The F-35 isn't the first time the Pentagon has tried to make one airplane for 3 branches - We Are The Mighty
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The F-35 isn’t the first time the Pentagon has tried to make one airplane for 3 branches

In 1961, the United States military was ordered to try to make a single airframe serve the needs of the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Army. That project was called the Tactical Fighter Experimental (TFX) project. It later became the General Dynamics F-111, known affectionately as the Aardvark.


As just about any military aviation buff can tell you, the results were not what the then-Secretary of Defense had been hoping for. The F-111 made an excellent all-weather attack plane, capable of delivering 31,500 pounds of ordnance onto a target. If anything, had there been another round of modernization in the early-to-mid 1990s, allowing the Vark to use GPS-guided Joint Direct Attack Munitions or Joint Stand-Off Weapons or the AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, it might still be carrying out that mission today.

The F-35 isn’t the first time the Pentagon has tried to make one airplane for 3 branches
An air-to-air left front view of an F-111 aircraft during a refueling mission over the North Sea (Public Domain)

The efforts to fill the needs of the other services didn’t go so well. The close-air support versions for the Marines and Army never happened. The Navy’s F-111B, intended as a fleet air-defense plane, just didn’t work, prompting Vice Admiral Thomas Connolly to tell a Senator, “There isn’t enough power in all Christendom to make that airplane what we want!” The results of Connolly’s career-ending honesty included the Navy developing the F-14 Tomcat, which proved to be very effective as an interceptor and air superiority fighter.

But the Air Force, Navy, and Marines all ended up using a common airframe from the 1960s to the 1980s. It just wasn’t the airframe many would have picked to be a joint strike fighter before there was ever a thought of having a Joint Strike Fighter.

The iconic McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom started out as an all-weather interceptor for the Navy. Equipped with four AIM-7 Sparrows and four AIM-9 Sidewinders, this Mach 2 plane had a combat radius of almost 370 miles, and was also capable of carrying almost 19,000 pounds of bombs. The Marines also bought the plane as well.

The F-35 isn’t the first time the Pentagon has tried to make one airplane for 3 branches
A U.S. Air Force F-4 flies with the 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron over White Sands Missile Range
(Public Domain)

The Air Force, looking for a new fighter-bomber, tried out the F-4. Very quickly, the Air Force realized that the Phantom was working out very well, and soon they, too were buying hundreds of F-4s. The Air Force was even able to add an internal M61 cannon to the plane – something the Navy never really got around to.

The Phantom saw service in the Vietnam War – and it was the plane flown by America’s aces in that conflict: Randy Cunningham, Willie Driscoll, Steve Richie, Charles DeBellevue, and Jeffrey Feinstein. The Phantom shot down 147 enemy planes in the Vietnam War. It also saw service with numerous American allies: including Japan, Australia, the United Kingdom, Israel, Germany, Iran, Egypt, South Korea, Spain, Turkey, and Greece. It still remains in service, now as a fighter-bomber.

The F-35 seems to have taken a few pages out of the F-111’s playbook; notably, the three versions have similar missions – even though one is intended for use from normal air bases, the other is V/STOL, and the third is carrier-capable. But the F-35 program is now pushing 15 years since Lockheed won the Joint Strike Fighter competition) — twice as long as the F-111’s.

The F-35 also shares something in common with the F-4: The Air Force version is the only one with an internal cannon. The Navy and Marine Corps versions (as well as the one used by the RAF) don’t. And whether the F-35 can become a classic like the Phantom is something that only time will tell.

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ISIS uses weaponized drones for combat and surveillance

Much has been written about the threat of Islamic State militants’ use of unmanned aerial vehicles, UAVs, commonly known as drones, over the embattled city of Mosul.


IS was quick to weaponize UAVs with small improvised explosive devices.

On Jan. 24, they released a video showing up to 19 different aerial attacks by commercially purchased UAVs — the kind of drone you can buy in any shopping center. Iraqi forces have followed suit by attaching modified 40mm grenades with shuttlecock stabilizers onto their larger UAVs to drop on IS positions.

The F-35 isn’t the first time the Pentagon has tried to make one airplane for 3 branches
Drones like this are easy to acquire but can be very lethal targeting tools. (Photo: Don McCullough, CC BY 2.0)

A crude inaccurate way of killing terrorists, its effectiveness is questionable. Weaponized IS UAVs have mainly been used to target Iraqi military commanders and troops congregating in the open near the front line.

It’s a low-end, low-altitude attack that can be thwarted by keeping in hard cover.

But both sides use the UAV’s more effectively as a means of providing Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance, known as ISR.

Islamic State UAVs in the air, once identified, are the warning that something is about to happen — either mortar fire, which is typically one hastily fired inaccurate round — before coalition air superiority can locate and target the firing point.

Or, more devastatingly, the launching of a Suicide Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device, an SVBIED.

Since the Battle for Mosul officially started on Oct. 16, 2016, hundreds of SVBIEDs have been launched.

Recently, Sky News’ Special Correspondent Alex Crawford and cameraman Garwen McLuckie faced a number of SVBIEDs during their reporting from West Mosul’s front line.

Each time a small UAV was hovering high above. One occasion two were spotted.

Chief Correspondent Stuart Ramsay, cameraman Nathan Hale and Producer Haider Kata were also targeted by a SVBIED. On this occasion the UAV filmed the SVBIED (an armored Fronting Loader) to its intended target, a tank.

Later, the video was posted on Islamic State websites.

The F-35 isn’t the first time the Pentagon has tried to make one airplane for 3 branches
A captured ISIS drone on the battlefield. (Photo from Iraq Ministry of Defense)

Due to the built-up urban area and the ever-changing nature of the battle, IS drivers of the SVBIEDs are believed to be hiding in garages with their heavily armoured explosive-laden vehicles. Modified with armor at the front and cameras on the wing mirrors, they provide militants with a 360-degree view of the battlefield and are notoriously difficult to stop.

They wait as the Iraqi forces move slowly forward, seizing ground and minimizing the driving distance to strike.

If they launch too early, the SVBIED will be exposed to air strikes or anti-tank fire, the only two real ways of neutralizing the vehicle.

But hidden IS drivers may not know the exact location of the moving Iraqi forces or be familiar with the streets and or access routes to their targets.

This is where the UAV is the key component to the attack.

The operators of the UAV act as navigators for the suicide driver; guiding him by radio or cell phone through battle-worn streets, they can help deliver the driver to his intended target with greater efficiency and accuracy.

This is a deadly combination.

The coalition has attempted to blanket all of Mosul in a red no-fly zone for commercially purchased UAVs, but this has been thwarted by either smart software adjustments to the unit or by placing aluminum material over the GPS.

Other methods have included the Battelle Drone Defender gun (hand portable beam type weapon) and the Spynel infrared camera, which is used to locate incoming UAVs. Both have been very limited, as UAV use is usually confined within a few hundred meters at the very front of the fight where these systems are not always deployed.

If an IS UAV is sighted, the immediate response by Iraqi forces is to engage it with small and heavy weapons, a difficult shot when aiming at a high flying fast moving object of no more than a meter wide.

After the firing has stopped, all attention shifts to street level as experienced operators know the next thing coming will be more deadly.

Many harmless recreational drones have now become deadly tools of war.

The various developers of these off-the-shelf UAVs probably never envisaged that their products would be used in a lethal cat and mouse hunt through Mosul’s war-torn streets.

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Nuclear trains may be coming back

Tensions between the U.S. and Russia are dangerously high. Both sides are complaining that the other has ignored military norms in international airspace and at sea, both have accused the other of violating treaties designed to prevent large-scale war, and both are developing systems to counter the other’s strength.


But, while Russia works on new tanks and bombers and the U.S. tries to get its second fifth-generation fighter fully operational, each side is also looking to a nearly forgotten technology from the Cold War, nuclear-armed trains.

The idea is to construct a train that looks normal to satellite feeds, aerial surveillance and, if possible, observers on the ground, but carries one or more intercontinental ballistic missiles armed with nuclear warheads.

The F-35 isn’t the first time the Pentagon has tried to make one airplane for 3 branches
Concept art of the Soviet Union’s first nuclear-armed train, the RS-23 Molodets. (Image: Defenseimagery.mil)

These trains would remain in a fortified depot during normal operations. During periods of nuclear brinksmanship, though, they would be dispersed across the country to provide a credible counterstrike if the enemy fires their nukes first.

The trains, if properly camouflaged, would be nearly impossible to target and could launch their payloads within minutes.

Russia got the missile cars to work first and fielded an operational version in 1991. In the early 1990s, America built prototype rail cars for the Peacekeeper Rail Garrison missile system and tested them, but then the Soviet Union collapsed and the project was cancelled.

The F-35 isn’t the first time the Pentagon has tried to make one airplane for 3 branches
One of Russia’s first nuclear-armed trains on display in the Saint Petersburg railway museum. Photo: CC BY-SA 2.5 Panther

Now, Russia has leaked that it is designing and fielding a new version of the trains. The Barguzin missile trains, named for a fierce wind that comes off of Russia’s Lake Baikal, will carry six RS-24 Yars missiles each. Yars missiles can carry up to six independently-targetable warheads with 100-300 kilotons of explosive power each.

The missile cars and fuel tanks are to be disguised as refrigeration cars and will be indistinguishable from regular trains if the weapons live up to the hype. Each will be able to deploy with its own security force and missile personnel for up to 28 days without resupply.

America has been flirting with restarting its nuclear trains, but it doesn’t seem likely. The Air Force awarded study contracts in 2013 to look at the feasibility of a “nuclear subway” system where missile launching trains would have dedicated tracks underground.

The F-35 isn’t the first time the Pentagon has tried to make one airplane for 3 branches
Concept art for the U.S. Peacekeeper Rail Garrison missile system. Image: San Diego Air Space Museum

But, budget problems that were biting at the Pentagon then have continued to hound it, and mobile launchers are expensive. Plus, most Americans don’t like the idea of nuclear trains running under their feet any more than they like the idea of nuclear trucks driving through their local streets.

The feasibility of Russia’s plans is also suspect. After all, the Russian Defense Ministry is running into worse budget problems than the Pentagon. It’s ability to fund a nuclear-armed train while oil prices are low and its economy is in shambles is questionable at best.

Right now, America’s main counter to Russian nuclear trains, and any other intercontinental ballistic missile launchers, appears to be its missile shields in Europe which could intercept many outbound nuclear missiles.

China has also flirted with nuclear trains. In 2013, Chinese media – whether accidentally or on purpose – leaked footage of a train modified to hold DF-31 and DF-31A missiles which can carry a single 1-megaton nuclear warhead. There were some questions at the times about whether or not the system was truly operational.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

How you can watch live as Israel attempts first private moon landing

Nearly two months after its commercial launch, a private Israeli spacecraft has slipped into lunar orbit and will soon try landing on the moon’s surface.

The dishwasher-size robot, called Beresheet (a biblical reference that means “in the beginning”) could pull off the first private moon landing in history if all goes according to plan. The mission could also make Israel the fourth nation ever to have a spacecraft survive a lunar-landing attempt.

Beresheet launched aboard a SpaceX rocket on Feb. 21, 2019. Over the past six weeks, the roughly 1,300-lb robot has gradually accelerated its way toward the moon. SpaceIL, a nonprofit group based out of Tel Aviv University, researched, designed, and built the spacecraft since 2011 on a mostly private budget of about $100 million.


On April 8, 2019, mission controllers fired Beresheet’s engines to achieve an elliptical orbit around the moon. At its farthest, Beresheet moves about 290 miles (467 kilometers) above the lunar surface; at its closest, the spacecraft’s altitude is 131 miles (211 kilometers) — about twice as close as the International Space Station is to Earth.

The F-35 isn’t the first time the Pentagon has tried to make one airplane for 3 branches

The “Beresheet” lunar robot prior to its launch aboard a SpaceX rocket.

(SpaceIL)

During the operation, Beresheet photographed the moon’s far side, above, from about 342 miles (550 kilometers) away. (The spacecraft also took several selfies with Earth during its flight to the moon.)

Now that Beresheet is within striking distance of a lunar landing, SpaceIL is waiting for the precise moment to blast Beresheet’s thrusters one last time. The engine burn will slow down the spacecraft, cause the four-legged robot to fall out of lunar orbit, and gently touch down on the moon’s surface.

SpaceIL expects Beresheet to land on the moon sometime between 3 and 4 p.m. EDT on Thursday, April 11, 2019, according to an emailed press release. The group will also broadcast live footage of its historic lunar-landing attempt.

“This joint mission of SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) will be broadcast live via satellite for a pool feed and live streamed with access to all media,” SpaceIL said in its email, noting that the broadcast would show views from inside the spacecraft’s mission control center in Yehud, Israel.

The video feed, embedded below, should activate on Thursday afternoon.

Live – Contact Production

contactgbs.com

SpaceIL said the group would host a press conference immediately after the landing. The group also said it’d share exact timing for a landing attempt closer to the actual event.

The F-35 isn’t the first time the Pentagon has tried to make one airplane for 3 branches

SpaceX’s Nusantara Satu mission rockets toward space carrying a communications satellite, moon lander, and small military satellite.

(SpaceX)

Blazing a commercial path to the moon

SpaceIL got its start in 2011 on the heels of the Google Lunar XPrize, which offered more than million to the first privately funded entity to land on the moon and pull off a series of difficult tasks.

Three engineers took a stage during a space conference and announced their intentions to build and launch a lunar lander — gumption that caught the attention of South African-born billionaire Morris Kahn.

“They seemed very proud of themselves, and I thought that this was rather neat,” Kahn previously told Business Insider.

After SpaceIL’s presentation, Kahn — who at the time had a net worth to close id=”listicle-2634185632″ billion— asked the group’s leaders if they had any money.

“They said, ‘Money? Money, what’s that for?’ I said, ‘Without money, you’re not going to get anywhere,'” Kahn said. “I said to them, ‘Look, come to my office, I’ll give you 0,000 — no questions asked — and you can start.’ And that was how I innocently got involved in this tremendous project.”

The mission ultimately cost about 0 million — a fraction of the 9 million that NASA spent in the 1960s on seven similarly sized Surveyor moon landers. NASA’s sum would be roughly .5 billion today (about 0 million per mission) when adjusting for inflation.

Kahn said he’s personally invested about million in the venture. Although the lunar XPrize ended in 2018 without a winner, despite several years’ worth of extensions, SpaceIL found additional funding from private sources with Kahn’s help.

“I don’t want to be the richest man in the cemetery.” Kahn said. “I’d like to feel that I’ve used my money productively.”

He added: “I wanted to show that Israel — this little country with a population of about 6 or 8 million people — could actually do a job that was only done by three major powers in the world: Russia, China, and the United States. Could Israel innovate and actually achieve this objective with a smaller budget, and being a smaller country, and without a big space industry backing it?”

April 11, 2019, planet Earth will find out.

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

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This battleship went from Pearl Harbor to D-Day to nuclear tests

The D-Day landings featured an immense fleet – including seven battleships.


One, HMS Rodney, was notable for being the only battleship to torpedo another battleship. However, one of the American battleships came to Normandy via Pearl Harbor, where she was run aground.

That ship was the battleship USS Nevada (BB 36). The Nevada was the lead ship in her class, the other being USS Oklahoma (BB 37). According to the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, when she was built, she had ten 14-inch guns (two triple turrets, two double turrets), 21 five-inch guns (many in casemates), and four 21-inch torpedo tubes.

The F-35 isn’t the first time the Pentagon has tried to make one airplane for 3 branches
USS Nevada (BB 36) shortly after she was built. (U.S. Navy photo)

The Nevada did not see much action at all (although nine sailors died from the influenza pandemic that hit in 1918) in World War I. In the 1920s and 1930s, she carried out normal peacetime operations.

On Dec. 7, 1941, she was moored alone on Battleship Row. When Kido Butai launched the sneak attack on Oahu, the battleship was hit by a torpedo, but her crew managed to get her engines running, and she made a break for the open ocean.

As she did so, the second wave from the six Japanese carriers arrived. The Nevada took anywhere from six to ten bomb hits, and the decision was made to run her aground.

The Nevada suffered 50 dead and over 100 wounded, but Pearl Harbor would claim two more casualties. In “Pearl Harbor: Why, How, Fleet Salvage and Final Appraisal,” it was reported that two men were killed by hydrogen sulfide on Feb. 7, 1942, while working to salvage the Nevada.

The F-35 isn’t the first time the Pentagon has tried to make one airplane for 3 branches
Damage to USS Nevada after the attack on Pearl Harbor. (U.S. Navy photo)

Nevada would return to Puget Sound for permanent repairs and refitting, gaining a new dual-purpose batter of eight twin five-inch gun mounts. She took part in operations to re-take the Aleutian Islands of Attu and Kiska from the Japanese, then she went to the Atlantic.

On June 6, 1944, she was part of the armada that took part in Operation Overlord, and continued to provide fire support until American troops moved further inland. In August of that year, she took part in Operation Dragoon, the landings in southern France.

She then returned to the Pacific, taking part in the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Off Okinawa, she suffered damage from a kamikaze and from Japanese shore batteries.

The ship remained mission-capable, and she would later return to Pearl Harbor for repairs before re-joining the fleet to prepare for the invasion of Japan, stopping to pay a visit to a bypassed Japanese-held island.

The F-35 isn’t the first time the Pentagon has tried to make one airplane for 3 branches
USS Nevada fires on Nazi positions during D-Day. (U.S. Navy photo)

After Japan surrendered, the Nevada was sent back to the West Coast, and prepared for Operation Crossroads. Painted a bright orange color to serve as an aiming point for the B-29 crew assigned to drop an atomic bomb, she got lucky.

According to the book “Final Voyages,” the B-29 crew missed her by about a mile — and she survived both the Able and Baker tests. She was later used as a target and sunk, with the final blow being an aerial torpedo according to the Naval Vessel Register.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

These are the 5 most lethal weapons in the Japanese military

Japan has been making a comeback as a carrier navy, but they’re small compared to those of other Western powers. Overall, Japan had perhaps the most modern navy in East Asia during the Cold War, and did so while mostly respecting its constitution that renounced war.


But now, with China getting aggressive around the Senkaku Islands and in the South China Sea, Japan is stepping up its preparations. What are their best weapons? Here’s a listing from one video.

 

The F-35 isn’t the first time the Pentagon has tried to make one airplane for 3 branches
JS Izumo underway in 2015. (Wikimedia Commons)

1. Izumo-class “helicopter destroyers”

Japan’s most modern “carriers” are among the biggest game-changers in the region. Vessels similar to this have operated small detachments of AV-8B Harriers but mostly deploy helicopters. And this isn’t the first time Japan has set its sights on bantam-weight carriers — its powerful Kido Butai dominated the seas during the initial stages of World War II.

The F-35 isn’t the first time the Pentagon has tried to make one airplane for 3 branches
A Soryu-class submarine arrives at Pearl Harbor for a visit. (US Navy photo)

2. Soryu-class diesel-electric submarines

Even more quiet than the carrier comeback has been Japan’s submarine force. In this case, Japan has perhaps the most modern diesel-electric submarines in East Asia. The Soryu-class vessels could also be getting new batteries that would greatly increase submerged performance.

The F-35 isn’t the first time the Pentagon has tried to make one airplane for 3 branches
JS Atago in 2012. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Jennifer A. Villalovos)

3. Atago-class guided-missile destroyers

This is Japan’s version of the Arleigh Burke Flight IIA guided-missile destroyers. They’re about the same size, both have 96 vertical launch cells in two Mk 41 vertical-launch systems, and both can carry a couple of Seahawk helicopters. Two-to-four modified versions are planned to be added to the fleet in the coming years.

The F-35 isn’t the first time the Pentagon has tried to make one airplane for 3 branches
A U.S. Marine V-22 Osprey ascends the USS Bataan in Aqaba, Jordan, to begin a demo flight in support of Eager Lion 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mickey A. Miller)

4. V-22 Osprey

A planned purchase of the hight-tech tiltrotor aircraft is more rumor than fact. It should be noted that Japanese troops have been training on the Osprey since 2013. The Hyuga, a “helicopter destroyer” that is slightly smaller than the aforementioned Izumo, has operated this tilt-rotor aircraft. This could be a game-changer in a Senkaku Islands conflict.

The F-35 isn’t the first time the Pentagon has tried to make one airplane for 3 branches
An F-35A Lightning II from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, is displayed in the U.S. corral at the Paris Air Show June 20, 2017 at Le Bourget, France. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Tech. Sgt. Ryan Crane)

 

5. F-35 Lightning

This is a future purchase for Japan and will likely replace some of Japan’s F-4EJ and F-15J fighters. The F-35A is definitely headed over to Japan, but don’t count out a F-35B purchase, especially with reports Japan is considering purchasing the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship design. That could make the Wasps a match for the Liaoning.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

China tests more hypersonic weapons than US – until now

Chuck Yeager broke the speed of sound in 1947, and the Air Force has never looked back.

The Air Force partnered with NASA to develop and test the X-15, a hypersonic, rocket-powered aircraft in the late 1950s and most of the 1960s.

A great deal of human capital and money was invested in making the leap from supersonic to hypersonic — the potential to travel at five times the speed of sound or more than 3,000 mph.

But a series of near misses and research “gotchas” stalled much of the advancement in hypersonic capabilities, according to Dr. Russ Cummings, Air Force Academy professor of aeronautics, and newly-appointed director of the Department of Defense High Performance Computing Modernization Program’s Hypersonic Vehicle Simulation Institute.


Now DOD leaders are seeking to combat the weaponization of hypersonic capabilities by peer adversaries.

At a Washington lecture series on hypersonics in December 2018, Michael Griffin, the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, said, “In the last year, China has tested more hypersonic weapons than we have in a decade. We’ve got to fix that.”

The F-35 isn’t the first time the Pentagon has tried to make one airplane for 3 branches

Undersecretary of defense for research and engineering Michael Griffin.

Griffin has pinpointed hypersonic capabilities as his “highest technical priority” since taking office with the goal of creating a decisive American advantage.

The HVSI stood up in 2018. The DOD program will issue million in grants over the next three to five years to universities for research to fill computational modeling gaps in the field of hypersonic simulation.

“Outdated modeling leads to conservative engineering approaches,” Cummings said. “For example, having inaccurate estimates for designing to mitigate the high heating on hypersonic vehicles impacts the weight and volume of the design, which can take away from the size of the payload.”

The grants will be used to fund applied science research in ten categories to help engineer accurate computer codes for hypersonic vehicles while jump-starting interest and scholarship in the field.

Ten-to-15 percent of the research will take place at the U.S. Air Force Academy in the aeronautics department. Many test facilities were closed in the 1970s, but the Academy has two on-site high speed wind tunnels, including a Mach 6 Ludwieg Tube. Starting summer 2019, cadets will join industry and university partners in a variety of hypersonic-related summer research programs.

“We’re excited to see HVSI become the latest center added to (U.S. Air Force Academy’s) research portfolio,” said Col. Donald Rhymer, the Academy’s dean of research. “Dr. Cummings brings the necessary expertise and leadership to direct the institute, as well as the pulse of the hypersonics community. I’m confident his work will ultimately benefit both the cadets and the Air Force.”

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Army just bought a new sniper rifle from Barrett

Yes, the makers of the legendary M82/M107 .50-caliber Long Range Sniper Rifle have sold another rifle to the U.S. Army. On March 30, 2021, Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey awarded a $49.9 million contract to Barrett Firearms Manufacturing, Inc. of Christiana, Tennessee. The contract is for the Army’s new sniper weapon system, the MK22 Multi-role Adaptive Design rifle.

The F-35 isn’t the first time the Pentagon has tried to make one airplane for 3 branches
The MK22 equipped with a Leupold scope, bipod, and suppressor (U.S. Army)

The MK22 MRAD is part of the Army’s Precision Sniper Rifle Program. Included in the PSR program is the Leupold & Stevens Mark 5 HD scope and an accessory kit. The Army intends to replace both the venerable M107 and the M2010 Enhanced Sniper Rifle with the PSR. Its aim is to become the “primary anti-personnel sniper weapons system” for Army sniper teams according to Army budget documents.

The Army plans to acquire approximately 2,800 MK22 MRADs. To live up to its name, the rifle is configurable in three different calibers. With a simple barrel swap, snipers will be able to select .338 Norma Magnum, .300 Norma Magnum, or 7.62x51mm NATO as their mission dictates.

The F-35 isn’t the first time the Pentagon has tried to make one airplane for 3 branches
The MRAD is already in service with the Israeli Defense Forces and the Yaman counter-terrorism unit (IDF)

Additionally, the MK22 MRAD can be equipped with a slew of attachments to further increase the capability of Army snipers. While attachments like sound suppressors are a given on a sniper weapon system, the MK22 MRAD will accept direct view optics with fire control capabilities. This “allows snipers, when supplemented with a clip-on image intensifier or thermal sensor system, to effectively engage enemy snipers, as well as crew served and indirect fire weapons virtually undetected in any light condition,” noted Army budget documents.

The MK22 MRAD was previously acquired by USSOCOM as part of their Advanced Sniper Rifle program. “The Army PSR program is adapting the rifle selected under the SOCOM ASR program,” said Army Program Executive Office Soldier spokesman Alton Stewart. “The initial rifle selected (the MK21 Precision Sniper Rifle based on the Remington MSR) did not conform to SOCOM requirements at the time and the program was re-competed with the Barrett MRAD selected as the rifle solution.” The Marine Corps is also looking at acquiring the MRAD.

The MRAD contract includes the procurement of rifles, spare parts, accessories, tools, and conversion kits. U.S. Army Contracting Command, New Jersey is the contracting activity. The contract’s estimated completion date is March 29, 2026.

The F-35 isn’t the first time the Pentagon has tried to make one airplane for 3 branches
The MRAD previously won the SOCOM ASR contract (Barrett)
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These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers

A longtime saying in war is that artillery is the king of the battlefield.


But some artillery are better than others, but the best are those that can drive themselves to battle.

The F-35 isn’t the first time the Pentagon has tried to make one airplane for 3 branches
An ARCHER Artillery System. (Wikimedia Commons)

For a long time, all artillery was towed. First the towing as done by horses, then by trucks or other vehicles. But there was a problem. The artillery took a while to set up, then, when the battery had to move — either because troops advanced or retreated – or the enemy found out where the artillery was located, it took time to do that.

Fighter pilots say, speed is life.” Artillerymen would not disagree. Towed artillery had another minus: It had a hard time keeping up with tanks and other armored fighting vehicles.

The F-35 isn’t the first time the Pentagon has tried to make one airplane for 3 branches
Night falls at Fort Riley, Kan., as an M109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzer with 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery, fires a 155 mm shell during 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division’s combined arms live-fire exercise Oct. 30, 2014. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. John Portela/released)

The way to cut the time down was to find a way a howitzer could propel itself. The advantage was that these guns not only could support tanks and other armored units, but these guns often had an easier time setting up to fire. They could also be ready to move much faster, as well.

This ability to “shoot and scoot” made them much harder to locate.

The F-35 isn’t the first time the Pentagon has tried to make one airplane for 3 branches
2S19 Msta self-propelled howitzer. (Wikimedia Commons)

Most self-propelled howitzers fire either a 152mm round (usually from Russia and China, but also from former communist countries like Serbia) or a 155mm round (NATO and most other countries). Often these guns are tracked, but some have been mounted on truck chassis, gaining a higher top speed as a result.

The F-35 isn’t the first time the Pentagon has tried to make one airplane for 3 branches
A PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzer belonging to the Dutch Army fires on the Taliban in 2007. (Wikimedia Commons)

Some of the world’s best self-propelled howitzers include the American-designed M109A6 Paladin, the Russian 2S19, the South Korean K9 Thunder, and the German PzH-2000.

You can see the full list of the ten deadliest self-propelled howitzers in the video below.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This advanced camo netting could change warfare forever

Whenever the military takes in a new technology, the troops find ways to train and fight with it. If it’s an effective piece of tech, the military will change its entire war-fighting strategy to fully incorporate it.

Sure, it might seem like stating the obvious to say that a new type or version of a vehicle calls for a change in strategy, but even something as small as an updated camo netting can drastically alter the way leaders approach the battlefield.


The F-35 isn’t the first time the Pentagon has tried to make one airplane for 3 branches

It’s see-through from the inside while being virtually invisible from the outside. Sound like something that might come in handy for troops?

(Fibrotex USA, Inc.)

It’s called the Ultra-Light Camouflage Netting System (or ULCANS) and, according to the manufacturer, Fibrotex USA, Inc., it will act as concealment from ultraviolet, near-infrared, short-wave infrared, thermal, and radar detection while providing a near-perfect visual match to most environments.

With a container that is small by size, compact and very light-weight, the new kit “Sophia” holds within the next generation of 2D, Reversible, ultralight, multispectral, multipurpose net.

Provided with more than 30 running meters of our new “crushed” 2D reversible ultralight net and built-in cutting system, our operators will be able to decide for the first time in the field what size shape of system they need.The United States Army awarded Fibrotex USA, Inc. a 10-year indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract valued at 0 million in 2018. Results so far, have been fantastic.

The product is as good as advertised.

The F-35 isn’t the first time the Pentagon has tried to make one airplane for 3 branches

As awesome as that looks, I can almost assure you that some private is going to mess up the application when they get stuck on a working party to do so.

(Fibrotex USA, Inc.)

The implementations of this netting are limitless. Nearly every unit in the Army could use this technology in one variation or another. The single netting could be made into a shelter-half for snipers and forward observers. Larger netting could be used to conceal vehicles or Tactical Operation Centers.

The netting also comes in a Mobile Camouflage Solution, or MCS, variant that can be applied to the surface of vehicles and remain on them while they’re in motion. This sort of technology offers an unprecedented amount of protection for retrans vehicles that would otherwise need to remain motionless and obvious on tops of mountains.

With the looming possibility of war with a near-peer nation that’s reliant on sophisticated detection technologies, this netting could realistically be used by every soldier in one way or another.

To see Fibrotex’s ULCANS in action, check out the video below.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Dogfighting at 9Gs: Like ‘aiming through a toilet paper roll’

If you have any hope of winning, your strength has to be greater than your opponent’s weakness. As a young second lieutenant in pilot training, I learned that lesson the hard way.

I was flying a Basic Fighter Maneuver Flight, also known as dogfighting. The objective was for me to point at my instructor, who was in his own F-16, and as soon as we passed—with over 1,000 miles per hour of closure—maneuver my jet so I could gun him.


The F-35 isn’t the first time the Pentagon has tried to make one airplane for 3 branches

(U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Andy Dunaway)

On the first set I hit the merge at just under the speed of sound and pulled back on the stick. At 50 pounds of force, the stick was fully-aft, yet only moved one inch—a design feature to make the jet as responsive as possible. The big stabilizers on the tail dug in and in less than a second I was at 9G’s.

At 9 times the force of gravity, my body weighed over 2,000 pounds. The crushing force pushed me into my seat as blood drained from my head into my arms and legs. If enough drained out, I would lose consciousness and, more likely than not, impact the ground before I woke up. To counteract this, I performed an anti-G straining maneuver—squeezing my legs and abs, while making short, crisp breaths to keep pressure in my lungs. Even with an effective G-strain, I lost my peripheral vision as the world closed in until it looked like I was watching it through a toilet-paper roll.

The F-35 isn’t the first time the Pentagon has tried to make one airplane for 3 branches

Pilot fitness has a significant effect on performance while dogfighting. (USAF Photo/Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey Allen)

For the next minute or so I struggled to maneuver my jet into a position to gun my instructor. He was able to easily neutralize my game-plan and called “knock it off” so that we could set up the fight again. The next three fights ended the same way. By this point, I was out of breath and exhausted from fighting him and the G’s. We ended up doing two more sets, but instead of just neutralizing the fight, he gunned me on both of them.

In the debrief, after the flight, my labored breathing was evident in the tape. He paused it and said, “How did you ever expect to win today? I have 15 years of experience flying fighters, and granted, you don’t have anywhere near that, but I’m also in better shape than you.”

The F-35 isn’t the first time the Pentagon has tried to make one airplane for 3 branches

(Ben on Flickr)

He was right. Being in my mid-20’s, I should have been in better shape than someone in their early 40’s. Having far more experience than me, there was no way I was going to be tactically superior. But, my fitness, and my poor performance towards the end of the flight was completely in my control. His weakness was greater than my strength which meant there was a zero percent chance of me winning that day.

I’ve reflected that lesson many times since; not only for myself, but also as a package commander in charge of upwards of a hundred aircraft. As the weaker force, you must find an area on the battlefield where your strength is greater than the enemy’s weakness. If you can’t find it, you’re in for a bad day. Likewise, if you are the incumbent, stronger force, it’s important to shore up your weaknesses so that hopefully they are greater than your enemies strength.

Want to learn more about dogfighting, flying, and the most successful professionals in any industry? Make sure to check out F-35 pilot Justin Lee’s podcast, The Professionals Playbook!

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.


Articles

This Green Beret will make you a mental commando

When things get squirrely, military vets have several advantages over career civilians. Vets, of course, have the benefit of combat and tactical training, but they’ve also learned to develop a formidable mental game.


Former Green Beret Mike Glover used this notion as inspiration and a jumping off point when he founded Fieldcraft Survival, his school for disaster preparedness.

With 18 years of deep operational experience, certifications out the wazoo (just check his founder’s bio), and a doomsday sense of humor that would make Mad Max proud, Glover is uniquely qualified to teach civilians to keep their heads and preserve their lives as the worst case scenario unfolds.

“At Fieldcraft, our whole basic motto is we’re teaching mindset over hard skills.”

Things, of course, got extra squirrely when Oscar Mike host Ryan Curtis dropped in for a visit.

The F-35 isn’t the first time the Pentagon has tried to make one airplane for 3 branches

Glover hustled Curtis right into training, first in the classroom to reinforce the importance of developing a strong mental game and then in the field, where the two ran through the O.P.S. Course, which stands for Observe, Prepare, Survive.

And just as the word “challenge” was leaving Curtis’ mouth a distant cry of distress told our heroes it was time to oil up for action.

What happened next pretty much sums up the whole series.

The F-35 isn’t the first time the Pentagon has tried to make one airplane for 3 branches
These are the faces of true bravery. (Go90 Oscar Mike screenshot)

Watch as Glover teaches this wannabe Martin Riggs the real meaning of the word “squirrely”, in the video embedded at the top.

Watch more Oscar Mike:

This is why you don’t challenge an ex-sniper to a duel

The Marine Rapper will make you shake your Citizen Rump

This is why the future of motocross is female

This is what happens when a Navy SEAL becomes an actor

This is what happens when a SEAL helps you with your lady problems

Articles

Need to put some warheads on foreheads? There’s an app for that

I’m sure you are sick of hearing the phrase, “There’s an app for that!” Well, the Marines how have an app for calling in fire support – part of the new suite of gear for forward observers.


According to a Marine Corps release, the service soon will be issuing the Target Handoff System Version 2, or “THS V.2.”

Now weighing in at about 20 pounds, the THS V.2 will cut that burden in half. When the combat load of troops can reach close to 100 pounds, this is a significant relief to Marines on the move.

The THS V.2 gets this light weight by using commercial smart phones to replace the more conventional radio systems in the original THS. An app on the smart phone then allows Marines to call in fire support much more easily, and that will help minimize collateral damage.

The system even comes with a pre-installed “Start Guide” with a variety of tutorials for users.

The F-35 isn’t the first time the Pentagon has tried to make one airplane for 3 branches
This fiscal year Marines will receive smart phones that make calling for fire support easier, quicker and more accurate. The Target Handoff System Version 2, or THS V.2, is a portable system designed for use by dismounted Marines to locate targets, pinpoint global positioning coordinates and call for close air, artillery and naval fire support using secure digital communications. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Joe Laws/Released)

“With the new version, Marines will obtain a lightweight device equipped to provide immediate situational awareness on where friendly and enemy locations are, and the ability to hand off target data to fire support to get quick effects on the battlefield,” Capt. Jesse Hume of Marine Corps Systems Command said. Hume serves as the THS V.2 project officer.

“THS V.2 provides embedded, real-time tactical information with ground combat element units down to the squad or platoon level,” Gunnery Sgt. Nicholas Tock added. “If we are on patrol and we take contact from machine guns in a tree line, a satellite that passes over once every few hours is not going to help an infantry unit kill that target. THS V.2 is for that close combat.”

The F-35 isn’t the first time the Pentagon has tried to make one airplane for 3 branches
U.S. Soldiers with Battery C, 4th Battalion, 1st Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Armored Division, Task Force Al Taqaddum, fire an M109A6 Paladin howitzer during a fire mission at Al Taqaddum Air Base, Iraq, June 27, 2016. The strikes were conducted in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation aimed at eliminating the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and the threat they pose to Iraq, Syria, and the wider international community. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Donald Holbert)

The system also includes a laser-rangefinder, combat net radio, and video downlink — but there’s another benefit. In addition to cutting the weight in half, the use of off-the-shelf technology cuts the price of the system in half.

Even the bean-counters seem to win with this.

Anyone picking a firefight with Marines, though, looks to be a sure loser. And that’s a good thing.

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