This would end up putting two very well-equipped air forces against each other, and each has a plane that looks very much like a F-16 Fighting Falcon.
While China’s Su-27 and J-11 Flankers have drawn a lot of attention, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force and the People’s Liberation Army Navy Air Force also have a number of Chengdu J-10 “Firebird” jets in service. This is a single-engine fighter, using the same AL-31 powering the Su-27 family of fighters.
The Mitsubishi F-2 is also a single-engine fighter, also able to carry air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons. The plane is best described as an F-16 on steroids, and it is receiving upgrades. It replaced the Mitsubishi F-1, and fulfills not only an anti-shipping role (by carrying up to four ASM-2s), it also can carry guided bombs.
FlightGlobal.com notes that China has over 250 J-10s in service between the PLAAF and PLANAF. Japan has a total of 62 F-2A and 19 F-2B fighters in service. This gives China a three-to-one edge, but the F-2A’s anti-air capabilities with the AAM-4 are considered to be far superior.
The J-10, though, is not a bad plane, and the sheer numbers can have a quality of their own.
If you’re about to join the Air Force any time soon, there’s a good chance your work is going to involve maintaining aircraft. If you’re lucky, you’ll get assigned to the F-22 Raptor. Even with the rise of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, there is no better air dominance fighter in the world. Unlike the F-35, however, if one of the F-22’s Pratt & Whitney engines fail and you don’t have the tools to fix it, you can just head out to Home Depot and get what you need.
Air Superiority: You can do it, we can help.
The F-35 steals headlines in terms of the latest whiz-bang technology when it comes to stealth, visibility, and even the giant helmets worn by F-35 pilots. But the F-35 cannot substitute what the Raptor brings to the fight. The F-35 has an aerodynamic performance similar to flying the F-16 Fighting Falcon. It can’t fly as high or as fast. What it brings is firepower – and a lot of it. It was designed to be an air-to-ground fighter.
Meanwhile, the F-22 Raptor is the quiet professional in the world of air superiority fighters. It has a smaller radar cross-section than the F-35 (the size of a marble versus the size of a golf ball) and is probably the most lethal air combat aircraft in the world, even considering the fifth-generation fighters produced by great power adversaries like China and Russia. But the area where it’s even more superior isn’t in the air, it’s on the ground.
We’re talking about maintenance and repairs.
The F-22 gets repaired like a normal plane while the F-35 is happy it doesn’t catch fire before take off. Small victories.
The F-22 Raptor is one of the Air Force’s most reliable planes. Roughly half the time a Raptor spends being repaired is just to fix Low Observable (LO) stealth coatings that get damaged when ground crews open her up for things like routine maintenance. Lockheed-Martin is currently working on a way to reduce the damage to the stealth coating for this. What is really impressive about the F-22 is how easy it is for a trained ground crew to repair her engines.
Lockheed-Martin designed the F-22 with two F-119 Pratt Whitney engines. These sturdy but powerful thrust monsters were designed to be maintained on the flightline using only six common tools available at any commercial hardware store – Not something you’d expect from one of the world’s most advanced air superiority fighters, but it came from what used to be a common principle in the military: simplicity.
And yet, I still wouldn’t trust the Army with this.
The Pratt Whitney engines used in the F-22 Raptor deliver 22 percent more thrust while using almost half of the parts used in the previous Pratt Whitney designs while making the F-22 the most maneuverable fighter ever flown by any military anywhere and allowing for supercruise speeds of almost two times the speed of sound. Everything about this engine has been expertly engineered, from the titanium alloys to the ceramic coating used on certain parts to absorb radar signals.
Now new airmen can be sent to Home Depot to pick up the tools to fix this marvel of engineering – along with the usual buckets of prop wash.
In World War II, every country was looking for an edge, so it’s pretty amazing that the Nazis found one and then decided against it – and rightly so. Chlorine trifluoride ignites on contact with almost any substance, burns at over 2000°C, and will melt tanks, bunkers, schools, and pretty much anything it comes into contact with.
Some things are better left alone.
It must have been one helluva weapon if even Hitler didn’t use it (Spoiler Alert: It was).
In 1930, German scientists came across a volatile new discovery. Dubbed “Substance N,” the concoction boiled at room temperature and produced a toxic gas. When ignited, this toxic gas also burned at thousands of degrees Celsius. After decomposing, it turned into the slightly-less-dangerous-hydrochloric acid (that was actually more dangerous because it occurred as steam). It was also corrosive and exploded on contact with water. Or carbon, which is everywhere. This stuff set fire to asbestos.
At first glance, it might seem like an ideal weapon of war, one that keeps killing in many, many forms and doesn’t stop. And the Nazis thought so too. For years they tried to produce enough of the material to effectively weaponize it. The stuff ate through everything, and what it didn’t eat through, it burned.
It burns concrete. No joke.
Nazi Germany would have totally used this weapon if they could have produced and stored enough of it to actually convert to weapons. If they could have safely transported those weapons and used them before the chemical violently exploded, burned, or otherwise ate through whatever it was in.
Turns out the only safe way to store it is to seal it in containers made of steel, iron, nickel, or copper after they’ve been treated with fluorine gas. The fluorine protects the other substances from the Chlorine Trifluoride. The stuff is so unstable, Chemist John D. Clark once said the best way to deal with a failure to contain the resulting fire from a chlorine trifluoride storage failure is “a good pair of running shoes.”
While the high-tech weapon systems of today are cool, there is always a sense of nostalgia for older weapons. So, what if you could get the best of both? Say, give a classic weapons system a boost from modern technology – or use a blast from the past to make a modern system much better?
Here are a few options:
The M50 Ontos was a marginal tank killer but was devastating against infantry. Imagine what a .50, digital targeting and a remote operation system could do? (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)
Old System: M50 Ontos
New Systems: Thermal imaging sights, digital fire control and laser range finder from the M1 Abrams; Common Remotely Operated Weapons Station with M2 .50-caliber machine gun
The M50 Ontos is an obscure vehicle that never really had a chance to fulfill its role as an anti-tank weapon, but it proved to be a potent weapon against infantry. Six 106mm recoilless rifles tend to make a point very well.
But the Ontos had to get close to guarantee hits. It also lacked secondary armament beyond a M1919 .30-caliber machine gun. But what if the Ontos had the fire-control system and thermal sights of the M1A2 Abrams? Now the 106mm rifles can gain more accuracy from further out.
The M551 Sheridan once provided a lot of firepower for the 82nd Airborne Division. The air-drop capability meant that the paratroopers were far less likely to be mere speed bumps. And the 152mm cannon could do a number on buildings and bunkers.
But let’s be honest, the gun could be less than reliable, especially when using the MGM-51 Shillelagh missile. So, why not go with the same gun used on the M1A2 Abrams tank? Not only does this gun have the ability to beat just about any tank in the world today, logistics are simpler.
That counts as a win-win.
Old System: M40 106mm Recoilless Rifle
New System: Joint Light Tactical Vehicle
While systems like the BGM-71 TOW and FGM-148 Javelin provide a punch, those missiles can be expensive. But the need for fire support remains.
So, why not look for something cheaper? The M40 recoilless rifle could fit that bill. The shells are cheap, pack a decent punch, but they also can limit collateral damage in ways that a missile can’t (there’s no need to worry about burning fuel).
Think that is a stretch? In his book, “Parliament of Whores,” P.J. O’Rourke recounted how an Army unit pulled recoilless rifles out of storage for Operation Just Cause.
The A1 Skyraider was one of the most badass CAS planes in Vietnam. What about making it into an A-10 equivalent? (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)
Old System: A-1 Skyraider
New Systems: AGM-114 Hellfire, Joint Direct Attack Munition, Paveway Laser-Guided Bombs, M230 chain gun, Sniper ER Targeting pod — aka a crap ton of modern aerial firepower.
The Spad did much of what the A-10 does now: it loitered, carried a big bomb load, and was generally loved by ground troops.
So, what would be a more interesting fusion than to do to the Spad what was done for the A-10 – to wit, give it the ability to use precision-guided weapons?
The Spad could carry up to 8,000 pounds of bombs. Imagine how many targets one equipped with JDAM or Hellfire could take out in a single sortie!
Ready the guns! Full broadside!…(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)
Old System: Sail Frigate USS Constitution (IX 21)
(Relatively) New System: M116 75mm Pack Howitzer
USS Constitution (IX 21) kicked a lot of butt during her service career. But imagine what this lightweight (1,439 pounds) howitzer would do.
It’s hard to imagine which would be the bigger game-changer in a fight: The higher rate of fire that the M116 would provide, or the high-explosive shells it could shoot up to five and half miles away.
(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)
Old System: 8-inch/55 Mk 71 Gun
New System: Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer
Let’s face it. The later versions of the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers could use a little more anti-surface punch. The answer may lie in bringing back the Mk 71, an eight-inch gun capable of firing up to 12 rounds a minute. This could also help alleviate the shortfalls in fire support with the retirement of the Iowa-class battleships and the truncation of Zumwalt production from 32 vessels to three. Eight-inch rounds abound, and the precision guidance used on Excalibur, Copperhead, and Vulcano could be adapted to this gun as well.
Old System: W48 155mm nuclear projectile
New System: Excalibur, Copperhead and Vulcano precision guidance systems
With a yield of .072 kilotons (that is 72 tons of TNT), the W48 was intended for use against tactical targets from a 155mm howitzer. But artillery rounds can miss (no, it’s not about hitting the ground). But suppose you merged the W48 with the Excalibur, creating a W48 Mod 2? Now, that 128-pound package puts that .072-kiloton warhead within ten feet of the aiming point. Excalibur is not the only option: The laser-guided Copperhead and OTO Melara’s Vulcano packages would make the W48 a very potent weapon.
A selection of security cameras that are being sold and touted by Amazon on its website come with “huge” security risks, according to findings from an investigation conducted by UK consumer watchdog Which? that were released on Sept. 27, 2019.
After testing six different wireless cameras, Which? found that the devices were easy to hack thanks to weak passwords and unencrypted data that could enable strangers to remotely take control of the camera to spy into people’s homes and view footage as they please.
One of the cameras tested in the investigation has an Amazon Choice label. This essentially means that it is an item that many buyers have purchased and were satisfied with, but it doesn’t mean it has been heavily vetted by Amazon. The Amazon Choice label is important as these are the items that Amazon’s search engine will deliver when you ask Alexa to search for you.
Which? says that the lack of vetting on these Amazon recommended products is extremely concerning.
“There appears to be little to no quality control with these sub-standard products, which risk people’s security yet are being endorsed and sold on Amazon,” Adam French, a consumer rights expert at Which? said in a statement to the press on Sept. 30, 2019.
“Amazon and other online marketplaces must take these cameras off sale and improve the way they scrutinize these products,” he continued. “They certainly should not be endorsing products that put people’s privacy at risk.”
Customers raised safety concerns in some reviews online.
“Someone spied on us,” said one customer who reviewed a .99 Victure security camera that carries the Amazon Choice badge. “They talked through the camera and they turned the camera on at will. Extremely creepy. We told Amazon. Three of us experienced it, yet they’re still selling them.” Business Insider has reached out to Victure for comment.
Another customer wrote that he had “chills down his spine” after hearing a mysterious voice coming from a camera next to his child’s crib after it was apparently hacked, Which? wrote in its press release.
Which? said it asked Amazon to remove these products and is urging the company to monitor customer feedback and investigate cases where consumers have identified issues with security. Amazon declined to comment on Which?’s findings, however. A spokesperson for the company did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
The Stryker family of vehicles has helped the Army in the War on Terror in both Afghanistan and Iraq. However, for the Marine Corps, the Stryker was nothing new – heck, the Marines had a version going back to the 1980s.
It’s called the LAV, or Light Armored Vehicle, and it can be described as what would happen nine months after a Stryker and a Bradley met in a bar and hooked up, even though it entered service in 1983. That’s right – 18 years before the Army got the Stryker in service, the Marines had been using something similar.
Each Marine division has a battalion of LAVs, and they’re usually a mix of versions.
The LAV-25 is the most common, an 8×8 wheeled vehicle with a turret that has a M242 Bushmaster cannon. This is the same weapon that’s used on many Navy ships, and on the M2/M3 Bradley Fighting vehicles. According to MilitaryFactory.com, the LAV-25 has a crew of three and holds six infantrymen and 720 rounds of 25mm ammo.
There are other versions of the LAV, though. In essence, it is a family of vehicles, just like the Stryker. There is a mortar carrier with an 81mm mortar, known as LAV-M. The LAV-AD has a 25mm GAU-12 “Equalizer” gun (the same as on the Harrier) along with Stinger missiles. There is a recovery vehicle, known as LAV-R, a command and control vehicle known as LAV-C2, a cargo transport called LAV-L, and a LAV-MEWSS which carries out electronic warfare missions. The Marines also have a LAV-AT, which carries the same turret as the M901 Improved Tow Vehicle.
The LAV family has seen lots of action with the Marines, including during Operation Just Cause in Panama, Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and the War on Terror. It’s also going to be around for almost two more decades. In any case, it will be hard for the Marines to top this vehicle.
Stalking and intelligence gathering are different from creepin’, right? We’re pretty sure there’s a distinction. But good glass (i.e. a scope) can help with all three.
According to John Ratcliffe Chapman’s book Instructions To Young Marksmen, the first truly telescopic rifle scope was invented in 1835 and 1840 — put together by Morgan James with design help from Chapman himself.
Demand for (and improvement of) the rifle scope quickly increased until, with the advent of the Civil War, it became strident — though only in some circles. Although the use of marksmen with scoped rifles was considered by many generals to be ungentlemanly or even murderous, many a Whitworth, Kerr, Sharps, or Kerr Whitworth rifle went to work on Civil War battlefields with side-mounted Davidson, Vernier, Creedmore, and other scopes.
Some of them were a couple feet long (or longer), and extraordinarily heavy.
And things have certainly come a long way since then, as Nikon, GPOTAC, and Atibal aptly demonstrate.
One company building good rifle optics is Nikon. Most of you associate them with cameras, but they manufacture all sorts of “glass,” including binos and riflescopes. They’ve recently introduced a new line of scopes they call BLACK.
Another company is GPO – they’re about as little known as Nikon is well known, but we hear some good things about ’em. They’ve just introduced their GPOTAC 8XI Riflescope.
They’ve taken a German design and upgunned it with some high tech features. Then there’s Atibal, whose sights and spotting scopes — specifically the MROC — have made a pretty good impression on some of our friends in a short amount of time (and are rumored to be releasing a 3-12 variable soon).
Now, let’s be clear, we haven’t personally tried any of these. We’re just huge fans of optics because we’ve seen first hand what a force multiplier good glass can be in a real fight. From reflex sights to variable power first focal plane fightin’ scopes, glass is good. If you’re still running irons alone, you likely still have a rotary dial telephone. Going “old school” is all well and good for your social media persona, but blows a hard one wants the metal starts hitting the meat.
Not that we’re judging you or anything.
Anyway, here’s three new pieces of glass for your Thursday Threesome.
1. Atibal MROC
The Atibal MROC is a 3 x 32 magnified optic that demonstrates in one small package just how improved our ability to reach out and see (then shoot) somebody has come. MROC stands for Modern Rifle Optic Component. It features an illuminated laser-etched reticle, fixed at three power magnification with an illuminated compensation chevron (for bullet drop) included (it’s calibrated for 5.56mm). The manufacturer advises it has a 37.7 field of view at 100 yards, which they describe as the “…largest field of view of any 3x prismatic scope currently on the market.”
An expanded field of view, of course, can make the difference between putting one in his noggin and catching on in yours.
The lens is FMC (Fully MultiCoated) to reduce glare and reflection. It is also intended to improve clarity of view. Windage and elevation adjustments are made by hand (no tools necessary, and ALL CAPS (see what we did there?) are leashed so you don’t lose them on the range or in the field. An integrated and detachable picatinny rail provides mounting options. The MROC runs on a single CR2 lithium battery.
Speaking of batteries, you might want to co-witness yours in case it goes dead. Not sure what that means or how to it? Easy – we’ll learn ya right here.
Here are the specs on the Atibal MROC as they provide them (or, you can find more online here). We’ll provide more info as we get. The price point on these, taken in context with what we hear about their performance, piques our interest. Follow ’em on Instagram, @atibalsights.
F.O.V FT@100YDS: 37.7ft
F.O.V Angle: 7.2°
Eye Relief: 2.8″
Click Value: .5 MOA
W/E Max. Adj.: 60 MOA
Parallax Free: 100yds
Battery Type: 1x CR2
Lens Coating: FMC
2. GPOTAC 8XI Riflescope
“[The] GPOTAC 8Xi is a scope like no other – it’s amazing. It’s packed with optical brilliance and technical features expected from super-premium tactical riflescopes. We were very careful to make sure every demanded feature available was jammed into this optic. You’ve got to see this scope.”
That’s what owner and CEO of GPO, USA says anyway. And it’s jammed full of vitamins too! You know though, if you can overlook the sensational, breakfast cereal commercial style prose, you’ll find the 8Xi does indeed seem to have some interesting features.
The 34mm tube optic will initially be offered in what they call the 1-9 x 24i version, with something called the “iControl illuminated mil-spec reticle” — and it’s a first focal plane reticle too, which is a huge plus-up in our minds. Turrets are locking metal milrad, with what the describe as “GPObright high transmission lens-coating technology.” It features double HD glass objective lenses, “fast focus” rubberized oculars, and wide machined-aluminum magnification adjustment rings. The horseshoe center point is fiber optic driven, with an auto-off feature to prevent unnecessary battery drain (and provides an alert when the battery is down to 15% remaining life).
Yes, the press release sounded like it was written by Billy Mays, but this is another one we’re actually very interested in. You can check it out online here; full specs are at the bottom of the page. They’re on Instagram (sorta), @gpo_usa) and Facebook. FYSA they’ve also just released a binocular line.
Remember – even the best gear in the world will avail you nothing if you rely on equipment to compensate for skill and honed ability. Train accordingly.
3. Nikon BLACK Riflescope Series
The BLACK Line optics are not Nikon’s first — they’ve had ProStaff, Monarch and other styles for years. However these are some of the first ones Nikon has manufactured specifically for tactical applications.
Its lineup includes five versions of what the company calls the BLACK X1000. That selection includes 4-16×50 and 6-24×50 models with X-MRAD or X-MOA reticles synced to windage and elevation turrets. Nikon describes what you see through the glass is a, “…visually clean, yet highly functional and advanced too for estimating range or maintaining holdovers.” (Not sure what all that means? Read this piece about Minute of Angle).
Their 1-4×24 scope uses what they call the “SpeedForce” reticle (nothing to do with Barry Allen, Jay Garrick, Wally West or anyone else drawn by Alex Ross). This reticle is intended to be used with the scope dialed to true 1x. It features an illuminated double horseshoe intended to assist in quick target acquisition, better ability to hit a moving target, and more precise intermediate range holdovers. (You can learn more about MILS here; we break it down Barney style.)
They’re all built with a 30mm body using an aircraft grade aluminum alloy, and they’re TYpe 3 anodized. The turrets are spring-loaded and “zero-reset”, and MSRP ranges from $399.95 up to 649.95. You can expect ’em to start showing up in the Spring and early Summer — meaning they’re just in time to let you, uh, provide “overwatch” on the beach or where they’re sunbathing out back of sorority row.
Follow Nikon on Instagram for lots of pretty pictures; @nikonusa.
This has been your Thursday Threesome. Got a tip on some new gear we should look at? Hit us up on the Instagramz, @breachbangclear, or drop us an e-mail at SITREP(at)breachbangclear.com. You can also send us a PM on Facebook. Don’t post nuthin’ to our wall. We never read it.
More news as we get it. You can also follow our Be Advised column (warning: occasionally NSFW).
The Homeland Security Appropriations Act draft that emerged from the House of Representatives in July 2018 lacked the $750 million that the Homeland Security Department requested to design and build the Coast Guard’s first new heavy polar icebreaker in over 40 years — and Democratic lawmakers are pushing back.
In a letter addressed to Appropriations Committee chairman Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen and Rep. Kevin Yoder, chairman of the Homeland Security subcommittee, House Democrats criticized the bill’s exclusion of the $750 million icebreaker request and of funding requested for the Coast Guard’s 12th national-security cutter, as well as a $10 million cut to the service’s research and development budget.
The bill excludes those funds “while wasting a staggering .9 billion on a border wall and increasing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement budget by 8 million,” according to the letter, composed by Rep. John Garamendi and signed by seven other Democratic lawmakers.
“We urge you in the strongest possible terms to reconsider this misallocation of resources,” which would undermine the Coast Guard’s mission and “place our nation at a distinct economic, geopolitical, and national security disadvantage for decades to come,” the letter adds.
Coast Guard heavy icebreaker Polar Star plows through ice in the Antarctic.
(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer David Mosley)
The Coast Guard’s underwhelming icebreaker fleet has been a point of contention for some time. The service currently has one medium polar icebreaker, the Healy, and one heavy polar icebreaker, the Polar Star. Another heavy polar icebreaker, the Polar Sea, is out of service and is used for parts to keep the Polar Star running.
The 42-year-old Polar Star, which was refurbished in 2012, is well past its 30-year service life but remains the only ship the Coast Guard has to support year-round access to the Antarctic and Arctic regions — during a trip to McMurdo Station in Antarctica in early 2018, the Star’s crew battled engine failures and flooding .
Efforts to add to the Guard’s icebreaker fleet have been underway for some time. The National Defense Authorization Act called for up to six more polar-class icebreakers. In late 2017, the Coast Guard and the Navy released a joint draft request for proposal to deliver the next heavy polar icebreaker by 2023, with an option to construct two more of them.
Russian icebreaker Yamal during the removal of manned drifting station North Pole 36, August 2009.
A number of US officials, including the Democratic representatives who signed Garamendi’s letter, have said a small Coast Guard fleet puts the US at a disadvantage in the Arctic, where receding ice is opening new areas for shipping and resource exploration, attracting the interest of rival powers like Russia and China .
“We are woefully unprepared for the reality of rising global temperatures and melting sea ice,” the letter says, noting that Russia has 41 icebreakers that are “far superior in capability and technology.”
The Congressional Research Service has reported that Russia has 46 total icebreakers — including four operational heavy polar icebreakers and 16 medium polar icebreakers, five of which are for use in the Baltic Sea.
The US’s five total icebreakers are also outstripped by Finland, which has 10 total icebreakers, and by Canada and Sweden, both of which have seven.
China has fewer total icebreakers than the US, and the ones it has are not heavy icebreakers. But those ships have successfully traversed the existing Arctic passages, and Beijing recently started the bidding process to build a nuclear-powered icebreaker — the first nuclear-powered surface ship in its inventory.
Garamendi and his colleagues are not the only legislators who have emphasized the emerging significance of the Arctic.
US Coast Guard cutter Healy breaks ice to support of scientific research in the Arctic Ocean.
(U.S. Coast Guard photo)
Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter said at a hearing in June 2018 that it seemed ” really myopic and shortsighted ” for the Defense Department to exclude the Arctic from its latest National Defense Strategy report. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis “talked about everywhere on Earth basically except for the Arctic,” Hunter said.
Some have argued that diminishing sea ice will reduce the need for icebreakers to open sea lanes, particularly as newer cargo ships with sturdier hulls take sail. Others have said the greater threat posed by Russia comes from its navy , particularly its Northern Fleet, which is growing in both size and sophistication.
Other experts have said that the US’s focus on other threats, like North Korea and Iran, have drawn both attention and resources away from the space that has opened in the Arctic in recent years put the US at a disadvantage.
“The emergence of a new ocean did not fit into the budget,” Heather Conley, an Arctic expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told The Washington Examiner in June 2018. “Now we’re behind.”
“In our national-security strategy we call Russia and China our great-power competitors,” Conley added. “Well, they are very invested in the Arctic and growing.”
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
The officer who’s running a massive Marine Corps and Navy war game in April that’ll test around 50 new technologies for storming beaches actually wants things to go wrong.
Navy Capt. Chris Mercer, a top tester for the service’s future concepts and technologies office, went so far as to say during a March 23 meeting with reporters: “If we don’t fail, I haven’t done my job.”
Now, before you start measuring Mercer for a new white coat with a very snug fit, think about this. With the upcoming Ship To Shore Maneuver Exploration and Experimentation Advanced Naval Technology Exercise 2017 in April, the Marines are looking to change how they carry out forced-entry operations. Forget what you saw in “The Pacific” – the renowned HBO series actually presents an outdated view on such operations. It’s not going to be sending hundreds of Higgins boats to storm a beach under heavy fire. Instead, the Marines, rather than storming a surveyed beach, will be looking for what Doug King of the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory called a “gap in the mangroves.”
But how will they find that gap? The answer lies in new technology – and this is what ANTX 2017 is intended to evaluate. With over 50 dynamic demonstrations planned for the 11-day exercise and another 50 static displays, ANTX 2017’s purpose is to find out what the state of today’s technology is – and to turn “unknown unknowns” into” known unknowns” or “known knowns” — to borrow from the logic former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld made popular.
“In these early stages of prototype demonstrations and experimentation, the intent is to push the envelope and take on higher risk technologies,” Mercer told We Are The Mighty. “We expect to find systems that perform well technically, but score low in the operational assessment and vice versa.”
“If everything is performing well and going exactly as planned, then we were probably not aggressive enough in our efforts to advance.”
So, that’s why Mercer is hoping to see failures during ANTX 2017 — if you don’t fail, you don’t learn.
The Lahti anti-tank rifle looks a little unusual, showing a pair of skis on the front. But then again, it does come from Finland.
According to Modernfirearms.net, the Lahti L-39, also known as the Norsupyssy — or “elephant gun” — fired a 20x138mm round and had a 10-shot clip. While not effective against the most modern tanks, like the Russian T-34, the rifle proved to be useful against bunkers and other material targets. One variant was a full-auto version used as an anti-aircraft gun.
This semi-auto rifle was kept in Finnish military stocks until the 1980s, when many were scrapped. This makes the M107 Barrett used by the United States military look like a mousegun.
A number of these rifles, though, were declared surplus and sold in the United States in the early 1960s. The Gun Control Act of 1968, though, placed these rifles under some very heavy controls — even though none were ever used in crimes.
In this video, the punch this rifle packed is very apparent. The people who set up the test put up 16 quarter-inch steel plates. You can see what that shell does to the plates in this GIF.
An F-15E Strike Eagle flies over Afghanistan. The F-15E's primary role in Afghanistan is providing close-air support for ground troops. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon).
In this edition of The Daily Aviation, we get up close and personal with the F-15 Eagle aircraft, one of the most successful fighter aircrafts in the Air Force. The F-15 Eagle is a twin-engine, all-weather, tactical supersonic warfighting machine.
A little bit of history
Like plenty of good war stories, the F-15 Eagle’s origin story begins in Vietnam. During the Vietnam War, both the Navy and the Air Force were competing with one another over air tactical superiority. No one was clear on how aircraft would play a role in the emerging conflict.
But everyone knew we needed superior air power. The problem was we just didn’t have the right fighter aircraft to engage the enemy. So then SecDef Robert McNamara decided he had the best solution. Make the Air Force and the Navy use as many aircraft in common as possible. McNamara didn’t consider that performance compromises might need to be made.
So the Air Force and the Navy formed the TFX Program. Its main mission was to deliver long-range interdiction aircraft for the Air Force that could also be used as long-range interceptor aircraft for the Navy.
Air Interdiction aircraft uses preventive tactical bombing by combat aircraft against the enemy. In contrast, interceptor aircraft is a type of fighter aircraft designed specifically for defensive roles. Talk about a difficult project, since air interdiction and interceptor aircraft are two very different things.
It’s no surprise that it took several years until the TFX found a compromise. In April 1965, research into an “F-X” aircraft began. These early studies looked for ways to create an aircraft that focused on maneuverability over speed. DoD requirements were finalized in October 1965, and a request for proposals was sent out to 13 companies, including the McDonnell Douglas company who won the bid. McDonnell Douglass would later become part of Boeing.
The Eagle’s specs are impressive
The Eagle’s maiden flight took place in 1972, but the aircraft didn’t enter service for four years. Once it was in service, the Eagle quickly became one of the most successful fighter aircraft. To date, the F-15 has over 100 victories and no losses in aerial combat.
It has a combat range capability of 1,220 miles and can achieve top speeds of Mach 2.5, or 1,650 mph.
Turkey feathers or propelling nozzles are the moving parts at the back of the engine. They expand as the engine accelerates and help regulate pressure to control turbine speed.
There are 11 hardpoints for drop tanks and armaments on the F-15 Eagle.
Pratt and Whitney F100-PW-200 after-burn turbofans deliver the Eagle’s thrust, which helps it achieve max speeds. Each of the turbofans produces 14,590 pounds of thrust. The higher a thrust-to-weight ratio, the faster an aircraft can accelerate, and the heavier load it can carry. The Eagle can accelerate straight up into the air until it runs out of either air (from the thrusters) or fuel (for the engines). That makes it one of the most capable fighter aircraft in production today.
Recent upgrades to the F-15 include adding a second seat to allow for all-weather, air-to-air, and deep interdiction missions. The rear cockpit has recently been upgraded to include cathode ray tube displays for weapons management. Currently, the Air Force operates 212 F-15C and 23 F-15D aircraft.
Bonus fun fact: In 1988, NASA used an F-15 to test a HIDEC system at Edwards AFB.
The Cold War must have been an amazing time to be a weapons manufacturer for the U.S. government. Like some kind of early Tony Stark (I guess that would be Howard Stark), if you could dream it, you could build it, and chances were very good the CIA would fund it. From funding LSD tests using prostitutes and their johns to a secret underground ice base in Greenland to trying to build an actual flying saucer, there was literally no end to what the CIA would try.
What they ended up actually building and then using was much less fun and much more terrifying. We only found out about it because Senator Frank Church decided to do a little investigating.
Among other things, he found a gun that caused heart attacks, a weapon that had been used against the U.S. political enemies and beyond.
Spurred by the publication of Seymour Hersh’s article in The New York Times in December 1974, the United States Congress decided to look into just what its internal and external intelligence agencies were doing in the name of the American people using their tax dollars. What they found was a trove of legal and illegal methods used by the CIA, NSA, FBI, and even the IRS. Among the abuses of power discovered by the Church Commission was the opening of domestic mail without a warrant and without the Postal Service’s knowledge, the widespread access intelligence had to domestic telecommunications providers and adding Americans to watch lists.
Even the Army was spying on American civilians.
The most shocking of the Church Commission’s findings was the targeted assassination operations the CIA used against foreign leaders. Allegedly, Fidel Castro wasn’t the only name on the CIA hit list. Congo’s Patrice Lumumba, Rafael Trujillo of the Dominican Republic, Vietnam’s Ngo Dinh Diem, and Gen. René Schneider of Chile were all targets for CIA-sanctioned killings.
The clandestine service had its people researching all sorts of various ways to kill its targets. The CIA soon latched on to poisons, ones that were undetectable and appeared to mimic a heart attack. They found it in a specially-designed poison, engineered for the CIA. Only a skilled pathologist who knew what to look for would ever discover the victim’s heart attack wasn’t from natural causes. To deliver the poison, the injection was frozen and packed into a dart.
Darts from the new secret assassination gun would penetrate clothing but leave only a small red dot on the skin’s surface. Once inside the body, the dart disintegrated and the frozen poison inside would begin to melt, entering the bloodstream and causing the cardiac episode. Shortly after, the deadly agent denatured quickly and became virtually undetectable. They even brought the gun to show Congress.
The Church Commission and its findings caused a massive frenzy in the United States. People became hungry for more and began to get hysterical in the wake of any news about the CIA. In the aftermath of the Church Commission, President Ford (and later, Reagan) had to issue executive orders banning the tactics of targeted assassinations by the CIA and other intelligence agencies.
What became of the poison dart gun is anyone’s guess.
The Navy is now launching the most technologically advanced attack submarine it has ever developed by christening the USS South Dakota – a Block III Virginia-Class attack submarine engineered with a number of never-before-seen undersea technical innovations.
While service officials say many of the details of this new “acoustic superiority” Navy research and development effort are, naturally, not available for pubic discussion, the USS South Dakota has been a “technology demonstrator to prove out advanced technologies,” Naval Sea Systems Command Spokeswoman Colleen O’Rourke told Scout Warrior.
Many of these innovations, which have been underway and tested as prototypes for many years, are now operational as the USS South Dakota enters service; service technology developers have, in a general way, said the advances in undersea technologies built, integrated, tested and now operational on the South Dakota include quieting technologies for the engine room to make the submarine harder to detect, a new large vertical array and additional “quieting” coating materials for the hull, Navy officials explained.
The USS South Dakota was christened by the Navy Oct. 14 at a General Dynamics Electric Boat facility in Groton, Ct.
“As the 7th ship of Block III, the PCU South Dakota (SSN 790) will be the most advanced VIRGINIA class submarine on patrol,” O’Rourke said.
In recent years, the service has been making progress developing new acoustics, sensors and quieting technologies to ensure the U.S. retains its technological edge in the undersea domain – as countries like China and Russia continue rapid military modernization and construction of new submarines.
The impetus for the Navy’s “acoustic superiority,” is specifically grounded in the emerging reality that the U.S. undersea margin of technological superiority is rapidly diminishing in light of Russian and Chinse advances.
Described as a technology insertion, the improvements will eventually be integrated on board both Virginia-Class submarines and the now-in -development next-generation nuclear-armed boats called the Columbia-Class.
Some of these concepts, described as a fourth generation of undersea technology, are based upon a “domain” perspective as opposed to a platform approach – looking at and assessing advancements in the electro-magnetic and acoustic underwater technologies, Navy developers explained.
“Lessons learned from South Dakota will be incorporated into Block V and later Virginia Class submarines, increasing our undersea domain advantage and ensuring our dominance through the mid-century and beyond,” O’Rourke added.
The idea with “acoustic superiority,” is to engineer a circumstance wherein U.S. submarines can operate undetected in or near enemy waters or coastline, conduct reconnaissance or attack missions and sense any movement or enemy activities at farther ranges than adversaries can.
Acoustic sensor technology works by using underwater submarine sensors to detect sound “pings” in order to determine the contours, speed and range of an enemy ship, submarine or approaching weapon. Much like radar analyzes the return electromagnetic signal bounced off an object, acoustics works by using “sound” in a similar fashion. Most of the undersea acoustic technology is “passive,” meaning it is engineered to receive pings and “listen” without sending out a signal which might reveal their undersea presence or location to an enemy, Navy technology developers explained.
Some of these concepts, described as a fourth generation of undersea technology, are based upon a “domain” perspective as opposed to a platform approach – looking at and assessing advancements in the electro-magnetic and acoustic underwater technologies, Navy developers explained.
The new “acoustic superiority” effort is immersed in performing tactical assessments as well as due diligence from an academic standpoint to make sure the service looks at all the threat vectors – whether that be hydrodynamics, acoustics, lasers, among others.
The emerging technologies, however, are heavily focused upon sensitive, passive acoustic sensors able to detect movement and objects of potential adversary boats and ships at much further ranges and with a higher-degree of fidelity. While high-frequency, fast two-way communication is currently difficult to sustain from the undersea domain, submarines are able to use a Very Low Frequency radio to communicate while at various depths beneath the surface, Navy leaders told Warrior.
040730-N-1234E-002 Groton, Conn. (July 30, 2004) – The nationÕs newest and most advanced nuclear-powered attack submarine and the lead ship of its class, PCU Virginia (SSN 774) returns to the General Dynamics Electric Boat shipyard following the successful completion of its first voyage in open seas called “alpha” sea trials. Virginia is the NavyÕs only major combatant ready to join the fleet that was designed with the post-Cold War security environment in mind and embodies the war fighting and operational capabilities required to dominate the littorals while maintaining undersea dominance in the open ocean. Virginia and the rest of the ships of its class are designed specifically to incorporate emergent technologies that will provide new capabilities to meet new threats. Virginia will be delivered to the U.S. Navy this fall. U.S. Navy photo by General Dynamics Electric Boat (RELEASED)
Building upon developments with the South Dakota, the Navy, DARPA and industry are continuing to explore a new-generation of undersea technologies including quieter, stronger, longer-range communications, sonar detection and undersea drone autonomy.
The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency and BAE-Systems have begun a high-tech project to engineer undersea drones that can use active sonar to find enemy submarines and network back to a host submarine in real-time.
The project, called Mobile Offboard Clandestine Communications and Approach (MOCCA) program, brings the prospect of a major breakthrough in undersea communications technology – allowing submarines to detect enemies from a much safer standoff distance. These days, in the dangerous and complication realm of undersea warfare, most undersea drones typically gather intelligence before returning to download data at the mother ship; this emerging technology would enable near real-time undersea connectivity between drones and larger submarines.
Instead of using passive sonar technology which listens for acoustic “pings” picked up from undersea enemy movement, MOCCA plans to use active sonar technology able to proactively send active acoustic pings forward and analyze the return signal to discern the counters, speed, shape and distance of an enemy submarine – all while enabling the host submarine retain its stealth properties.
Using satellite integrated telemetry, some underwater drones can transmit information back to boats in near real time; this provides a substantial tactical advantage because smaller drones are less detectable to enemy sonar and therefore able to access areas that are more difficult for larger submarines to penetrate. Such a technology allows for closer-in reconnaissance missions when it comes to operating in enemy territory, close to the shoreline, or overcoming the anti-access/area-denial challenges posed by potential adversaries.
Such scenarios, envisioned for the not-too-distant future, provide the conceptual foundation of the Navy’s emerging drone strategy. The idea is to capitalize upon the fast increasing speed of computer processing and rapid improvements in the development of autonomy-increasing algorithms; this will allow unmanned systems to quickly operate with an improved level of autonomy, function together as part of an integrated network, and more quickly perform a wider range of functions without needing every individual task controlled by humans.
Groups of underwater drones will soon simultaneously use sonar and different sensors to identify and destroy enemy submarines and surface ships, search for mines, collect oceanographic data and conduct reconnaissance missions – all while a single human performs command and control functions aboard a Navy ship or submarine, senior service officials explained.
The approach is designed as a mission multiplier to increase efficiency and perform a wider range of functions much more quickly. Armed with a small fleet of underwater drones, a submarine or destroyer will be able to perform higher-priority missions while allowing unmanned systems to quickly gather and transmit combat-relevant tactical and strategic information.
Study: US Undersea Technological Dominance in Jeopardy
Senior Navy officials have explained that the innovations contained in the USS South Dakota do, at least in part, help address an issue raised by a report several years ago by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
The report, titled “The Emerging Era in Undersea Warfare,” says the technological margin of difference separating the U.S from potential rivals is expected to get much smaller. This is requiring the U.S. to re-think the role of manned submarines and prioritize innovation in the realm of undersea warfare, the study says.
060517-N-4014G-130 Newport News, Va. (May 17, 2006) Ð The Pre-Commissioning Unit Texas (SSN 775) sails past the Coast Guard cutter Sea Horse (WPB-87361). The fast-attack submarine returned to the Northrop Grumman Newport News, Va. shipyards after successfully completing alpha sea trials to test the boat’s capabilities. Texas is the second Virginia-class submarine, the first major U.S. Navy combatant vessel class designed with the post-Cold War security environment in mind. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate Airman Apprentice Patrick Gearhiser (RELEASED)
“America’s superiority in undersea warfare results from decades of research and development, operations, and training. It is, however, far from assured. U.S. submarines are the world’s quietest, but new detection techniques are emerging that don’t rely on the noise a submarine makes, and may make traditional manned submarine operations far more risky in the future. America’s competitors are likely pursuing these technologies even while expanding their own undersea forces,” writes the report’s author Bryan Clark.
In the report, Clark details some increasingly available technologies expected to change the equation regarding U.S. undersea technological supremacy. They include increased use of lower frequency active sonar and non-acoustic methods of detecting submarine wakes at short ranges. In particular, Clark cites a technique of bouncing laser light or light-emitting-diodes off of a submarine hull to detect its presence.
“The physics behind most of these alternative techniques has been known for decades, but was not exploited because computer processors were too slow to run the detailed models needed to see small changes in the environment caused by a quiet submarine. Today, ‘big data” processing enables advanced navies to run sophisticated oceanographic models in real time to exploit these detection techniques,” Clark writes.
Although the CSBA study was published several years ago now, the issues it raises have been of great relevance to developers of undersea technology working to sustain US dominance in an increasingly contested domain. In addition, Navy developers have specifically said that many newer innovations have been engineered to address the concerns mentioned in the study.
Chinese Submarine Threat
When asked about the pace of Chinese undersea military construction and modernization, Navy officials say that the Navy is focused on sustaining the research and development, or RD, sufficient to ensure the U.S. retains its technological superiority.
Maintaining an advanced submarine fleet, and strategic nuclear deterrence in particular, is all the more pressing and significant now that China has operational nuclear-armed JL-2 missiles able to hit part of the United States, Navy developers say.
Several Congressional reports in recent years have pointed out that Chinese modernization plans call for a sharp increase in attack submarines and nuclear-armed submarines or SSBNs. Chinese SSBNs are now able to patrol with nuclear-armed JL-2 missiles able to strike targets more than 4,500 nautical miles.
The Chinese are currently working on a new, modernized SSBN platform as well as a long-range missile, the JL-3, Congressional information says.