Russia's new all-terrain vehicle is a lifesized Tonka truck - We Are The Mighty
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Russia’s new all-terrain vehicle is a lifesized Tonka truck

The Sherp all-terrain Russian adventure-mobile looks like a Tonka truck. The two-passenger ATV with 63-inch wheels is deceiving in that it appears much larger than it actually is from far away.


Russia’s new all-terrain vehicle is a lifesized Tonka truck
Image: Sherp

The Sherp’s all-terrain capabilities are impressive. With nearly two feet of ground clearance, it can roll over brush fields, swamps, forest floors, and even fallen trees — it can clear anything up to 27.5 inches tall. Its ridged wheels are grapplers in rocky terrain and act as water paddles in the river.

The truck is way underpowered, however, sporting a 1.5-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel with 44 hp. The engine gives it a head-spinning speed of 28 mph on land and 3.7 mph in the water. Despite the power let down, it looks incredibly fun to drive.

Watch the ATV tackle the snow and water:

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Sinking ships? The Army requests $1 billion to do just that

With the Department of Defense reorienting itself toward the Pacific, the Army is requesting to purchase more than triple the number of Precision Strike Missiles (PrSMs) in the fiscal year 2022 compared with 2021. The service is requesting 110 of the new long-range attack weapons. Seeking to solidify both a stronger operational capacity in the Pacific and to deter China, the Army hopes for more than $1 billion to fund 2022 research and development of long-range missiles, such as the PrSM, for targeting ships at sea.

According to the Army, the Precision Strike Missiles will not be fully operational until 2023. However, in May, the Army successfully hit a target with the missile at 400 kilometers, or roughly 250 miles. During this test, which produced the longest distance yet that the Army has fired the projectile, the missile was fired from a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS).

“PrSM accomplished all of the Army’s test objectives again today in its longest flight yet,” Gaylia Campbell, vice president of precision fires at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, said in a press release.

Russia’s new all-terrain vehicle is a lifesized Tonka truck
A Precision Strike Missile launches from a HIMARS during a demonstration in 2019. The Army has requested 110 of the missiles for 2022. US Army photo, courtesy of Lockheed Martin/released.

Later this year, the Army plans to test the Precision Strike Missile out to distances of at least 1,000 kilometers, Defense News reported. To do so, the Army is requesting $5 million in the 2022 budget to develop this capability, describing it as one of its “critical technologies.” Additionally, the Army has made Precision Strike Missile development a priority program in order to replace the older Army Tactical Missile System and solidify the service’s role in the Pacific.

While working to extend the range of the Precision Strike Missile, the Army is also enhancing the missile’s guidance system and requested $188.5 million in 2022 funding to do so. Currently, the missile is guided by GPS, which has proven accurate in testing. However, Defense News reported that the Army would add “seekers” to the missiles as it refines the weapons platform. The added guidance will enable the missile to precisely engage smaller targets, such as ships.

“The early capability is against long-range artillery and integrated air defense systems,” Brig. Gen. John Rafferty, the Army’s Long Range Precision Fires cross-functional team director, told Defense News. “As you integrate the seeker technology, it gives you the ability to go after the mini-targets. Those mini-targets can be maritime in the Pacific; those mini-targets can be fire control radars [and airfields] in the European scenario.”

Russia’s new all-terrain vehicle is a lifesized Tonka truck
Both the Army and the Marine Corps currently employ the HIMARS system to test different anti-ship missiles and capabilities. US Army photo, courtesy of Lockheed Martin/released.

The focus on long-range strike capabilities, particularly against naval vessels, comes as the Office of Naval Intelligence estimates that the Chinese navy is on pace to have 400 ships by the end of the fiscal year 2025. In a May essay in War on the Rocks, Lt. Gen. Charles Flynn and Lt. Gen. Laura Potter wrote that an Army presence supporting naval operations through Long Range Precision Fires would be vital to deterring China and, if necessary, fighting a war.

Flynn is the US Army chief of staff for operations, strategy, and planning, and Potter is the US Army deputy chief of staff for intelligence.

“If naval and air forces are out of position, the Army can still access and employ its greater intelligence network with integrated protection and long-range fires to enable the military to deliver multi-domain effects,” the pair wrote. “Without landpower, the commander is reliant on the positioning of naval and air forces to deter and respond. With it, he can assure, deter, and respond at any time and in a manner of his choosing.”

Russia’s new all-terrain vehicle is a lifesized Tonka truck
A live-fire demonstration using multiple HIMARS systems is performed during Exercise Talisman Sabre. US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashley Maldonado, courtesy of DVIDS.

The development of this anti-ship capability by the Army, the Marine Corps, and the Air Force indicates what Pentagon leadership envisions will happen in a future fight. Speaking before the Hudson Institute, Gen. John Hyten, 11th vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described how there would be no “lines” on a future battlefield. Each service, therefore, will have overlapping capabilities.

“In the future, those lines are eliminated, which means an army capability can have on its own platform, the ability to defend itself or the ability to strike deep into an adversary area of operations,” Hyten said. “We create such a huge advantage for the future joint combined force that it will create huge challenges for our competitors around the world.”


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

Feature image: U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Bill Boeker/released.

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Marine vet’s inspirational New Year’s Eve post turned out to be his last

Russia’s new all-terrain vehicle is a lifesized Tonka truck
(Photo: Matthew DeRemer’s Facebook page)


On New Year’s Eve millions turned to social media to share final thoughts for the year. Marine Corps veteran Matthew DeRemer was no different – except his last post of the year would also turn out to be the last post of his life.

That day he wrote this:

Last day of 2015!!!! For me I’ll be meditating through all I do, on this entire year. I’ve lost, I’ve gained, family is closer and tougher than ever before, loved ones lost, and new friends found. There has been many times where I’ve been found on my knees in prayer for hours (relentless) and other times leading a group of people in prayer, my faith (that I love to share) is an everyday awakening (to me) that people, lives, and circumstances can change for the better OVER TIME. I look back at 2015’s huge challenges that I’ve overcome, shared with others, and have once again found myself … To say thank you and BRING ON 2016, much works to be done!

And I really don’t know where I’ll end up tonight but I do know where I wind up is where I’m meant to be.

Matthew paired his words with a meme of author Gayle Foreman’s quote: “We are born in one day. We die in one day. We can change in one day. And we can fall in love in one day. Anything can happen in just one day.”

Hours later, while riding his motorcyle, the 31-year-old surgical technologist was struck and killed by an alleged drunk driver.

Since his death, DeRemer’s post has been shared over 15,000 times inspiring hundreds of comments:

“RIP, my condolences go out to his family an friends, this post is amazing an says a lot,” one wrote. “I don’t know you but this post definitely has me thinking…”

Another wrote: “This is both disturbing yet incredibly poignant and beautiful.”

During his time in the Corps DeRemer served in Iraq and was stationed in California.

“We called him “Jiff.” He had an incredible love for peanut butter,” said close friend Line Bryde Lorenzen. “He was a sergeant-at-arms, and he took that role very seriously. He helped me a lot with my faith, and was always there when I needed him.”

A GoFundMe campaign has been established to help the family with their funeral expenses.

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Why this French nobleman’s Paris gravesite is filled with dirt from Massachusetts

The United States owes its success in the Revolutionary War to help from France. The chief architect of that help was Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette. In America, we simply call him “Lafayette.”

When France needed help during World War I, a squadron of American airmen volunteered their skills to fight against Germany. They called themselves the Lafayette Escadrille. When American troops finally arrived in France years later, their leaders walked into the tomb of the nobleman and announced, “Lafayette, we are here.”

The Escadrille Lafayette in July 1917 (U.S. Air Force photo)

The relationship between the Marquis and the United States has endured for many centuries because of his admiration and service to a country that was not his own. That admiration runs so deep, that the nobleman is buried in American soil – in Paris. 

When the Marquis de Lafayette came to the United States to fight the British in the Revolution, he was so committed to the cause that he volunteered to serve without pay. Unlike other French officers volunteering, Lafayette had the military pedigree to be of use and soon came to be the right hand man to Gen. George Washington himself. 

That pedigree didn’t come with much experience. Lafayette would be learning as he served the American cause. Luckily, as a wealthy man, his personal contributions more than made up for what he lacked in military experience. But as he gained that valuable experience, he proved himself an able commander.

A dedicated Enlightenment thinker, his devotion to the cause of American ideals led him to fight in several battles, to be wounded at the battle of Brandywine, and encourage France to recognize American independence. Most crucially, it was Lafayette’s forces that harassed Cornwallis on his way to Yorktown.

John Ward Dunsmore’s 1907 depiction of Lafayette (right) and Washington at Valley Forge (Wikimedia Commons)

This forced the British to move across the James River, where they were eventually trapped by Washington, Lafayette and Comte de Rochambeau  by land and the French fleet by sea. He was forced to surrender his army after an almost three-week siege. It was the beginning of the end of the war, and the start of the American experiment.

Lafayette fought in the Continental Army all over the colonies, from New England to the Mid-Atlantic to the South, and was one of the few things that all the new states of the United States had in common. He so loved the ideals of the American Revolution that he tried to export them to France when he returned home. 

His advocacy for American liberty would serve him and his wife well in the coming years of the French Revolution. The French admiration for American values saved the lives of the noble and his wife. 

Lafayette would return to the United States many times in the years following the revolution. His visits would confirm the idea that the Founding Fathers had created a functioning democracy, based on the egalitarian values of the Enlightenment. He came to love the United States and proclaimed that he wanted to be buried in American soil.

Marquis de Lafayette
Lafayette’s grave (Wikimedia Commons)

On his final visit to the United States, Lafayette filled a trunk full of earth from the land near Boston’s Bunker Hill. When the noble died in 1834, his son interred him in the dirt from America. The American flag has flown over his grave continuously since 1850, a simple site behind an innocuous high stone wall.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

You can now buy this terrifying flamethrower to attach to your drone

Drones are being used by companies from Amazon to Uber, but one company built a flamethrower you can hook up to your personal drone for all your fire-spewing purposes.

In a video from company Throwflame, the TF-19 WASP flamethrower drone attachment is seen spewing long streams of fire into the air and engulfing dead bushes in flames.

Although Throwflame advertises using the flamethrower drone for mundane things like cleaning up vegetation and getting rid of wasp nets, the video paints a terrifying view for what the future of drone flight could entail.

It’s important to note that the $1,500 price tag is only for the flamethrower attachment itself. You’ll have to buy the drone separately — the one that Throwflame recommends for its flamethrower will cost you at least $1,500.

Check out the features of the TF-19 WASP flamethrower drone attachment and what it can do:


Russia’s new all-terrain vehicle is a lifesized Tonka truck

(Throwflame/YouTube)

Russia’s new all-terrain vehicle is a lifesized Tonka truck

(Throwflame/YouTube)

Russia’s new all-terrain vehicle is a lifesized Tonka truck

(Throwflame/YouTube)

Throwflame envisions the flamethrower drone being used for tasks such as “clearing vital infrastructure, igniting remote vegetation, and eliminating pests.”

In the past, flamethrowing drones have been filmed burning off garbage and debris from electrical wires.

Russia’s new all-terrain vehicle is a lifesized Tonka truck

(Throwflame/YouTube)

Russia’s new all-terrain vehicle is a lifesized Tonka truck

(Throwflame/YouTube)

The flamethrower attachment can be used with any drone that has a payload capacity— how much weight the drone can hold — of 5 pounds or more. In the video, the TF-19 WASP is attached to a DJI S1000 octocopter drone, which sells for id=”listicle-2639318262″,500.

The DJI S1000 drone goes for id=”listicle-2639318262″,500 on websites like eBay and in stores such as BH.

Russia’s new all-terrain vehicle is a lifesized Tonka truck

(Throwflame/YouTube)

Russia’s new all-terrain vehicle is a lifesized Tonka truck

(Throwflame/YouTube)

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

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The Marines want self-repairing smart trucks

In the not-too-distant future, Marine Corps 7-ton trucks may be able to diagnose worn-out parts before they go bad, put in an order for a relevant replacement, and get the part 3D printed and shipped to their location to be installed — all without a human in the loop.


It’s an aspiration that illustrates the possibilities of smart logistics, said Lt. Gen. Michael Dana, the Marine Corps’ deputy commandant for Installations and Logistics. And the process has already begun to make it a reality.

In the fall of 2016, Marines at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri equipped about 20 military vehicles, including Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacements, known as MTVRs or 7-tons, and massive tractor-trailers known as Logistics Vehicle System Replacements, or LVSRs, with engine sensors designed to anticipate and identify key parts failures.

It’s a commercially available technology that some civilian vehicles already use, but it’s a new capability for Marine Corps trucks. Testing on those sensors will wrap-up this summer, and officials with IL will assess how accurately and thoroughly the sensors captured and transmitted maintenance data.

Russia’s new all-terrain vehicle is a lifesized Tonka truck
A Logistics Vehicle System Replacement at work. (DoD Photo by Lance Cpl. Joey Holeman)

If all goes well, the Marines then will work to connect the sensors with an automatic system that can order parts that will then be 3D printed on demand and delivered to the vehicle’s unit.

“How do we use that data and how do we link that back to our fabrication or supply network to make the system operate in theory without a person in the loop, to make sure we’re doing push logistics [versus] pull logistics,” said Lt. Col. Howard Marotto, a senior member of the Marine Corps’ logistics innovation team and the service’s additive manufacturing lead.

“Now we have the part there waiting when the vehicle gets back in from the convoy, or it’s already there a week in advance before we know we need to change it out. So that’s the concept and that’s what we’re going to try to prove with that.”

Dana, who spoke with Military.com in June, is eager to bypass maintenance supply chains that sometimes have gear traveling thousands of miles to get to a unit downrange, and inefficient logistics systems that create lag while maintainers wait for parts to arrive.

“If we had the ability to print a part far forward, which we have that capability, that reduces your order-to-ship time. And you then combine that with what we call sense-and-respond logistics, or smart logistics, which is … it can tell you with a predictive capability that this part is going to fail in the next 20 hours or the next ten hours,” Dana said.

Russia’s new all-terrain vehicle is a lifesized Tonka truck
3D Printing. (Photo by Jonathan Juursema.)

The goal of having trucks that can do everything but self-install repair parts is in keeping with the Marine Corps’ newfound love affair with innovative technology. The Corps recently became the first military service to send 3D printers to combat zones with conventional troops, so that maintainers could print everything from 81mm mortar parts to pieces of radios in hours, instead of waiting days or longer for factory-made parts to arrive.

For Dana, it’s simply time for the Marine Corps to cash in on technologies that industry is already using to its advantage.

“You look at Tesla, their vehicles literally get automatic upgrades; it’s almost like a vehicle computer that’s driving around,” he said. “My wife’s [2006 Lexus] will tell you when it’s due for an oil change. That predictive capability exists in the private sector. Hopefully we can incorporate it on the military side.”

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The state of Coast Guard icebreakers

Bad news, folks. If the U.S. had to muscle its way into regions choked with ice to deal with a recalcitrant foe, it’d have hard time.


The fact of the matter is that the U.S. Coast Guard’s icebreaker capability has dwindled big time, and the Navy has no icebreakers in its fleet.

Russia’s new all-terrain vehicle is a lifesized Tonka truck
The Coast Guard icebreakers USCGC Polar Sea (WAGB 10) and USCGC Polar Star (WAGB 11) during a resupply mission to McMurdo Research Station. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

At this time, the Coast Guard has one heavy icebreaker, the Polar Star (WAGB 10) and one medium icebreaker, the Healy (WAGB 20) in service. According to a 2016 Congressional Research Service report, the Polar Star’s sister ship, the Polar Sea (WAGB 11), has been inoperable since 2010 after five of its diesel engines failed.

As a result, the United States has a very big problem. The Polar Star is down at the South Pole, resupplying the McMurdo Research Station. That means that the Healy is the only icebreaker available for operations in the Arctic.

The Polar Sea? Right now, it is being cannibalized to keep the Polar Star operable, according to a report from USNI News.

Russia’s new all-terrain vehicle is a lifesized Tonka truck
The icebreaker USCGC Healy (WAGB 20) in the Arctic Ocean. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

According to the “16th Edition of Combat Fleets of the World,” the Polar Sea was commissioned in 1976, while the Polar Star was commissioned in 1977. USNI noted that plans do not include beginning construction of new icebreakers until 2020, with them entering service in 2024 at the earliest.

If you’ve followed ship programs like the Littoral Combat Ship, the Zumwalt-class destroyers, or the Gerald R. Ford, that date could be a best-case scenario. The Polar Sea’s operational life is expected to last until 2022, two years prior to the earliest date the new icebreakers would enter service.

Russia, on the other hand, has 41 icebreakers. In addition to maintaining a large fleet of icebreakers, Russia has been trying to winterize modern interceptors like the MiG-31 Foxhound and strike aircraft like the Su-34 Fullback, and its new icebreaker construction push includes nuclear-powered icebreakers.

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US special forces might be getting this flying all-terrain vehicle

Russia’s new all-terrain vehicle is a lifesized Tonka truck
Courtesy of SkyRunner


In order to combat versatile enemies who are not only able to acquire US weapons and vehicles but emulate tactics as well, the US military needs to take advantage of the latest advances from the defense industry.

But just as the military and its branches all have unique missions, the individual units within the military are also issued equipment geared towards fulfilling their respective jobs.

One such unit from the special forces community may very well be receiving the latest offering from SkyRunner, a company that specializes in utility vehicles and light sport aviation.

This all-terrain vehicle has the ability to take off from indigenous runways and transform into a light-sports aircraft using a parafoil wing. Reaching ground speeds of up to 70 mph and flight speeds of 40 mph, the SkyRunner can transport 2 occupants 240 miles, or 120 nautical miles, at an altitude of 10,000 feet.

Russia’s new all-terrain vehicle is a lifesized Tonka truck
Courtesy of SkyRunner

The latest model of SkyRunner, equipped with a carbon-fiber body, will cost about $139,000.

After receiving FAA approval in June, a SkyRunner representative explained in an interview with Business Insider that they received interest and a verbal commitment from the US special forces community.

“The shocks [are what] won this particular group over,” said SkyRunner consultant Mike Mitchell. “Going off of a loading dock 4-5 feet tall … with such a soft landing was a big plus in their eyes.”

Rather than being offensively oriented, Mitchell explained that a military-grade SkyRunner would be primarily used for surveillance or recovery missions.

SkyRunner could not comment on what the commitment specifically entailed, or which branch of the military expressed interest in their vehicle.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Still the champ: 3 things you should know about the SR-71 Blackbird

Before the advent of stealth aircraft, the U.S. military had a very different approach on how to operate its planes in contested airspace. That approach could be summarized in two words:

Brute force.

In those early years of air defense system development, the U.S. was less interested in developing sneaky aircraft and more concerned with developing untouchable ones– utilizing platforms that leveraged high altitude, high speed, or both to beat out air defenses of all sorts — whether we’re talking surface to air missiles or even air superiority fighters.


Lockheed’s legendary Kelly Johnson, designer of just about every badass aircraft you can imagine from the C-130 to the U-2 Spy Plane, was the Pentagon’s go-to guy when it came to designing platforms that could evade interception through speed and altitude. His U-2 Spy Plane, designed and built on a shoestring budget and in a span of just a few months, first proved the concept of flying above enemy defenses, but then America needed something that could also outrun anything Russia could throw its way. The result was the Blackbird family of jets, including the operational SR-71 — an aircraft that remains the fastest operational military plane ever to take to the sky.

You could make a list of 1000 amazing facts about the SR-71 without breaking a sweat — but here are three even a few aviation nerds may not have of heard before:

Russia’s new all-terrain vehicle is a lifesized Tonka truck

USAF

The Blackbird had over 4,000 missiles fired at it. None ever hit their target.

The SR-71 Blackbird remained in operational service as a high speed, high altitude surveillance platform for 34 years — flying at speeds in excess of Mach 3 at altitudes of around 80,000 feet. This combination of speed and altitude made it all but untouchable to enemy anti-air missiles, so even when a nation knew that there was an SR-71 flying in their airspace, there was next to nothing it could do about it. According to Air Force data collected through pilot reports and other intelligence sources more than 4,000 missiles were fired at the SR-71 during its operational flights, but none ever managed to actually catch the fast-moving platform.

Its windshield gets so hot it had to be made of quartz.

Russia’s new all-terrain vehicle is a lifesized Tonka truck

i1.wp.com

Flying at such high speeds and altitudes puts incredible strain on the aircraft and its occupants, which forced Lockheed to find creative solutions to problems as they arose. One such problem was the immense amount of heat — often higher than 600 degrees Fahrenheit — that the windshield of the SR-71 would experience at top speeds. Designers ultimately decided that using quartz for the windshield was the best way to prevent any blur or window distortion under these conditions, so they ultrasonically fused the quartz to the aircraft’s titanium hull.

The SR-71 was the last major military aircraft to be designed using a ‘slide rule.’

Russia’s new all-terrain vehicle is a lifesized Tonka truck

USAF

There are countless incredible facts about the SR-71 that would warrant a place on this list, but this is one of the few facts that pertains specifically to the incredible people tasked with developing it. Not long after the SR-71 took to the sky, the most difficult mathematical aspects of aircraft design were handed off to computers that could crunch the numbers more quickly and reliably — but that wasn’t the case for the Blackbird. Kelly Johnson and his team used their “slide rules,” which were basically just specialized rulers with a slide that designers could use to aid them in their calculations in designing the mighty Blackbird. Years later, the aircraft was reviewed using modern aviation design computers only to reveal that the machines would not have suggested any changes to the design.

Just for fun, here’s Major Brian Shul’s incredible “Speed Check” story about flying the Blackbird.

Major Brian Shul, USAF (Ret.) SR-71 Blackbird ‘Speed Check’

www.youtube.com

This article originally appeared on SOFREP. Follow @sofrepofficial on Twitter.

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Nepal was hit by a huge aftershock — these photos show the US military response

A major aftershock hit Nepal on Tuesday, bringing further damage to a country already devastated from a 7.8 earthquake that hit on April 25.


U.S. service members were already on the ground rendering aid, and Marine photographers took these amazing images in the hours after the 7.3 aftershock. Each photo’s description comes from the Marine who took the photo.

U.S. Marines help a Nepalese man to a triage at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal, May 13.

Russia’s new all-terrain vehicle is a lifesized Tonka truck
Photo: US Marine Corps Cpl. Thor J. Larson

A U.S. Marine helps carry a Nepalese man to a triage at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Russia’s new all-terrain vehicle is a lifesized Tonka truck
Photo: US Marine Corps Cpl. Thor J. Larson

A U.S. Airman, Nepalese soldier and search and rescuemen from Fairfax County, Virginia, help a Nepalese man in a triage at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Russia’s new all-terrain vehicle is a lifesized Tonka truck
Photo: US Marine Corps Cpl. Thor J. Larson

U.S. Air Force pararescuemen prepare for a search and rescue mission out of the Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu, Nepal, May 13. A UH-1Y Huey helicopter assigned to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469, carrying six Marines and two Nepalese soldiers, went missing while conducting humanitarian assistance after a 7.3 magnitude earthquake May 12.

Russia’s new all-terrain vehicle is a lifesized Tonka truck
Photo: US Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Mandaline Hatch

A Nepalese soldier carries a young earthquake victim from a U.S Marine Corps UH-1Y Venom helicopter assigned to Joint Task Force 505 to a medical triage area at Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Russia’s new all-terrain vehicle is a lifesized Tonka truck
Photo: US Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Ricardo Morales

U.S. Service members from Joint Task Force 505 unload casualties from a U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey at Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Russia’s new all-terrain vehicle is a lifesized Tonka truck
Photo: US Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Ricardo Morales

U.S. Marine Sergeant  A. B. Manning from Joint Task Force 505 carries a young earthquake victim to a medical triage area at Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Russia’s new all-terrain vehicle is a lifesized Tonka truck
Photo: US Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Ricardo Morales

NOW: The US military took these amazing photos in just one week-long period

OR: Team Rubicon is on the ground in Nepal

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Today in military history: Regan challenges Gorbachev to tear down Berlin Wall

On June 12, 1987, President Ronald Reagan challenged Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall.

After Germany’s defeat in World War II, the capital city of Berlin was divided, with the eastern section falling under Soviet control. In 1952, the border between the two countries was closed and in 1961, during the height of the Cold War, the Soviets built the Berlin Wall to prevent East German citizens from fleeing to the west.

Standing before the wall in 1987, President Reagan famously addressed the Soviet leader, telling him that if he should seek peace, then, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”

Two years later, the wall was indeed destroyed, and Germany was officially united in 1990. 

During the years of the Wall, nearly 5,000 people successfully defected from East Berlin to West Berlin. The number of people who died trying, however, remains unknown. Apartments and buildings near the wall were boarded and bricked up. Barbed wire fortified the structure and border guards were issued shooting orders when dealing with defectors — even women and children. 

East Germans dug long tunnels under the wall, took hot air balloons, escaped through pre-Wall sewers, and in one instance, drove a sports car at full speed through early fortifications. 

Officials had listed 98 deaths but a historic research group at the Centre for Contemporary History in Potsdam has confirmed at least 140 deaths. Other estimates are higher. 

Featured Image: View from the West Berlin side of graffiti art on the Wall in 1986. The Wall’s “death strip” on the east side of the Wall follows the curve of the Luisenstadt Canal (filled in 1932). (Image by Thierry Noir at Bethaniendamm in Berlin-Kreuzberg)

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Army’s top 4 future weapons for destroying Russian forces

The US Army wants guns, big ones. The service is modernizing for high-intensity combat against top adversaries, and one of the top priorities is long-range precision fires.

The goal of the Long-Range Precision Fires team is to pursue range overmatch against peer and near-peer competitors, Col. John Rafferty, the team’s director of the LRPF who is part of the recently-established Army Futures Command, told reporters Oct. 10, 2018, at the Association of the United States Army conference in Washington, DC.

The Army faces challenges from a variety of Russian weapons systems, such as the artillery, multiple rocket launcher systems, and integrated air defense networks. While the Army is preparing for combat against a wide variety of adversaries, Russia is characterized as a “pacing threat,” one which has, like China, invested heavily in standoff capabilities designed to keep the US military at arms length in a fight.


The US armed forces aim to engage enemy in multi-domain operations, which involves assailing the enemy across the five domains of battle: land, air, sea, space, and cyberspace. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said the US desires “a perfect harmony of intense violence.”

Rafferty described LRPF’s efforts as “fundamental to the success of multi-domain operations,” as these efforts get at the “fundamental problem of multi-domain operations, which is one of access.”

“Our purpose is to penetrate and disintegrate enemy anti-access and area-denial (A2/AD) systems, which will enable us to maintain freedom of maneuverability as we exploit windows of opportunity,” he added.

Long-range hypersonic weapon and strategic long-range cannon

At the strategic fires level, the Army is developing a long-range hypersonic weapon and a strategic long-range cannon that could conceptually fire on targets over 1,000 miles away.

With these two systems, the Army is “taking a comprehensive approach to the A2/AD problem, one by using the hypersonic system against strategic infrastructure and hardened targets, and then using the cannon to deliver more of a mass effect with cost-effective, more-affordable projectiles … against the other components of the A2/AD complex.”

The strategic long-range cannon is something that “has never been done before.” This weapon is expected to be big, so much so that Army officials describe it as “relocatable,” not mobile. Having apparently learned from the US Navy’s debacle with the Zumwalt-class destroyer whose projectiles are so expensive the Navy can’t pay for them, the Army is sensitive to the cost-to-kill ratio.

Russia’s new all-terrain vehicle is a lifesized Tonka truck

The Zumwalt-class destroyer

(U.S. Navy photo)

This cannon is, according to Rafferty, going to be an evolution of existing systems. The Army is “scaling up things that we are already doing.”

Precision Strike Missile 

At the operational level, the Precision Strike Missile features a lot more capability than the weapon it will ultimately replace, the aging Army tactical missile system.

“The first capability that really comes to mind is range, so out to 499 km, which is what we are limited to by the INF Treat,” Rafferty explained.” It will also have space in the base missile to integrate additional capabilities down the road, and those capabilities would involve sensors to go cross-domain on different targets or loitering munitions or sensor-fused munitions that would give greater lethality at much longer ranges.”

Extended Range Cannon Artillery 

At the tactical level, the Army is pushing ahead on the Extended Range Cannon Artillery, “which takes our current efforts to modernize the Paladin and replaces the turret and the cannon tube with a new family of projectiles that will enable us to get out to 70 km,” the colonel told reporters. “We see 70 km as really the first phase of this. We really want to get out to 120 and 130 km.”

And there is the technology out there to get the Army to this range. One of the most promising technologies, Rafferty introduced, is an air-breathing Ramjet projectile, although the Army could also go with a solid rocket motor.

The Army has already doubled its range from the 30 km range of the M777 Howitzer to the 62 miles with the new ERCA system, Gen. John Murray, the first head of Army Futures Command, revealed in October 2018, pointing to the testing being done out at the Yuma proving grounds in Arizona.

“We are charged to achieve overmatch at echelon that will enable us to realize multi-domain operations by knocking down the systems that are designed to create standoff and separate us,” Rafferty said. “Long-range fire is key to reducing the enemy’s capability to separate our formations. It does that from a position of advantage.”

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

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U.S. Army trains winter camouflage techniques in Poland

Now you see them, and now you don’t. Learning how to conceal 28-ton Bradley fighting vehicles and M1 Abrams tanks in any type of terrain takes a high level of skill.


Russia’s new all-terrain vehicle is a lifesized Tonka truck
An M1 Abrams tank emerges out of wooded terrain after soldiers assigned to the 4th Infantry Division’s 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team had concealed it to blend in with the surrounding environment at Presidential Range in Swietozow, Poland, Jan. 20, 2017. The vehicles and soldiers are part of a nine-month deployment in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Tarr)

Whether they are training in a desert environment or — as they are now — in the forested hills of Poland, the soldiers assigned to the 4th Infantry Division‘s 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team trained on camouflaging Bradley fighting vehicles and M1 Abrams tanks at Presidential Range in Swietozow, Poland, Jan. 20.

“Today we’re here to prove the concept that, regardless of the color of the vehicle, with enough preparation and dedication, we have the ability to camouflage in any scenery, but specifically here in the forest of western Poland,” said Army Capt. Edward Bachar, commander of Company C, 1st Battalion, 68th Armored Regiment.

How it’s Done

Army Sgt. Cody Flodin, an infantryman assigned to 1-68, said the initial step of camouflaging a vehicle is to place it in an assault position and cover the vehicle with a camouflage net — a radar- and laser-scattering net that deters detection from the air or the ground.

Then, Flodin said he covers the vehicle using dead foliage from the forest floor to break up the visual outline of the vehicle.

Once the vehicle is concealed, Flodin said, he places snow on the foliage to mimic the natural environment, ensuring that all vehicle functions still work properly.

“We need to have the ability to quickly move into a wooded area and not be able to be observed by any potential enemy,” Bachar said. “It is important that within approximately 15 minutes, this Bradley was able to go from maneuvering in a large open area directly into the wood line and blend in with the local surroundings.”

The unit prepared for this mission during a 30-day training rotation at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California.

Russia’s new all-terrain vehicle is a lifesized Tonka truck
A Trooper with B Troop, 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, communicates enemy positions to higher headquarters during a June 15, Situational Training Exercise at Fort Irwin, Calif. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Erik A. Thurman)

From Desert to Forest

“Three months ago, we had to do the same thing in the desert with these vehicles and we did it phenomenally,” the captain said. “We have the ability to execute hide sites, [conduct] assembly area operations, [assume] assault positions and remain undetected from the enemy. To be able to do the same thing in a completely different environment really shows the proficiency of the crew themselves to camouflage their Bradley fighting vehicles and tanks.”

The Bradleys and tanks are slated to be painted in green foliage camouflage in a few months, making it a little easier for the “Iron Brigade” soldiers to conceal themselves. In the meantime, Bachar said, they will continue to train and hone their skills.

Also read: This new camouflage could make troops totally invisible

“Field craft is a priority, really in anything, from a dismounted squad being able to blend into its surroundings to a Bradley fighting vehicle,” he added. “So we will emphasize field craft camouflage and the ability to blend in to your immediate surroundings in every training exercise. This [Jan. 20 training] is just a proof of concept and the initial training to ensure we have the ability to do it. From here on out, we’re going to continue to get better in our ability to do exactly that.”

The Iron Brigade is here as the first rotation of back-to-back armored brigades in Europe in support of Atlantic ResolveU.S. European Command officials said this rotation will enhance deterrence capabilities in the region, improve the U.S. ability to respond to potential crises and defend allies and partners in the European community. U.S. forces will focus on strengthening capabilities and sustaining readiness through bilateral and multinational training and exercises, officials added.

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