If you’ve ever sat in a treestand with the sun in your eyes, or spent a day on the water or at the range fighting the glare, then you know the importance of having adequate eyewear. While Leupold is probably not the first name you think of when you think of eyewear, well, it should be.
Leupold released their new line of performance eyewear this year at SHOT Show, and now it is available for purchase. The new line features five designs to address a myriad of needs: the Katmai, Becnara, Packout, Switchback, and Tracer. While individual models are designed to meet different needs, all models share some pretty awesome features.
“Leupold consumers expect the highest-quality optics in the world, and that’s exactly what we’re delivering with the Performance Eyewear line,” said Zach Bird, Product Line Manager for Leupold & Stevens, Inc. “There’s a style for every need, and they’re all packed with top-of-the-line features. Plus, every model is proudly designed, machined, and assembled right here in the USA.”
The Becnara fuses Leupold performance with everyday style.
Features for Everyone
All five frame styles are made from lightweight, ballistic-rated materials and ship with scratch-resistant, polarized lenses that are reminiscent of what we love about Leupold riflescopes- resilience and clarity. Leupold’s Guard-ion hydrophobic coating sheds dirt, water, and fingerprints for a clear, crisp image, while Diamondcoat-hardened lenses prevent surface scratches. A no-slip bridge design provides all day comfort with soft-touch rubber bridge pads. Daylight Max technology provides complete UV protection for optimal performance in any environment. Additionally, three of the five styles – the Packout, Switchback, and Tracer – meet or exceed ANSI Z87.1 high-velocity impact standards for eye protection.
The Tracer is a must-have for any diehard shooter.
“Whether you’re talking about riflescopes, reflex sights, mounting systems, or observational equipment, our products have always outperformed the competition under the harshest conditions, without fail,” said Tim Lesser, Vice President of Product Development for Leupold Stevens, Inc. “Now, with the Performance Eyewear line, we’re applying that same expertise to a new line of optics, so you can experience Leupold’s rugged clarity every day.”
For more information on Leupold products, please visit us at Leupold.com.
Join the discussion on Facebook at Facebook.com/LeupoldOptics, on Twitter at Twitter.com/LeupoldOptics, or on Instagram at Instagram.com/LeupoldOptics.
The Switchback was designed with hunters and shooters in mind.
Founded in Oregon more than a century ago, Leupold Stevens, Inc. is a fifth-generation, family-owned company that designs, machines and assembles its riflescopes, mounting systems, tactical/Gold Ring spotting scopes, and Performance Eyewear in the USA. The product lines include rifle, handgun and spotting scopes; binoculars; rangefinders; mounting systems; and optical tools, accessories and Pro Gear.
If you’ve seen the blockbuster movies The Longest Day (currently on Netflix) or Saving Private Ryan, a big part of the story is how infantry fought through the obstacles on Omaha Beach (the wisdom of sending two divisions into that meat-grinder can be debated at another time).
But the lack of tank support wasn’t part of the plan. In fact, it was one hell of an instance where that notorious and unwelcome Murphy’s Law put in an appearance, costing the infantry some much-needed support. It would have been their secret weapon: the Dual-Drive, or DD, tank.
The DD tank was a modified M4 Sherman that had a large canvas screen and propellers to enable it to swim in to shore from a distance. Tanks-Encyclopedia.com notes that the M4 had some good firepower for busting up fortifications — a 75mm gun with 90 rounds. At close range, that gun would more than do against the Nazi fortifications.
This is how the DD tank was supposed to work. Note the calm seas. On D-Day, they seas were rough. (YouTube screenshot)
There’s just one problem: the DD tanks weren’t tested in rough seas. Almost all of them ended up sinking when eight-foot-tall waves swamped them. And a tank on the bottom of the channel can’t provide support for the grunts. In short, the grunts had to do the hard by themselves.
So, take a look at this History Channel video, and a piece of D-Day history some folks would like to forget.
When you first enlist and are given loads of new gear, it’s a pretty great feeling — until you realize that you’ll have to return most of it eventually. Not all of it, but most. Obviously, you keep your well-worn and dirty uniforms and plenty of small, inconsequential things, like IR beacons.
Although each Central Issuing Facility of each branch at each duty station as their own standard operating procedures, in general, they all follow a guideline of “if it’s touched a troop’s skin or it’s basically worthless, then the troop keeps it.” But if you stop and think about it, what doesn’t get dirty and worn just from regular use?
With that in mind, here’s a rundown of things that would be better off left in a troop’s hands as they head into the civilian world — or to their next duty station.
I mean, you guys really want it THAT bad…
(Photo by Spc. Kristina Truluck)
Sleeping bag sets
Here’s a fact: The only way to get comfortable in one of these sleeping systems is to strip butt-naked so your body heat is evenly distributed. Still want it back?
These things get nasty after they’ve soaked in so much body odor and sweat that it’s like CIF asking for your field socks back.
No one wants to put their mouth on the Camelback that some nervous private was chewing on…
(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Michel Sauret)
Camelback, canteens, and water systems
As you can imagine, these directly touch your mouth. If you’re required to return it, that means others returned it before you. Now, we’re sure it’s been cleaned time and time again, but we still can’t help but wonder about what kind of nasty germs have lived on it.
“Those would look so great as civilian attire!” said no veteran ever.
(Photo by Rob Schuette)
It seems like every branch swaps out their service uniform faster than you can blink. Generally speaking, the military wants their old uniforms back before you can get a new set.
Just to toss salt on the already pointless wound, they’ll raise hell if the old uniform you’re turning in isn’t perfectly clean.. you know, for the next troop who definitely won’t be wearing it.
Even if you don’t spray paint it, it’ll still get worn the hell out.
(Photo by Spc. Brianna Saville)
Duffel bags with your name stenciled on
Duffel bags are cheap. They’re just a bit of canvas made into a bag. Everyone in the military has the exact same O.D. green bag, so units ask troops to spray paint their name, last 4, and unit onto the bottom.
Here’s the problem: that paint isn’t coming off any time soon. Good luck trying to find another “Milzarski” in that that exact same unit after I leave.
What’s worse is when the CIF clerk gets hostile with you and questions you why parts are missing. Because, you know, we needed to save a life?
(Photo by Staff Sgt. Ciara Wymbs)
Instead of asking troops to turn in a partly-used first-aid kit, why not let them keep it and stash it in their vehicle in case of emergencies? Sure, it puts the military out a whole (according to Amazon), but wouldn’t it be nice to have a bunch of medical supplies out there in the hands of people trained to use them?
It’s really not uncommon for troops to just buy a cheapo woobie off-post at some surplus store…
(Photo by Spc. Kristina Truluck)
The poncho liner
There’s one item that every troop holds dear above the rest — their poncho liner, affectionately called a “woobie.”
Troops sleep with it, it’s fairly cheap, the camo pattern is quickly outdated, and they’re perfect for emergency situations. Long after troops get out, if they managed to sneak one past supply, they’ll cuddle up with it on the couch and fondly recall their service.
With the decommissioning of the interim afloat staging base USS Ponce (AFSB(I) 15, ex-LPD 15), the Navy removed the prototype Laser Weapon System that had been on the ship which was built as an Austin-class amphibious transport. The Ponce’s replacement, USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3), did not get the laser.
Now, according to a report by the Daily Star, we have found out the lucky vessel that did get the laser. That ship is the San Antonio-class amphibious transport USS Portland (LPD 27).
The Portland was commissioned in the middle of December, and is slated to be home-ported in San Diego. The vessel will not only test the Laser Weapon System, it will also serve as flagship for the upcoming RIMPAC exercise.
The Portland displaces 25,000 tons, and has a top speed of 22 knots. According to the Sixteenth Edition of The Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World, it can carry two LCAC (Landing Craft, Air Cushion), roughly 700 Marines, and up to four helicopters. It is armed with the Mk 31 launcher for the RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile and two 30mm Bushmaster II chain guns.
As the tech and information industries boomed in the 2010s, the decade was also rocked by scandals across both industries.
Tech companies are increasingly at the center of political and social issues in the US and across the globe, and the past 10 years saw a wave of abuses of power, failed business ventures, and disastrous gadget rollouts.
Facebook, Apple, and Google — some of the most powerful tech companies in existence — were the most frequent sites of scandal. However, startups and fringe organizations saw their share of infamy over the past ten years as well. And then there were the NSA spying revelations from whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Here are the biggest tech scandals from 2010 to the present.
2010: Over a dozen workers commit suicide after working under brutal conditions at a Chinese factory making iPhones, iPads, and HP computers
At least 14 workers at Foxconn factories in Shenzen, China died by suicide over the course of 2010. Foxconn, which manufactures gadgets for clients including Apple, Nintendo, and HP, reportedly expected workers to put in extreme overtime shifts under dismal working conditions and with cruel management who would dock workers’ pay for minor infractions, according to the Wall Street Journal. The company reportedly installed safety nets to catch workers who jumped from upper stories and asked workers to sign a contract agreeing not to kill themselves.
Apple, HP, and other Foxconn clients said they would pressure Foxconn to improve its working conditions in the wake of the suicides. China also put new laws in place in 2012 limiting workers’ overtime hours.
2013: Edward Snowden releases confidential documents showing the NSA has secretly had access to Google and Yahoo servers
In one of the most famous whistleblower complaints in US history, former contractor Edward Snowden revealed that the National Security Agency had been spying on people’s Google and Yahoo accounts, retaining text, audio, and video at will without users’ knowledge.
Both Google and Yahoo expressed surprise at the findings, stating that they had not granted the government access to their servers. However, Google said in a statement that the company had “long been concerned about the possibility of this kind of snooping.” Snowden still faces charges of violating the Espionage Act — he is living in Moscow, where he has been granted asylum status.
2015: Volkswagen admits to cheating on emissions tests to make its cars seem more eco-friendly than they are
The Environmental Protection Agency discovered that Volkswagen was using “defeat devices” on its cars that detected when they were being tested for emissions and delivered artificial results to make them seem more environmentally friendly. Volkswagen confirmed the allegation, saying that 11 million of its cars were fitted with defeat devices.
The German car maker agreed to pay .3 billion in fines to the US and spend more than billion to address claims from regulators and car owners. Six Volkswagen executives faced criminal charges for their alleged involvement in the scheme.
2016: Apple ordered to pay €13 billion in EU back taxes after receiving tax breaks from Ireland that were ruled illegal
For more than a decade, Apple funneled its European operations through Ireland, capitalizing on massive tax breaks the small country offered it. In 2013, the European Union concluded a three-year investigation into the tax rates and ruled that those breaks were illegal, given that they only applied to Apple. The EU ordered Apple to pay the equivalent of .5 billion back to Ireland. Apple decried the decision, saying it would rethink its future European business ventures as a result.
Elizabeth Holmes, the chief executive officer and founder of Theranos.
2016: Theranos shutters its labs and faces a federal investigation over dubious claims about its blood-testing technology
One of the most notorious startup launches of the past decade, Theranos and its mercurial leader Elizabeth Holmes fell from grace after the company proved unable to fulfill its promises that it could run blood tests on a single drop of blood. Holmes is the subject of an ongoing federal investigation and faces charges of criminal fraud.
Galaxy Note 7 security bulletin.
2016: Samsung recalls Galaxy Note 7s and shuts down production of the phones after several phones explode while charging
Samsung initiated a global recall of Galaxy Note 7 phones in early September 2016 after several models caught on fire, stating that it would begin shipping updated models that were safe. However, reports surfaced that multiple replacement phones were also catching on fire while charging, leading the South Korean company to halt production on the Galaxy Note 7 entirely.
(US House Intelligence Committee)
2017: Facebook says fake accounts linked to Russia bought thousands of ads during US election
Accounts that were “likely operated out of Russia” spent roughly 0,000 in Facebook ads beginning in June 2015 with the aim of influencing the 2016 presidential election, Facebook disclosed in September 2017. Before that announcement, Facebook had repeatedly insisted that it had no reason to believe that Russian actors bought ads in connection with the election. Facebook pledged that going forward it would take action to thwart attempted foreign-funded campaigns to influence US elections.
2017: A Google engineer circulates a manifesto criticizing the company’s attempts to increase gender and racial diversity
Google employees were outraged after James Damore, a Google engineer, circulated an anti-diversity manifesto within the company that criticized efforts to increase the number of women and minorities working there. “We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism,” he wrote in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by Gizmodo. The memo came during a time of increasing turbulence inside Google, with staffers raising concerns over company culture. Damore ultimately left the company.
2018: Google faces an internal reckoning after reports surface of sexual misconduct across the company, including prominent executive Andy Rubin
Thousands of employees walked out of Google offices in late 2018 after reports surfaced of sexual misconduct by high-ranking company officials. The New York Times reported that Google protected Andy Rubin, one of the creators of Android, while women who reported sexual misconduct internally said they were treated unfairly by Google’s forced arbitration policies. Rubin reportedly received tens of millions of dollars as part of his exit package, even after the company deemed the reports of misconduct against him credible. Google CEO Sundar Pichai acknowledged shortcomings at the time and pledged to “turn these ideas into action.”
2018: UN investigators blame Facebook for providing a platform for hate speech in connection with the Myanmar genocide of Rohingya Muslims
A UN investigator said that Facebook played a “determining role” in Myanmar’s genocide of Rohingya Muslims, stating that hate speech and plans to organize killings flourished on the platform.
“It was used to convey public messages but we know that the ultra-nationalist Buddhists have their own Facebooks and are really inciting a lot of violence and a lot of hatred against the Rohingya or other ethnic minorities,” the investigator said.
Facebook ultimately acknowledged that the platform enabled violence and apologized for not doing more to stop it.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
2018: Facebook admits that Cambridge Analytica, a controversial data-analysis firm linked to the Trump campaign, improperly obtained and mishandled millions of users’ data
Following a bombshell investigation by The Guardian, Facebook suspended Cambridge Analytica, a firm who improperly obtained and used the data of millions of users to serve pro-Trump ads in advance of the 2016 election. The Trump campaign reportedly paid Cambridge Analytica millions of dollars for its services, which violated Facebook’s advertising partner terms but happened under the social media giant’s watch.
2018: Following widespread protests from its employees, Google agrees not to renew a secretive contract to help the Pentagon build AI for drones
Google quietly established a partnership with the Pentagon on a fast-moving project to develop AI software for analyzing and assisting in drone strikes — a move that many at the company didn’t know about, and that drew widespread protests after it was first reported publicly by Gizmodo. After backlash, the company agreed not to renew the Pentagon contract. However, an unnamed company that partnered with the Pentagon on the same project still used an “off-the-shelf Google Cloud platform,” the Intercept reported.
2019: Messages show top Boeing officials knew about “egregious” problems with the 737 Max years before 2 deadly crashes
At least two years before two deadly Boeing 737 Max crashes, a top Boeing pilot was warned of “egregious” problems with the planes, messages obtained by The New York Times revealed. The crashes, which took place in October 2018 and March 2019, killed 346 people. After the second crash, all Boeing 737 Max planes were grounded, and Boeing’s handling of the incident is the subject of an ongoing FBI investigation.
2019: Concerns with WeWork’s business model and management cause a failed IPO attempt, an ousted CEO, and a tanked valuation
In one disastrous month, WeWork saw its valuation drop to billion from billion, removed Adam Neumann as CEO, and cancelled its once-hyped initial public offering after investors and media raised serious questions with the company’s financials and Neumann’s eccentric managerial style. The WeWork saga is still unfolding, but the company is expected to lay off up to a quarter of its current staff in the coming months as it aims to stabilize a path to profitability.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
Chinese officials have touted their progress with a new type of rocket propulsion that they say could give them an advantage in a potential conflict around the Tibetan Plateau and Himalayan mountains.
The project reportedly intends to add electromagnetic force to the launch of traditional rocket artillery, which is typically cheaper than missiles and can be fired in larger quantities.
Han Junli, lead researcher on the project, told the state-run Science and Technology Daily that an electromagnetic launch “can give the rocket a very high initial speed on its launching state.”
Zhou Chenming, a Beijing-based military expert, told the South China Morning Post that an electromagnetic catapult “may also be able to help stabilize the rocket during launch and improve its accuracy.”
Han, who researches the use of China’s ground forces, called the project the first of its kind and said work on it had been progressing steadily “with great breakthroughs.”
Chinese Type PHZ-89 122 mm 40-tube self-propelled multiple rocket launchers assigned to an army artillery regiment during a live-fire exercise in Jiangxi Province, Aug. 21, 2016.
(Wang Liang/Central Military Commission of the People’s Republic of China)
Han’s work has reportedly involved gathering data from the Tibetan Plateau, which has an altitude of about 13,000 to 15,000 feet and is surrounded by mountains that reach higher.
Han told Science and Technology Daily that the greater range of electromagnetically launched rockets would mean they don’t need to deploy to the front lines — a challenging task in the region’s rough terrain.
Thinner air at higher elections, which may hinder traditional rockets, would also not be as big an obstacle for electromagnetically launched rockets. Reduced friction from thinner air may also allow such rockets to hit higher speeds, though thinner air may mean less precision.
“Conventional artillery that uses powder may suffer from lack of oxygen on plateaus,” Song Zhongping, a military expert, told the state-run Global Times in early August 2018.
Electromagnetically launched rockets — which Song said could reach distances of 200 kilometers, or roughly 125 miles — would not face that issue, which “makes [them] very valuable in warfare on plateaus.”
“The plateau covers 26 per cent of China’s entire land territory,” Han was quoted as saying. “Rockets deployed in the field can cause severe damage to any invader in hundreds of square kilometres.”
“It is like in boxing,” he reportedly said. “The person who has longer arms and harder fists enjoys the advantage.”
Details about electromagnetic rocket artillery, like its range and how far along work on it is, remain unclear, but it is not the only potential venue for such technology.
Electromagnetic force is used in rail guns to fire projectiles with more precision and greater range that typical propulsion systems, and China’s military may include electromagnetic catapults on its next aircraft carrier.
China’s progress may be overstated, however.
While the rail gun appeared to be undergoing testing on a Chinese navy ship, sources told the Post that the vessel was a landing ship repurposed to hold the bulky electrical equipment needed to power the expensive-to-use weapon and that the new destroyers on which the rail gun is supposed to be deployed are not well suited for it.
A possible rail gun mounted on the Chinese Navy Type 072III-class landing ship Haiyang Shan.
Electromagnetic catapults for aircraft, which China is said to be considering for its next aircraft carrier, may not yet be viable either.
The US Navy — which has struggled with its own rail-gun research — has an electromagnetic catapult aboard its newest carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford, but a Pentagon report released in early 2018 called into question that system’s ability “to conduct the type of high-intensity flight operations expected during wartime.”
A ‘win’ over a ‘bullying neighbor’
Han told Science and Technology Daily in early August 2018 that the necessity of rocket artillery was illustrated by a “military incident” that took place in a border region on a plateau in southwest China.
He did not specify what he was referring to, though he may have meant the 73-day border standoff between China and India in summer 2017 in the Doklam region where China, India, and Bhutan’s borders meet. After that incident, Han reportedly started making plans to target an unnamed opponent’s military installations in the area.
Chinese and Indian forces both backed away in late August that year, though troops from both sides have remained in the area and are believed to be reinforcing their positions, including upgrades to Chinese airbases in Lhasa and Shigatse and increased deployments to Indian airbases at Siliguri Bagdogra and Hasimara.
India has also moved forward with its purchase of Russia’s S-400 air-defense system, which is designed to intercept targets at greater distances and altitudes.
In the year since, Beijing and New Dehli have worked to mend relations, including the Chinese defense minister’s first visit since the standoff, during which he hailed their friendship as one dating to ancient times.
The two sides also agreed to “expand the engagement between their armed forces relating to training, joint exercises and other professional interactions” and to implement “confidence-building measures” along their border, including a hotline between armed forces there.
But China is reportedly still smarting from the incident. In the months since, Indian commentary has described the incident as a “win” for Dehli over a “bullying neighbor.” Comments this spring by India’s ambassador to China that attributed the standoff to Chinese actions drew a rebuke from Beijing.
“I imagine the Chinese are not pleased with how events unfolded last year, and there are some who felt like they were somewhat embarrassed by India,” Jeff Smith, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center, said in an August 2018 interview. “So I’m sure they’re redoubling their efforts down there to ensure that something like that doesn’t happen again.”
Featured image: Two M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems assigned to the 41st Fires Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas, fire rockets during a live fire at the Udairi Range Complex, Camp Buehring, Kuwait, March 13, 2014.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
Let’s face it, while Russia and the United States are potential adversaries, they’re not very likely to fight it out on the high seas. This is mostly because the Russian Navy is a bit of a basket case. But there is a more likely opponent on the high seas for the United States Navy: Communist China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy.
Communist China has been pursuing a rapid naval modernization over the last 15 years. As a result, we’ve seen a number of modern guided-missile destroyers emerge as the backbone of the People’s Liberation Army Navy. While Communist China calls the three major iterations the Type 52B/C/D, NATO calls them the Luyang I/II/III.
So, how would one of the most modern Chinese Communist destroyers fare in a one-on-one fight with a Zumwalt-class destroyer?
The Luyang III is a formidable opponent. It has two 32-cell vertical-launch systems for the HHQ-9 surface-to-air missile (a Chinese copy of the Russian SA-10/SA-N-6 Grumble surface-to-air missile), YJ-18 anti-ship missiles, a 130mm gun, a 30mm close-in weapon system, torpedo tubes, and a launcher with 24 HHQ-10 missiles. It displaces 8,000 tons and has a top speed in excess of 30 knots. The YJ-18s will be the Luyang III’s primary weapon against a Zumwalt. These missiles have a range of 290 nautical miles and can hit a speed of Mach 3 on their final approach.
The Zumwalt, though, carries its own heavy firepower – two 155mm Advanced Gun Systems and 20 four-cell Mk 57 vertical launch systems capable of carrying Tomahawk cruise missiles or RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles. Its stealth technology also makes it hard to see.
Ultimately, as was the case when we pitted the Zumwalt against a Kirov-class battlecruiser, it will come down to which ship sees the other first. The big difference is that the YJ-18 doesn’t have the oomph of the SS-N-19 Shipwrecks aboard the Kirov. With a number of options for her 155mm guns, like Vulcano rounds or Copperhead laser-guided shells, the Zumwalt could do some serious damage to the Luyang III.
This photo shows a bow-on view of USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000). The two 155mm Advanced Gun Systems offer a variety of shells, including Vulcano and copperhead, that can make quick work of a Chinese destroyer. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of General Dynamics / Bath Iron Works)
When the fight is over, the Zumwalt will likely make its way to a friendly port to repair damages, but the Chinese ship could very well be on the bottom of the South China Sea.
The winner of this naval skirmish would likely be the American vessel.
After Russia’s incursion into Georgia several years ago and the covert operation to take over the Crimea in Ukraine in 2014, the former Soviet Republics along the Baltic coast view the Russian bear as an increasing threat.
More fearful than ever that a replay of Sevastopol could happen in Vilnius or Tallinn, troops from the Baltic states have been working ever closer with the American military to hone their skills, forge stronger bonds and develop tactics and protocols to defend themselves if the Spetsnaz drops in on their doorstep.
While American troops have been deploying recently for joint exercises with NATO’s northern allies in Europe, some of the Baltic countries’ most specialized troops have been coming to the U.S. for real-world training.
In February a joint team of U.S. special operators from the 10th Special Forces Group, National Guard soldiers and commandos from Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia infiltrated a 500,000 acre range in the mountains of West Virginia to practice covert ops, kick in some doors and do some snake-eater sh*t.
Dubbed Range Runner 2017, the exercise includes all the facets of special operations warfare, including counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, stability operations, foreign internal defense and unconventional warfare and allows for dynamic infiltration routes, including water, air and land with support from fixed wing, rotary wing and water rescue groups, the military says.
So how awesome was this joint commando exercise? Take a look.
1. Special operators get some assaulter practice
2. The joint commando teams work on infiltration via horseback
A U.S. Army Special Operations Forces Soldier assigned to 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), conducts an infiltration movement on horseback during Exercise Ridge Runner Feb. 12, 2017 in West Virginia. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Connor Mendez)
3. The special operators work together on sensitive sight exploitation methods
U.S. Army Special Operations Forces Soldiers assigned to 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), search through a cabin room as they conduct sensitive sight exploitation training during Exercise Ridge Runner Feb. 18, 2017 in West Virginia. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Connor Mendez)
4. They even go through the bad guy’s trash…
5. The special operations troops are hounded by local forces who track their movement
6. The Special Forces soldiers use old-school methods to pass messages without radios
7. Once they’ve gotten what they wanted, the commandos exfil via helicopter
The Army, the Marine Corps, and the Special Operations Command are working together in an ambitious drive to develop leap-ahead capabilities for future vertical lift aircraft that will provide greater range, speed, lethality, and survivability, but also have the maximum degree of commonality in platforms and systems to reduce cost and enhance sustainability.
The three colonels managing that complex effort say they believe they can do a better job of maximizing commonality and limiting cost than the tri-service F-35, or Joint Strike Fighter, program that continues to struggle with technology challenges, cost growth, and fractured schedules.
Appearing at a Center for Strategic and International Studies’ forum on future vertical lift (FVL) on Dec. 9, the three officers stated slightly different platform requirements for the future aircraft.
The Army and SOCOM are primarily interested in filling air lift and air assault missions currently performed by the different variants of the H-60 Black Hawks, according to Col. Erskine Bentley, the future vertical lift program manager at Army Training and Doctrine Command, and Army Col. David Phillips, program executive for rotary wing requirements at SOCOM.
Bentley described the Army’s focus as “primarily the utility mission,” which includes aerial medical evacuation and air assault, or “the ability to assault light forces and their equipment.”
SOCOM’s air lift missions tend to be long-range covert insertion and extraction of special operations units.
Marine Col. John Barranco, the rotary requirements branch head, expressed a need for both troop transport and attack capabilities as successors to the Corps’ current UH-1Y Venom and AH-1Z Viper helicopters. That did not include replacing the tilt-rotor MV-22 Ospreys, which already has speed and range far greater than those two.
But all three emphasized the primary focus of their FVL effort was more speed, range, power, and survivability than the current generation of helicopters. They emphasized that those enhanced capabilities were needed to overcome the emerging anti-access, area-denial defensive capabilities being fielded by “near-peer competitors,” which usually refers to Russia and China.
Bentley said greater “reach, speed, and power” would enable the Army to “conduct strategic deployment” from outside the combat theater, and immediately go into tactical operations on arrival.
Greater speed and reach, combined with additional protective systems, enhances survivability and “coupled with light-weight sensor systems, increases the lethality of Army aviation,” he said.
Barranco, noted that the Marines are fielding the “fifth generation” F-35B strike fighter, while their vertical lift aircraft, with the exception of the Osprey, are little better than the helicopters used in Vietnam. But, due to “the threat picture, the anti-access, area-denial, from a variety of near peer competitors,” he said, “there is a need across the joint force to leverage technology to develop a new, more capable aircraft.”
Phillips said the improved capabilities, and the open architecture systems were essential to “stay ahead of the environment,” which was his term for the threat.
The CSIS moderator, Andrew Hunter, challenged the officers on how they could achieve the high commonality for their different missions in light of the record of the Joint Strike Fighter program, which has been “challenged” and has had “less commonality than expected.”
All three emphasized the time they have spent on confirming the key common requirements. Bentley said within each of those requirements was “trade space” that would allow each service to take from one capability to enhance another.
Barranco agreed, saying “every requirement is in a range of capabilitie,” so they could trade some speed or range for more troops. The Marine also stressed how they all needed the high commonality to enable them to get what they need within “the fiscally constrained environment,” which he predicted would not change.
In addition to reducing the procurement costs, commonality also would enhance sustainability by allowing common supply of spare parts and even cross-service maintenance, they said.
Although the individual platforms may be different, Barranco cited the example of the Marines’ new H-1s, which have 85 percent commonality in engine and mission systems, despite the significant difference in airframe and missions.
Commonality also would be easier with open architecture in systems that would make it easier and cheaper to modify some performances, they said.
As the program lead, Bentley said the goal was to develop and test prototype aircraft in the 2020s and begin full rate production in the 2030s, when current vertical lift aircraft were due to retire.
Though a lot of the weapons used by US troops today chart their lineage to decades-old designs, they’ve changed a lot since they were first introduced. The M16, for instance, has gone from having iron sights to using holographic optics. The M1A2 SEP v3 is a much deadlier tank than the original M1.
The M270 MLRS is another prime example of increasing lethality and firepower over the years. When it entered service in 1982, it was designed for the purpose of removing a grid square with 12 M26 rockets, each carrying 644 M77 submunitions that it could fire at targets up to 20 miles away. In essence, it was like dropping a bunch of cluster bombs without help from the Air Force.
During Desert Storm, the MLRS performed well, often using the baseline M26 rocket. But longer-range rockets were developed that could reach out to 28 miles, and they still carried the M77 cluster munition.
Then the M77 warheads were replaced with the newer M85s, which pack the same punch, but which reduced the dud rate from about 5 percent to 1 percent. Then, the M30 gave this ground-launched cluster bomb precision guidance.
Today, though, the state of the art is the M31 guided unitary rocket. According to a Lockheed Martin e-brochure, this rocket replaced the M85 bomblets with a 200-pound high-explosive warhead. This rocket has GPS and inertial guidance systems, enabling it to hit within 30 feet of its target – and it can fire its rockets from as far as 44 miles away.
In essence, this makes the MLRS a sniper with a 44-mile reach.
Lockheed is also offering a “GMLRS Alternative Warhead” which could potentially replace the ones that are essentially cluster bombs. One thing for sure, the MLRS will be around for a long time, so who knows what other rockets will be developed.
The Philippine Air Force may be replacing an old airplane with an even older one.
According to a report by Janes.com, the OV-10 Broncos currently in service with the PAF are in need of replacement, and Basler Turbo Conversions of OshKosh Wisconsin is stepping in to offer an updated version of the C-47 Skytrain cargo plane. The Philippines are currently battling the Islamist terror group known as Abu Sayyaf, and these gunships could be valuable – just as AC-130s have proven valuable for American forces in the same environment.
Over 10,000 C-47s were built before and during World War II along with the civilian DC-3, or licensed production versions made by Japan (the L2D) and the Soviet Union (the Li-2). So, finding the airframes is not hard in spite of the platform’s age.
The AC-47D was the first gunship modification, using three side-mounted GAU-2 Miniguns, entering service in 1964. Each GAU-2 could fire up to 2,000 7.62mm NATO rounds a minute. The AC-47s gained a reputation among Special Operations troops on the ground for providing reliable support. Two AC-47s were later provided to the El Salvadoran Air Force during that country’s civil war.
The AC-47T was first put into service by the Colombian Air Force in 2006, to fight against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, also known as FARC. The gunships would be rigged with two GAU-19 .50-caliber Gatling guns, bombs, and even some French M621 20mm cannon (mostly used on helicopters and patrol craft).
The baseline for the AC-47T is Basler’s BT-67 transport. This transport uses two Pratt and Whitney PT6A-67R turboprop engines in place of the Pratt and Whitney R-1830 engines, giving it a top speed of 210 knots. With a long range fuel tank, it can travel over 2400 nautical miles – over a thousand nautical miles more than the original versions could! Various upgraded versions of the C-47 are still in service with Greece, South Africa, Colombia, and El Salvador . . . and the U.S. State Department.
When the U.S. Air Force gets its first F-35 Lightning II distributed mission training simulator system at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, this spring, pilots will have the ability to fly virtually as a group, alongside other aircraft, and practice exchanging information across a network, according to Lockheed Martin officials.
“When the F-35 [deploys to] a fight, we know it’s not going by itself,” said Chauncey McIntosh, vice president of F-35 Training and Logistics for Lockheed. McIntosh spoke during the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) conference in Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday.
“So by allowing our … warfighters to really bring in all the other assets in a virtual environment and practice that, to ensure they get high-end training in these dense, immersive environments, [it] is going to be a game changer,” he added.
McIntosh said the distributed mission training simulator, or DMT, has been in testing for months, and is in the final stages of integration before the technology is introduced in the spring.
“It’s not just F-35-to-F-35; it’s F-35 to anything that we can bring in a virtual reality environment to the network … regardless of where it’s located,” he said.
F-35A Lightning II.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Alex R. Lloyd)
According to the company, the simulator “creates interoperability across military platforms for continuation training and large force exercise.”
“We expect this capability will be used in Virtual Flag exercises, allowing warfighters to practice complex training scenarios with other platforms virtually for integrated training operations,” Lockheed said in a statement to Military.com.
The Air Force will be the first to use the technology, with the expectation that it will continue to be rolled out “throughout the F-35 enterprise” in the future, Lockheed officials added.
The Defense Department has put an emphasis on group training, with other services attempting their own digital training initiatives.
For example, a priority for the Army has been the synthetic training environment, also known as the STE.
(U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)
Engineers collect data to reconstruct cities, mountainsides, bunkers etc. to more accurately represent what soldiers will experience in the STE, thus getting a more authentic representation of what they may face in combat.
The plan is for the STE to develop to a point that squads can operate together in training, facing virtual high-end threats.
However, it’s unclear how soon that level of training will be realized.
During the annual Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting and Exposition in October, Maj. Gen. Maria Gervais, the STE cross-functional team director, said elements of the STE were in jeopardy given ongoing negotiations between lawmakers over the next fiscal budget.
“Once we see the final number, we’ll understand the impact” on making STE operational, Gervais said at the time.
This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.