A UK firm is developing an insane missileer drone - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

A UK firm is developing an insane missileer drone

The Brimstone missile is Europe’s equivalent of the Hellfire missile. Like the Hellfire, it’s designed to take out tanks and other armored targets, it can be fired with different seeker and warheads, and it’s battle-tested, especially in the Middle East. Now, its manufacturer has packed an insane number of them into small, all-terrain drones that could break apart Russian armor formations.


First, a quick background on the threat. While the U.S. is torn between competing threats in the Middle East, China, and Russia, Europe has a clear top priority in Russia. Europe gets a ton of energy from Russia, but the relationship is tense.

Russia has already invaded Ukraine twice, and it’s still supporting separatists in the Donbas region of that country. It has also allegedly violated the territorial sovereignty of Estonia by kidnapping an intelligence officer. (Russia claims the capture happened on their side of the border, Estonia disagrees, and U.S. and NATO intelligence backs Estonia.)

And Russia rattles its sabers every time a Baltic state or Eastern European country makes stronger ties with the U.S. or NATO. So if you were a small European country, especially one north of the Suwalki Gap, where Russia can amputate part of Europe with a 60-mile armored thrust, countering Russian forces is a major part of your defense needs.

Russia still has the largest fleet of armored land vehicles in the world, with an estimated 22,000 combat tanks, according to GlobalFirepower.com. The largest European armored fleet in NATO comes from Turkey with about 3,200 tanks, and it’s moving into a Russian orbit. The total tank force of European NATO countries only totals a little over 11,000. Adding the U.S. and Canadian armored fleets only gets NATO to about 18,000 tanks.

So, yeah, Russia’s massive armored forces could cause legitimate heartburn in the rest of Europe. No one wants to be the next Ukraine or the next Georgia. (Russia successfully annexed a portion of Georgia in a 2008 invasion.)

But how do you brush back Russia without an armored corps, a massive attack helicopter fleet, or some other costly investment?

THeMIS UGV with the PROTECTOR RWS

youtu.be

Well, if you need to intimidate an armored corps and can’t afford hundreds of attack helicopters with air-to-ground anti-tank missiles, maybe you could just put those missiles on a small drone on the ground.

“This cassette magazine, with its high weapon loadout, is optimised to counter mass armour,” said Andy Allen, MBDA U.K. Head of Land Domain Sales and Business Development. “Pairing the combat-proven MBDA Brimstone missile with a flexible and mission deployed UGV such as the Milrem Robotics’ THeMIS provides the tactical commander with the capability to rapidly and remotely deliver high volumes of precision anti-armour effects, importantly in all weathers, against all known DAS and at extended ranges.”

At least that’s the logic behind the pairing of the Brimstone missile and the MILREM Robotics THeMIS unmanned ground vehicle. The resulting product looks a bit like WALL-E if you switched out the cute eyes and body for a six-pack of abs missiles.

The THeMIS UGV is an unmanned infantry support vehicle, and MILREM Robotics sells it in a number of configurations, from transport to remote weapon platform to explosive ordnance disposal. But the most robust anti-tank version on MILREM’s website has a single Javelin missile. MBDA’s proposal would pack six Brimstones instead.

This could be especially potent when MILREM finishes the “swarming” control protocol that’s currently in development.

And Europe might invest in the solution. Europe is already heavily invested in Brimstone, and some countries already own a few THeMIS, so a paired solution shouldn’t be an insanely hard sell. So, hey, next time you head to Europe for an exercise, you might see a European soldier with a loyal attack robot following him. An attack robot with six tank-killing missiles.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

7 Chinese weapons that will set tone for World War III

A war probably isn’t coming. It’s not in America’s best interests. Or China’s. Or Russia’s. But the military can’t just opt out of preparing for a conflict, just in case. If the U.S. stumbles into a war with China, that country has an ever-growing arsenal of weapons that will force the U.S. military to adapt — especially the Navy.


A UK firm is developing an insane missileer drone

Chinese hypersonic glide vehicles could allow conventional missiles to become a much larger threat.

(果壳军事, CC BY-SA 4.0)

1. Hypersonic missiles

China’s primary hypersonic missile play is the DF-ZF hypersonic glide vehicle, but the country is testing a variety of hypersonic components and has even tested an anti-ship ballistic missile that flies at hypersonic speeds during its final approach to the target.

Glide vehicles, like the DF-ZF, can be fitted to a variety of current missiles, extending their range by up to 50 percent while improving speed. Most of the focus on these weapons so far has been on the strategic level, as hypersonic missiles can carry nukes and bypass most existing defenses, but the missiles are also a huge threat on the tactical level, as they limit the effectiveness of current Navy fleet defenses.

If China and America go toe-to-toe in the Pacific, these hypersonic missiles will greatly threaten the fleet at sea as well as shore installations of the Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps.

A UK firm is developing an insane missileer drone

The Type 072A LST gives Chinese naval commanders a lot of options.

(樱井千一, CC BY-SA 3.0)

2. Type 072A LST

The Chinese Landing Ship, Tank Type 072A is part of a larger family of landing ships, but it’s really the crown jewel of the fleet — and China owns 15 of them. They can carry up to 10 tanks as well as a hovercraft, four landing craft, 250 soldiers, and a helicopter.

All that cargo can be quickly offloaded on most beaches and the ship’s 30mm gun can defend it throughout the process, allowing an armored or infantry company to disembark from each ship directly into combat. For U.S. troops racing China to occupy strategic islands or to defend American-held ground, these ships mean that China can always quickly exploit any toehold it gains.

A UK firm is developing an insane missileer drone

The Chinese AG-600, the world’s largest seaplane.

(Alert5, CC BY-SA 4.0)

3. The AG-600, that massive new seaplane

China’s massive new seaplane, the world’s largest by most metrics, including payload, has generated a lot of buzz. It is new, ugly, and a great tool for logistics in areas like the South China Sea. The weapon has few sensors and no weapons, but it has ability to take off from shallow water while carrying up to 13 tons of supplies. So, it could be just the ticket for re-supplying far-flung troops on islands or ships at sea with no carrier on which to land.

There has been widespread speculation about its suitability in an anti-submarine role. While it does have a lot of the traits of a large reconnaissance platform, mostly high range and payload, China’s own media has downplayed the possibility of it serving as an anti-submarine aircraft.

4. Golden Eagle CR500

Not all that much is known yet about the Golden Eagle CR500, but it’s an unmanned helicopter that can carry air-to-ground missiles. The rumor mill gives it a six-hour endurance and a maximum payload of four missiles. If everything works out, this and similar projects give China the capability to hunt U.S. forces ashore from relatively small ships.

Instead of needing to land a company to recon in force or wait for reconnaissance teams to sweep potentially occupied islands, they could send a couple of small ships carrying these bad boys and fly over the islands, engaging targets they find immediately.

5. CH-7 Drone

China’s newly unveiled CH-7 drone appears to be a direct ripoff of the Navy’s X-47B — and it probably is. But the Navy put combat drones on the back burner after pushback from U.S. pilots, potentially allowing China to take the technological edge. The CH-7, like the X-47B, is a carrier-based stealth drone capable of penetrating contested airspace, conducting reconnaissance and, if necessary, fighting its way free.

If it works even a fraction as well as the X-47B, the CH-7 could give China the ability to strike U.S. forces ashore and to disrupt jet formations without risking their own pilots. This could be a game-changer since one of the biggest limits on China’s large military and civilian aviation dreams is its lack of pilots.

6. H-20 Stealth Bomber

China’s new stealth bomber is still under wraps, technically, but information is leaking out and it appears to be a flying wing like the B-2 Spirit. If its radar absorption, spoofing, and infrared masking is anything like the B-2’s, that means that China might be able to fly through American defenses and strike at radars and missile sites in order to open up the skies for conventional aircraft.

The H-20 is nuclear-capable, but its the door-kicking ability of the plane that actually tips the scales in a conventional conflict. U.S. defenses rely on a distributed network of sensors and interceptors, but you can still open a gap to the heart of a carrier strike group with just a few good hits on Ticonderoga cruisers and Arleigh-Burke destroyers.

A UK firm is developing an insane missileer drone

Chinese Type 56 Corvette

(樱井千一, CC BY-SA 3.0)

7. Type 056 Jiangdao Stealth Corvette

Corvettes are small ships, but what they lack in size and muscle they can make up for in versatility. The Type 056 is no exception, as it displaces only 1,365 tons while capable of carrying four anti-ship cruise missiles, eight surface-to-air missiles, and two torpedo tubes as well as a 76mm main gun and two 30mm guns in support. And they can zip around at 35 mph.

They’re cheap and potent, even if they’re not the kind of big capital ships that fill propaganda ads. They’re lethal enough to pick off amphibious forces and smaller ships, potentially interrupting landings or helping force an opening during a fight between fleets. China commissioned its 41st Type 056 a few months ago.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Air Force working on better nuclear missiles

The US Air Force is taking specific steps to expedite a measured, steady developmental plan for its new, next-generation Intercontinental Ballistic Missile in order to align with the more aggressive US nuclear weapons strategy outlined in the administration’s Nuclear Posture Review.

The service is already making initial technological progress on design work and “systems engineering” for a new arsenal of ICBMs to serve well into the 2070s — called Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD).

The most recent Nuclear Posture Review, released in 2018, calls for an increase in nuclear weapons applications as part of a broader deterrence strategy. The NPR calls for new low-yield, nuclear armed submarine launched ballistic missiles, among other things.


“We are taking the NPR of 2010 and turning it on its head….it included no new mission. This new NPR changes that context and calls for deploying more weapons. Let’s get things done, execute on time,” Gen. Timothy Ray, Commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, told reporters at the Air Force Association Convention.

The Air Force plans to fire off new prototype ICBMs in the early 2020s as part of a long-range plan to engineer and deploy next-generation nuclear armed intercontinental ballistic missiles by the late 2020s – by building weapons with improved range, durability, targeting technology, and overall lethality, service officials said

“The sum total of what we are doing is a very significant broad enterprise, which reflects the renewed interest,” Ray said.

A UK firm is developing an insane missileer drone

(Northrop Grumman photo)

Northrop Grumman and Boeing teams were awarded Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction deals from the Air Force in 2017 as part of a longer-term developmental trajectory aimed at developing, testing, firing, and ultimately deploying new ICBMs.

Following an initial 3-year developmental phase, the Air Force plans an Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase and eventual deployment of the new weapons.

The Air Force plans to award the single EMD contract in late fiscal year 2020.

Overall, the Air Force plans to build as many as 400 new GBSD weapons to modernize the arsenal and replace the 1970s-era Boeing-built Minuteman IIIs.

The new weapons will be engineered with improved guidance technology, boosters, flight systems, and command and control systems, compared to the existing Minuteman III missiles. The weapon will also have upgraded circuitry and be built with a mind to long-term maintenance and sustainability, developers said.

“What is new and different is that we are thinking about all the needed support and sustainment,” Ray said.

Initial subsystem prototypes are included within the scope of the current Boeing and Northrop deals, service developers said.

Senior nuclear weapons developers have told Warrior that upgraded guidance packages, durability, and new targeting technology are all among areas of current developmental emphasis for the GBSD.

The new ICBMs will be deployed roughly within the same geographical expanse in which the current weapons are stationed. In total, dispersed areas across three different sites span 33,600 miles, including missiles in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Minot, North Dakota, and Great Falls, Montana.

“We are taking a near, mid and far term assessment to make sure we do not put all the risk into the same bucket,” Ray said.

This article originally appeared on Warrior Maven. Follow @warriormaven1 on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Why we’re pumped about the new ‘Overlord’ film

There’s a special place in our hearts for zombie films. It’s a fun little escape to the smokepit conversations every troop has while deployed, like, “who would your zombie apocalypse team be?” And, “where would you go looting first?” Obviously, the only correct answers are your squadmates and the nearest gunshop, respectively, but I digress.

Zombie films have a strange place in the cinematic landscape. The ones that embrace the campiness of the genre tend to be more successful financially and the lower the budget of a zombie film, the more fun (or funny) it’ll probably be. This is part of what made the veteran-made Range 15 so enjoyable to other veterans who enjoy that special, corny magic typical of zombie films.

It was recently announced that J.J. Abrams is set to produce the upcoming film Overlord. From the looks of things, it’s going to be a zombie film set during the events of the Battle of Normandy — also known as Operation Overlord.


A UK firm is developing an insane missileer drone

Kind of like the Norwegian film ‘Dead Snow.’

(Euforia Films)

There is a bit of historical precedent for the film. The Nazis never created zombies (obviously), but their fascination with the occult and fringe sciences has been well documented. Hitler, in addition to being a mass-murdering f*ckhead, was obsessed with everything occult in trying to get an edge. This ranged from having officers study Nordic runes to sending troops into Tibet in search of Shangri-la and all sorts of messed-up stuff to create their so-called “übermensch.”

There is no historical record of the Nazis ever trying to reanimate the dead in any Frankensteinian or Lovecraftian manner, but it isn’t too far of a stretch to play on Hitler’s “thousand year army” dream to include “thousand year soldiers.”

A UK firm is developing an insane missileer drone

The biggest homage has got to be given to the 1985 film, ‘Re-Animator.’

(Empire International Pictures)

Judging by the trailers, this film seems like it’s going to be an homage to both the war and zombie genres of film. Of course, fans have been quick to point out the similarities between it and Call of Duty‘s Nazi Zombie mode or Return to Castle Wolfenstein, if you want to actually want to get your gaming history right. In the film’s defense, it’s actually making far more references to the mutated Nazi monsters and transformation scenes in An American Werewolf in London.

It’s also interesting to note that this is the first rated-R film for both Bad Robot and J.J Abrams. It’s been said numerous times by Abrams himself that the film is not going to be a part of the Cloverfield franchise. While he’s known for his misdirection, it seems like he’s telling the truth, you know, since the Cloverfield alien was from space and this film is set in Nazi-occupied France.

The film also has plenty of great actors attached who have an impressive action-feature resume. Jovan Adepo of The Leftovers, Jacob Anderson of Game of Thrones, Bokeem Woodbine of The Rock and Riddick, and Wyatt Russell from the Black Mirror episode ‘Playtest’ are all co-leads against Pilou Asbæk’s (Euron Greyjoy from Game of Thrones) evil Nazi scientist character.

Overlord is going to be directed by Julius Avery, the director of the Australian indie film, Son of a Gun. Billy Ray, the writer of Captain Phillips, and Mark L. Smith, screenplay writer for The Revenant, co-wrote the script.

The film is scheduled for release on November 9th, 2018, but you can watch the trailer below right now.

Articles

Air Force experimenting on a 6th generation fighter to come after the F-35

The Air Force has begun experimenting and conceptual planning for a 6th generation fighter aircraft to emerge in coming years as a technological step beyond the F-35, service leaders said.


“We have started experimentation, developmental planning and technology investment,” said Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, Military Deputy, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, Acquisition.

The new aircraft, engineered to succeed the 5th-generation F-35 Joint StrikeFighter and explode onto the scene by the mid 2030s, is now in the earliest stages of conceptual development with the Air Force and Navy. The two services are now working together on early conceptual discussions about the types of technologies and capabilities the aircraft will contain. While the Air Force has not yet identified a platform for the new aircraft. The Air Force characterizes the effort in terms of a future capability called Next-Gen Air Dominance.

While Bunch did not elaborate on the specifics of ongoing early efforts, he did make reference to the Air Superiority 2030 Flight Plan which delineates some key elements of the service’s strategy for a future platform.

Fighter jets in 20-years may likely contain the next-generation of stealth technology, electronic warfare, sophisticated computer processing and algorithms, increased autonomy, hypersonic weapons and so-called “smart-skins” where sensors are built into the side of the aircraft itself.

Some of these characteristics may have been on display more than a year ago when Northrop Grumman’s Super Bowl ad revealed a flashy first look at its rendering of a new 6th-generation fighter jet.

Related: The first Marine F-35 squadron is gearing up for a Pacific deployment

Northrop is one of a number of major defense industry manufacturers who will bid for a contract to build the new plane – when the time is right. While there are not many details available on this work, it is safe to assume Northrop is advancing concepts, technology and early design work toward this end. Boeing is also in the early phases of development of a 6th-gen design, according to a report in Defense News.

The Navy’s new aircraft will, at least in part, replace the existing inventory of F/A-18 Super Hornets which will start to retire by 2035, Navy officials said.

The Navy vision for a future carrier air wing in 2040 and beyond is comprised of the carrier-launched variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35C, and legacy aircraft such as the EA-18G Growler electronic jamming aircraft.

Also, around this time is when Navy planners envision its 6th generation aircraft to be ready, an aircraft which will likely be engineered for both manned and unmanned missions.

Technologies are rapidly advancing in coatings, electromagnetic spectrum issues, artificial intelligence, maneuvering, superiority in sensing the battlespace, communications and data links, Navy leaders have said.

A UK firm is developing an insane missileer drone
Northrop Grumman

Navy officials also add that the Navy is likely to develop new carrier-launched unmanned air vehicles in coming years as well. For instance, Northrop’s historic X-47B demonstrator aircraft was the first unmanned system to successfully launch and land on the deck of an aircraft carrier.

Analysts have speculated that as 6th generation developers seek to engineer a sixth-generation aircraft, they will likely explore a range of next-generation technologies such as maximum sensor connectivity, super cruise ability and an aircraft with electronically configured “smart skins.”

Super cruise technology would enable the new fighter jet to cruise at supersonic speeds without needing afterburner, analysts have explained. As a result, super cruise brings a substantial tactical advantage because it allows for high-speed maneuvering without needing afterburner, therefore enable much longer on-location mission time. Such a scenario provides a time advantage as the aircraft would likely outlast a rival aircraft likely to run out of fuel earlier. The Air Force F-22 has a version of super-cruise technology.

Also read: This is the fastest American bomber that ever took to the skies

Maximum connectivity would mean massively increased communications and sensor technology such as having an ability to achieve real-time connectivity with satellites, other aircraft and anything that could provide relevant battlefield information.The new aircraft might also seek to develop the ability to fire hypersonic weapons, however such a development would hinge upon successful progress with yet-to-be-proven technologies such as scramjets traveling at hypersonic speeds. Some tests of early renderings of this technology have been tested successfully and yet other attempts have failed.

The Air Force Chief Scientist, Dr. Geoffrey Zacharias, has told Scout Warrior that the US anticipates having hypersonic weapons by the 2020s, hypersonic drones by the 2030s and recoverable hypersonic drone aircraft by the 2040s. There is little doubt that hypersonic technology, whether it be weaponry or propulsion, or both, will figure prominently into future aircraft designs.

Smart aircraft skins would involve dispersing certain technologies or sensors across the fuselage and further integrating them into the aircraft itself, using next-generation computer algorithms to organize and display information for the pilot. We see some of this already in the F-35; the aircraft sensor fusion uses advanced computer technology to collect, organize and display combat relevant information from a variety of otherwise disparate sensors onto a single screen for pilots. In addition, Northrop’s Distributed Aperture System is engineered to provide F-35 pilots with a 360-degree view of the battlespace. Cameras on the DAS are engineered into parts of the F-35 fuselage itself to reduce drag and lower the aircraft’s radar signature.

A UK firm is developing an insane missileer drone
Northrop Grumman

Smart skins with distributed electronics means that instead of having systems mounted on the aircraft, you would have apertures integrated on the skin of the aircraft, analysts have said.

This could reduce drag, increase speed and maneuverability while increasing the technological ability of the sensors.

It is also possible that the new 6th-generation fighter could use advanced, futuristic stealth technology able to enable newer, more capable air defenses. The air defenses of potential adversaries are increasingly using faster computing processing power and are better networked together, more digital, able to detect a wider range of frequencies and able to detect stealthy aircraft at farther distances.

The new 6th-generation fighter will also likely fire lasers and have the ability to launch offensive electronic attacks.

MIGHTY CULTURE

8 tips to service your car after a road trip

The summer road trip is an iconic American institution.

Whether a cross-country tour with the family, a trip to the beach with friends, or the long haul home from college when the second semester ends, American motorists log millions of collective miles on those summer road trips. A US Department of Transportation study found that the average recreational summer road trip sees an average of a 314-mile drive one-way on such trips, or more than 600 miles in total. Many trips, of course, measure well into the thousands of miles.

Road trips can be enjoyable and relatively inexpensive compared with air travel, but they can do a number on the car, truck, or SUV logging all those miles. To keep your vehicle in its best possible shape, you need to complete a number of car care tasks after the long drive is over, and these go beyond the routine maintenance you offer a commuter vehicle.

Here are the steps to take to service a car after a long summer road trip.


A UK firm is developing an insane missileer drone

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexandra Singer)

1. Clean the car thoroughly, inside and out

After days on the road, deep cleaning your car is a necessary and timely step. As Mike Schultz, Senior Vice President of Research Development with Turtle Wax explains: “Not only are smashed bugs unsightly on your ride, but some also contain acidic substances, which can bite into the paint. Simply trying to scrape of stuck-on bugs can damage paint, too.”

He recommends using a dedicated car cleaning product to lift away the smashed insects. You should also remove floor mats and thoroughly clean the car’s carpets and upholstery and then let it air out for hours to prevent mold growth.

A UK firm is developing an insane missileer drone

(U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nathanael Callon)

2. Check the tire treads

Long drives can wear down tires past their point of full efficacy and safety, so check the treads once you get home.

As Fred Thomas, Vice President and General Manager for Goodyear Retail explains: “Proper tire depth is an easy way to help maximize safety and performance. There are several ways to check tread depth, including the ‘penny test.’ Simply insert a penny into your tire’s tread groove with Lincoln’s head upside down, facing you. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace your tires.”

A UK firm is developing an insane missileer drone

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bailee A. Darbasie)

3. Add a fuel stabilizer to the tank

After a long road trip, it’s likely you won’t use your car as heavily for a period of time, especially if you live in a city and store the vehicle elsewhere.

Adding a fuel stabilizer to the gas tank can help fuel remain fresh and prevent corrosion. If your car is likely to go unused for more than a month following your long drive (or any time) you should use a fuel stabilizer.

A UK firm is developing an insane missileer drone

(U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nathanael Callon)

4. Top off the fluids

Beth Gibson, Experiential Travel Expert with Avis Car Rental says: “Fluids are like blood for your car, and after a long trip they’ll be depleted. To keep levels where they should be and ensure your car is in drivable condition for the next time you use it, replenish windshield wiper fluid, and transmission fluid,” and so on.

A UK firm is developing an insane missileer drone

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bailee A. Darbasie)

5. Get an oil change

Even if your car isn’t due for an oil change for another few months or few hundred miles, it’s a good idea to get an oil change after a long trip.

The extended journey will have put more strain than usual on the motor, especially if your vehicle was towing a trailer or was more heavily laden than normal what with luggage and passengers.

A UK firm is developing an insane missileer drone

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bailee A. Darbasie)

6. Replace the wiper blades

Auto experts recommend you get fresh wiper blades twice a year anyway, but the likely heavy use your windshield wipers saw during a long road trip may necessitate earlier replacement.

Wiper blades usually cost less than and you can install them yourself or have a shop do it, which will likely only charge you for 15 minutes of labor.

A UK firm is developing an insane missileer drone

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bailee A. Darbasie)

7. Run a diagnostics check-up

You can buy a top quality OBD-II scanner that lets you assess all sorts of systems within your car for less than , and using such a scanner might detect an issue before it becomes a big problem, saving you an even costlier repair.

After a long drive, these scanners can check everything from filter quality to engine health, and it can explain what’s behind that annoying check engine light.

A UK firm is developing an insane missileer drone

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bailee A. Darbasie)

8. Test your brakes

Jenni Newman, editor-in-chief, Cars.com, says: “You gave your car a work out on that long road trip – now it’s time to pay extra attention to how it’s driving now that you’re back on local roads with slower speed limits. Is there a squeal happening when you hit the brakes or a weird sound coming from the wheel? Give your ride a test drive so that you know what work needs to be done when you take it in for maintenance.”

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion

The 412th Test Wing, along with Air Force Global Strike Command and industry partners, held an expanded carriage demonstration with the B-1B Lancer bomber at Edwards Air Force Base, California, Aug. 28, 2019. The demonstration showcased the feasibility of increasing the B-1B weapons capacity to integrate future advanced weapons.

The two potential programs — external carriage and long bay options — would allow the B-1B to carry weapons externally, significantly increasing its magazine capacity for munitions, as well as adding larger, heavier munitions, such as hypersonic weapons.

“The purpose of the demonstration was to show that we’re still able to move the bulkhead from the forward intermediate bay to the forward location; increasing the intermediate bay capacity from 180 inches to 269 inches,” said Lt. Col. Dominic Ross, B-1B program element monitor, AFGSC. “Additionally, we demonstrated that we can still carry weapons externally on six of the eight hard points, which increases our overall carriage capacity.”


Ross said the expanded capabilities will be conventional only, keeping the aircraft compliant with New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or New START.

Lt. Gen. Richard Clark, chief of staff for Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration, Headquarters Air Force, along with Gen. Tim Ray, AFGSC commander, and other government and industry partners, were briefed on the potential expanded capabilities and how they would be able to adapt to future requirements.

“It increases the magazine capacity of the B-1B. Currently we can carry 24 weapons internally. Now it can be increased to potentially 40 based on what type of pylon we would create,” Ross said. “This gets the B-1 into the larger weapons, the 5,000 pounders. It gets it into the hypersonics game as well.”

A UK firm is developing an insane missileer drone

Lt. Col. Dominic Ross, B-1B program element monitor, Air Force Global Strike Command, provides a brief on the expanded weapons load that a new B-1 configuration could carry during a B-1B expanded carriage demonstration at Edwards Air Force Base, California, Aug. 28, 2019.

A UK firm is developing an insane missileer drone

Lt. Col. Dominic Ross, B-1B program element monitor, Air Force Global Strike Command, provides a brief on the B-1B expanded carriage at Edwards Air Force Base, California, Aug. 28, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Giancarlo Casem)

A UK firm is developing an insane missileer drone

Lt. Col. Dominic Ross, B-1B program element monitor, Air Force Global Strike Command, explains a bulkhead modification to the B-1B bomber that allowed it to carry a notional hypersonic missile mock-up attached to a B-52H Conventional Rotary Launcher during a B-1B expanded carriage demonstration at Edwards Air Force Base, California, Aug. 28, 2019.

A UK firm is developing an insane missileer drone

US Air Force weapons load crews conduct a training exercise on a B-1B Lancer with inert munitions at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Sep. 13, 2018.

(US Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Ted Nichols)

A UK firm is developing an insane missileer drone

US Air Force weapons load crews conduct a training exercise on a B-1B Lancer with inert munitions at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Sep. 13, 2018.

(US Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Ted Nichols)

A UK firm is developing an insane missileer drone

US Air Force weapons load crews conduct a training exercise on a B-1B Lancer with inert munitions at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Sep. 13, 2018.

A UK firm is developing an insane missileer drone

US Air Force weapons load crews conduct a training exercise on a B-1B Lancer with inert munitions at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Sep. 13, 2018.

(US Air Force Tech. Sgt. Ted Nichols)

A UK firm is developing an insane missileer drone

US Air Force weapons load crews conduct a training exercise on a B-1B Lancer with inert munitions at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Sep. 13, 2018.

(US Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Ted Nichols)

A UK firm is developing an insane missileer drone

US Air Force Airman 1st Class Osvaldo Galvez operates a jammer at RAF Fairford, June 2, 2018.

(US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emily Copeland)

A UK firm is developing an insane missileer drone

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Clayton Moore and Tech. Sgt. Micheal Lewis attach an inert Mark 62 Quickstrike mine to the bomb racks in a B-1B Lancer at RAF Fairford, June 2, 2018.

(US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emily Copeland)

A UK firm is developing an insane missileer drone

US Air Force Staff Sgt. Sergio Escobedo closes the crew-entry ladder at RAF Fairford, England, June 1, 2018.

(Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emily Copeland)

“I was very adamant about making that happen because it was something that I wanted to have happen the whole time I was flying it,” Ross said. “I was ‘full afterburner’ to make sure we got this thing to where we are at, and to hopefully continue on to make it a reality.”

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Why Israel’s plan to get the F-22 probably won’t fly

On Saturday, the Times of Israel reported that President Donald Trump had approved the sale of Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptors, America’s most capable air superiority fighter, to Israel. According to reports, the intent behind this potential sale is to help enable Israel to maintain the military edge within the Middle East, after the United States agreed to sell F-35 Joint Strike Fighters to the United Arab Emirates. On paper, this sale can’t (or won’t) happen until after Congress changes a law barring the sale of the F-22 Raptor to other nations, but the truth is, there’s a far more practical roadblock standing between Israel and a new fleet of Raptors: Nobody can make them.

While the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is widely seen as the most technologically advanced fighter in the sky, it was designed as a sort of continuation of the F-16 Fighting Falcon’s multi-purpose architecture, with an emphasis placed on conducting air-to-ground operations. The older F-22 Raptor was intended to serve as a replacement instead for the legendary F-15 Eagle as the nation’s top-of-the-line dogfighter.

F-22 Raptors fly in formation with an F-15 Eagle. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Ben Bloker)

While both the F-22 and F-35 are 5th generation jets that leverage stealth to enable mission accomplishment and both are able to conduct air-to-air and air-to-ground combat operations, they each specialize in a different aspect of air combat and were intended to serve in very different roles. Israel already operates a number of F-35s, and in fact, was the first nation to put the new jet in combat, edging out the U.S. Marine Corps by a matter of months.

This isn’t the first time Israel has gone after the F-22 Raptor, which was the world’s first operational stealth fighter and remains America’s most capable intercept and air superiority platform. Just prior to leaving office in 2001, President Bill Clinton suggested that he would be in favor of selling the advanced fighter to Israel, but he ultimately left that decision up to his successor, George H.W. Bush. A few short months after taking office, the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, shifted President Bush’s attention and priorities to the burgeoning war on terror, seemingly disregarding the potential F-22 sale.

USAF F-22 Raptor (U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Sam Eckholm)

Even if President Bush had wanted to sell the fighter to Israel in 2001, he would have had to address the 1998 “Obey Amendment” passed by Congress that specifically barred the sale of the F-22 to Isreal, citing concerns that such an exchange would result in China gaining access to the fighter. Although Israel and the United States have long enjoyed strong ties, the U.S. has Israel to blame for giving China access to the F-16 Fighting Falcon in the late 1980s, which resulted in China’s fielding their own copy of the fighter in their highly capable Chengdu J-10.

Chengdu J-10S (WikiMedia Commons)

In order to sell Israel the F-22 as a result, Congress would need to pass legislation to allow it… but that challenge pales in comparison to the logistical challenges Lockheed Martin would face in trying to re-start F-22 production.

Today, the F-22 exists in precious few numbers, despite its reputation as the best air superiority fighter on the planet. The Air Force originally intended to purchase 750 F-22s to develop a robust fleet of stealth interceptors, but the program was prematurely canceled with just 186 fighters delivered. As the United States found itself further entrenched in counter-terror and counter-insurgency operations against technologically inferior opponents, the need for advanced dogfighters became less pressing. As a result, the F-22 program came to a close in December of 2011.

Even the United States faces concerns about its own dwindling fleet of F-22 Raptors here in 2020. Only around 130 of the 186 F-22s Lockheed built were ever operational, and today the number of combat-ready F-22s is likely in the double digits. It’s extremely unlikely that the U.S. Air Force would be willing to part with any of their own F-22s to fill an Israeli order, so there would be no choice but to build new F-22s to complete such a sale.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Sam Eckholm)

As simple as just building more may sound, the truth is, re-starting the F-22 production line would likely cost the same or potentially even more than simply developing an entirely new and potentially better fighter. Lockheed Martin cannibalized a great deal of the F-22’s production infrastructure to support the ongoing production of the F-35, meaning it wouldn’t be as simple as just re-opening the plants that had previously built Raptors.

In fact, Lockheed Martin would have to approach building new F-22s as though it was an entirely new enterprise, which is precisely why the United States didn’t look into purchasing new F-22s rather than the controversial new (old) F-15EX.

Boeing’s new F-15s are considered fourth-generation fighters that are sorely lacking in stealth when compared to advanced fighters like the F-22 and F-35, but the Air Force has agreed to purchase new F-15s at a per-unit price that even exceeds new F-35 orders. Why? There are a number of reasons, but chief among them are operational costs (the F-15 is far cheaper per flight hour than either the F-35 or the F-22), and immediate production capability. Boeing has already been building advanced F-15s for American allies in nations like Qatar and Saudi Arabia, so standing up a new production line for the United States comes with relatively little cost.

While considered highly capable, the F-15EX is still a generation behind modern fighters like the F-22 and F-35 (Boeing)

The F-22’s production line, on the other hand, hasn’t existed in nearly a decade. In a report submitted to Congress in 2017, it was estimated that restarting F-22 production would cost the United States $50 billion, just to procure 194 more fighters. That breaks down to between $206 and $216 million per fighter, as compared to the F-35’s current price of around $80 million per airframe and the F-15EX’s per-unit price of approximately $88 million.

Does that mean it’s impossible to build new F-22s? Of course not. With enough money, anything is possible — but as estimated costs rise, the question becomes: Is it practical? And the answer to that question seems to be an emphatic no. The U.S. Air Force has invested a comparatively tiny $9 billion into its own Next Generation Air Dominance fighter program — aimed at developing a replacement for the F-22 — over the span of six years (2019-2025).

F-22 in production (Lockheed Martin)

If Israel were willing to put up $50 billion to procure new F-22s, it would almost certainly be better off devoting that sum to developing a new air superiority fighter. The F-22, after all, first took flight all the way back in 1997. It may still be the best fighter around, but as the United States and its competitors continue to tease the new 6th generation of fighters, why would anyone want to invest so heavily in a design that would be thirty years old before the first of a new batch of fighters could roll off the assembly line?

If 2020 has taught any lessons, one of them must be that anything’s possible… but there doesn’t seem to be any logical process that leads to new F-22s being built anywhere, let alone any Raptors finding their way into Israeli hangars.

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The odd and beautiful art form of the Afghan war rug

As troops walk through the bazaars of Afghanistan, they’ll always see the same collection of things for sale. Bootleg DVDs of shows that weren’t even interesting during their time, horrible knockoffs of brand-name clothing, souvenirs with the names of neighboring countries (mostly) scraped off, and gorgeous, handcrafted rugs depicting the mujahedin fighting the Soviets.


It’s almost surreal. Among the piles of junk are these masterpieces marred with spelling errors.

Afghanistan has a history filled with constant warfare. So, it makes sense that their cultural art reflects this. Afghan carpets have been a staple of the culture’s art for hundreds of years, but it was during the 1979 Soviet invasion that the rugs were used as a form of quiet protest.

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To every other vet who’s been to Afghanistan, it’s nice knowing their most common design has barely changed. (Courtesy Photo)

Their AK-47s and tanks were woven into the rugs next to geometric shapes and flowers. The Baluch or Tup-e-Tung (or just “war rugs”) began appearing all over the country. The tradition continued well into America’s intervention in 2001. Contemporary war rugs now include the attack on the World Trade Center and drones.

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The rugs are often so well made and sell for such a high price, a single rug sale could bring a family out of poverty. (Photo by Sgt. Heidi Agostini)

 

Funnily enough, the Afghan people prefer not having a constant reminder of the warfare that has plagued their homeland for generations. However, Westerners go crazy for them. War rugs almost exclusively sold to foreigners can fetch up to $25,000 at auction — but are often bartered for much less.

While it’s true that they’re very well-crafted and are the cause for much employment in the country, it still needs to be said that the U.S. Department of Labor recognizes that some are created using child labor. The rugs sold on U.S. and NATO military bases in Afghanistan are carefully vetted to avoid the exploitation of children.

 

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Still a worthwhile addition to any vet’s collection. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Teddy Wade)
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This is the gear a British soldier carried into battle in WWI

Quality ammunition, wholesome food, and well-trained troops are just a few things armies need to be successful in battle. In the chaotic days of World War I, British troops on the Western Front were considered some of the most well-supplied soldiers.

The British infantry were some of the best-prepared soldiers in the war as they carried the majority of their supplies on their persons.


But what exactly was the gear they carried to in order to take the fight to the enemy? We’re glad you asked.
The majority of all British infantrymen carried the ten shot, magazine-fed, bolt action rifle known as the “Lee–Enfield.”

Approximately four million Lee–Enfield rifles were manufactured during the war and the weapon is still highly collectible today.

 

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The Leeu2013Enfield bolt-action rifle.

 

To carry their gear, British troops commonly wore the 1908 pattern webbing, which also hauled their water canteen and space to hold the soldier’s 17-inch sharpen-steel bayonet. One pack had a spot for the legendary entrenching tool help dug their defensive positions even while under attack.

 

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1908 pattern webbing

The uniforms the men were issued consisted of flannel undershirts, wool pants, and usually suspenders to keep those suckers up. The troops would wrap winding puttees around their legs to keep warm and provide support to the lower extremities.
An all-weather swollen khaki serge went over the flannel undershirt, cloth caps were worn on their heads, and a “great coat” was worn on top for when things got a little chilly.

In the severe cold, many troops got to wear waterproof goatskin coats to help them fight off the frozen winter months. Now, inside the khaki serge was a small pouch for store their medical gear, which consisted of two battle dressings — one for the bullet entrance and the other for the exit.

Check out BBC‘s video below to get an entertaining look at the British infantryman’s arsenal.

Intel

This is how powerful the Tsar Bomba would have been over America

In the heights of the Cold War, Soviet First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev banged his shoe against his desk as he vowed to show America at the United Nation General Assembly in 1960. The following year, on October 30th, the most massive nuclear explosion ever was detonated over Severny Island.


The 50-megaton, 60,000-pound hydrogen bomb was said to have been 1,570 times larger than the combined energy of the nuclear devices dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 10 times the collective destructive power of every conventional weapon ever used in WWII, and it alone accounted for 10 percent of all nuclear yields ever.

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Thankfully for humanity, this was never tested again.
(Courtesy Photo)

The mushroom cloud of the blast soared up 40 miles high (seven times the height of Mount Everest) and had a 59-mile-wide cap. The blast was so incomprehensibly large that it’s nearly impossible to contextualize just how devastating it would have been if detonated over American soil.

To put all of this into perspective — and much to the delight of Yankees fans — let’s measure the hypothetical blast using today’s pitcher’s mound at Oriole Park in Baltimore, MD, as a point of reference.

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I have nothing but love for the city of Baltimore and the Orioles, but they do make things rather convenient for this thought experiment.
(Courtesy Photo)

The initial blast would have decimated the entire city and everything within 12 miles. The mushroom cloud, with a radius of 29.5 miles, would have stretched all the way into Washington D.C. The heat from the blast would have extended out 62 miles, and would have left everyone in Dover, Delaware with third-degree burns.

According to NukeMap, roughly 1.4 million people would have been killed immediately and the nuclear fallout would have made its way through Philadelphia, PA and into Trenton, NJ. Shockwaves reached 430 miles, which would have put it past Cincinnati, OH. Windows would be shattered up to 560 miles miles away, reaching Chattanooga, TN.

With a height of 40 miles, the mushroom cloud would have been visible from 564.5 miles. That means everyone in the outskirts of Atlanta would have been able to see it. The fireball was visible from 620 miles away, which would have meant everyone in Chicago would be witness to it.

For more information on the destructive power of the Tsar Bomba, check out this video.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

These are some of the craziest planes ever flown by the US military

A number of American planes have become classics. We know them off the top of our head: the P-51 Mustang, the F4U Corsair, the B-17 Flying Fortress. We can go on and on, and even debate amongst ourselves which planes were the coolest.


Some, though, are just plain crazy. You have to wonder Whiskey Tango Foxtrot were they thinking when they tried to fly `em. Was there ever any hope of them working? Here’s a look at a few — but just because they look crazy doesn’t mean some of them didn’t work.

McDonnell F-85 Goblin

Early jet fighters were a lot like sprinters. They were fast, but they didn’t have a lot of range. So some folks had the bright idea of having the bomber bring along its fighter escort. The “parasite fighter” was intended to be carried in by a bomber, be discharged, fight off enemy planes, then hook back up with the bomber.

The ultimate expression was the F-85 Goblin. This plane weighed less than 5,000 pounds, and was armed with four .50-caliber machine guns. It made a total of seven flights before the program was cancelled. Why? Aerial refueling was perfected, and making bombers trade off a lot of their payload to carry their fighter escort was no longer necessary.

 

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To fit inside the parent aircraft’s bomb bay, the XF-85’s wings folded up. (U.S. Air Force photo)

 

Northrop B-35 and B-49

We see the B-2 today as perhaps the ultimate high-tech bomber. But Northrop had been trying to make a flying wing work since World War II. The B-35 and B-49 looked futuristic — and indeed they were decades ahead of their time. In this case, that was literally their problem.

The flying wing had its benefits, but the problem was the technology wasn’t there yet. The crash of a YB-49 prototype helped put the flying wing into limbo, not to return until the B-2 program, when computers enabled the flying wing to fly.

 

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YB-49 takes off. (U.S. Air Force photo)

 

NB-36H Peacemaker

In one sense, the B-36 arguably made the legendary B-52 Stratofortress look puny. However, that plane took a lot of fuel to get off the ground, and to keep flying. Fuel can get expensive, and its flammable. So, they decided to see if they could use nuclear power. The NB-36H was built to test the concept.

The reactor weighed 35,000 pounds. But after test flights, the Air Force decided that jet fuel was still a better option. Besides, they were buying some of the first of 732 KC-135 tankers.

 

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The NB-36H testbed. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

 

C-5 Galaxy

The C-5 Galaxy is crazy, all right. Crazy huge. It is 247 feet long, 65 feet high, and has a wingspan of just under 223 feet. The Air Force built 126 of these planes: 76 C-5As from 1968-1973, and 50 C-5Bs from 1985-1989.

It can be refueled while flying, but even when carrying 60 tons, it can fly 4,800 nautical miles. Currently the Air Force has 78 C-5s on inventory. But when you have something that can haul as much as 135 tons of cargo in one go, maybe it wouldn’t hurt to build more.

 

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A C-130 Hercules training fuselage is loaded into a C-5 Galaxy for transport to Stratton Air National Guard Base, New York. This was the first time a C-5 transported a C-130 fuselage. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Ty Moore)

 

F-117 Nighthawk

This plane falls into the crazy-enough-to-work category. Just looking at it, you think it wouldn’t even fly. Well, it could, and it is one of the crown jewels to emerge from that famous Lockheed refinery known as the “Skunk Works.”

Often called the “Wobblin’ Goblin,” the F-117 was designed to have a very low radar cross-section. It ended up working very well for American pilots, easily penetrating Iraq’s vaunted air defense system. One was lost over Yugoslavia during Operation Allied Force in 1999, but the F-117 served well, and the planes have still been flying despite having been “retired” in 2007.

 

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An F-117 on display at MCAS Miramar, in 2006 (Photo Wikimedia Commons)

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This amazing video shows how rifle suppressors work using a see-through silencer

It’s pretty clear that in today’s military, rifle suppressors are a thing. 


Long relegated to James Bond movies and secret squirrel types in the U.S. military, firearms mufflers now are becoming more popular in line units. Infantry leaders are beginning to recognize the benefits of silencers, with their ability to help mask a shooter’s location by suppressing both sound and flash.

Experts also preach that a suppressor makes shooting a lot easier on the trooper by reducing recoil and tamping down the “flinch” reaction that inevitably comes from firing a 165 decibel rifle shot.

 

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(US Marine Corps photo)

“Cans,” as they are colloquially known, reduce an M4 rifle shot’s report an average of about 20 decibels — that’s not enough to “silence” them, but it’s enough to meet hearing safety requirements for government regulators.

In fact, the Marine Corps has been experimenting with equipping entire infantry units with suppressed rifles, and sees them as enough of a game changer that they’re pushing to include cans with almost every rifle they shoot.

But how these little tubes of steel or titanium do what they do has always been a bit of a mystery to most shooters. The internal architecture of the suppressor’s baffles are part engineering mastery, part material science part alchemy and each manufacturer has its own design to get the sound down.

Now, an Alabama-based silencer maker has built his cans with a clear, hardened acrylic that shows in vivid detail exactly what’s going on inside when the smoke and flame eject from the muzzle. And YouTuber SmarterEveryDay took his high speed camera to the range and got some amazing footage of the gas and blast dissipating trough a silencer.

It’s a very cool look at a device silencer expert and current 2nd Marine Division Gunner Christian Wade says “increases the effectiveness of your weapon.”

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