In many ways the LRASM is a lot like the weapons system it’s intended to replace. The Harpoon and LRASM both have electronics to guide the warhead to its target from over the horizon.
The big difference between the two is the LRASM’s autonomous ability and range. The LRASM is a smart, stealthy, drone-like-kamikaze that flies itself to its intended target up to 200 nautical miles away (about 230 miles). Its onboard systems are expected to identify targets without prior intelligence or supporting technology, such as GPS.
The U.S. military expects the LRASM to be operational by 2018. It is based on the JASSM air-to-ground missile, also known as the “terrorist killer” for its bunker-blasting capability.
The LRASM will have the capability of launching from various platforms.
Its onboard systems are expected to independently identify and destroy its targets.
This Lockheed Martin video illustrates how the missile system is expected to work:
Sure, we all know about the F-16 Falcon, the F-15 Eagle, the Su-27 Flanker, the MiG-29 Fulcrum… all those modern planes.
But in the 1970s and the early 1980s, the mainstays of the tactical air forces on both sides of the Iron Curtain were the Phantom in the west and the Flogger in the east.
The F-4 Phantom was arguably a “Joint Strike Fighter” before JSFs were cool. The United States Air Force, United States Navy, United States Marine Corps, Royal Air Force, Fleet Air Arm, West German Air Force, and numerous other countries bought the F-4.
According to Globalsecurity.org, the F-4 could carry four AIM-7 Sparrows, four AIM-9 Sidewinders, and the F-4E had an internal cannon. The plane could carry over 12,000 pounds of ordnance.
Like the F-4, the MiG-23 was widely exported — and not just to Warsaw Pact militaries. It was also sold to Soviet allies across the world — from Cuba to North Korea. It could carry two AA-7 radar-guided missiles, four AA-8 infra-red guided missiles, and had a twin 23mm cannon.
Globalsecurity.org notes that the Flogger can carry up to 4,400 pounds of ordnance (other sources credit the Flogger with up to 6,600 pounds of ordnance).
Both planes have seen a lot of combat over their careers. That said, the MiG-23’s record has been a bit more spotty.
According to the Air Combat Information Group, at least 33 MiG-23s of the Syrian Air Force were shot down by the Israeli Air Force since the end of 1973. Of that total, 25 took place in the five-day air battle known as the Bekaa Valley Turkey Shoot. The total number of confirmed kills for the MiG-23s in service with the Syrian Air Force against the Israelis in that time period is five.
ACIG tallied six air-to-air kills by Israeli F-4s in that same timeframe (Joe Baugher noted 116 total air-to-air kills by the Israelis in the Phantom), with four confirmed air-to-air losses to the Syrians. That said, it should be noted that by the late 1970s, the F-4 had been shifted to ground-attack missions, as Israel had acquired F-15s and F-16s.
There is one other measure to judge the relative merits of the F-4 versus the MiG-23. The F-4 beats the MiG-23 in versatility. The MiG-23 primarily specialized in air-to-air combat. They had to create another version — the MiG-23BN and later the MiG-27 — to handle ground-attack missions.
In sharp contrast to the specialization of various Flogger designs, the F-4 handled air-to-air and ground-attack missions – often on the same sortie. To give one example, acepilots.com notes that before Randy “Duke” Cunningham engaged in the aerial action that resulted in three kills on May 10, 1972 – and for which he was awarded the Navy Cross – he dropped six Rockeye cluster bombs on warehouses near the Hai Dong rail yards.
In short, if the Cold War had turned hot during the 1970s, the F-4 Phantom would have probably proven itself to be the better airplane than the MiG-23 Flogger. If anything shows, it is the fact that hundreds of Phantoms still flew in front-line service in the early 21st Century.
With the apparently successful test of an ICBM by North Korea, questions arise about what can be done about the regime of Kim Jong Un. This is understandable. After all, he did threaten Sony over the 2014 movie “The Interview.”
Also, the whole humanitarian crisis thing.
According to an op-ed in the Washington Times, there are some high-tech options that could shut down the North Korean threat. Investigative reporter Ronald Kessler stated that the Pentagon was looking at a cruise missile that could fry electronics. He reported that the Pentagon is also exploring micro-robots capable of delivering a lethal toxin to the North Korean dictator.
The cruise missile is known as the Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project, and it comes from Boeing’s Phantom Works — a lesser-known advanced aerospace projects division than the Lockheed Skunk Works. The missile uses microwaves to knock out radios and other electronic equipment. Boeing released a video about a 2012 test that you can see here.
Kessler also mentioned the use of insect-sized robots as potential weapons. While assassinations are currently prohibited by an executive order signed by President Gerald R. Ford, such a policy could be reversed by President Trump “with a stroke of the pen.” The advantage of using the micro-drones to bump off Kim Jong Un would be the fact that no American lives would be put at risk for the operation.
FoxNews.com reported that since the North Korean test, the United States tested the Terminal High-Altitude Air Defense system in Alaska. The system continued a perfect record on tests when a battery stationed in Alaska took out a missile launched from Hawaii. Two launchers from a battery of six have been deployed in South Korea.
The US Air Force is ordering three new and survivable missile warning satellites, the service revealed Aug. 14, 2018, in an announcement stating that the contract had been awarded to Lockheed Martin for $2.9 billion.
The Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) satellites, part of the larger Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (Next Gen OPIR) constellation, are expected to bolster US early warning capabilities, as well as demonstrate greater survivability against present and emerging counterspace threats from US rivals and adversaries than existing systems, Defense News reported Aug. 15, 2018.
“This is early warning to support our nuclear deterrence,” Thomas Karako, a senior fellow with the International Security Program and the director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Business Insider.
The Next Gen OPIR constellation is expected to replace the current Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS), with the first satellite launch now expected in 2023, two years earlier than initially planned. The initial procurement plans were first announced in April 2018.
Animation showing geosynchronous satellite orbiting the Earth.
“As we develop these new systems, speed matters,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said in a statement, adding, “We are focused on providing a missile warning capability survivable in a contested environment by the mid-2020s.” Discussions of survivability are reportedly focused on China and Russia, which are developing counterspace weapons, according to Military.com.
Lockheed will be “working closely with the Air Force on the rapid development of Next Gen OPIR’s more advanced, resilient missile warning capability,” company spokesman Chip Eschenfelder said, Space News reported. We understand the need to ‘go fast’ while improving our national security posture against emerging threats around the world.”
When it comes to protecting the US from missile threats, early warning satellites are the first line of defense.
“That infrared, that heat-detecting satellite is there to detect a missile’s plume, so it gives you that early warning of a big missile launch,” Karako explained. “That is important from the national command perspective because in the event of a very bad day, the United States would have that warning and that time to kick our overall deterrence force into gear.”
There are three main elements of the missile defense process — early warning, tracking, and discrimination. “Tracking and discrimination are what you have to do over and above early warning,” Karako stressed, noting that early warning is still “critical.”
After early warning systems have detected a launch, it is necessary to have a persistent track of the missile’s location and speed. Knowing this is essential for interceptions “because if you want to send something in its way, you need to know exactly where to send it,” Karako told BI.
Discrimination is then determining which of the many things floating around in space after the warhead separates is the intended target.
The new missile warning satellites are strictly focused on the early warning mission.
“There is going to be another constellation coming that is probably going to have a lot more satellites, and that’s for the tracking and discrimination challenge,” Karako introduced, adding, “There’s a lot of talk about a space sensor layer for missile defense. That is still forthcoming.”
Painting of a Defense Support Program satellite on station. Primary sensor (lower left) is pointed at Earth. The star tracker is seen pointing off to the side, above and to the right.
The Air Force currently operates 77 satellites serving in national security roles related to communication, command and control, missile warning, nuclear detonation detection, etc.
Gen. John Hyten, head of US Strategic Command, recently argued the need for a robust space-based sensor layer to bolster missile defense. “The most important thing to do in the missile defense business is make sure you can see and characterize the threat,” he said at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium.
“If you can’t see and characterize the threat, I don’t care what kind of shooter you have, there is nothing you can do about it. We have to be able to see that threat,” he added.
Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, director of the Missile Defense Agency, has also called for the development of an improved sensor architecture in space, citing the hypersonic missile threat. China tested a new hypersonic aircraft In August 2018 that could be weaponized to slip conventional and nuclear payloads past existing defenses, and Russia is developing a hypersonic boost-glide vehicle for its intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The US Air Force awarded it second contract this year for a hyerpsonic weapon to Lockheed Martin Aug. 13, 2018.
Featured image: SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket delivered the ABS 3A and EUTELSAT 115 West B satellites to a supersynchronous transfer orbit, launching from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida in March 2015.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
When most ships are decommissioned, they eventually will head to the scrapyard. Mostly, their fate is to become razor blades.
Others become artificial reefs, providing a tourist attraction for divers and a home for fish. But some vessels escape these fates for a more noble end: They are sunk as targets.
And that’s not new.
Back in the early 1920s, the United States used old battleships as targets to test how well air-dropped bombs could sink ships. In fact, since the end of World War II, ships have been sunk as targets – often to test how well current or new weapons work, or to provide crews with training that is quite realistic in using their anti-surface warfare systems.
The 1946 Operation Crossroads was perhaps one of the most dramatic examples. In two tests, the Navy detonated atomic bombs amongst a fleet of obsolete ships, including the Japanese battleship Nagato, the German cruiser Prinz Eugen, and the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV 3). A total of 14 ships sank outright, while the Prinz Eugen sank five months later.
Perhaps the largest ship to be sunk as a target was the aircraft carrier USS America (CV 66). This ship displaced almost 85,000 tons when fully loaded, and had a 31-year career, including service in the Vietnam War, Operation El Dorado Canyon, and Desert Storm.
On May 14, 2005, the America was sunk after the testing by controlled scuttling, which included remote systems monitoring the effects of underwater explosions that took place over four weeks.
The video below shows the sinking of a pair of Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates and a Newport-class landing ship. Often smaller systems will be used before they unleash the really powerful missiles – and last, but not least, the torpedoes.
Team Mighty – Photos courtesy of CTT Solutions and Pillar Media Group
CZ USA has released its newest pistol, a polymer, striker-fired handgun called the CZ P-10Z. It has been described as weapon that combines all the best features of its competitors: a Steyr M-A1 bore axis, VP9 trigger, MP grip, and the safety and ergonomics of a customized Glock — all for a price comparable to the XDM.
If all that is true, this might be the best pistol of this breed yet. Time and round count will tell.
The CZ P-10 C (presumably so named in anticipation of a full-sized and sub-compact version yet to come) is a 9mm or .40 fiber-reinforced polymer framed, striker-fired pistol. It features a cold hammer-forged barrel, trigger safety and firing pin block safety with three-dot “stepped” metal sights suitable for use in racking the weapon off a bootheel or belt. MSRP is set at $499, which means barring political shenanigans you’ll be able to pick one up for even less.
When news of the new pistol first broke a couple months ago, Mike Pannone (a former Unit operator who now runs CTT Solutions) spoke highly of it.
“I’ve shot it and I’m gonna tell you all, this will be a big player in the striker market,” Pannone said. “Great ergos, legendary CZ reliability/durability/accuracy, incredible trigger right out of the box…and it fits in nearly every Glock 19 holster. Just wait until the full-size model hits…Duty gun and Production class USPSA here we go!”
Here he is more recently, going into more detail.
Now, why should you give a damn what this guy thinks?
Easy. Mike “Noner” Pannone of CTT Solutions is a former Force Marine turned CAG (1ST SFOD-D) operator. Pannone came back out of retirement after 9/11 to serve as the head marksmanship instructor for the (then-fledgling) Federal Air Marshals Service, the agency said to have the most stringent and rigorous firearms/marksmanship standards in US law enforcement.
He later worked as a security contractor for the Department of State overseas in highly non-permissive areas, later working with the Army’s Asymmetric Warfare Group.
Pannone is a CZ-sponsored competitive shooter, yes, but by all accounts is reckoned a blunt, even brutally candid SME. Knowing what we know of him, if he wasn’t happy with the weapon, he’d say so (or just wouldn’t say anything at all).
Here’s how CZ lists out the P-10 C’s primary advantages.
•Slide and barrel with extremely durable surface finish
•Two pairs of cocking grip surfaces for comfortable handling
•New “degree” of resistance against corrosion and mechanical damage
•Exceptional iron sights accentuated by three luminescent dots
•Automatic striker block guaranteeing drop safety
•Mechanically and thermally stable polymer frame reinforced with glass fibre
•Three interchangeable backstraps in S, M, L sizes
•Excellent magazine capacity of 15 (17) rounds in 9×19 calibre
•Excellent shooting comfort thanks to the well-designed ergonomic grip with distinct checkering
•Flat ambidextrous slide stop and magazine catch; a magazine catch with a wider grip for right-handed as well as left-handed shooters is available as an accessory
The pistol should be hitting shelves sometime during the first half of 2017. Find more details online at CZ USA.
The Royal Australian Navy has a big job, even though it is a relatively small force. This force relies on one ship as its backbone, the Anzac-class frigate, and those frigates have been on the front lines for Australia and New Zealand.
The Royal Australian Navy Anzac Class frigate HMAS Ballarat (FFH 155) prepares to conduct an underway replenishment during Rim of the Pacific 2016. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Holly L. Herline)
According to the Sixteenth Edition of The Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World, Australia has eight of these vessels in service, while New Zealand has two. These ships can be very powerful, and are based on the MEKO 200 design from Germany, a vessel that has also been sold to Turkey, Algeria, Greece, Portugal, and South Africa.
Australian Anzac-class frigates are heavily armed. They have an eight-cell Mk 41 vertical-launch system for the RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile, a five-inch gun, eight RGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and the ability to operate a Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk multi-mission helicopter. They also have Mk 32 launchers for 324mm torpedoes. These vessels have received upgrades for defending themselves against anti-ship missiles. These upgrades are centered around the CEAFAR and CEAMOUNT phased-array radars.
The New Zealand Anzacs didn’t get the same upgrade, largely due to the collapse of the ANZUS mutual-defense treaty in the 1980s, spurred by New Zealand’s anti-nuclear policy. As a result, the Te Kaha and Te Mana have a less-capable system. Their Mk 41 vertical launch system initially only fired RIM-7 Sea Sparrows, and they operate SH-2G Sea Sprites. An upgrade, though replaced the old Sea Sparrows with the Sea Ceptor system from the United Kingdom
These frigates will still be around for a while. Australia plans to replace them with one of three designs (the French-Italian FREMM, the British Type 26m, or a modified Spanish F100) starting in 2024. New Zealand’s will remain in service until 2030.
Check out more about these frigates in the video below.
Technology helps give American troops an advantage on the battlefield, and DoD is working on new stuff all the time. Here are 11 of the coolest things they’re working on right now:
1. Drones that can fly 45 mph
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency wants drones that can race their way through enemy-held buildings or disaster areas without hitting anything, and they’re pretty successful so far. A modified drone hit 45 mph in a test and the drones can navigate obstacle courses at lower speeds.
2. Robot cockroaches
Real cockroaches can squeeze through tiny gaps and scurry quickly through hard to reach areas. A lab in Berkeley is working on the Compressible Robot with Articulated Mechanisms, a robot based on cockroaches. At Harvard, researchers are working on tiny microphones, cameras, and antennas so the robot could beam intelligence to soldiers.
3. Self-steering parachutes that don’t need GPS
Units in the field sometimes have to rely on air drops for supplies and they need the drops to be as accurate as possible. To make sure supplies arrive on target, the Army is developing the Joint Precision Airdrop Progam that uses small motors to steer a parachute. The onboard computer figures out how to navigate to the target location by scanning the ground below and comparing it to an onboard map, no GPS required.
Close air support allows troops to call in airplanes and helicopters to attack enemy ground forces. With the current tactics and resources, it generally takes 30 to 60 minutes for pilots to get to the fight and drop their bombs. Persistent Close Air Support, or PCAS, looks to drop this to six minutes by allowing ground fighters to tap a point on a digital map and have the pilot immediately receive the geo coordinates along with a flight plan and bombing solution.
6. On-demand satellite launches
Airborne Launch Assist Space Access is a convoluted name for a program, but it has a tantalizing promise: satellites in orbit within 24 hours of a request for less than $1 million. The satellites would be placed in a rocket attached to a jet. The jet would then fly to the upper atmosphere and release the rocket, and its satellite, into orbit.
7. Soldier super senses
Squad X core technology services aims to give troops better situational awareness by linking them into all the sensors on the battlefield, including new ones mounted on the troops themselves. Squad leaders would be able to see the status of their squad, video feeds from nearby drones and aircraft, and targets in the area.
8. Intuitive prosthetics
HAPTIX, Hand Proprioception and Touch Interfaces, is working to make prosthetics that not only work like biological limbs, but feel like biological limbs. This should allow amputees to do more things more quickly with their prosthetics and even allow more amputees to return to combat. (The video above shows a soldier testing a prototype arm while climbing a rock wall.)
9. Firefighting robots
The Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot, or SAFFiR, is designed to work on Navy ships fighting fires and identifying hot spots before they light off. In testing last November, SAFFiR successfully fought a small fire on a decommissioned ship.
10. Drones that hunt in packs
The Collaborative Operations in Denied Environment, or CODE, is designed to reverse the human to robot ratio, taking it from multiple humans per drone to multiple drones per human.
11. Electricity as medicine
The human body is designed to heal itself, but sometimes extreme trauma can cause the electrical impulses that control healing processes to go haywire. ElectRx will allow doctors to record nerve processes in healthy bodies and then prescribe stimuli to correct the electrical storm in patients with post traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, autoimmune disorders, or even physical injury.
In the 1980s, South Africa was facing a problem. Their fighters were getting old, their hostile, Soviet-backed neighbors were getting more modern fighters (like the MiG-23), and nobody in the West wanted to sell them new planes because of apartheid (a more ruthless version of the South’s old Jim Crow laws).
South Africa needed to modernize and they needed to do it quickly.
A South African Air Force Cheetah fighter jet flies over guided-missile destroyer USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98) as the ship departs after participating in the Southeast Africa Task Group 60.5’s first deployment to the region.
(U.S. Navy photo by Gillian M. Brigham)
Israel showed South Africa the way
Fortunately, the South Africans weren’t totally out of luck. Their force of Mirage III interceptors were old, yes, but the design was combat-proven.
In the 1960s and 1970s, after being denied a sale of Mirage V multi-role fighters from France, Israel managed to develop upgrades to the Mirage III on their own. Israel’s experiences with the Nesher and Kfir — essentially pirated, upgraded versions of Mirage III and Mirage V fighters — would came in handy for South Africa.
Two Cheetah Cs and one Cheetah D in formation.
(Bob Adams via Wikimedia Commons)
The redesign of all redesigns
The South Africans began to pull their force of Mirage III fighters off the line to be “rebuilt” using Israel’s trade secrets. The result was the Atlas Cheetah, a plane that was in the class of the F-15 Eagle as an air-superiority fighter. Armed with Israeli Python 3 air-to-air missiles as well as indigenous Darter air-to-air missiles, the Cheetah was more than a match for the MiG-23 Floggers exported to Angola.
The Cheetah was fast (it had a top speed of 1,406 miles per hour) and it had an unrefueled range of 808 miles. In addition to its air-to-air missiles, it was also able to pack a pretty significant air-to-surface punch with conventional bombs, rockets, and missiles.
The Cheetah E was the first single-seat version to see service — and it held the line until the more advanced Cheetah C arrived. A two-seat combat trainer, dubbed the Cheetah D, was also built. The Cheetah Es were retired in the 1990s after the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of apartheid. The Cheetah C/D models soldiered on until 2008, when South Africa bought Gripens to replace them.
But the Cheetahs still see action — a number have been exported to Chile and Ecuador. Learn more about this South African hack of the Mirage III in the video below.
A revolutionary new material from the company that produces service rifle slings could cut several pounds from the weight Marines carry on their backs.
Blue Force Gear, which designed the combat sling Marines use on their service rifles, created a new lightweight, heavy-duty material that could replace every strap on a Marine rifleman’s kit. In the process, the material swap would shave between 6 and 8 pounds from the total weight of the products.
The material, called ULTRAcomp, is more durable than the nylon typically featured on vests, packs, and pouches, said Stephen Hilliard, Blue Force Gear’s director of product development. It’s made of high-performance laminate that doesn’t tear or absorb as much water as the nylon typically used on those products.
“We see a weight reduction of anywhere from 15 to 20 percent,” Hilliard said at the Modern Day Marine expo here. “If you ask any Marine if they like to ditch 6 pounds of useless webbing and layers of fabric while still maintaining durability, every one of them would take it.”
There are broader impacts to those weight savings beyond the individual Marine, he added.
A Marine with 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division attached to Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force, Crisis Response-Central Command.
(U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Cpl. Carlos Lopez)
“When you look at the bigger picture and think about transporting 100 Marines on an aircraft and you’re saving, say, 6 pounds for each, that’s 600 pounds less,” Hilliard said. “That’s less fuel getting burned on the aircraft.”
Troops in the special operations community are already using Blue Force Gear’s products as a way to cut weight. The company has items in the Special Operations Forces Personal Equipment Advanced Requirements, or SPEAR program, he said. And Marine Raiders use their own unit funds to buy the lightweight kits.
“Our hope is that when those units intermingle and have intra-service operations, other Marines will say, ‘Oh wow, look at all this weight we’re saving even though it costs the same,’ ” Hilliard said. “That trickles on down into all the elements of the services.
“We want every Marine or soldier to get to save the same amount of weight, not just the special guys,” he said.
This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.
Three is better than one, right? That’s the basic idea missile developers had in mind when designing the Starstreak, a deadly man-portable air-defense system.
“Three darts give us the very high probability of at least one dart hitting the target and we would normally expect two darts to actually hit the target,” said Hill Wilson, the weapon’s technical director. “Three gives a very good punch.”
Manufactured by Thales Air Defense in Belfast, United Kingdom, the Starstreak accelerates towards targets at speeds faster than Mach four, making it one of the fastest short-range surface-to-air missiles in the world. It was developed in the 1980s to replace existing shoulder-launched missiles and officially entered service in 1997. Troops can fire the round from various portable launcher systems including the THOR Multi-Mission System as demonstrated in the following video.
(Skip to 5:30 to watch the portion about the Starstreak missile.)
The Navy’s fast-and-maneuverable littoral combat ship was criticized for lacking enough firepower and armor to survive a maritime battle. The Navy is addressing those concerns with a new class of small-but-powerful frigates that will pack a bigger punch.
The Navy asked this month for concept proposals for multi-mission warships that would be bigger and more heavily armed — and slower — than the littoral combat ships. They would be capable of shooting down airplanes, attacking other ships, and countering submarines.
“The Navy has decided that speed is less important than having a warship with sufficient weapons to defend itself,” said Loren Thompson, a defense analyst with the Lexington Institute.
The Navy, which wants to build 20 frigates, is seeking an affordable design, and its directive calls for shipbuilders to use an existing design to expedite the process. The aggressive timetable calls for conceptual proposals next month. The first two ships are to be procured in 2020 and 2021.
Large Navy shipbuilders like Maine’s Bath Iron Works and Mississippi’s Ingalls Shipbuilding are among a half-dozen defense contractors expected to bid on the work. Smaller shipyards, like Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Wisconsin and Austal USA in Alabama, are also expected to compete.
The proposal marks a new direction for the Navy at a time when the Trump administration has vowed to increase the size of the fleet. The Navy has a goal of 355 ships.
It addresses lessons learned from the littoral combat ships, which were supposed to be an affordable way of countering post-Cold War threats, including pirates and swarm boats.
The Navy envisioned speedy ships that could be transformed with mission modules to serve different roles. But the mission modules have been delayed and the ships’ cost grew. Then the Government Accountability Office questioned the ships’ survivability in battle.
There are two versions of the littoral combat ship, both capable of topping 50 mph and utilizing steerable waterjets to operate in shallow water.
When all is said and done, the Navy is expected to take delivery of more than two dozen littoral combat ships. A combination of LCS and frigates would comprise more than half of the Navy’s deployed surface combatants by 2030, said Lt. Seth Clarke, a Navy spokesman.
The Congressional Research Service said the Navy wants to spend no more than $950 million per frigate, while Clarke put the target at $800 million per ship after the first ship.
Working in the ship’s favor in terms of affordability: The proposal calls for no new technologies. That’s a far cry from littoral combat ships and larger, stealthy Zumwalt-class destroyers that incorporated new designs and technologies that contributed to significant cost overruns.
At Bath Iron Works, a General Dynamics subsidiary, officials examined U.S. and foreign designs to meet Navy requirements and partnered with a Spanish company, Navantia, to utilize an existing design from a Spanish navy frigate, said Dirk Lesko, the shipyard’s president.
Bath Iron Works helped to design the Navy’s Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates, the last of which were retired from duty in 2015.
The shipyard’s 5,700 workers who currently build Arleigh Burke-class and Zumwalt-class destroyers are eager for the opportunity to build the frigates.
“We know how to build them. We’re ready to build more,” said Mike Keenan, president of the Machinists Union Local S6, the shipyard’s largest union.
Do you have that buddy who scratches messages into his M4 rounds? Or maybe you’re the sailor who Sharpies “This one’s for you” onto JDAMs destined for a flight over the Gulf. Regardless, it turns out that you’re part of a tradition that dates back to a few hundred years before Jesus.
Yeah, we’re all comedians.
(Air Force Master Sgt. Dave Nolan)
Writing messages on bombs, missiles, and other munitions is a common and long-standing tradition. After the 9/11 Attacks, messages of solidarity for New York and vengeance against al Qaeda and the Taliban started popping up on bombs headed for Afghanistan. Hussein and the Ba’ath party were favorite targets for graffiti over Iraq in the early 2000s.
More recently, bombs headed for Iraq and Syria have had messages for ISIS and Baghdadi, and messages supporting Paris were popular after the attacks in 2015.
Obviously, there’s about zero chance in Hell that anyone on the receiving end will actually read the messages. After all, the bomb casings will get obliterated when they go off. But it’s fun for the troops and lets them get a little steam out. Most service members will never fire a weapon, drop a bomb, or throw a grenade in anger.
(Imperial War Museum)
So it can sometimes be hard for support troops to connect their actions to dismantling ISIS, defeating Saddam, or destroying al Qaeda. It helps the ordnance crews reinforce their part of the mission, and they can imagine their Sharpie-soaked pieces of shrapnel shredding enemy fighters.
But this tradition really dates back. In World War II, British troops designated bombs to destroy the German battleship Tirpitz. And these Americans were hoping their bombs would be great party favors for the Third Reich.