Earlier this month, Lockheed Martin was promoting what they call the “DDG DE Laser Enhancement” at the Association of the United States Army expo in Washington, D.C. In essence, it would add at least two lasers to the five-inch gun, Mk 41 vertical-launch-systems (one with 32 cells, the other with 64 cells), a Mk 15 Phalanx close-in weapon system, and 324mm torpedo tubes. In addition to the Standard and Evolved Sea Sparrow missiles, the Mk 41 vertical-launch systems can also carry RUM-139 ASROC launchers and BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles.
Lockheed has been testing laser weapon systems for a while. Last month, WATM reported on a test of the ATHENA laser, in which five MQM-170C Outlaw drones were shot down by the 30-kilowatt system. The test was conducted in conjunction with Army Space and Missile Defense Command. ATHENA was described as “ground mobile” in a Lockheed release about the tests.
The deployment of lasers could improve capabilities against enemy unmanned aerial vehicles, missiles, and even aircraft. The need for counter-drone weapons became very acute when the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria deployed UAVs against Coalition forces.
‘Tis the season for the giving of gifts. ‘Tis also the season of FOMUG (Fear Of Messed Up Gifting). We get it. It’s hard out there for an elf. Team WATM would like to offer you some guidance.
For yourself and everybody else:
~ the gift of renewed purpose and civil service deployed where it’s needed ~
The promotional media that The Mission Continues posts on its website and social media repeatedly puts the full weight of modern digital video production behind an idea that strikes us as so self-evident, so perfect and air tight, we’re left wondering who it is rattling around out there who needs convincing?
In the words of Army vet and Mission Continues volunteer, Bradford Parker:
“Every veteran, no matter who you are, everyone gets that moment when they get out when they’re like, oh man, I should re-enlist. This is what you’re missing from the military and this is where you’re gonna get it.”
Vets come home from service and are struck by the demands of a civilian life that seems both isolating and bereft of greater purpose.
Meanwhile, communities all over the country are sorely in need of highly skilled volunteers with honed leadership experience to spearhead the betterment of their living situations.
This is a match made in heaven, an easy pairing. But as these things tend to go, it required someone to come along, recognize the potential, and make a dancefloor introduction. Spencer Kympton, former Army Captain and founder of the organization, would probably step in here and assure us that it took a little more than that to get the whole thing humming. We’d certainly believe him, but it wouldn’t quash our enthusiasm for The Mission Continues one sand flea-sized bit.
An organization whose mission positively serves both sides of the equation, veterans and community members, creates a very rare thing indeed, a common ground, a space in the middle where truly constructive work can be done. What other opportunities does civilian life present in which your hard won skills are so readily valued, in which the experience you bled for can be put to such grateful use?
Says Army vet Matt Landis:
“One of the things that I think the military does better than anyone else is get people to work together. From all different cultures, from all different walks of life–[if] you sweat and bleed together, you’re brothers.”
This Holiday Season, give yourself the gift of renewed purpose and give the gift of your time and effort wherever The Mission Continues would see you deployed.
The 2017 We Are The Mighty Holiday Gift Guide is sponsored by Propper, a tactical apparel and gear company dedicated to equipping those who commit their lives to serving others. All views are our own.
Speaking of Propper, they’re giving away twelve tactical packs filled with gear from our Holiday Gift Guide. Click this link to enter.
When the last of the Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigates (FFGs) retired in 2015, the littoral combat ship (LCS) was expected to pick up the slack. Well, between mechanical failures and the fact that the LCS is under-armed, that hasn’t happened.
The French Aquitane-class frigate Provence during Joint Warrior 17-2.
(Photo by Mark Harkin)
FREMM stands for “Frégate européenne multi-mission,” which is French for “European multi-mission frigate.” France has 11 of these vessels either in service or under construction, while Italy has 10. Morocco and Egypt have also acquired or ordered vessels of this class.
The FREMM comes in three varieties: One is optimized for anti-submarine warfare, the second is a general-purpose warship, the third is an anti-air destroyer called FREDA (or, Frégate de defense aeriennes). All of these vessels carry the ASTER 15 surface-to-air missile (the FREDA also carries the ASTER 30). The French FREMMs, called the Aquitaine-class, can also fire the SCALP cruise missile (and did so during the recent retaliation against Syria’s use of chemical weapons), while Italian vessels pack the Teseo surface-to-surface missile and Milas anti-submarine missile and a five-inch gun equipped with the Vulcano round.
An Italian FREMM sails alongside an Italian Horizon-class air-defense destroyer.
(Photo by ItalianLarry)
French and Italian FREMMs also have 76mm OTO Melara guns, torpedo tubes for the MU-90 anti-submarine torpedo, and can operate an NH-90 helicopter. The FREMM variant proposed for the FFG(X) competition will displace 6,500 tons, reach a top speed of over 26 knots, and use a hybrid-electric drive for greater range. The vessels will have a crew of 133.
Could the French and Italians have already solved America’s need for a new frigate? That remains to be seen. The Navy plans to buy 20 vessels from this program and will announce the winner in 2020.
The Air Force and Boeing have reached agreement on delivery of the long delayed KC-46 Pegasus tanker, with the two sides expecting the first aircraft to arrive in October 2018, according to Bloomberg.
Boeing’s original deadline to deliver 18 planes and additional materials was August 2017, but the $44 billion program has been hit by numerous delays and setbacks, and the Air Force said this spring it expected Boeing to miss its deadline to deliver the planes by October 2018, with the first KC-46 not arriving until the end of 2018 and all 18 planes by spring 2019.
The delivery of the first KC-46 by October 2018 is two months earlier than the Air Force anticipated. Matthew Donovan, the Air Force undersecretary, told Bloomberg the timeline was “aggressive but achievable.” Under the new schedule, the other 17 planes will arrive by April 2019.
The Air Force plans to buy 179 of the KC-46. Once it begins receiving them, the service will start phasing out its older KC-10 tankers. It will hold on to 300 of its KC-135 tankers, which average 55 years old. That would expand the tanker fleet to 479 KC-135s and KC-46s from the current 455 KC-135s and KC-10s.
(Boeing photo by John D. Parker)
Under their contract, Boeing is responsible for costs beyond the Air Force’s $4.82 billion commitment. But delays in delivery could mean the Air Force will have to keep 19 KC-135s in service through 2023 at a cost of up to $10 million a plane annually.
The most serious problem facing the tanker has been the risk of its refueling boom scraping the surface of planes receiving fuel, which can damage stealth aircraft and potentially ground the tanker.
Other issues include the operation of the remote vision system, which is used to guide the boom; problems with the unexpected disconnection of its centerline drogue system, which is used to refuel aircraft; and concerns about the plane’s high-frequency radio, which uses the skin of the plane to broadcast. The latter two issues were downgraded to category-two deficiencies early 2018.
Settling on a delivery date may mean that both sides believe Boeing is close to resolving the tanker’s deficiencies. Donovan, the Air Force undersecretary, told Bloomberg that a software fix for the boom scrapping the receiving aircraft is undergoing flight testing and that flight test verification for the fixes is set for September 2018.
‘It is prudent to explore options’
The Air Force has been trying to replace its aging tankers for years, and military officials have been critical of the recent delays, even as they’ve complimented Boeing on its cooperation.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told acquisition officials in November 2017 that he was “unwilling (totally)” to accept flawed KC-46 tankers.
Early 2018, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told the House Armed Services Committee that “one of our frustrations with Boeing is that they’re much more focused on their commercial activity than they are on getting this right for the Air Force and getting these airplanes to the Air Force.”
(Boeing photo by John D. Parker)
Her remarks came a few days after Donovan encouraged Boeing to “double down” to “get this program over the goal line” during a visit to the KC-46 production and modification facility in Washington state.
Even as the KC-46 program inches forward, lawmakers are looking beyond the current, manned tankers to adapt to emerging threats.
It its markup of the 2019 defense budget, the Senate Armed Services Committee expressed concern “about the growing threat to large high-value aircraft in contested environments” and recommended an extra $10 million in spending on Air Force research, development, testing, and evaluation, for a total of $38.4 million.
While the Air Force’s tankers allow greater operational availability and range for fighters and bombers, “these assets are manned and increasingly difficult to protect,” the committee said.
“Given the increasingly challenging operating environments our potential adversaries are presenting, it is prudent to explore options for optionally unmanned and more survivable tankers that could operate autonomously as part of a large, dispersed logistics fleet that could sustain attrition in conflict,” it added.
Boeing is researching automation for its commercial aircraft, part of an effort to address a protracted pilot shortage, an issue that has plagued both civilian and military aviation.
Russian aircraft maker Ilyushin is also working on a similar project, partnering with Kronstadt Group to develop an unmanned transport aircraft that could be used to access remote or difficult-to-reach areas.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
During the last years of the Cold War, the Soviet Union was debuting two aircraft intended to hit ground targets on a tactical level. The Sukhoi Su-25 Frogfoot was one of these planes, the Soviet (and later, Russian) answer to the A-10. The other plane was the MiG-27 Flogger, which had some tank-killing power in its own right.
How could the MiG-27, a modification of the MiG-23 Flogger (which was designed to fight other fighters) be such an effective option against tanks? Well, one answer is in the gun — and as the A-10 has demonstrated, the right gun can do a hell of a lot of damage to armor on the ground.
The United States chose the GAU-8 as its tank-killer, pairing it with 1,174 30mm rounds to deliver that sweet, iconic BRRRT. Russia, on the other hand, opted for the GSh-6-30. According to RussianAmmo.org, this gun fires a staggering 5,000 rounds per minute. The only problem here is that the MiG-27 Flogger could only carry 260 rounds for this gun — which is enough for all of three seconds of firing time.
The GSh-6-30 cannon is the heart of the MiG-27 Flogger.
(Photo by VargaA)
The Flogger didn’t just have a gun, though. The World Encyclopaedia of Modern Aircraft Armament notes that MiG-27 Flogger also could carry missiles, like the AS-7 Kerry and the AS-14 Kedge, for attacking ground targets. This platform could also haul up to a dozen 250-kilogram bombs, six 500-kilogram bombs, or four UB-32-57 rocket pods. The rocket pods were particularly lethal — each pod holds 32 S-5 rockets, armed with one of nine warheads, one of which was an extremely potent anti-tank option.
A MiG-27 taking off.
(Photo by Rob Schleiffert)
The MiG-27 has retired from the service of Russia and former Soviet republics. India, however, still has this plane in service and there are a dozen more in Kazakh service.
Learn more about this lethal Russian attack plane that could kill tanks in the video below.
As a parent of a child with allergies, I am forever grateful for this one. The auto-injector apparatus was first invented for the military in the early 70’s, as a means to deliver a temporary reprieve from side effects of nerve gas exposure, during a time when the threat of chemical warfare seemed imminent.
At the request of the Pentagon, Sheldon Kaplan, a scientist with Survival Technology Inc., is credited with developing the Nerve Agent Antidote Kit, which works similarly to the EpiPen we use now, and was specifically designed to be easy to use with little training. Shortly after its effectiveness and importance in the military was discovered, Kaplan then went on to make it something that would aid the civilian world as well, by turning it into the lifesaving tools used by many with anaphylactic allergies today.
Mainstream technology has grown by leaps and bounds in a very short period of time. I remember going on family vacations and having to pull off to the side of the road so my dad could put out the map to make sure we were going the right way (and then take another 20 minutes to fold it back up again).
These days, you can get directions to virtually anywhere in the world in less than 30 seconds, all from your phone. GPS devices went from being an expensive luxury to being a built in facet of people’s lives.
While the military use of satellites and tracking goes back to the time of Sputnik, the more recognizable version of GPS was launched by the military in 1978, and was known as the Navigation System with Timing and Ranging (NAVSTAR) satellite. Taking a note from Navy scientists, this system proved to be the start of the type of navigation system the DoD was looking for in an effort to improve military intelligence.
The savior of 2 a.m. leftovers, microwaves were actually the product of accidental science. This one wasn’t necessarily invented FOR the military, but it was discovered thanks to already existing military technology.
In 1945, scientist Percy Spencer had been experimenting with and testing U.S. Army radar transmitters, when he discovered that due to the heat they produced, a candy bar in his pocket had melted. From there, the first patent on the microwave was filed within the year, and no one ever had to worry about accidentally microwaving their Hershey bars ever again.
Duct tape was born out of wartime need and a mother’s ingenuity. In 1943, Vesta Stoudt was the mother of 2 sons in the U.S. Navy, and was also employed by the Green River Ordinance Plant, where she was responsible for inspecting and packing ammunition and other tactical gear.
It was here that she noticed discrepancies and potentially dangerous issues with the ways that ammunition boxes were being packed and sealed. Originally, they were sealed with paper tape and then dipped in wax in order to ensure they were waterproof. The problem came from the tabs meant to open the boxes, which were made from the same paper tape used to seal the boxes.
In instances of trying to open these boxes while under fire, it became apparent that this not only wasted time (as the paper tabs ripped prior to opening the box) but it put service members at risk and in a vulnerable position. Stoudt came up with the idea of using waterproof cloth tape, instead of paper, making duct tape a solution that was literally invented for military purposes.
After receiving little to no feedback from those she was employed by, she decided to write to the President, Franklin D. Roosevelt. Not only did the letter include her thoughts on the current problem, she also provided her outline for a solution and detailed diagrams. The idea was passed on to Johnson Johnson, who manufactured the first version of the tape we all know, love and use today.
There are a few different stories as to how and why wristwatches came to be so popular, but they all have roots within the military.
By most accounts, wristwatches, or at least the idea of them, predate the mainstream and military usage of them, but on a very small scale. It’s said that Elizabeth I was the first of her kind to keep a small clock strapped to her wrist, while men prior to WWI still relied on pocket watches to tell time. Unsurprisingly, pocket watches did not make for the most effective tools to use in a combat setting, and since timing is such an important aspect of military strategizing, service members needed an easier way to keep track of it.
The prevalence of more user friendly time pieces skyrocketed and became commonplace. The first version, called trench watches, combined the best of both the pocket watch and wristwatch worlds, and advancement of the look, features and versatility of them still serve military members to this day.
Fighter jet F-22 Raptor leaves nothing to be desired. This fourth generation stealth fighter jet is built to dominate the skies. And it does.
So what makes the F-22 the best and baddest out there? Well, for starters it has sensor fusion and super manueverability. That means that it’s easy to control and easy to operate.
Plus the stealth capabilities are better than anything out there even when compared with other fighter jets. And the F-22 even has supercruise options. That means it can be used for both long and short-range missions. But can it really kill anything in its path?
In this US Military News video, narrator Sam Wilson explores what makes the F-22 so unique and whether or not it can really decimate anything that gets in its way. (Spoiler alert: the answer is YES.)
The single-seat all-weather twin-engine aircraft has air superiority over just about any potential enemy. It can also hit ground targets and has electronic warfare and signal intel capabilities. That means it’s just about as well-rounded as any aircraft ever produced.
Maintaining air superiority is a driving mission of the Air Force, and the F-22 Raptor helps keep American aircraft at the top of the aerial combat food chain. F-22s are generally used in long-range missions but can really be used for just about anything.
Conceiving the deadly Raptor
The Raptor was conceived toward the end of the Cold War when the aging F-15 and F-16s were beginning to age out. The aircraft was originally called the Lightning II. That name would have been in honor of the WWII Lockheed P-37 Lightning fighter aircraft. But that name was officially phased out in the 1990s. Good choice Air Force on choosing the Raptor instead of calling this aircraft the Lightning II. (Fun fact: the name Lightning II was officially given to the F-35.)
The Air Force is always looking forward to potential threats and targets. Back during the development of the F-22, the biggest threat to America was the Soviet Union. The Air Force needed an aircraft that could handle anything. Answering the call was the F-22. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, the F-22 didn’t have a mission.
The F-22 didn’t formally begin flight testing until 1997 as part of the Combined Test Force program at Edwards AFB. Six years later, in January 2003, the first production F-22 was delivered to Nellis AFB in Nevada for initial operational test and evaluation.
By 2004, the F-22 received Initial Operational Capability status. Simulated combat exercises during Exercise Northern Edge in Alaska in June 2006 were completed with 108 “downed adversaries” and no losses.
America is all about air dominance
In 2008, production stopped on the F-22 after less than 200 were produced. It’s also the only aircraft that the Air Force possesses that outmatches late-generation Russian warfighting aircraft. Not only does the F-22 have the capability of reaching long-range targets, but its stealth function means it can enter just about any airspace undetected. That’s incredibly important if America ever needs to face off in aircraft combat campaigns.
U.S. Air Force officials are looking to upgrade the B-52 Stratofortress‘ bomb load at a time when the service, and the Defense Department as a whole, is preparing for near-peer rivals.
In June 2018 the service posted a request for information survey to identify potential contractors that could offer insights on how to best integrate newer and much heavier bombs under the aircraft’s wings.
Given that the aircraft is expected to fly for another 30 years, the potential upgrade — part of the Heavy Weapon Release Pylon Program — speaks to the Air Force’s initiative to stay ahead of emerging threats, particularly aggressors in the Pacific, according to a service official.
“This is not a requirement that came out of nowhere,” the service official told Military.com on background July 9, 2018. “There are compelling reasons for why we have to go down that road.”
While specific munitions haven’t been advertised, the goal is to quadruple the bomb size. Officials want pylons “capable of carrying multiple weapons in the 5,000-lb to 20,000-pound weight class,” according to the RFI. The current common pylon maximum is for 5,000-pound munitions.
A B-52 Stratofortress
The external pylon “was designed in 1959 and has been in service since the 1960s. When it was introduced, there wasn’t a requirement nor did anyone foresee a need to carry weapons heavier than 5000 lbs,” the RFI states.
According to the 2018 NDS, “China is a strategic competitor using predatory economics to intimidate its neighbors while militarizing features in the South China Sea.
“It is increasingly clear that China and Russia want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model — gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic and security decisions,” the NDS says.
Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson has on multiple occasions referenced China’s quick pace in technological development, which is driving the service to react. There has been explicit recognition “of the re-emergence of great power competition,” she has said.
“[China] is modernizing very quickly. They’re modernizing their air defenses, but also their air-to-air capability is really modernizing across the board. It is the pacing threat for the U.S. Air Force because of the pace of their modernization,” she told reporters at the Pentagon in February 2018.
The official also pointed to the bomber road map, which enhances the B-52 aircraft as a whole.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz)
The move marked a significant shift to bring back the B-52H, which previously filled the continuous bomber presence mission from 2006 to 2016 before the B-1 briefly took over.
Bringing the B-52 back meant putting a nuclear-capable bomber in theater at a time when relations between the U.S. and North Korea were largely unpredictable, and as China continued to flex its muscles in the South China Sea.
“Nothing wrong with competition, nothing wrong with having strong positions, but when it comes down to introducing what they have done in the South China Sea, there are consequences,” Mattis said.
As for the B-52 bomb pylon upgrade, the program is in the early stages.
The RFI “is only for market research of possible contractor sources,” said Stephen Palmer, a contracting officer with Air Force Life Cycle Management Center who specializes in the B-1 Lancer and B-52 programs at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma.
“[We] are not asking for any contractor to provide a proposal at this time,” he said in an email.
This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @military.com on Twitter.
Russia has developed a new combat surveillance drone disguised as a bird of prey, in this case an owl, The Moscow Times reported June 25, 2019.
The drone, a Technopolis Era project resembling a snowy owl choking on a mouthful of electronic equipment, appeared at the defense ministry’s annual military expo. The unmanned aerial vehicle is reportedly equipped with a laser that gives it the ability to guide artillery and laser-guided bombs.
Weighing only 5 kilograms, it can be carried and launched by one person, the developers told TASS, a Russian state-owned news agency. The company has also developed a falcon drone. It is said to be able to fly for up to 40 minutes and cover distances up to 20 kilometers, or 12 miles.
Creating drones that look like birds is a concept Russian unmanned aerial systems developers have been looking closely at for a while. The Zhukovsky-Gagarin Air Force Academy, for instance, presented a owl-shaped design last year.
“What’s interesting is that Russian designers are thinking creatively about UAV applications,” Samuel Bendett, a research analyst at the Center for Naval Analyses, told C4ISRNET at the time, explaining, “Biomimicry allows UAVs to operate in areas where a ‘regular’-looking UAV would have been sighted and eliminated.”
“In Russia’s part of Eurasia where hunting birds like owls, falcons and eagles are very common, a UAV that looks like a bird can become an invaluable ISR asset,” he added. “It can basically ‘hide’ in plain sight.” Up close, it is easy to see that the drone is, in fact, a machine, but at a distance, it becomes much harder to tell it apart from a bird in flight.
The stated purpose of the design showcased last year was to track tanks and other vehicles and then direct fire to those positions.
Drones with biomimetic designs, while strange, are not all that new.
A few years ago, a crude drone resembling a bird and believed to be the property of the Somali government crashed in Mogadishu. Robotic birds have been tested in Canada to scare birds away from airports. And China has designed recon drones that fly, move, and look like doves for domestic surveillance operations.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
Lambos aren’t exactly known for the rugged durability required by American military vehicles. So, the reason they specially made the Lamborghini Cheetah for the U.S. military would have to be pretty far out there.
Well, not that far, actually: the company was struggling economically from a global recession and an ongoing oil crisis. They were bleeding money, so they decided to start taking design contracts. One of those contracts was actually a subcontract for the American military.
The Cheetah was born.
It debuted in 1977 and was a failure from the start. The large rear-mounted engine ruined the weight distribution (and thus, the vehicle’s handling). After making three expensive prototypes the U.S. Army just wasn’t interested in, the damage was done. Lamborghini even went out of business for a while.
Besides the handling, there were a number of reasons the Lamborghini and the Army just weren’t going to match. A major reason was that Lamborghini’s design was actually a ripoff they received from an Army subcontractor – but Lamborghini didn’t know that.
When the Cheetah bombed during testing for the military, the contract for the new vehicle went to the Humvee.
Even though the Cheetah’s massive failure caused other contractors to pull their money from Lamborghini, sending the company into a death spiral, it gave them time to lick their wounds and reconvene later. The concept of a Lambo SUV never fully died, either.
Lamborghini engineers revisited the idea later, conceiving a civilian version of the vehicle, the Lamborghini Militaria No.1, or LM001, and its more popular, later iteration, the LMA002.
The latest Lamborghini SUV features a V12 engine (the Cheetah only had a V8), souped-up and superior to its 70s-era ancestor in every possible way.
For a long time, the AGM-84/RGM-84 Harpoon missile has been the primary anti-ship weapon of the United States military. Over the years, with improvements, it’s successfully held the line. But, as is perpetually the case, time and technological advances have forced the U.S. Military to look for a missile with even more reach and punch.
Fortunately, the answer is, in some ways, already in service. A version of the AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (or JASSM) is going to replace the venerable Harpoon as the military’s primary anti-ship weapon. This new iteration is called the Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile (or LRASM).
The AGM-84 Harpoon served well as the main anti-ship missile of the United States Military.
The AGM-158 was primarily designed to hit land targets. The first version, fielded by the Air Force in 2004, had a range of 200 nautical miles and carried a 1,000-pound warhead. The Navy, however, held out and stuck with a Harpoon variant called the AGM-84 Standoff Land-Attack Missile (or SLAM). The latest versions of SLAM have a 150-nautical-mile range and a carry an 800-pound warhead.
The LRASM is based off of the second version the AGM-158, called the JASSM-ER, or Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile – Extended Range. This missile has a 600-mile reach and carries the same 1,000-pound warhead. Just as with previous iterations, however, the JASSM-ER was intended for land targets. So, how did the newest missile, designed for targets at sea, come to be?
There’s just one reason for its development — well, three reasons, technically: the Chinese Navy currently has 3 aircraft carriers in their fleet (with plans to build more). Yes, submarines can do the job against carriers – just ask USS Wasp (CV 7) what a sub can do to a carrier — but more often than not, carriers fight carriers. The Harpoon missile, as good as it is, just doesn’t have the oomph to do in an 85,000-ton carrier.
The good news for the United States is that a F/A-18E/F Super Hornet can haul four LRASMs. A B-1B Lancer can haul up to 24 internally. The F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-15E Strike Eagle can also carry this missile. But, more likely, the LRASM will be launched from surface ships like the Zumwalt-class destroyers.
In other words, this missile could very well be a worthy successor — or partner — to the Harpoon for years to come.
That ship was the battleship USS Nevada (BB 36). The Nevada was the lead ship in her class, the other being USS Oklahoma (BB 37). According to the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, when she was built, she had ten 14-inch guns (two triple turrets, two double turrets), 21 five-inch guns (many in casemates), and four 21-inch torpedo tubes.
The Nevada did not see much action at all (although nine sailors died from the influenza pandemic that hit in 1918) in World War I. In the 1920s and 1930s, she carried out normal peacetime operations.
On Dec. 7, 1941, she was moored alone on Battleship Row. When Kido Butai launched the sneak attack on Oahu, the battleship was hit by a torpedo, but her crew managed to get her engines running, and she made a break for the open ocean.
As she did so, the second wave from the six Japanese carriers arrived. The Nevada took anywhere from six to ten bomb hits, and the decision was made to run her aground.
The Nevada suffered 50 dead and over 100 wounded, but Pearl Harbor would claim two more casualties. In “Pearl Harbor: Why, How, Fleet Salvage and Final Appraisal,” it was reported that two men were killed by hydrogen sulfide on Feb. 7, 1942, while working to salvage the Nevada.
Nevada would return to Puget Sound for permanent repairs and refitting, gaining a new dual-purpose batter of eight twin five-inch gun mounts. She took part in operations to re-take the Aleutian Islands of Attu and Kiska from the Japanese, then she went to the Atlantic.
On June 6, 1944, she was part of the armada that took part in Operation Overlord, and continued to provide fire support until American troops moved further inland. In August of that year, she took part in Operation Dragoon, the landings in southern France.
She then returned to the Pacific, taking part in the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Off Okinawa, she suffered damage from a kamikaze and from Japanese shore batteries.
The ship remained mission-capable, and she would later return to Pearl Harbor for repairs before re-joining the fleet to prepare for the invasion of Japan, stopping to pay a visit to a bypassed Japanese-held island.
After Japan surrendered, the Nevada was sent back to the West Coast, and prepared for Operation Crossroads. Painted a bright orange color to serve as an aiming point for the B-29 crew assigned to drop an atomic bomb, she got lucky.
According to the book “Final Voyages,” the B-29 crew missed her by about a mile — and she survived both the Able and Baker tests. She was later used as a target and sunk, with the final blow being an aerial torpedo according to the Naval Vessel Register.
The U.S. Marines are about to start receiving real robotic exoskeletons for testing, but these exo-suits aren’t headed into combat any time soon. Instead, they’ll be supporting logistical operations like loading and unloading pallets of gear and ammunition in the field.
While that might not sound like the sort of high-speed missions you imagined for the first widely-used military robotic exoskeletons, it’s really the most logical (and feasible) use for this burgeoning technology. America’s Special Operations Command spent years working to develop the TALOS robotic exoskeleton for specialized combat applications, but found the various systems they employed were too finicky for serious combat ops. While exoskeletons can significantly augment a person’s strength, they also consume a huge amount of power, often requiring that they stay tethered to a power cable.
Mock up of a TALOS suit. (U.S. Army photo by Anthony Taylor, 85th Support Command Public Affairs Office)
TALOS was ultimately canceled last year, but a number of different technologies developed for the forward-thinking system continue to live on in various weapon development programs that fall under SOCOM’s purview. Sarcos Defense’ new suit isn’t derived from the TALOS program, but offers some of the same significant advantages, including the ability to increase the strength and endurance of whoever’s strapped in. Despite the TALOS program’s progress in a number of areas, it was ultimately deemed infeasible for combat.
However, just because robotic exoskeleton technology isn’t quite advanced to the point where it can be used outside the wire quite yet, it could be an extremely useful solution to problems service members still have inside forward operating bases. Unloading literal tons of equipment, ammunition, and supplies that arrive on pallets is one such challenge.
By utilizing the Sarcos Defense Guardian XO Alpha robotic exoskeleton, a single Marine can do the offloading work that would normally require an entire dedicated fire team.
“As the U.S. Marine Corps focuses on logistics and sustainment modernization as one of their key priorities and looks to reduce the manpower required to conduct expeditionary operations, the Guardian XO is well-suited to fulfill a wide variety of logistics applications to address their needs and requirements.” –Sarcos Defense
As America’s premier expeditionary force, The Marines have placed a renewed emphasis on Expeditionary Advanced Basing Operations (EABO) in recent years. Put simply, EABO is all about increasing the operational capabilities of Marines working in austere environments that may not be near large military installations. The intent behind incorporating new technology like the Guardian XO Alpha is to bring big installation capabilities to forward operating areas. Whereas large military installations can utilize forklifts to rapidly load or unload supplies, smaller FOBs (Forward Operating Bases) have to rely on manpower to unload supplies when they arrive.
“Instead of a team of four Marines, maybe you only need a Marine with this capability to offload pallets or move or load munitions,” Jim Miller, Sarcos Robotics’ vice president of defense solutions, explained last year.
Sarcos Guardian® XO® Full-Body Powered Exoskeleton: Alpha Unit Preview
In the short term, Marines will be assessing this new robotic exoskeleton to see just how useful it might be in a variety of operations, including some the team at Sarcos might not have thought of yet. Of course, another important part of the testing process will be figuring out what this exo-suit can’t do, and that’s where the Marines may really shine. After all, if you want to find out just how hard you can run a piece of gear before it dies, there are few organizations more qualified for such a torture test than the United States Marine Corps.
The Guardian XO robot, an exoskeleton suit to help reduce the risk of injuries by improving human strength and endurance, is on display at the 2019 Modern Day Marine Expo on Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., Sept. 18, 2019. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Yuritzy Gomez)
“The Sarcos Defense team is very pleased that the U.S. Marine Corps will be testing use cases for our Guardian XO Alpha version this year,” said Ben Wolff, CEO, Sarcos Defense.
“Our military branches need to regularly address changing personnel issues and reduce the risk of injury from performing heavy-lifting tasks. We believe that our full-body, powered exoskeletons will be a huge benefit to the Marines as well as the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and USSOCOM, who we are also working with on our exoskeleton technology.”