia, naming it INS Chakra II.

Outside of the announced plans to build them, India has not released details about this new class of nuclear submarines. That said, the development of the Arihant shows that it may not be a design to be taken lightly. Watch a video about the expansion of the Indian Navy’s nuclear-powered submarine force below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1v1ka7DkEdg
MIGHTY TACTICAL

This Air Force Base will shoot your drone out of the sky

Officials say an Air Force base south of Omaha, Nebraska has expanded its defenses against drones and can stop any that venture within its boundaries of airspace.


The Omaha World-Herald reports that a press release from the Offutt Air Force Base says it now has “a number of unique defense systems” to protect against drones while not going into specifics.

Governments paid millions for this fake bomb detector
The Kenney Gate on Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. Officials say the base is making use of cutting edge anti-drone technology. USAF photo by Charles Haymond.

Drones are entirely off-limits within 3 miles of the base’s airfield.

The message follows recent guidance from the Pentagon that lays out the military’s authority to disable or shoot down any drone that violates airspace restrictions over a US base.

The Federal Aviation Administration estimated last year that there are about 1.1 million drones in use. The agency predicted the number could grow to 4.5 million in 2021.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

How the Air Force helps fight American wildfires

Staff Sgt. Timothy Dawson was trying to get some rest before work the next day. The phone rang twice before he answered it. His neighbor, who lives just above his apartment complex on the hill, told him the fire was really close and they were evacuating.

That neighbor was 1st Lt. Mike Constable, a pilot with the 146th Airlift Wing, Channel Islands Air National Guard Station, California. Dawson said he could see Constable and his roommates packing things into their cars.


The Thomas Fire started on Dec. 4, 2017, in Santa Paula, near Thomas Aquinas College. Driven by Santa Ana winds gusting up to 70 mph, the flames screamed across the hillsides toward Ojai and Ventura. Numerous fires leapfrogged across Ventura and Los Angeles Counties the following day.

Governments paid millions for this fake bomb detector

Chino Valley firefighters watch the oncoming flames of the Thomas Fire from the yard of a home in Montecito, California, Dec. 12, 2017. C-130Js of the 146th Airlift Wing at Channel Islands Air National Guard Base in Port Hueneme, carried the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System and dropped fire suppression chemicals onto the fire’s path to slow its advance in support of firefighters on the ground.

(Photo by J.M. Eddins JR.)

“I looked out my window, and could see the sky above the ridge by my home was glowing really orange and red already. My wife and I decided at that point to just grab what we could get and go somewhere safe,” Dawson said.

Dawson’s three-level, 52-unit apartment complex burned to the ground a few hours later.

Ironically, Dawson is a C-130J Hercules crew chief for the 146th AW, one of five wings in the Air Force equipped with the module airborne firefighting system, or MAFFS. This system is loaded onto C-130s and is designed to fight the very thing that took his home, wildfires.

The 146th AW was activated Dec. 5 to fight what became the largest California wildfire by size in the state’s recorded history, covering 281,893 acres. The Thomas Fire is now 100 percent contained.

Governments paid millions for this fake bomb detector

“We got the word and everybody sprung into action. Our maintenance folk got the airplane ready for us, our aerial port guys went and got the MAFFS units pulled out and loadmasters got the airplanes ready. It was really a well-oiled machine on that day. We got things done really quickly,” said Senior Master Sgt. Phil Poulsen, a loadmaster with the 146th AW.

Most of the airmen stationed at Channel Islands ANGS are from Ventura County or the surrounding area. Approximately 50 people from the 146th AW evacuated their homes during the fire and five airmen lost their homes.

Governments paid millions for this fake bomb detector

Residents of a 52-unit apartment complex search for belongings, Dec. 13, 2017, after the Thomas Fire roared through their neighborhood. Staff Sgt. Timothy Dawson, a C-130J Hercules aircraft maintenance technician with the 146th Airlift Wing, was also a resident of the apartment complex.

(Photo by Master SGT. Brian Ferguson)

“I can see the smoke from my house and we know people who live there,” Poulson said. “My daughter went to day care up there and I think I flew over that house. I think it’s gone. So it really hits close to home when you are this close to home.”

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or CAL FIRE, requested MAFFS aircraft and personnel support through the state’s governor and the Adjutant General of the state’s National Guard. Once activated, CAL FIRE incident commanders assigned to the Thomas Fire, and based at the Ventura Fairgrounds, generate the launch orders for the MAFFS. The aircraft sit ready at Tanker Base Operations, a few miles south of the fairgrounds at Channel Islands Air National Guard Station.

Once requested, the C-130s would join the fight at a designated altitude in the protected flight area, typically 1,500 feet above ground. An aerial supervisor, or air attack, would fly at about 2,000 feet, directing and controlling the aircraft. Lead planes, at 1,000 feet, guide the tankers to their drop points, approximately 150 feet above the ground.”

Once we enter the fire traffic area, we join on the lead plane. He’ll typically give us a show me [puff of smoke] which shows us where he’s intending us to drop,” said Lt. Col. Scott Pemberton, a C-130J pilot with the 146th AW. “We try to be very precise with that because you know it’s a high value asset and you get one shot at it.”

The mission requires the crews to fly the C-130s very close to the fires.

“You’re taking the fight directly to the ground,” Pemberton said. “We are 150 feet above the ground at 120 knots, at the edge of the airplane’s envelope. You’re demanding a lot of yourself and your fellow crewmembers. So that’s why you are typically very highly trained and are very prepared to do this mission.”

The MAFFS can hold 3,000 gallons of retardant, which is released from a nozzle placed in the left rear troop door of the aircraft. It takes approximately 15 minutes to load retardant into the MAFFS, another 15 minutes to reach the Thomas Fire, 10 more to join the lead plane and drop and then another 15 minutes to return to base. With 10 hours of daylight and two planes, the 146th AW drops an average of 60,000 gallons of retardant each day.

Governments paid millions for this fake bomb detector

Lt. Col. Scott Pemberton, a C-130J pilot with the 146th Airlift Wing, has been with the 146th for 30 years and has lived in the Ventura/Santa Barbara, California community for about 48. He has been flying the modular airborne fire fighting system for approximately 20 years. The 146th was activated Dec.5, 2017, to support CAL FIRE with wildfire suppression efforts within the state.

(Photo by Master SGT. Brian Ferguson)

“Many times if you are close to a fire line and you’re doing direct attack you’ll see the guys standing down there,” Pemberton said. “On the second, third or fourth drop you’ll come by and you will see that you have gotten close enough to where they are a different color. But I’ve also seen the whites of their eyes where they’re diving behind their bulldozer because you’re that close, and they know that the retardant is coming.”

Still, the dangers of this mission are not lost on Pemberton.

On July 1, 2012, MAFFS 7, which belonged to the North Carolina Air National Guard’s 145th Airlift Wing based at the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, crashed while fighting the White Draw Fire in South Dakota’s Black Hills. Four of the six crewmembers aboard died.

“There was a thunderstorm approaching from the north and as they were waiting for the lead to coordinate and get his bearings… The thunderstorm moved closer and closer,” Pemberton said. “They made a first run and I think they got off half of their retardant.”

As they made their second run, they had a wind shear event and a microburst took away their lift and forced them to fly straight ahead into the terrain.

Governments paid millions for this fake bomb detector

Senior Master Sgt. Phil Poulsen, 146th Airlift Wing loadmaster, checks the level of retardant in the module airborne firefighting system as redardant is loaded, Dec. 9, 2017. The 146th AW is one of five wings in the Air Force equipped with MAFFS. This system is loaded onto C-130s and is designed to fight wildfires.

(Photo by Master SGT. Brian Ferguson)

“As a result of that incident we completely changed our training. We incorporated a lot of the wind shear escape maneuvers, and we built new seats for the loadmasters in the back and made crashworthy seats for those crewmembers,” Pemberton said.

This training and the 146th AW’s capabilities benefit everyone involved in the wildfire fighting community, too.

The 146th AW plays a big role in extinguishing fires, said Tenner Renz a dozer swamper with the Kern County Fire Department, but it’s something he sees on almost every fire. Whether a 100-acre or a 250,000-acre fire, the guard shows up.

“Some of these guys are crazy. I mean dipping down into some of these canyons, flying through smoke, buzzing treetops,” Renz said. “They have a talent that most people don’t have.”

Having the MAFFS capability means the 146th AW can be federally activated to support firefighting operations around the United States by the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. An Air Force liaison group, led on a rotating basis by one of the five MAFFS unit commanders, staffs the center.

Governments paid millions for this fake bomb detector

A C-130J Hercules from the 146th Airlift Wing, California Air National Guard, sprays fire retardant ahead of the leading edge of the Thomas Fire, Dec. 13, 2017. The 146th was activated to support CAL FIRE with wildfire suppression efforts within the state. The C-130s from Channel Islands Air National Guard Station are capable of spraying fire retardant from a modular airborne firefighting systems loaded in the cargo bay.

(Photo by Master SGT. Brian Ferguson)

This wide-ranging operational experience and capability gives CAL FIRE an extra capability when things are at their worst.

“We currently have low humidity, Santa Ana winds, we haven’t had rain in a number of days and we’re in areas that haven’t burned in 50-60 years,” said Dan Sendek, MAFFS liaison officer for CAL FIRE. “You can never have enough equipment for every eventuality. What the guard brings to us is that surge capacity when we’re in a situation where we need everything we can get.”

Six days after he lost his home, Dawson was back at work.

“The routine of going about the mission and getting things done is probably better,” Dawson said. “I needed to get back and get involved in the fire mission. The show must go on. The world doesn’t stop spinning and the guard doesn’t stop flying missions.”

For Dawson, it’s also a chance to combat the fire that took his home and save some of his neighbor’s property.

Governments paid millions for this fake bomb detector

Tanner Renz, Kern County Fire Department, looks on as a C-130J Hercules from the 146th Airlift Wing, California Air National Guard, sprays fire retardant ahead of the leading edge of the Thomas Fire, Dec. 13, 2017. The 146th was activated to support CAL FIRE with wildfire suppression efforts within the state. The C-130s from Channel Islands Air National Guard Station are capable of spraying fire retardant from a modular airborne firefighting systems loaded in the cargo bay.

Photo by Master SGT. Brian Ferguson)

Dawson and his wife were able to return to their apartment a few days after the fire destroyed it, however, they were not able to search for personal items because the fire was still smoldering.

“Every single tenant in the 52 units was able to get out ahead of the fire. When we went back for the first time it was it was pretty emotionally taxing,” he said. “There were two stories worth of apartments that collapsed into a carport. There’s nothing left that we could really find.

“To me, then and even now, it still feels a little surreal. I know it’s happening to me, but it feels like it’s happening to someone else.”

This article originally appeared on Airman Magazine. Follow @AirmanMagazine on Twitter.

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The Harrier will live longer as the Hornet falls apart

The problems the Marine Corps is having with its F/A-18 Hornet force have been a boon to one plane that was originally slated to go to the boneyard much earlier.


According to Foxtrot Alpha, the AV-8B Harrier has recently gained a new lease on life as upgrades are keeping the famed “jump jet” in service. In fact, the Harrier force has become more reliable in recent years, even as it too sees the effects of aging.

Governments paid millions for this fake bomb detector
U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Levingston Lewis

One of the reasons is the fact that the Marine Hornet fleet is falling apart. The Marines had to pull 23 Hornets out of the boneyard at Davis-Monthan last year to address the issues they were facing – and even then, they needed some hand-me-downs from the Navy.

The Marine Corps is planning to replace both the F/A-18C/D Hornets and the AV-8B Harriers with the F-35B Lightning II, the Vertical/Short Take-Off and Landing version of the Joint Strike Fighter. The F-35B has already been deployed to Japan, while the F-35A, operating from conventional land bases, just recently deployed to Estonia.

Governments paid millions for this fake bomb detector
Two F-35B Lightning II aircraft with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, prepare to land at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Jan. 18, 2017. VMFA-121 conducted a permanent change of station to MCAS Iwakuni, from MCAS Yuma, Ariz., and now belongs to Marine Aircraft Group 12, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force. (USMC photo)

Originally, the Harriers were slated to be retired first, but the delays on the F-35 and a review that not only changed how the Marines used the Harrier, but also discovered that the Harrier airframes had far more flight hours left in the than originally thought gave them a new lease on life.

As a result, the Marines pushed through upgrades for the Harrier force, including newer AMRAAM missiles and the GBU-54 Laser Joint Direct Attack Munition, a 500-pound system that combined both GPS guidance with a laser seeker. Other upgrades will keep the Harriers flying well into the 2020s.

Governments paid millions for this fake bomb detector
Capt. Jonathan Lewenthal and Capt. Eric Scheibe, AV-8B Harrier pilots with Marine Attack Squadron 231, Marine Aircraft Group 14, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), fly over southern Helmand province, Afghanistan after conducting an aerial refuel Dec. 6, 2012. 
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Gregory Moore)

The Harrier has been a Marine Corps mainstay since 1971 – often providing the close-air support for Marines in combat through Desert Storm and the War on Terror. The Harrier and Sea Harrier first made their mark in the Falklands War, where the jump jets helped the United Kingdom liberate the disputed islands after Argentinean military forces invaded.

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How cutters are sinking the Coast Guard — and what to do about it

The Coast Guard has been on patrol since 1790, and it has often had to do a lot with very little in the way of assets. Now, some of the assets it does have may be relatively useless.


According to a veteran Coast Guard officer who published his concerns in Proceedings magazine, a number of the major cutters (those over 210 feet in length) are “ill-equipped—and often ill-suited—to handle the challenges and dangers in their areas of operation.” Furthermore, one 210-foot cutter was in dry dock for six months, with two more months at the pier when it should have deployed, due to “unplanned maintenance.”

Drills for the crew are focused more on damage control than maritime law enforcement.

Governments paid millions for this fake bomb detector
U.S. Coast Guard National Security Cutter Bertholf. (Photo from U.S. Coast Guard)

“By continuing its over reliance on the cutter—specifically, large cutters measuring 210 feet and longer—the Coast Guard has fallen behind and become a stagnant force in the maritime domain,” write Lt. David Allan Adams, Jr. “This is, of course, not because of a lack of effort by the hardworking Coasties stationed on cutters, but rather because the white hull fleet is well over 50 years old and ill-equipped—and often ill-suited—to handle the challenges and dangers in their areas of operation.”

Even the newest Coast Guard cutters, the Legend-class National Security Cutters that are replacing the Hamilton-class high-endurance cutters, have had issues, with a 2016 report from McClatchy news service noting that the new ships suffered four cracked cylinder heads a year.

“Junior officers stationed on cutters can testify to the poor material condition of the cutters and the disillusionment cutter life can instill,” Adams wrote. “The life of a JO is not about conducting law enforcement or conning the cutter — as promised at recruitment — but more about routing and correcting memorandums, being held accountable should an inspection go poorly, and striving to perform in the arena in which the JOs’ future is truly held: the underway wardroom.”

The problem has been widespread. A 2014 NJ.com report noted that 34 cutters and 37 patrol boats were unable to deploy for a combined total of 1,654 days. The Coast Guard has also been very short on icebreakers, with one of its most capable vessels in that mission stuck at the pier.

The Coast Guard, of course, has a substantial job, with a mission to secure America’s maritime borders, which run six times the length of the U.S.-Mexico border, and it does so with two-thirds of the personnel of United States Customs and Border Protection.

Governments paid millions for this fake bomb detector
The Coast Guard icebreakers USCGC Polar Sea (WAGB 10) and USCGC Polar Star (WAGB 11) during a resupply mission to McMurdo Research Station. (USCG photo)

The Coast Guard is planning to build 25 Offshore Patrol Cutters to replace the aging medium endurance cutters, a deal expected to cost $10.5 billion, roughly $420 million per vessel. By comparison, a Freedom-class littoral combat ship sets taxpayers back $362 million.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Air Force needs more ‘bird cannons’ to protect bombers

Four years ago, a US military helicopter crashed in the UK, killing all four crew members. The cause: a flock of geese.

Birds and wildlife pose a deadly threat to American military aircraft and their crew. Between 1985 and 2016, bird strikes killed 36 American airmen, destroyed 27 US Air Force aircraft and cost the service almost a billion dollars, according to the 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs Office at Ellsworth Air Force Base.

Defensive technology has improved, reducing the number of incidents, but destructive accidents continue to occur. Between 2011 and 2017, the USAF experienced 418 wildlife-related mishaps, resulting in $182 million in damages, according to Military Times.


Canadian Geese alone cost the USAF almost 0 million between fiscal year 1995 and fiscal year 2016.

To counter the threat posed by birds, Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota installed an automated bird deterrent system — special cannons designed to keep the animals away.

The 0,000 bird abatement system consists of a rotating cannon and a propane tank. The cannon produces a loud sound similar to a shotgun blast to scare the birds away. Some units, the Associated Press reports, are equipped with speakers able to blare the distress calls of several different bird species.

“Birds are a huge problem for our aircraft operations,” James McCurdy, a 28th Bomb Wing flight safety officer, explained to the AP. “In the middle of our migration season (October, November, April and May), it’s not abnormal for us to hit and kill a bird at least once a week. They cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.”

The bird cannons only require around ,000 a year to maintain, which could mean significant savings for the base.

Governments paid millions for this fake bomb detector

Bird strikes are problems the world over. This photo shows an Israeli Air Force UH-60 Blackhawk after a bird strike.

Some of the other tools, outside of manpower, that have been used to keep birds away from US aircraft in the past include the Avian Hazard Advisory System (AHAS), a weather radar that can keep track of flocks of birds, and a bird detection radar for monitoring individual birds.

Not every Air Force base is equipped with these defense systems though. At Ellsworth, which is home to one of the two Air Force B-1 Lancer bomber wings, the previous approach to dealing with wildlife was to send someone out with a shotgun.

Ellsworth now has 24 bird cannons installed along the runway to protect the bombers, each of which reportedly costs around 0 million.

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

Articles

Need to put some warheads on foreheads? There’s an app for that

I’m sure you are sick of hearing the phrase, “There’s an app for that!” Well, the Marines how have an app for calling in fire support – part of the new suite of gear for forward observers.


According to a Marine Corps release, the service soon will be issuing the Target Handoff System Version 2, or “THS V.2.”

Now weighing in at about 20 pounds, the THS V.2 will cut that burden in half. When the combat load of troops can reach close to 100 pounds, this is a significant relief to Marines on the move.

The THS V.2 gets this light weight by using commercial smart phones to replace the more conventional radio systems in the original THS. An app on the smart phone then allows Marines to call in fire support much more easily, and that will help minimize collateral damage.

The system even comes with a pre-installed “Start Guide” with a variety of tutorials for users.

Governments paid millions for this fake bomb detector
This fiscal year Marines will receive smart phones that make calling for fire support easier, quicker and more accurate. The Target Handoff System Version 2, or THS V.2, is a portable system designed for use by dismounted Marines to locate targets, pinpoint global positioning coordinates and call for close air, artillery and naval fire support using secure digital communications. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Joe Laws/Released)

“With the new version, Marines will obtain a lightweight device equipped to provide immediate situational awareness on where friendly and enemy locations are, and the ability to hand off target data to fire support to get quick effects on the battlefield,” Capt. Jesse Hume of Marine Corps Systems Command said. Hume serves as the THS V.2 project officer.

“THS V.2 provides embedded, real-time tactical information with ground combat element units down to the squad or platoon level,” Gunnery Sgt. Nicholas Tock added. “If we are on patrol and we take contact from machine guns in a tree line, a satellite that passes over once every few hours is not going to help an infantry unit kill that target. THS V.2 is for that close combat.”

Governments paid millions for this fake bomb detector
U.S. Soldiers with Battery C, 4th Battalion, 1st Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Armored Division, Task Force Al Taqaddum, fire an M109A6 Paladin howitzer during a fire mission at Al Taqaddum Air Base, Iraq, June 27, 2016. The strikes were conducted in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation aimed at eliminating the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and the threat they pose to Iraq, Syria, and the wider international community. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Donald Holbert)

The system also includes a laser-rangefinder, combat net radio, and video downlink — but there’s another benefit. In addition to cutting the weight in half, the use of off-the-shelf technology cuts the price of the system in half.

Even the bean-counters seem to win with this.

Anyone picking a firefight with Marines, though, looks to be a sure loser. And that’s a good thing.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Best .44 Magnum Revolvers In 2021

A .44 mag revolver holds a special place among true gun aficionados. It has been the symbol of intimidation, power, and hard-boiled action since the seventies. Anyone who has seen Taxi Driver or Dirty Harry knows what I’m talking about.

And if you want to follow the footsteps of action legends like Clint Eastwood, there’s no better gun to strap on your belt.

So, buckle up. Today we’ll dive into the world of this near-mythical handgun and try to find the best .44 magnum revolver on the market.

Click here to get one for yourself.

Standing The Test Of Time: A Brief History Of .44 Mag

“This is the .44 magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world and it can blow your head clean off. So, you got to ask yourself one question – Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?”

Nothing describes the sheer awesomeness of the revolver quite like this immortal line from Dirty Harry.

Believe me, I’ve held some much more powerful six-shooters, including the .454 Casull. There’s nothing that threw me into the “action hero” mode quite like this one.

The .44 magnum handgun hasn’t made its mark in the Civil War or the Wild West. In fact, it’s still a relatively new revolver by today’s standards, first appearing in 1955.

Elmer Keith, the famous cowboy and writer of the time, developed the first revolver. It didn’t take long for Remington to develop and release the first .44 Remington Magnum and others to follow.

However, despite being the go-to gun of numerous big-screen protagonists, it never found its place in law enforcement. But it gained popularity in hunting and as the most reliable self-defense weapon. It managed to maintain its reputation over decades as well.

The emergence of the more convenient semi-automatic pistols and even more powerful revolvers didn’t overshadow the .44 mag. Many experts I talked to would still choose it over some newer models.

Through all of that, this revolver has achieved a symbolic status. When you think of a revolver, you picture the .44. If a shooter video game allows you to carry a revolver, it will probably be this one.

So, what else makes it so unique? Let’s find out.

The Benefits Of The .44 Magnum

Do you know what the greatest upside of a revolver is? A first-timer can learn to use it in a minute.

You won’t see a cowboy de-cocking their six-shooter and pulling the safety lever. Instead, you can just lift it up and pull the trigger.

What’s better – you can load your gun and keep it for years without damaging the recoil springs or magazine.

Moreover, it’s easy to holster or conceal and easy to carry around your belt at all times. It makes for a perfect self-defense weapon against both four-legged and two-legged beasts. Especially since it has quite the explosive power.

Still not sure about its capability? Maybe you’ll change your mind when I tell you that one guy took down a 12-foot polar bear using only this gun in 1965. Don’t believe me? Look it up!

What About The Downsides?

I can understand those who move away from six-shooters. First of all, you have a small capacity there. Although five or six rounds could be enough, you may still feel a lot safer with a fully loaded Glock.

Another thing that bugs the gun-friendly people is the reload time. Even with innovative speed loaders, it’s still an extensive process. You have to open the cylinder to drop the empty shells before you insert the live rounds again.

But that’s not all. Handling a mag can be quite an unpleasant experience for some. It’s a sturdy gun with a heavy recoil such that it requires a tight grip. I’ve witnessed people busting their teeth at the drawback of the mag.

And lastly, there’s that controversial revolver muzzle flash that’s dividing firearm proponents across the globe. While some enjoy “seeing what they fire,” some claim that they “may get an epileptic seizure” if they fire two rounds in a row.

Who Should Use The .44 Mag?

This is a tricky question.

Is it powerful? Yes, but not the most powerful.

Is it a good concealed-carry gun? It’s doable, but still not the lightest.

But there’s still something about it that makes it unique and extremely popular.

Throughout the years, I’ve realized that this gun may be the best for the following:

  • Hunting game animals of all sizes: Honestly, a good shot can take out a wild boar with a .44 mag
  • Target practicing at more than 100 yards
  • Safely carrying around a revolver that you can draw quickly
  • Going all Travis Bickle in case your life’s in danger
  • Pricing

The top three revolver manufacturers (Taurus, Ruger, Smith & Wesson) have cut back on production in recent years. On the flip side, the demand has risen. This means you can expect a several-month waiting list to get one directly from the manufacturer.

There are plenty of people who are put off by the price of a magnum. You can’t really blame them; a brand new S&W 69 may cost north of $800. However, you can find Taurus models for $600 or less too.

The real issue lies in the prices of the side equipment. Practice ammo costs $25 for a pack of 25 rounds and the serious stuff can go up to $40 (box of 20). On top of that, there’s also maintenance and additional equipment (e.g. speed loader) to consider.

But you need to remember that you’re not buying just a gun. You’re buying a myth. An artifact that shows its teeth to the zeitgeist.

It’s something that you buy because you love everything it represents. And if you’re one of those people, no price can stop you.

Best .44 Magnum Revolvers

Taurus 44 Raging Hunter

I wasn’t surprised when I heard that this gun won the 2019 American Hunter Handgun of the Year award. If someone deserved the Golden Bullseye, it’s them.

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The Raging Hunter has a large frame with an above-average barrel of 8.37”. This makes it one of the longest revolvers in its class and therefore, the hardest to conceal.

However, I expected it to be much heavier than it is. In fact, I believe it’s one of the lightest pistols. That’s due to the aluminum alloy shroud and angular barrel design. According to Taurus, they first thread the barrel onto the frame and then they coat the cover over it.

This handgun is a next-generation revolver. First, it breaks the traditional ties as it features a seven-shot cylinder instead of the usual six. It’s mostly a double-action revolver, but you can use it as a single-action as well.

The power and accuracy are also top-notch. It’s ideal for anything from home defense to the recreational shooting of tin cans from over 100 yards out.

In the end, the price may put some people off, but there probably isn’t a better mag six-shooter around.

Pros

  • Next-generation design
  • Feature-rich
  • Light-weight yet powerful
  • Perfect precision

Cons

  • The longest and hardest to conceal

Ruger Super Redhawk

This Ruger model is common among big-game hunters for two reasons.

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For one, it contains devastating explosive power, but it also comes with the best possible scope-mounting system among revolvers. Every hunter wants a clean and quick kill that spares the game unnecessary suffering and this gun makes it possible.

The first thing that impressed me with the Super Redhawk is its smooth black rubber grip. Despite having a heavy recoil, this grip allows you to hold tight and avoid any accidents.

The small air pouch between the grip and your hand softens the drawback so even new firearm users can steady the shot. It’s simply one of the more accurate handguns around.

This six-shooter comes in two models: Super Redhawk and Super Redhawk Alaskan.

The former has a bunch of additional features like a hammer-forged barrel and an extended frame for a scope machine. It comes in both 7.5” and 9.5” barrels.

On the other hand, the Alaskan is a smaller model without the extensions. However, it’s popular among those who want to walk around with more confidence. It’s small, convenient, and easy to conceal.

Although it may fall in the best .44 magnum revolver category, this revolver may be expensive for what it brings to the table. 

Pros

  • Capable of taking out the biggest game
  • Available in bigger and smaller models
  • Extended frame model comes with a mountable scope
  • Rubber grip to control accuracy and drawback

Cons

  • Expensive

Taurus Raging Bull

The Raging Bull is one of the bigger handguns around. However, a seasoned hunter will know that you can determine the gun by the way it “sits” in your hand, and this shooter is impeccable when it comes to fit and feel.

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The award-winning design consists of a 6.5” barrel length with an elegant matte stainless-steel finish. A soft black grip keeps the gun steady in your hand and enhances accuracy. But you can fire it in double-action to increase precision even more.

Two things about this gun got to my attention.

First, it comes at a much affordable price than most of its counterparts. And you get a big-game handgun in return.

But above all, I appreciate Taurus’ safety mechanism; all the company’s guns have a security system that allows you to lock/unlock the revolver with a unique key. If you don’t have the key, you can’t fire or cock the gun at all.

On the other hand, the only downside is the monumental size of this revolver. If you prefer carrying it around with you, you’ll have some trouble concealing it. In short, it can defend you from the sharp-toothed beast, but it may prove inconvenient for defending your home (or your life).

Pros

  • Fits in your hand perfectly
  • Great accuracy
  • Affordable
  • Essential security mechanism

Cons

  • Bulky

Smith & Wesson 629 V-Comp Performance Center

The Smith & Wesson is a smaller and more versatile model of the .44 mag. It may not be the best .44 magnum revolver for big game, but it’s definitely one you can conceal.

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It has a 4” barrel with stainless steel construction and a shiny chrome finishing that looks beautiful. Although the grip has a captivating design, I found it a bit slippery during my test runs. I’d recommend being extra careful during the recoil.

On the other hand, I found that this small six-shooter can really pack a punch. It combines the power and accuracy of a lighter gun. Although I haven’t tested it on game animals, I think it’s a perfect choice for self-defense. Especially since it’s easy to tote around.

Overall, it’s a cool-looking gun from one of the most trusted revolver manufacturers.

Pros

  • Small and easy to carry
  • Looks real cool
  • Combination of power and accuracy

Cons

  • The slippery grip could be an accident in waiting

Nighthawk Custom Korth NXR

This revolver powerhouse is a co-development project of two companies: Korth and Nighthawk Custom. And boy, did they deliver …

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When I got my hand on this monster, I thought I was dreaming. The design, the fitting, and the overall feeling were out of this world. A fantastic DLC finish makes the shooter always look brand new, while the Turkish walnut grip adds a sophisticated touch.

I immediately noticed the recoil-reducing and balancing weight under the 6-inch barrel, which is great for beginners. You can remove it, but it adds fine detail to the overall design if you leave it alone.

One thing this revolver is notable for is its smooth double-action performance. Furthermore, it has a fast-changeable front sight along with a removable rear sight, too.

But here’s the bad part … It costs a boat load! Is it worth it? It depends on how badly you want it. It’s probably the best .44 mag revolver, but would you pay a used car’s price to own one? I probably would in this case. Guess I better buy a bus pass. 

Pros

  • Stunning design
  • Smooth double-action performance
  • Recoil-taming features
  • One of the best magnum revolvers

Cons

  • Through-the-roof price

Conclusion 

All things considered; the Taurus 44 Raging Hunter is probably the best and most affordable .44 magnum revolver on the market. It’s an award-winning, next-gen revolver that’s equally suitable for entry-level users and big-game hunters.

Of course, I don’t mean to take anything away from the other guns. As I hold this type of six-shooter close to my heart, I’d tell you that you can’t go wrong with any. However, if we’re talking about the price-to-quality ratio, the Raging Hunter would be my choice as best for the money.

Read more at www.GunMade.com

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Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block

Even though President Donald Trump’s defense budget is committed to keeping the A-10 Thunderbolt II attack plane, as many as three squadrons could still be shut down.


According to a report in DefenseNews.com, the Air Force says that unless funding to produce more new wings for the A-10 is provided, three of the nine squadrons currently in service will have to be shut down due to fatigue issues in their wings. Re-winged A-10s have a projected service life into the 2030s.

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A U.S. Air Force A/OA-10 Thunderbolt II from the 355th Fighter Squadron is surrounded by a cloud of gun smoke as it fires a 30mm GAU-8 Avenger Gatling gun over the Pacific Alaska Range Complex in Alaska on May 29, 2007. (DoD photo by Airman 1st Class Jonathan Snyder)

“We’re working on a long-term beddown plan for how we can replace older airplanes as the F-35 comes on, and we’ll work through to figure out how we’re going to address those A-10s that will run out of service life on their wings,” Gen. Mike Holmes, the commander of Air Combat Command told DefenseNews.com.

Presently, only 173 wing kits have been ordered by the Air Force, with an option for 69 more. The Air Force currently had 283 A-10s in service, but some may need to be retired when the wings end their service lives.

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U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Trevor T. McBride

The A-10 has a number of supporters in Congress, notably Rep. Martha McSally, who piloted that plane during her career in the Air Force. In the defense authorization bill for Fiscal Year 2017, Congress mandated that at least 171 A-10s be kept in service to maintain a close-air-support capability.

According to MilitaryFactory.com, the A-10 was originally designed to bust enemy tanks, and was given the 30mm GAU-8 gatling gun with 1,174 rounds. It can also carry up to eight tons of bombs, rockets, missiles and external fuel tanks.

Fully 356 Thunderbolts were upgraded to the A-10C version, which has been equipped with modern precision-guided bombs like the Joint Direct Attack Munition, or JDAM. A total of 713 A-10s were built between 1975 and 1984.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This MH-139A is the Air Force’s replacement for the Huey

For nearly 40 years, the Air Force missions of VIP transport in the DC area as well patrolling Air Force Global Strike Command missile fields has been performed by the UH-1N Huey. Despite modernization efforts, the aging fleet of Air Force Hueys is limited by range and speed which makes its primary missions of transport and patrol difficult. In September 2018, the Air Force awarded a $2.38 billion contract to Boeing-Leonardo to supply 84 MH-139A helicopters to replace the Huey.

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A Grey Wolf conducts a test flight from Leonardo’s Philadelphia plant (U.S. Air Force)

Based on the commercially available AugustaWestland (now Leonardo helicopter division) AW139, the first MH-139A was delivered to the Air Force on December 19, 2019 at Duke Field, Florida. It was at this unveiling ceremony that the new helicopter was given the name Grey Wolf. “As they hunt as a pack, they attack as one, they bring the force of many,” said AFGSC Commander General Timothy Ray of the MH-139A. “That’s exactly how you need to approach the nuclear security mission.”

The Grey Wolf boasts a cruising speed of 130-140 knots compared to the outgoing Huey’s 90-100 knots. It also has much longer legs than the Huey with a range of 778 miles vs. just over 300 miles for the UN-1N. The Grey Wolf is also equipped with armor, countermeasures, a forward-looking infrared camera system, and the ability to mount a machine gun. These capabilities will prove to be crucial in AFGSC’s primary missions of security and patrolling.

Testing is currently underway on the Grey Wolf. Flying from Duke Field at Eglin AFB, a Boeing pilot and Maj. Zach Roycroft of the 413th Flight Test Squadron made the first combined test flight on February 11, 2020. “This first flight with Boeing was a critical step for the MH-139A program and allows us to establish a foundation for government testing,” Roycroft said. As testing progresses, production at Leonardo and Boeing’s Philadelphia facilities is ramping up as well. Full-rate production is expected to be achieved in 2023 with an anticipated delivery rate of 10 aircraft per year into the early 2030s. Of course, the most important part of acquiring a new helicopter is teaching pilots how to fly it.

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A UH-1N Huey escorts a payload transporter convoy, a mission that the Grey Wolf will soon take over (U.S. Air Force)

On November 20, 2020, Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett announced that Maxwell AFB, Alabama would host the MH-139A Formal Training Unit. Less than 100 miles to the southeast of Maxwell is the Army’s Aviation Center of Excellence at Fort Rucker, Alabama. There, alongside their Army counterparts, Air Force flight students of the 23d Flying Training Squadron earn their wings flying the TH-1H Huey II training helicopter before going on to specialized helicopter training. Students selected to the fly the new Grey Wolf will have a short PCS up the road to Maxwell.

In addition to the nuclear security and National Capitol Region missions, the Grey Wolf is also slated to replace the Huey in civil search and rescue, airlift support, and survival school and test support missions. Following successful testing and acceptance by the Air Force, the Grey Wolf is scheduled for initial delivery to the 37th Helicopter Squadron at Warren AFB, Wyoming, the 40th Helicopter Squadron at Malmstrom AFB, Montana, the 54th Helicopter Squadron at Minot AFB, North Dakota, and the 1st Helicopter Squadron at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland in 2021.

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The new MH-139A Grey Wolf is unveiled and named at Duke Field (U.S. Air Force)
MIGHTY TACTICAL

This deadly Russian attack helicopter is known as ‘the flying tank’

The Russian-made Mi-24 Hind attack helicopter is affectionately called the “flying tank” for its ability to take hits and keep flying. The nickname is also an homage to the World War II-era Soviet Sturmovik ground-attack aircraft, which was equally hard to knock out of the sky.


Related: These are the 4 most savage attack helicopters of all time

Its fuselage is surrounded by thick armor plates capable of taking .50 cal rounds from all angles. The cockpit sits on a titanium tub—much like the A-10 Thunderbolt‘s design—and protected by bullet-proof windshields.

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Mi-24 Super Agile Hind, a modernized Hind by the South African firm ATE. At the Ysterplaat Airshow 2006. Photo by Danie van der Merwe, Flikr

Its flexible design allows the helicopter to perform fire support and infantry transport missions. Depending on the variant, the flying tank is armed with an incredible arsenal, including:

  • anti-tank guided missiles
  • rocket pods
  • machine gun pods
  • munitions dispenser pods
  • mine dispenser pods
  • conventional bomb pods
  • and more

The gunship entered the Soviet Air Force in 1972 and continues to serve in more than 30 nations around the world as the Mi-25 and Mi-35 export versions. This video perfectly shows why this weapons system is still relevant on today’s battlefields.

Watch:

Vexed123, YouTube
MIGHTY TACTICAL

US Air Force may have a spy drone that’s secretly been flying for years

An in-depth report by Guy Norris in Aviation Week presents new evidence that a secretive, stealthy reconnaissance drone is now in operation with the US Air Force — and has been flying since 2010.

The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), thought to be called the RQ-180, is a large stealth craft used for reconnaissance missions, filling the role left open by the retirement of the SR-71 in 1999. There are no publicly available images of the UAV and an Air Force spokesperson said they were not aware of the drone. It is thought to be modeled after Northrop-Grumman’s X-47B, Foreign Policy reported in 2013, and to have a relatively large wingspan and a trailing edge, similar to the B-21 Raider.


The RQ-180 likely began flying at the Groom Lake testing facility at Area 51, where the government’s secretive U-2 testing was carried out in the 1950s. Aviation Week points to Aug. 3, 2010, as the first flight date for the aircraft.

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The B-21 Raider, from which the RQ-180 reconnaissance drone is thought to have borrowed its trailing edge design.

(US Air Force photo)

In 2014, testing appears to have been moved to Edwards Air Force Base in California, with a long-range test flight — possibly to the North Pole — reportedly taking place in early 2017. Insider reached out to Edwards Air Force Base regarding the test flight, but did not receive a response by press time.

At Beale Air Force Base, also in California, the 427th Reconnaissance Squadron was recently re-commissioned and is now overseeing the operation of the drones, Aviation Week reports. A spokesperson from Beale AFB told Insider that they were not aware of the squadron. However, a press release from April on Beale AFB’s web site celebrates the presence of the 427th Squadron at the ribbon cutting of Beale’s new Common Mission Control Center, which will help provide ISR data in “highly contested areas.”

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An SR-71B trainer over the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California in 1994.

(US Air Force photo by Judson Brohmer)

According to Aviation Week, there are now at least seven of these UAVs currently in operation, performing a penetrating intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) role. “R” is the designation for a reconnaissance aircraft and “Q” means it is remotely piloted.

The US Air Force declined to comment to Aviation Week. Insider was told by the Air Force press officer on duty that the press desk was not aware of the program.

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

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