The Pentagon's alleged 'Killer Robots' are just a fantasy - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy

The U.S. Department of Defense just outlined its strategy to reap the benefits of artificial intelligence and the result is less Terminator and more Alexa. Rather than deploying a weapon that knows how to target and kill America’s enemies, the Pentagon’s AI strategy wants to focus on more mundane things here at home rather than blowing up exotic locations abroad.


The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy

That still requires a human at the stick.

The autonomous weapons that the Pentagon would very much like to develop one day aren’t going to be all that autonomous anyway. Even the latest artificial intelligence directives state that commanders will exercise the appropriate amount of human judgment in the military’s use of force.

According to the DoD’s report, there are five key points the Pentagon wants to address, each more boring than the last:

  1. Delivering AI-enabled capabilities that address key missions.
  2. Scaling AI’s impact across DOD through a common foundation that enables decentralized development and experimentation.
  3. Cultivating a leading AI workforce.
  4. Engaging with commercial, academic, and international allies and partners.
  5. Leading in military ethics and AI safety.
The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy

It’s only a matter of time before “Bagram Batman” addresses artificial intelligence.

Since China and Russia are making “significant investments” in artificial intelligence for military applications, the report begins, the U.S. must also make investments to maintain our global military supremacy. The only difference will be our shared responsibility for protecting human rights and international norms as we develop our robotic weapons for security, peace, and stability in the long run.

The goal of American artificial intelligence is to streamline data-intensive processes and decision making, save money from labor and maintenance inefficiencies while reducing operational costs, and increase the effectiveness of military planning while reducing civilian casualties – everything from intelligence gathering to aircraft maintenance could be predicted by AI.

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy

“Hold on guys, the computer sees the problem.”

This latest move on artificial intelligence comes as Russia and the United States jointly blocked a United Nations ban on autonomous weapons, ones that can kill without the judgment of a human behind a trigger somewhere. The UN’s Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons was set to place autonomous weapons alongside blinding laser beams and napalming civilian targets, according to the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, an NGO who is moving to muster support for banning the weapons.

Russia is already testing autonomous tanks in Syria, China has already developed an unmanned submarine, and the United Kingdom wants a squadron of drones to fight in the skies above Britain – and the UN hasn’t even been able to bring autonomous weapons to a vote – a vote that would require unanimous agreement for a ban.

In order to get from drone strikes to “Killer Robots,” however, American AI technology has a long way to go. Even the biggest of the U.S.’ tech companies aren’t stepping up to help develop the tech required. Until then, AI diagnostics will have to do.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is why the A-10 (and other combat planes) aren’t flown by the Army

No one is debating the effectiveness of the AH-64 Apache. It’s one of the deadliest combat aircraft ever fielded. In Afghanistan, its mere presence in the sky is enough to deter enemy fighters from even thinking about taking a shot on troops on the ground. However, there’s something to be said for close air support provided by fixed-wing aircraft. Of course, everyone is familiar with the legendary A-10 Thunderbolt II and its ability to deliver huge volumes of precision fire on ground targets.

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy
The Air Force won’t get rid of the A-10 because they don’t want the Army to get it (U.S. Air Force)

In WWII, the Army Air Corps tore into German supply convoys with the P-47 Thunderbolt at low altitude. In Korea and Vietnam, the Navy and Marine Corps utilized the A-1/AD-4 Skyraider with great efficiency to support ground troops. Today, the Marine Corps still integrates its infantry with close air support through the Marine Air-Ground Task Force. By combining these two crucial components, the MAGTF is able to organically conduct combat operations with increased efficiency. Marines on the ground are supported by Marines in the air and everyone speaks the same language and knows what the other needs to do their job. So, why doesn’t the Army do this?

After the creation of the Air Force in 1947, the military needed to clearly define its purpose amongst the established branches. In 1948, Secretary of Defense James V. Forrestal held a meeting with the service chiefs in Key West, Florida to do just that. Due to the location of the meeting, the policy paper that resulted is commonly referred to as the Key West Agreement. Broadly, the agreement gave the Air Force control of everything in the sky. The Air Force’s functions included air superiority, strategic air warfare, close combat and logistical air support, aerial intelligence gathering, strategic airlift, and even maritime operations like antisubmarine warfare and aerial mine-laying. However, the agreement did provide for the Navy to retain its combat air arm “to conduct air operations as necessary for the accomplishment of objectives in a naval campaign.” The Army, on the other hand, made out like a bad divorce. Army aviation assets were reduced to solely reconnaissance and medical evacuation purposes.

The Key West Agreement was built upon with the Pace-Finletter Memorandum of Understanding of 1952. Secretary of the Army Frank Pace and Secretary of the Air Force Thomas K. Finletter came together to expand the Army’s allowed aviation capabilities. In an effort to restrict the Army’s use of combat aircraft, the Key West Agreement limited the weight of Army rotary-wing aircraft. With the Pace-Finletter MOU, this weight restriction was removed, paving the way for combat helicopters like the UH-1 Huey gunship, AH-1 Cobra, and AH-64 Apache. However, it did place an arbitrary weight restriction of 5,000 pounds on Army fixed-wing aircraft. Although this restriction was later modified, it set the precedent to make the Army reliant on the Air Force for close air support and airlift.

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy
The Army CV-7 Buffalo (U.S. Army)

If the previous agreements weren’t enough, the Johnson-McConnell Agreement of 1966 was one more blow to Army fixed-wing aviation. In Vietnam, mountainous terrain made resupply by airlift difficult with the Air Force’s primary cargo planes like the C-123 Provider which required 1,750 feet of runway to take off. To address this problem, the Army employed the CV-2 Caribou and planned to acquire the CV-7 Buffalo airplanes. Both planes could perform short takeoffs and landings while carrying more cargo than the Army and Air Force’s helicopters could lift in and out. This didn’t sit well with the Air Force and private negotiations were held between Army Chief of Staff General Harold K. Johnson and Air Force Chief of Staff General John P. McConnell. The resulting agreement forced the Army to relinquish control of the CV-2 and CV-7 to the Air Force. However, the Air Force did relinquish its sweeping control over rotary-wing aircraft. This expanded the Army’s ability to field helicopters and resulted in the diverse fleet that the Army Aviation Branch fields today.

While the Army doesn’t fly CAS airplanes like the A-10 and is still technically restricted from acquiring new CAS airplanes like the A-29 Super Tucano, it’s worth noting that the Army does have some fixed-wing aircraft. The Army flies nealy 200 turboprop R/C-12 Hurons for light transport and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions. Something that will further surprise most people is that the Army does fly jet aircraft for VIP transport. The UC-35 is based on a Cessna business jet and the C-37 and C-20H are based on Gulfstreams.

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy
The C-12 is the one airplane that active duty Army aviators can select out of flight school (U.S. Army)

Though these 20th century agreements prevent the Army from flying combat airplanes, advancements in rotary-wing technology have led to high-speed helicopters like the S-97 Raider and large tiltrotor aircraft like the V-280 Valor. Aircraft like these will carry Army Aviation into a new age of aircraft and allow soldiers in the sky to retain the advantage on the battlefield.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This ‘gun’ sends drones running for home – literally

Enemy drones have been a pain. In the Middle East, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has come up with IEDs mounted on drones. So, what can be done with these pesky things? Sometimes, you just can’t shoot `em down due to the risk of collateral damage. But letting them do their thing is not a good option, either.


Fortunately, Battelle has come up with a solution to the problems created by the proliferation of drones amongst terrorist groups and other assorted no-goodniks. Furthermore, it also can greatly reduce the risk of collateral damage.

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy
ISIS is using drones more and more in their warfighting tactics.

The DroneDefender, displayed at the AirSpaceCyber expo held at the Gaylord Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, looks like an oversized rifle. It doesn’t fire a shot in the normal sense, but it does jam the frequencies used to remotely control the drones. It can also jam GPS signals, in case the drone is operating through the use of waypoints. In short, the drone has no clue where it is going, and so, it will default to going home.

The system has an effective range of 400 meters – roughly a quarter-mile. It can be used for two hours continuously and has a rechargeable battery. It weighs 15 pounds, or a little more than half the weight of the .50-caliber Barrett M107 rifle. The system is battery powered, and the battery can be recharged.

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy
The Battelle DroneDefender. (Photo from Battelle)

Now, here is the bad news. You can’t get one of these for yourself. According to the project’s web site, “Under current law, the DroneDefender device may be used in the United States only by authorized employees of the Federal government and its agencies, and use by others may be illegal.”

You can see a video of the DroneDefender during U.S. Army training below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5XcXwKNZ5g
MIGHTY TACTICAL

Boeing delivers first ‘loyal wingman’ drone prototype for testing

The Royal Australian Air Force has its first Boeing-built drone-jet hybrid prototype, which will use artificial intelligence to conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions to supply fighter pilots with more information during a conflict.

The company delivered its first “loyal wingman” prototype to Australia this week; it is expected to be used in tandem with fourth- and fifth-generation fighters on the battlefield, officials said in a release.


It’s also the first aircraft “to be designed, engineered and manufactured in Australia in more than 50 years,” Boeing said, adding that it’s the company’s “largest investment in an unmanned aircraft outside of the United States.”

“This is a truly historic moment for our country and for Australian defence innovation,” said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. “The Loyal Wingman will be pivotal to exploring the critical capabilities our Air Force needs to protect our nation and its allies into the future.”

The delivery in Sydney is the first of three for Australia’s Loyal Wingman Advanced Development Program, officials said.

The aircraft, which Boeing is co-developing with the government of Australia, was unveiled at the Avalon Airshow last year. Australia is investing roughly million into the program, CNN reported.

The jet is 38 feet long and can fly more than 2,000 nautical miles, according to its fact sheet.

It uses artificial intelligence “to fly independently or in support of manned aircraft while maintaining safe distance between other aircraft, the fact sheet states. The first prototype was constructed using digital engineering concepts, allowing developers to simulate parts via computer models, according to the company.

“We are proud to take this significant step forward with the Royal Australian Air Force and show the potential for smart unmanned teaming to serve as a force multiplier,” said Kristin Robertson, vice president and general manager of Autonomous Systems for Boeing Defense, Space Security.

“We look forward to getting the aircraft into flight testing and proving out the unmanned teaming concept,” Robertson said. The drone-jet will now begin ground testing, followed by a first flight later this year.

“We see global allies with those same mission needs, which is why this program is so important to advancing the development of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System,” she said.

The concept is similar to an ongoing U.S. military effort.

The U.S. Air Force has been working to develop its own “Loyal Wingman” program, featuring unmanned fighters that could think autonomously sent out alongside F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, for example, to scout enemy territory ahead of a strike, or to gather intel for the aircraft formation.

In January, the Air Force conducted test flights of the XQ-58A Valkyrie drone at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, taking the unmanned aerial vehicle, made by Kratos Defense, to higher altitudes than previous tests.

The drone is part of the Air Force’s Low-Cost Attritable Strike Demonstration program, an effort to develop unmanned attack aircraft, which are intended to be reusable but cheap enough that they can be destroyed without significant cost.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

11 of the most powerful fully electric cars money can buy

Though it gets a lot of attention, Tesla isn’t the only company creating electric cars.

Some traditional carmakers like Aston Martin and Porsche are exploring the rapidly-growing electric car field with super powerful new models which add their own flair for luxury and speed to the market.

Meanwhile, other much smaller companies are exploring the high-end electric sector, such as the relatively unknown Aspark — which hasn’t even released a production vehicle yet.

Horsepower is measured a little differently for electric cars, as an electric motors’ full torque is deployed as soon as the driver steps on the accelerator. That means an electric car can feel more powerful than an internal-combustion-engined (ICE) car with the same horsepower rating at the low end, but start to lose some of its gusto at sustained high speeds unlike a gas-powered car.

With that crucial difference in mind, here are 11 of the most powerful electric cars money can buy, including some that are setting world records.


The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy

Nio EP9.

1. Nio EP9

Nio has been called the “ Tesla of China.” With the EP9 supercar, it’s obvious the company means business.

The car has a top speed of 195 mph and horsepower rating of 1,341, giving it a zero-to-60 time of only 2.7 seconds. Nio boasts the car has double the downforce of a Formula One racecar and delivers a F-22 fighter pilot experience by cornering at 3G.

The EP9 has a range of 265 miles before needing a new charge, and a full charge takes 45 minutes. The car also has an interchangeable battery system that takes 8 minutes to swap.

The Nio EP9 is also self-driving and set a record in 2017 for the fastest lap driven by an autonomous car at the Circuit of Americas track.

At least six of the 16 produced units have been sold to investors at id=”listicle-2639641248″.2 million each.

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy

2018 Tesla Model S 75D.

2. Tesla Model S Performance

Tesla no longer boasts the horsepower ratings for its cars, but the ,990 Tesla Model S Performance is plenty powerful. It can propel its nearly 5,000-pound frame to 60 mph in just 2.4 seconds. Tesla says its top speed is 163 mph and it carries an average range of 345 before complete discharge.

Owners can recharge at the company’s Supercharger locations, where 15 minutes is good for 130 miles in optimal conditions.

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy

Rimac’s C_Two.

(Rimac)

3. Rimac’s Concept One and C_Two

Rimac’s Concept One, which debuted in 2011, has a rating of 1,224 horsepower, allowing it to reach top speeds of 220 mph and hit 62 mph from a standstill in just 2.5 seconds. The nearly id=”listicle-2639641248″ million supercar’s 90 kWh battery pack gives it a 310-mile range.

Rimac made only 88 units of the supercar, and British TV personality Richard Hammond famously crashed one in 2017.

In 2018, the Croatian company unveiled Concept One’s successor, the C_Two. With a 1,914 horsepower rating and a 403-mile range, the newer sibling is able to go from zero-to-60 in 1.85 seconds and a 256 mph top speed

The supercar can be charged 80% in 30 minutes when it’s connected to a 250 kW fast-charging network. It also includes a list of driver assistance systems, such as facial recognition to open doors and start the engine. It can also scan your face to determine your mood, and if the C_Two determines emotion s such as stress or anger, it will start playing soothing music.

The planned 150 units of the .1 million car were nearly all purchased within three weeks of orders opening. The cars will be delivered in 2020.

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy

Genovation GXE.

(Genovation)

4. Genovation GXE

The Genovation GXE is a converted all-electric Chevy Corvette with a horsepower rating of 800. It currently holds the record for “fastest street-legal electric car to exceed 209 mph,” but the company claims it can even get to 220 mph. It can go zero-to-60 mph in under three seconds.

The 0,000 car also has a range of about 175 miles, according to Genovation’s computer simulations.

Delivery of the 75 planned units will begin by the end of 2019.

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy

2020 Tesla Roadster.

(Tesla)

5. Tesla Roadster

The next generation of the Tesla Roadster is arriving soon.

This new Roadster will be able to hit top speeds of over 250 mph, and 60 mph in 1.9 seconds, Tesla says. There’s also a removable glass roof that stores in the trunk, turning the car into a convertible.

The 0,000 car also will have a 620-mile range, the longest of any on our list.

The company is now taking reservations for 2020 delivery.

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy

Aspark Owl.

6. Aspark Owl

The Aspark Owl, a 1,150 horsepower supercar, will be able to reach 174 mph and have a 180-mile range. The Owl recently hit 62 mph in 1.9 seconds, although it’s still in testing.

Only 50 of the .6 million car will be produced, according to Bloomberg, and the company plans on delivering them in mid-2020.

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy

Porsche Taycan.

(Porsche)

7. Porsche Taycan

Formally known as the Mission E, the Taycan will be Porsche’s first fully-electric car. Porsche initially had a target of 20,000 units for its first year of production, but it recently doubled this number due to interest, and the company already has more 30,000 reservations, it recently revealed.

The Taycan has a horsepower rating of over 600 that allows it to travel zero-to-60 mph in under 3.5 seconds. The car also has a range of 310 miles on a single charge and can get 60 miles of range from just four minutes of charging.

The supercar is expected to have a starting price of ,000,according to the Drive.

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy

Dendrobium D-1.

(Dendrobium)

8. Dendrobium D-1

The D-1 is the first in a series of electric cars by Dendrobium Automotiv e. The car originally debuted at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show and made an appearance at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans event.

The car is still a prototype but is estimated to have an output of 1,800 horsepower, giving it a top speed of over 200 mph and the ability to see 60 mph in 2.7 seconds.

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy

Pininfarina Battista.

9. Pininfarina Battista

The Battista is a 1,900 horsepower rated electric car from Automobili Pininfarina. The Battista can reach 60 mph in under two seconds.

The Battista will have a range of around 300 miles on one charge.

North America will see 50 out of the 150 Battista units that will be made. Half of those 50 have already been claimed, despite a .5 million price tag, according to CNBC.

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy

Aston Martin Lagonda.

10. Aston Martin Rapide E

Rapide E will be Aston Martin’s first fully electric vehicle. The 612-horsepower car can reach a top speed of 155 mph and can go zero-to-60 mph in four seconds.

The 0,000 car has a range of around 200 miles and can be fully charged in three hours in ideal conditions.

Only 155 units of the Rapide E will be made available with deliveries starting in 2020. One of them may be driven by Daniel Craig in the next James Bond film, according to British media reports.

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy

Lotus Evija.

(Lotus)

11. Lotus Evija

Lotus’ Evija is poised to be the first fully-electric British hypercar. The company will fully reveal the Evija during Monterey Car Week starting Aug. 9, 2019.

Although the company has not released final specifications, its target is 2,000 horsepower, which would be good for a zero-to-62 mph acceleration time of under three seconds and a top speed of around 200 mph, according to CNET.

The car will cost around million and 130 units will be made.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Seabees deploy for first time with 3-D printers

Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133 deployed for the first time in mid-February 2019 to 5th, 6th, and 7th Fleet AOR’s with organic 3-D printing capabilities.

The process known as additive manufacturing describes the technologies that build 3-D objects by adding layer-upon-layer of material, whether the material is plastic, metal, or concrete. The process involves the use of a computer and special CAD software, which can relay messages to the printer so it “prints” in the desired shape.


NMCB-133 was outfitted with several “Tactical Fabrication (TACFAB) Kits” consisting of 3-D scanners, printers, laptops computers and the software to tie them all together. Cmdr. Luke Greene’s vision is to use his TACFAB kits both at the command headquarters in Camp Mitchell, Rota, Spain and also throughout NMCB-133’s various job sites in Europe, Africa and Southeast Asia.

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy

Rear Adm. Brian Brakke, Commander, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, left, is briefed on the capabilities of additive manufacturing using a 3-D printer during a Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133 field training exercise at Camp Shelby.

The capability to engineer and print both original designs and certain stock numbered items will be a game changer for the Seabees. They are testing the ability to manufacture both Class IX repair parts and Class IV building materials. Access to these critical components can often be the difference between mission success and lengthy delays.

NMCB-133 is excited for this ground breaking opportunity coming off of a highly successful inter-deployment training cycle where they had a chance to use the printers summer 2018 during their Field Training Exercise (FTX). The goal was to test the proof of concept of using 3-D printers in the field to produce needed supplies and repair parts.

According to Lt. Michael Lundy, a reservist attached to the Fleet Readiness and Logistics staff for the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations who helped NMCB-133 facilitate the use of several 3-D printers in the field, the possibilities of this technology are endless.

“We printed more than 30 different parts and identified 50 others so far that need to be drawn up by engineering aids on the computer. Once these drawings are complete we link the computer to the printer,” Lundy said. “The upside to this process is with the proper database they can print repair parts as opposed to waiting 30 to 90 days for new parts to come in. The only constraint to this technology for Seabees is their imagination.”

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy

A selection of more than 30 different parts made in the field using a 3-D printer in use during Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133’s field training exercise on board Camp Shelby, Miss. Fifty other parts were identified that can be drawn up by Engineering Aids on the computer. Once these drawings are complete they can be linked to the 3-D printer via a computer and produced.

(Photo by MCCS Jeffrey Pierce)

Ensign Femi Ibitoye, NMCB-133’s Alfa Team Commander, worked in architectural design prior to his service in the Navy, and has experience useful for this technology.

“I have experience drawing plans in 3-D and in prototyping using specific programs. The iterative process used in architecture is very similar to the process used in Additive Manufacturing,” Ibitoye said.

Chief Construction Mechanic Gail Best was witness to the true potential of this technology.

“We were able to print a bushing for the adjustable shock absorber used on our medium tactical vehicle replacement tractors and wreckers. We cannot order this particular part separately, so if it fails, we have to replace the entire shock absorber,” Best said. “The shock absorbers cost K each, however, we were able to print a new bushing here in the field for about id=”listicle-2629427852″ and install it. We had three vehicles go down due to a failure of a minor plastic part. We were able to print them, install them, and get the vehicles back up and running,” Best said.

According to Cmdr. Joe Symmes, 22 Naval Construction Regiment’s supply officer, in the not-too-distant future, 3-D printing could give Seabees the ability to print needed supplies and repair parts on the battlefield.

“Additive manufacturing capabilities are an important component to future Seabee readiness. Imagine being able to carry a warehouse in a box that has the capability to print assets across almost all classes of supply,” Symmes said. “Now imagine that ‘virtual inventory’ has the ability to adapt to changing scenarios on the battlefield with minimal to no communications across the electromagnetic spectrum. For a logistician these concepts were the stuff of sci-fi films just a few years ago. Now they are available in commercial, off-the-shelf products that are accessible to households across America.”

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Watch Marines fire the rocket artillery that helped defeat ISIS

The M270 Multiple-Launch Rocket System is one of the most impressive pieces of gear in the U.S. military arsenal. It’s made our list of possible Zords and it’s become an awesome sniper, capable of whacking a target 44 miles away. But let’s face it, the MLRS has a couple of drawbacks.


What drawbacks, you might wonder, could a weapon capable of putting 12 rockets, armed with either unitary warheads or submunitions, on a target possibly have? They’ve been called “grid square removal service” for how much area the cluster-munition variants can cover.

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy
A U.S. Marine with Fox Battery, 2nd Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, directs the loading of 227mm rockets into the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System during training. Photo by Staff Sgt. Mark Morrow.

There’s just one problem with the MLRS: the weight.

The M270 comes in at 31 tons, according to MilitaryFactory.com, and it’s bulky. It’s not the most deployable asset by plane — you’d probably need a C-5 Galaxy or C-17 Globemaster III cargo planes to move it, both of which are in limited supply. They come in batteries of nine and you need to bring along reloads as well, meaning a light unit, like the 82nd Airborne Division, has to decide between massive firepower and deployability.

Oftentimes, the answer to this decision is the M142 HIMARS. It may have only half the firepower of the M270, but it’s based on a medium truck. It comes in at 12 tons, making it deployable on C-130s.

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy
A High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) vehicle is loaded into one of four C-130 aircraft from the 118th Airlift Wing June 4, 2011. (U.S. National Guard photo)

HIMARS can fire any rocket or missile that the MLRS can fire. This means it, too, is a sniper capable of knocking out a target 44 miles away with improved rockets, or it can send an ATACMS way downrange. Check out the video below to see a Marine Corps HIMARS going off in support of Steel Knight.

 

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Army pilots share their cockpit with autonomous bots

Recently, Army pilots got to tool around with an autonomous helicopter kit that could one day make all Army rotorcraft capable of autonomous flight, completing tasks as varied as take off and landing, flying across the ground and behind trees, and even selecting its own landing zone and landing in it with just a simple command.


US Army Pilot Tests ALIAS’ Autonomy Capabilities in Demonstration Flight

www.youtube.com

The pilots were given access to the Sikorsky Autonomy Research Aircraft (SARA), an optionally-piloted helicopter filled with tech being developed under a DARPA grant. The idea isn’t to create a fleet of ghost helicopters that can fly all on their own; it’s to give pilots the ability to let go of the stick for a few minutes and concentrate on other tasks.

According to a DARPA press release,

During the hour-long flight demonstration, [Lt. Col. Carl Ott, chief of Flight Test for the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center’s Aviation Development Directorate] interfaced with the autonomous capabilities of the system to conduct a series of realistic missions, including aircrew tasks such as low-level terrain flight, confined area takeoffs and landings, landing zone selection, trajectory planning, and wire-obstacle avoidance.
The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy

Lockheed Martin’ MATRIX Technology is created to help pilots by allowing them to focus on complex tasks while the helicopter pilots itself.

(DARPA)

“The Army refers to this as Mission Adaptive Autonomy. It’s there when the pilot needs the aircraft to fly itself and keep it free of obstacles, so the pilot can focus on more of the mission commander type role. But the pilot is able to interact with the system to re-suggest, re-route or re-plan on the fly,” said Ott.

But SARA has a pretty robust bag of tricks. When pilots call on it, the helicopter can land or take off on its own, select its own safe landing zones using LIDAR, avoid obstacles including wires and moving vehicles, and can even fly across the ground and behind obstructions, like trees, to hide itself.

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy

A U.S. Army National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter lands during training with U.S. Marines.

(U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rachel K. Young)

Of course, the Army needs the technology from SARA to be ported over to Army helicopters, like the UH-60 Blackhawk, and that’s coming in the next few months, according to Sikorsky. The package, known as MATRIX Technology, should theoretically work on any aircraft, and porting it to rotary aircraft should be fairly easy.

“We’re demonstrating a certifiable autonomy solution that is going to drastically change the way pilots fly,” said Mark Ward, Sikorsky Chief Pilot, Stratford, Conn. Flight Test Center. “We’re confident that MATRIX Technology will allow pilots to focus on their missions. This technology will ultimately decrease instances of the number one cause of helicopter crashes: Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT).”
The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy

An optionally piloted UH-1H helicopter drops off supplies during a May 2018 exercise at Twentynine Palms, California.

(Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory Matt Lyman)​

The Marine Corps has been doing its own experiments with autonomous rotary flight. Their primary program is the Autonomous Aerial Cargo/Utility System on the Bell UH-1H platform, which can take off, fly, land, plan its route, and select landing sites on its own using LiDAR. So, similar to the MATRIX platform.

AACUS comes from Aurora, a Boeing subsidiary, and has already been successfully installed on Bell 206 and Boeing AH-6 helicopters. It uses off-the-shelf hardware components combined with the proprietary algorithms. One big advantage of AACUS is that infantrymen on the ground can directly request flights to their location without necessarily having to route it through a pilot.

As helicopters are cherished assets during a real fight, though, it’s almost certain that requests for aviation will require an officer signing off, whether it’s an AACUS or a MATRIX bird.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This is why US troops didn’t use drum magazines in tommy guns

The World War I-era U.S. Army was unprepared for fighting a global confrontation in the 20th Century. Hell, it was unprepared for any modern confrontation at the turn of the century. As America prepared to enter the Great War, the War Department called on its military minds to develop a lightweight, short-range, trench-clearing game changer. The result was the Thompson submachine gun.


The “Tommy Gun,” as it came to be called, used the Colt M1911 grip and its dependable .45-caliber ammunition. By 1919, the fully-automatic weapon was perfected, and it was capable of using a 20-round block magazine or a 50- to 100-round drum magazine. But the war was over and the surplus was sold on the civilian market to anyone who could afford one – including notorious gangsters.

It was the outlaws and gangsters who made the Tommy Gun iconic.

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy

Legendary gangster John Dillinger with Tommy Gun.

In nearly every photo of the era, the gangsters can be seen using the drum magazines, which provided them more ammunition for the weapon’s high rate of fire. It makes sense for an outlaw to use more ammo when trying to make a quick, clean getaway from the fuzz. Shouldn’t it make sense for U.S. troops to do the same when advancing in World War II?

The answer is no, and not just because a 100-round magazine will help deplete ammunition much faster than having to conserve 20- or 30-round box mags. It turns out, the Thompson was really bulky and not so easy to carry while slung with a drum magazine. More than just being unwieldy, the rounds tended to rattle inside the drum magazine and produced a lot of unwanted noise, noise that could get an entire unit killed in combat.

But the most important reason was reloading.

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy

Yeah, gangsters look cool and all, but have you ever seen Marines fighting to take Okinawa?

Switching between a drum magazine and a box magazine required an extra set of tools. To load a drum magazine also required the user to have a special tool that would lock the bolt back to the rear. And, unlike spring-loaded box mags that were already under tension, reloading a drum magazine required a tool to rotate the spring in the magazine enough to put the rounds under the necessary tension.

Worst of all, if you lost any of the tools needed to reload the weapon, you would be hard-pressed to actually be able to do it without assistance. Drum mags also weighed more and took up more space in a very limited kit. Whereas the box magazine could be loaded and dropped from the rifle in seconds, shared with a buddy, and reloaded just as fast.

The difference between 30 second and 3 seconds under fire in World War II could have been the difference between life and death. In gangland Chicago, all you needed was time for your V8 Packard to speed away before the Untouchables swooped in.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Raytheon unveils new drone-killing missile to pack onto fighter jets

Defense industry giant Raytheon unveiled its newest weapon, the Peregrine air-to-air missile, Sept. 16, 2019.

The weapon, designed for use on fourth-and fifth-generation fighter aircraft — anything from an F-16 to an F-35 — is about 150 pounds and 6 feet long, making “the most efficient use of the real estate on a fighter aircraft,” according to Mark Noyes, business development executive at Raytheon.

“Peregrine will allow U.S. and allied fighter pilots to carry more missiles into battle to maintain air dominance,” Thomas Bussing, the vice president of Raytheon Advanced Missile Systems, said in a statement.


The new missile will combat a number of airborne threats, including other missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or drones) and other aircraft, while saving space. The AMRAAM missile, for example, is 335 pounds and 12 feet long.

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy

Mockup of the Peregrine air-to-air missile.

(Raytheon)

“With its advanced sensor, guidance and propulsion systems packed into a much smaller airframe, this new weapon represents a significant leap forward in air-to-air missile development,” Bussing said.

The missile’s guidance and sensor systems allow it to “detect and track moving or stationary targets at any time of day and in challenging weather conditions,” according to the release.

The Peregrine combines “the autonomy of AMRAAM [Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile]” with the maneuverability of the 9X Sidewinder missile, Noyes told Insider. The three weapons together, he said, provide warfighters with “just an incredibly potent and catastrophic capability against the enemy.”

The Peregrine incorporates already available materials, military off-the-shelf components, and additive manufacturing processes, making it a low-cost option for militaries facing increased air threats, particularly missiles and UAVs.

Noyes praised the Peregrine’s ability to “autonomously track and destroy a target,” saying, “The ability of this new seeker is just incredible for all weather, day and night.”

The Peregrine’s small size, combined with its high-performance propulsion system, allows airfighters to fire more rounds, faster, as well — enabling it to “overwhelm the enemy with affordable mass.”

As Defense News points out, the Peregrine announcement dovetails with a Raytheon executive’s comments about the proliferation of counter-drone technology, indicating that the company’s focus on defeating drones won’t stop any time soon.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

These 12 troops were only saved by their helmets

Helmets and body armor are heavy, and wearing them in desert air rippling with heat is a grueling and uncomfortable experience. But no matter how hard you’ve been tempted to go helmet-free for a few minutes, these 16 stories of troops surviving headshots thanks to a little Kevlar should make you a believer for life — literally:


(Author’s note: The captions and descriptions in this story were originally written by the military public affairs specialists who took the photos. They have been edited by WATM staff for length.)

1. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Bradley A. Snipes

 

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy
Lance Cpl. Bradley A. Snipes, antitank assaultman, 3rd Mobile Assault Platoon, Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team – 2, stands with the helmet that saved his life. (Photo: Sgt. Jerad W. Alexander, USMC)

During a 2005 mission with his platoon, Snipes was shot in the head by an enemy sniper. The only thing that saved his life was the Kevlar helmet he wore.

2. Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Stumpff

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy
Staff Sgt. Ryan Stumpff of Fort Bragg, N.C., poses in bandages holding his damaged helmet. (Photo: Sgt. 1st Class Eric Pahon, USA)

Stumpff was shot in the head by an insurgent in Khowst province, Afghanistan, but the bullet penetrated the back of his helmet, just grazed his head, and exited the front. Halberg then killed the insurgent while protecting his battle buddy.

3. Marine Corps Lance Corporal Christopher D. Hatley Jr.

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy

Lance Cpl. Christopher D. Hatley Jr., a rifleman, takes time before a patrol for a photo.  (Photo: Sgt. Earnest J. Barnes, USMC)

Hatley thought he was hit in the head with a rock after bullets impacted a wall close to him during a 2011 operation. He and his fellow Marines realized shortly thereafter he had actually been shot in the head. His Kevlar helmet saved his life and he was left with only a severe headache.

4. Marine Corps Cpl. Daniel M. Greenwald

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy

Cpl. Daniel M. Greenwald, an assaultman, holds up the Kevlar helmet that saved his life. (Photo: Cpl. Erik Villagran, USMC)

Greenwald was shot in the head by an insurgent sniper while conducting a vehicle checkpoint. He escaped with only a minor gash on his forehead.

5. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Heath Culbertson

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy

Tech. Sgt. Heath Culbertson, 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron flight engineer, shows where a bullet entered then exited his helmet.  (Photo: Capt. Erick Saks, USAF)

Davis was uninjured when he was shot in the helmet during a mission to recover the pilots of a downed Army helicopter, April 23, 2011.

6. Marine Corps Pfc. Fred M. Linck

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy
(Photo: Cpl. Brian Reimers, USMC)

 

Pfc. Fred M. Linck, an infantryman, was shot in the head and walked away from the incident. The enemy round struck his Kevlar helmet, which saved his life by stopping the bullet from penetrating his head. A piece of fragmentation caused a small laceration to the Marine’s forehead, too small even for stitches.

7. This soldier (Warning: graphic imagery and language)

The video is so graphic that it’s age-restricted and only available to watch directly on YouTube

8. Army Staff Sgt. Kyle Keenan

 

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy
Staff Sgt. Kyle Keenan, a cavalry section leader, points out the lifesaving characteristics of his Advanced Combat Helmet. (Photo: 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, U.S. Army)

Keenan was shot in the helmet at point blank range by a 9mm pistol on a mission July 1, 2007. Local tips identified an insurgent leader in a safe house in Abu Hillan, Iraq. His troops, who were originally preparing for another mission, changed focus and launched an immediate air assault to nab the cell. Keenan, unfazed by the insurgent’s attempt to shoot him, leveled his shotgun and killed the enemy.

9. Army Sgt. Shawn Snyder

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy
Sgt. Shawn Snyder displays the helmet that saved his life from a sniper in downtown Tikrit, Iraq. (Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Mark Wojciechowski)

10. Afghan National Army Pvt. Sangar

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy
Afghan National Army soldier Pvt. Sangar holds the helmet he was wearing when he was shot by an insurgent sniper while on post. (Photo: Sgt. James Mercure, USMC)

 

“I am not scared,” Sangar said through an interpreter. “I will keep fighting next to my guys and keep wearing my helmet,” he added with a laugh.

11. Army Staff Sgt. Joseph McKenzie

 

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy
Staff Sgt. Joseph McKenzie receives the Advanced Combat Helmet (ACH) that saved his life back from Col. Neal Hoffman IV, Program Manager Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment, Program Executive Office Soldier, at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, on Oct. 27, 2015. (Photo: Staff Sgt. Armando R. Limon, USA)

 

McKenzie received minor wounds during a firefight in Afghanistan in March 2011.

12. Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Harvey

 

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy
Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, deputy commanding general for operations, Multi-National Division-Center, recloses the top part of Staff Sgt. Matthew Harvey’s uniform after pinning a Purple Heart on him during an award ceremony March 20, 2009. (Photo: Sgt. Rodney Foliente, USA)

Harvey, a construction supervisor, was awarded his second purple heart after being shot in the helmet and suffering a wound to his left cheek from sniper fire during a route clearance mission in Najaf, Feb. 10, 2009.

(Author’s note: A previous version of this article contained the story of Army Staff Sgt. Kyle Keenan twice. One of them has been removed.)

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Sandrin TCK 416 makes a sharp and slim addition

Even before the millions of everyday carry (EDC) pocket dump photos started popping up on social media, knives have been a common everyday tool. Young boys receive their first knife as a rite of passage, and more women are becoming acclimated to carrying knives everyday for protection and necessity.

In my line of work, I’ve handled a variety of knives from many companies. Ranging from truly impressive to mediocre, I’ve gained the hands-on experience to know a good knife when I see one. However, it doesn’t take years of blade enthusiasm or expertise to understand if the knife you’re holding is good enough to “make the cut.” It’s either sharp and durable or it’s just metal taking up space in your pocket.


The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy

The Sandrin TCK 416 is made of tungsten carbide and will retain its sharp edge indefinitely.

(Photo by Karen Hunter/Coffee or Die)

When I receive a new knife, the first thing I do is test for sharpness. A simple paper-cutting test will tell you more than you’d think. Simply take a piece of loose-leaf paper in one hand and cut down the center in one smooth, continuous motion. A sharp knife should cut from top to bottom without catching. If a knife catches or leaves snags/jagged edges, this is an issue.

I recently discovered a knife that not only cut clean through the paper test, it also holds its own among EDC knives: the TCK (Tungsten Carbide Knife) 416 by Sandrin. Sandrin is a division of Cabot Guns and brings innovations to the knife realm just as Cabot does with 1911s. The TCK 416 is incredibly thin (4.5mm) and lightweight (2.18 ounces). Although an ultra-slim gentleman folder is nice, the “cool” factor of the TCK is all in the blade. The blade is perfectly, measurably parallel. The circles on the blade are measured in the Fibonacci sequence (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8) in both diameter and from the center of one circle to the next. If you’re not a math person, just know that’s actually pretty incredible.

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy

The TCK 416.

(Photo courtesy of Sandrin Knives)

The TCK is not made of steel or ceramic. Instead, it’s made from a completely new blade material that is superior to both. This is where the fascination lies. You have to wrap your brain around the science — or “magic” — of it all, which began in Italy.

Sandrin is the brand name for knives manufactured by its parent company, Turmond. Turmond is a second generation family business that has been working with tungsten carbide for more than 40 years. They dominate the global cutting blade market and have intensely studied the science of cutting in controlled applications that other knife makers cannot. Allessandro Colombatto, the creator and director of Sandrin Knives, started grinding carbide at the age of 12. By age 24, he started crafting tungsten carbide blades for industrial high-speed cutting applications. Behind the TCK is measurable, proven science.

Tungsten carbide has been used for industrial wear purposes — such as the hulls of ice breakers and seals for oil pipes that sit miles below the ocean — but traditional grades of tungsten carbide will shatter like ceramic. Sandrin uses a patented method of sintering a proprietary grade of polyhedral tungsten carbide from particles of tungsten, carbide, and cobalt, making their blades hard and not brittle. Most steel knives have a hardness from 52 to 57 on the Rockwell scale, which is considered high. The TCK has a hardness of HRC 71.

The Longest Lasting Knife Edge – Sandrin Tungsten on a TCK

www.youtube.com

In addition to superior hardness, polyhedral tungsten carbide doesn’t rust and allows the TCK to retain an edge unlike any other blade — it will never require sharpening. You can, however, sharpen a steel knife with the top edge of a Sandrin blade. Tungsten carbide is the hardest metal on Earth — the only thing harder is the mineral diamond.

I’ve been carrying the TCK 416 for approximately six months, and it lives up to its reputation. This isn’t merely hype, it’s literal science, which is what makes the TCK so fascinating. Rob Bianchin, president and founder of Cabot Guns, echoed the sentiment: “I have been using my TCK for a year, opening boxes on a daily basis, and I can still shave with it. It remains razor sharp!”

Razor sharp is not an exaggeration. Regardless of experience level, handle the TCK 416 with care. This is a seriously sharp knife in a slim, lightweight package. If you remain mindful of its capabilities and level of sharpness, this could be a great EDC — especially with a reasonable MSRP of 9 and a lifetime guarantee.

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy

(Graphic by Erik Campbell/Coffee or Die. Photo courtesy of Sandrin Knives.)

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Aardvark was a nuclear-capable supersonic beast

In a day and age where the United States Air Force has a grand total of 76 B-52H Stratofortress, 62 B-1B Lancer, and 20 B-2A Spirit bombers in service, it’s fair to say the United States’ bomber force is quite potent. That said, there aren’t as many in service as there once were.

One plane that once supplemented the bomber force quite well was the F-111 Aardvark. This was a fast, all-weather strike plane that was originally designed to serve both the Air Force and Navy, much like today’s Joint Strike Fighter. While the Navy version didn’t pan out, the Aardvark, after some teething problems, emerged as a reliable strike asset by 1972.


The F-111 could deliver payload. According to Christopher Chant’s Encyclopaedia of Modern Aircraft Armament, the Aardvark could haul as many as 36 Mk 82 500-pound dumb bombs. By comparison, the B-52 can haul 51 of those same bombs. So, in terms of load, each Aardvark accounted for 70.5 percent of a legendary BUFF.

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy

This F-111 has Durandal runway-cratering bombs loaded. As you can see, it carries a lot.

(USAF)

As aviation historian Joe Baugher noted, during the F-111A’s deployment to Vietnam as part of Operation Linebacker II, each F-111 was capable of dropping the bomb load of five F-4 Phantoms. Not only could the F-111 deliver one hell of a payload, it could do so very accurately due to advanced radars.

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy

This F-111F is being prepared for the April, 1986, strike on Libya.

(USAF)

Three newer models of the F-111 — the F-111D, F-111E, and F-111F — all entered service in the 1970s. None of these variants saw action in the Vietnam War, but saw plenty of action elsewhere. The F-111F played a key role in the April, 1986, strikes on Libya and both the F-111E and F-111F saw action in Desert Storm.

The Pentagon’s alleged ‘Killer Robots’ are just a fantasy

An F-111 drops two dozen Mk 82 500-pound bombs – about half the load a B-52 can carry.

(USAF)

An electronic warfare version of the F-111, the EF-111A, also played a key role in Desert Storm — one even scored a maneuver kill against an Iraqi Mirage F-1!

Today, the F-111 is retired, but would still make a formidable foe in the skies. Learn more about the potent Aardvark in the video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfBZm3jA2bk

www.youtube.com

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