Throughout history, Russia has often been guilty of ripping off some American designs. They flat-out stole the B-29 (which they called the Tu-4 “Bull”), the Su-25 Frogfoot looks a lot like the Northrop YA-9, and then there’s the An-72 Coaler, which looks a bit like Boeing’s YC-14.
However, there is one American weapon the Russians are certainly not guilty of ripping off: the Stryker IAV. This is because Russia was way ahead of America in that department, thanks to the BTR-60/70/80/90 family of vehicles. In fact, the U.S. Army could learn a thing or two by getting their hands on the latest versions.
Like the Stryker, the BTR is an eight-wheeled vehicle that carries infantry into battle. When it first deployed in 1960, the BTR-60 had a crew of two, could hold 14 passengers, and was armed with a 14.5mm KPV heavy machine gun and a 7.62mm machine gun. The M1126 Stryker, by comparison, has a crew of three, holds nine troops, and carries an M2 heavy machine gun or a Mk 19 automatic grenade launcher.
The Soviets improved on their design with the BTR-70, which cut the troop load to seven and upped the crew to three, while maintaining the same armaments. The Soviets then put forth the BTR-80, which supported up to eight infantry. A variant of this IAV, called the BTR-80A, is equipped with the same 30mm autocannon as used on the Russian BMP-2, an amphibious infantry fighting vehicle.
The ultimate version of the BTR is the BTR-90. This vehicle brings roughly the same firepower as the BMP-2 in the form of a 30mm autocannon, the AT-5 Spandrel anti-tank missile, can carry seven grunts, and also adds a 30mm AGS-17 automatic grenade launcher. By comparison, the M1296 Stryker Dragoon has just a 30mm Bushmaster II chain gun.
Plenty of care and thought must go into manufacturing a standard-issue rifle to field with the fourth-largest standing army in the world. To find success, you must be concerned with the ease of mass production, reliability in the field, mobility and ease of use, and the lethality it offers the troops.
With that in mind, there’s only one benefit to the Type 88-2 variant of the AK-74 used by the North Korean Army: It’s cheap.
The AK-74 is the go-to weapon among former Soviet states and Eastern European nations because it can be easily produced and performs well in the hands of troops. North Korea created the Type 88-2 entirely within their own country and made plenty of useless tweaks to a proven design.
1. Ease of mass production
The Type 88-2 is cheap and it makes sense that a warmongering nation stuck with tech from over 60 years ago needs to cut corners when creating new stuff. The collapsible buttstock on the Type 88-2 is designed to fold over the top of the upper receiver. Folding stocks are common among many smaller-caliber SMGs, but on a fully-automatic carbine, it’s kinda worthless in both positions.
The collapsible buttstock is said to be small enough that the iron sights aren’t obstructed when collapsed. That alone is a terrible idea for accurate use while going full-auto. It also means that if the stock is extended, it wouldn’t have any support to handle the weapon as it fires.
2. Reliability in the field
At first glance of the Type 88-2, the most obvious “WTF?” is the helical magazine that is said to hold 150 5.45x39mm rounds*. Keep in mind, the PP-19 Bizon also uses as high-capacity, helical magazine and isn’t without its minor flaws, but it holds 64 9mm rounds.
At a slightly lower rate of fire and with much larger rounds, the Type 88-2 is likely much more prone to jamming and feed failures. The magazine extends almost to the muzzle and is also attached to the under-barrel rail. Magazine swaps would be a pain in the ass as you connect a heavy magazine at two spots.
3. Mobility and ease of use
Balance is important to maintaining accurate fire. The weight distribution must be even throughout a weapon to maintain tight shot grouping. The helical magazine of the Type 88-2 and the overall weight of 5.45x39mm rounds* will cause the center of balance shifts back slightly after each round is fired. Fully-automatic rifles naturally kick up during sustained fire. Improper weight distribution will send the kick higher.
The size of the magazine also prohibits any sort of forward grip. The only way this weapon would accurately fire is if the troop was in the prone position and could rest the rifle on the ground.
4. Actual power
Type 88-2s are unique to North Korea and not much is truly known about the weapon since it hasn’t left the Hermit Kingdom. Nearly everything known is a mix of speculation, reverse engineering from photographs, and knowledge of the standard AK-74.
That being said, everything about the design of the Type 88-2 just seems to have been done to cut every possible corner.
Writer’s Note: The article originally described the Type 88-2 as being chambered in 7.62mm when in reality it uses 5.45mm.
Feature image: Korean soldiers parading carrying the Type 68 variant, rather than the Type 88 (Wikimedia Commons)
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.
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.
The U.S. Army on Monday unveiled its $178 billion spending request for fiscal 2021, a proposed budget that adds some 1,000 active-duty soldiers and sets aside money for new long-range missiles, high-tech soldier systems and a new family of rifles for infantry and other close-combat forces.
The $178 billion topline request is $4 billion less than last fiscal year’s $182 billion request, according to Army budget documents. The Army received $180 billion in the fiscal 2020 enacted budget.
The Army is requesting .5 billion for military personnel, including .1 billion for the active force, a .4 billion increase over the .7 billion it received last year, according to budget documents.
Despite the increase, the Army is projecting modest growth, adding 900 active-duty soldiers to its ranks and transferring another 100 new active-duty soldiers for the new United States Space Force.
By the end of fiscal 2021, the Army plans to reach an end strength of 485,000, according to the documents.
The Army met its fiscal recruiting goals in fiscal 2019 after struggling to recover from a troubling 6,500-person recruiting shortfall the year.
The National Guard is slated to receive .8 billion for 336,500 soldiers, an increase of 500 from last year, according to budget documents. The Army Reserves is set to receive .1 billion for 189,800 soldiers, an increase of 300 soldiers from last year under the request.
The Army is also requesting funding for significant investments in soldier lethality, another modernization priority.
The Next Generation Squad Weapon — a new 6.8mm system slated to replace the M4A1 carbine and M249 squad automatic weapon in infantry squads — is slated to receive 1.2 million — that’s .4 million for RDTE and .8 million to start buying the first rifle and automatic rifle variants, according to Pentagon budget documents. Fielding is scheduled to begin in fiscal 2023.
The Army also plans on spending 6 million for 40,219 sets of Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) — a Microsoft-based system that features sophisticated goggles that allow soldiers to see their weapon sight reticle in their field of view along with other key tactical information. Fielding is set to begin in fiscal 2021.
The Army continues to place a high priority on its modernization effort, a plan to replace most of its major weapons platforms over the next decade.
The budget request realigns billion in the fiscal 2021-2025 Program Objective Memorandum (POM) to fund its cross-functional team development efforts.
Army leaders “eliminated 41 programs and reduced/delayed 39 programs across the [Future Years Defense Program] not tied to the [National Defense Strategy] or modernization priorities,” according to budget documents.
The Army began ruthlessly cutting non-modernization programs in the last budget cycle to free up more than billion in a tedious process known as “Night Court.”
“We must transform all linear industrial age processes to be more effective, protect our resources and make better decisions,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville, said in the documents. “We must be the Army of tomorrow, today.”
The Army is making cuts to procurement of weapons and tracked vehicles, requesting .7 billion compared to the .7 billion it received last year, according to budget documents.
The Army cut buys of the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, purchasing 32 vehicles for 3 million. Last Year, the Army bought 21 for 5 million, according to Pentagon budget documents.
The Army also cut military construction, requesting id=”listicle-2645128013″.1 billion, down from the id=”listicle-2645128013″.8 billion it received last year. The request includes 0 million for nine projects in the active-duty force. That’s a decrease from the id=”listicle-2645128013″.4 billion the service requested for 21 active Army projects in fiscal 2020, according to budget documents.
The National Guard is slated to receive 1 million for 18 projects, according to budget documents. The Reserve would get million for four projects.
The Army increased its missile budget to .5 billion, up from the billion it received from last year, according to budget documents.
For long-range precision fires, the Army’s top modernization priority, the service is requesting 0 million in research, development, testing and evaluation (RDTE) for the Long-Range Hypersonic Missile effort, according to budget documents.
The Army is requesting a total of 2.6 million for its new, long-range Precision Strike Missile (PrSM). Some 2.7 million of that is for research, development and testing and .9 million would purchase 30 of the new missiles, according to Pentagon budget documents. The PrSM is intended to engage targets beyond 500 kilometers, replacing the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) which has a range of about 300 kilometers.
The Army is spending 7 million for the Mobile Short-Range Air Defense System, or M-SHORAD, compared to last year’s 3 million, according to budget documents.
The Civil Irregular Defense Group compound at Loc Ninh. The airstrip is to the right of the photo.
The small town and airbase were important for two reasons. First, the airbase was a logistical hub for military and espionage operations conducted by the U.S.; something communist forces were keen to excise. But the town was also the district capital. With a new president awaiting inauguration in Vietnam, the North Vietnamese wanted to embarrass him before he took office.
And North Vietnam was looking for a tasty target. A new commander and staff needed to try out the 9th Division in the field and build up its combat proficiency ahead of larger, corps-level offensives. So, in late 1967, North Vietnamese Senior Col. Hoang Cam, gave orders to get his regiments in position and supplied for an attack on the base at Loc Ninh.
One of his key units ran into an immediate problem, though. U.S. forces were working to secure a hey highway and clear out communist forces that could threaten it, and they swept through an area where Cam’s top regiment was hiding. That regiment was able to set an ambush just in time and killed 56 Americans, but they also suffered heavy losses and fled to Cambodia.
So Cam was down a regiment before the battle started. Still, his men were facing 11 Special Forces soldiers, 400 Civilian Irregular Defense Group soldiers, and about 200 South Vietnamese regulars. The largest weapons on the base were a few mortars and machine guns.
But the North Vietnamese forces failed to hide their buildup. South Vietnamese and U.S. forces intercepted radio traffic, discovered a field hospital under construction, and discovered elements of a specific unit typically employed in major offensives, the 84A Artillery Regiment.
U.S. Gen. William Westmoreland was too savvy to overlook all this evidence of a coming attack. He suspended some operations and ordered his subordinate to plan for a major defensive operation in that part of Vietnam, especially the district capitals at Loc Ninh and Song Be.
U.S. Special Forces soldiers and South Vietnamese troops in September 1968.
On Oct. 27, 1967, just five days after Westmoreland issued his warning to subordinates, Cam launched the North Vietnamese attack on Song Be. His division attacked a South Korean division but was rebuffed, partially thanks to American artillery and air power. Before South Vietnamese Rangers and American infantry joined the fight the next day, Cam pulled his men back.
As the Rangers looked for the enemy near Song Be, Cam launched a new attack. This time, he struck at Loc Ninh and fully committed to the fight.
Rockets and mortars flew into the base with no warning. The town itself caught on fire, and the South Vietnamese soldiers, with their Special Forces allies, rushed to send their own mortar rounds out.
Before reinforcements could arrive, North Vietnamese sappers blew through a wire obstacle and forced the defenders into the southern part of the compound. With the American and South Vietnamese defense collapsing, the Army rushed in UH-1Bs with machine guns mounted, and the Air Force sent in an AC-47 Spooky gunship that rained metal into the jungle.
The helicopters were able to put some fire on the attackers within the compound, but the AC-47 couldn’t strike there without threatening the defenders. Eventually, that became beside the point, though, as the South Vietnamese called artillery strikes onto the compound. He specifically called for proximity fuses, detonating the rounds a little above the surface to maximize shrapnel damage.
That’s the call you make to shred humans behind light cover. Many of the defenders were in bunkers that would hold back the shrapnel, but the Viet Cong in the open were shredded. The Viet Cong in the jungle finally withdrew under aerial bombing, but attackers remained in the conquered bunkers of the northern part of the compound.
The South Vietnamese were forced to clear these bunkers one-by-one with LAWs, light anti-tank weapons.
The allies found 135 North Vietnamese bodies. They had suffered eight dead and 33 wounded.
But the U.S. knew it had nearly lost the district that night, and it wasn’t willing to go round two with the same setup. So it not only watched the South Vietnamese clear those bunkers, it flew in two artillery batteries and another infantry battalion. Those infantrymen dug into the jungle and established light bunkers.
The U.S. and South Vietnamese alliance struck hard, rooting out platoons in the rubber plantations. In one case, an impatient South Vietnamese soldier grabbed a U.S. officer’s pistol from him and used it to attack a North Vietnamese machine gunner. When he couldn’t chamber a round in the pistol, he used it to pistol-whip the machine gunner instead.
This back and forth continued for days. On Oct. 30, the North Vietnamese sent additional forces to threaten other cities and positions, potentially trying to draw away some of the American defenders. But the allies knew the fight for Loc Ninh wasn’t over and sent other forces to protect Song Be and other locations.
Just after midnight on Oct. 31, another rain of mortars and rockets flew into Loc Ninh. But this time, the fire was more accurate, and North Vietnamese forces used anti-aircraft fire the moment the helicopters and AC-47 showed up. But proximity fuses were again used to slaughter North Vietnamese attackers.
At least 110 North Vietnamese were killed while the allies lost nine killed and 59 wounded.
The next night, artillery and machine gun fire rained onto the air base, but then the main thrust came at the new infantry base in the jungle. Observers posted in the jungle detonated claymores to blunt the attack but then had to melt away as the attackers continued their assault. The U.S. infantry pushed the attack back in just 30 minutes of concentrated machine gun fire and claymore use.
One U.S. soldier had been killed and eight wounded. Over 260 bodies were found, and there were signs that even more had been lost.
Additional forces were flown in, and the U.S. commanders were finally able to go on the attack. The attacks did not go perfectly, however. On Nov. 7, a U.S. battalion moving down a dirt road moved into the jungle and came under a furious assault. An RPG took out most of the U.S. battalion command team, including the commander.
One soldier in that fight was Spc. Robert Stryker who stopped one attack with a well-aimed M79 grenade launcher shot, but then died after diving on a grenade to save others. He’s one of the two Medal of Honor recipients for whom the Stryker vehicle is named.
But the 9th Division finally withdrew, ending the Battle of Loc Ninh. The U.S. had lost 50 dead and hundreds wounded, but the North Vietnamese lost somewhere over 850 dead and failed in its objectives to take either Loc Ninh or Song Be. But the Tet Offensive was on the horizon.
(Most of the information for this article came from an official Army history from the Center of Military History, Combat Operations: Staying the Course, October 1967 to September 1968 by Erik B. Villard. It is available here.)
In World War II, airborne units were really in their infancy. The Germans pioneered their use in combat, and the United States built perhaps the largest airborne force in the world, with five airborne divisions.
But these divisions had a problem. There weren’t many planes to transport them for large-scale airborne ops. Today, most transports used in airborne operations have rear ramps for loading cargo (like, jeeps and artillery). Back then, they didn’t.
The C-47 Skytrain was based on the DC-3 airliner. The C-46 Commado was also based on an airliner.
Yeah, paratroops could be dropped, but they could be scattered (thus creating the rule of the LGOPs). How would they drop the heavier equipment, and keep the crews together? The answer came with the development of gliders. Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union pioneered the use of them, but the U.S. and Great Britain built lots of them.
According to the National World War II Glider Pilots Association’s web site, the United States built over 13,000 CG-4A Waco gliders. Each of these gliders could carry 15 troops, or a Jeep and four paratroopers, a trailer, up to 5,000 pounds of supplies, an anti-tank gun plus operators, or a 75mm artillery piece and its crew.
About 6,500 glider pilots were trained during World War II, taking part in eight missions from Sicily to Luzon. In the 1950s, advancements in transport aircraft, both fixed-wing and rotary-wing, led to the glider units being deactivated in 1952. But the gliders helped deliver firepower, troops, and supplies during World War II – when that ability was needed.
The video below shows how gliders were used during the Normandy invasion.
When it comes to being prepared for a disaster, there are a few things on just about everybody’s lists: clean drinking water, shelf-stable food, and maybe a firearm for security. There are some other things, however, that aren’t as commonly considered essential, but ought to be–like hydrogen peroxide.
While your neighbors with a flair for the dramatic prepare for the zombie apocalypse instead of more looming potential threats like long-term power outages or natural disasters, leave the spike sharpening up to them and swing by the pharmacy section of your local retail store to stock up on those brown bottles of goodness… because when the shit hits the fan (as people in the prepping community are so fond of saying) it’ll do you a lot more good than another stack of samurai swords.
It’s going to take more than some peroxide to bring this mannequin to life, boys.
(U.S. Navy photo by Jacob Sippel)
Clean stuff like your scraped knee (with or without your mom’s help)
The obvious use for hydrogen peroxide is as a mild antiseptic for minor cuts and scrapes. It works just like it did when your mom was nursing your skinned knee, bubbling up as it releases oxygen that can ferry dead skin and anything else that doesn’t belong away from your cut. In fact, you can pretty effectively use hydrogen peroxide to clean just about anything outside your body as well, including clothing, eating utensils, and water carriers.
It’s important to note, however, that hydrogen peroxide is not intended for cleaning deep wounds, so although it is an antiseptic, you’ll need to find an alternative for cleaning out zombie bites or serious cuts.
We’re not all as manly as Ron Swanson
Keep your grill intact
Depending on who you ask, hydrogen peroxide is either a solid tool for mouth care (even in a non-disaster situation) or a terrible idea, and that really boils down to one factor: you absolutely cannot swallow the stuff. As long as you’re sure you can be trusted to remember that, that brown bottle can go far in keeping your mouth from becoming a magnet for infection once your bathroom sink stops working.
Swishing a bit of bubbly from the brown bottle mixed with water can help treat canker sores and other small mouth wounds that could be prone to infection in a bad situation, help ease the symptoms of a sore throat, and even keep your pearly whites white in the absence of toothpaste. Just mix 1 part standard 3% concentrate hydrogen peroxide with 2 parts water, swish, spit, and rinse. And again, kiddies, don’t swallow the stuff.
I wouldn’t use two Nick Offerman gifs in a row if they weren’t just so damn perfect.
Use it as a fertilizer to grow some food
This may be the most unusual use for hydrogen peroxide that you’ll come across, but it actually works. If you find yourself in a long-term survival situation, cultivating your own food could become essential. Tending a garden can be tough enough, but it’s tougher when your soil isn’t up to the task of producing healthy plants.
That’s where hydrogen peroxide comes in: simply mix that same 3% concentrate brown-bottle peroxide with water at a ratio of about one cup per gallon of water (or 1.5 teaspoons of peroxide per cup of water) and then use that to water your plants.
The hydrogen peroxide will help fertilize the soil and prevent fungus or mildew from developing on the plant itself. Keep that water-to-peroxide ratio in mind though, as too much will quickly kill your new tomato plant.
It’s not just a concern for the ladies.
Use it to ditch the (fungal) itch
Some of the most pressing threats in a long term survival situation aren’t the dramatic shootouts and bear attacks we often see in movies–the truth is, the slow and steady degradation of your health will keep making day to day tasks harder if you aren’t careful about managing things like hygiene.
Fungal infections like Athlete’s Foot are a nuisance in our comfortable American lives, but could quickly become a serious issue in the absence of modern amenities and treatment — and as many unfortunate souls can attest to, fungal infections aren’t relegated to the feet. Yeast infections, for instance, can become serious business, and can feel nearly debilitating even under normal conditions.
The hydrogen peroxide you get in the brown bottle (3% concentration) can safely be used as a douche for women suffering from yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis, and while it won’t work as quickly or effectively as specific treatments, it’ll do a lot more than nothing. Don’t dismiss this one, fellas – you’re able to get yeast infections too.
For decades, submarines have been patrolling and protecting America’s ships with honor as they operate deep down below the sea’s surface. Functioning as the “Silent Service,” these vessels have come a long way with their vast array of technological advances and undersea stealth.
But the concept goes back as far as the Revolutionary War, though how it got to the level of today’s technology is a wonder given the dangers of plying the ocean’s depths.
The “Drebbel,” the “Turtle,” and the “Nautilus” were all early versions of submarine technology that never quite got underway. But it wouldn’t be until Confederate Naval Secretary Stephen Mallory authorized the construction of the CSS H.L. Hunley to break the blockade of their southern ports that sub-surface warfare really came into its own.
After completion, the Hunley measured 40-feet long, 4-feet high, and 42-inches wide tightly housing a crew of eight men who had to power the vessel by hand cranking the propeller and steer through the ocean’s dark waters.
During its first testing phase in the fall of 1863, the CSS Hunley failed and sunk killing five crew members. The sub was recovered, but sank again and killed all eight crew, including co-inventor Horace Hunley, later that same year.
Although considered a dud, the Hunley’s commanders still believed in its worth and resurrected the sub from the water for the second time.
It wouldn’t be until Feb. 17, 1864, where the Hunley sank the USS Housatonic and soon after plunged toward the ocean’s floor for a third time killing all of its crew — a real death trap.
The Army, the Marine Corps, and the Special Operations Command are working together in an ambitious drive to develop leap-ahead capabilities for future vertical lift aircraft that will provide greater range, speed, lethality, and survivability, but also have the maximum degree of commonality in platforms and systems to reduce cost and enhance sustainability.
The three colonels managing that complex effort say they believe they can do a better job of maximizing commonality and limiting cost than the tri-service F-35, or Joint Strike Fighter, program that continues to struggle with technology challenges, cost growth, and fractured schedules.
Appearing at a Center for Strategic and International Studies’ forum on future vertical lift (FVL) on Dec. 9, the three officers stated slightly different platform requirements for the future aircraft.
The Army and SOCOM are primarily interested in filling air lift and air assault missions currently performed by the different variants of the H-60 Black Hawks, according to Col. Erskine Bentley, the future vertical lift program manager at Army Training and Doctrine Command, and Army Col. David Phillips, program executive for rotary wing requirements at SOCOM.
Bentley described the Army’s focus as “primarily the utility mission,” which includes aerial medical evacuation and air assault, or “the ability to assault light forces and their equipment.”
SOCOM’s air lift missions tend to be long-range covert insertion and extraction of special operations units.
Marine Col. John Barranco, the rotary requirements branch head, expressed a need for both troop transport and attack capabilities as successors to the Corps’ current UH-1Y Venom and AH-1Z Viper helicopters. That did not include replacing the tilt-rotor MV-22 Ospreys, which already has speed and range far greater than those two.
But all three emphasized the primary focus of their FVL effort was more speed, range, power, and survivability than the current generation of helicopters. They emphasized that those enhanced capabilities were needed to overcome the emerging anti-access, area-denial defensive capabilities being fielded by “near-peer competitors,” which usually refers to Russia and China.
Bentley said greater “reach, speed, and power” would enable the Army to “conduct strategic deployment” from outside the combat theater, and immediately go into tactical operations on arrival.
Greater speed and reach, combined with additional protective systems, enhances survivability and “coupled with light-weight sensor systems, increases the lethality of Army aviation,” he said.
Barranco, noted that the Marines are fielding the “fifth generation” F-35B strike fighter, while their vertical lift aircraft, with the exception of the Osprey, are little better than the helicopters used in Vietnam. But, due to “the threat picture, the anti-access, area-denial, from a variety of near peer competitors,” he said, “there is a need across the joint force to leverage technology to develop a new, more capable aircraft.”
Phillips said the improved capabilities, and the open architecture systems were essential to “stay ahead of the environment,” which was his term for the threat.
The CSIS moderator, Andrew Hunter, challenged the officers on how they could achieve the high commonality for their different missions in light of the record of the Joint Strike Fighter program, which has been “challenged” and has had “less commonality than expected.”
All three emphasized the time they have spent on confirming the key common requirements. Bentley said within each of those requirements was “trade space” that would allow each service to take from one capability to enhance another.
Barranco agreed, saying “every requirement is in a range of capabilitie,” so they could trade some speed or range for more troops. The Marine also stressed how they all needed the high commonality to enable them to get what they need within “the fiscally constrained environment,” which he predicted would not change.
In addition to reducing the procurement costs, commonality also would enhance sustainability by allowing common supply of spare parts and even cross-service maintenance, they said.
Although the individual platforms may be different, Barranco cited the example of the Marines’ new H-1s, which have 85 percent commonality in engine and mission systems, despite the significant difference in airframe and missions.
Commonality also would be easier with open architecture in systems that would make it easier and cheaper to modify some performances, they said.
As the program lead, Bentley said the goal was to develop and test prototype aircraft in the 2020s and begin full rate production in the 2030s, when current vertical lift aircraft were due to retire.
While we love the 30mm GAU-8 Avenger on the A-10 for the BRRRRRT it brings, we also know that it’s not exactly the biggest gun to ever take to the skies. In fact, several planes have packed bigger guns, like the XA-38 Grizzly armed with 75mm firepower or some versions of the B-25 Mitchell, which pack .50-caliber machine guns.
One of the biggest guns to ever be attached to a plane is the 105mm howitzer on the AC-130 Spectre gunship. Yeah, Warthog fans, I’ll say it: the AC-130’s biggest gun makes the GAU-8 look like a cute little pop gun. Here’s the scoop on this cannon that can really make life a living hell for bad guys on the ground.
The AC-130U packs two guns bigger than the A-10’s GAU-8 30mm Gatling gun, including a M102 howitzer!
(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Julianne Showalter)
This gun is officially known as the M102 howitzer. It’s been around since 1964, when it was acquired by the Army for airborne and light infantry units, replacing the World War II-era M101 howitzer. The M102 has a top range of roughly nine and a third miles and can fire ten rounds per minute in a rapid-fire mode before settling down to a tamer three rounds per minute.
While the lightweight M119 has replaced the M102 in many of America’s light units since it entered service in 1989, the M102 is still active aboard the AC-130. The howitzer has been on AC-130s since 1971.
The M102 saw action in the Vietnam War, but has hung long enough to server during Operation Iraqi Freedom!
The M102 has seen action on the ground in Vietnam, Grenada, Desert Storm, and Operation Iraqi Freedom. While many of these howitzers will never see active service on the ground again, many have a long life ahead on AC-130 gunships, both the AC-130U and the AC-130J. You can see a video of the M102 being tested in its ground-based mode by the Army in the video below!
If anyone can save the planet, it’s Rudy Reyes, a specops veteran who is changing the definition of what it means to be a warrior.
Reyes served with the Marine Corps 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in both Iraq and Afghanistan before engaging in a counter-terror contract for the Department of Defense, training African wildlife preserver rangers in anti-poaching missions, and writing the book Hero Living, which chronicles his warrior philosophy and teaches others how to follow it.
Now, as the co-founder of FORCE BLUE, Reyes and his team unite the community of Special Operations veterans with the world of marine conservation for the betterment of both.
And they’ve just completed a very critical mission: the study of juvenile green sea turtles in the Florida Keys.
It might not seem like a big deal — but it is.
According to the trailer for their new documentary Resilience, “The sea turtle tells us the health of the ocean and the ocean tells us the health of the planet.”
Check out the rest of the trailer right here:
[instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/B1JZ1jNgtPu/ expand=1]FORCE BLUE on Instagram: “PLEASE REMEMBER to join us tomorrow night (Thursday) at 8:00 p.m. EST on Facebook for the world premiere of our short film RESILIENCE. And…”
On Aug. 15, at 8:00pm EDT, FORCE BLUE will premiere Resilience, the story of their recent mission. During the study period in June, FORCE BLUE veterans helped collect samples from 26 green turtles in the lower Florida Keys in order to improve green turtle conservation and recovery efforts.
“These sea turtles are the oldest living creatures on the planet, yet —through no fault of their own — they’re locked in a battle just to survive. We owe them our support. The same can be said, I think, for our FORCE BLUE veterans and the warrior community they represent,” said Jim Ritterhoff, Executive Director and Co-Founder of FORCE BLUE.
That’s the genius of FORCE BLUE, a non-profit that seeks to address two seemingly unrelated problems — the rapid declining health of our planet’s marine resources and the difficultly combat veterans have in adjusting to civilian life. Consisting of a community of veterans, volunteers, and marine scientists, the organization offers veterans the power to restore lives — and the planet.
“We were all in the hunter warrior mindset yet we were hunting to protect and to study and to treat,” said Reyes. It’s not exactly what one might expect from a community known for watering the grass with “blood blood blood.”
“It almost feels like the turtles know they are going through a crisis too, just like us. And now we have a chance to do something for them. That means everything,” shares Reyes.
Reyes is a man who has emerged from the battlefield with the desire to improve the world. The first time I met him, I said I’d heard a rumor that he could kill me with his little finger. He immediately and passionately corrected me: “I could SAVE you with my little finger!”
That told me everything I needed to know about him — because both statements are true, but what Reyes chooses to do with his power is what makes him a leader within the military community and a force for good in this world.
In the opening hours of the next Korean War, the North could kill upwards of 250,000 people using just conventional artillery, to say nothing of nuclear weapons or ballistic missiles, a January 2019 Rand Corporation report found. Those numbers are just from the South Korean capital alone.
And there is little the United States could do about it.
The North’s big gun is essentially a self-propelled coastal defense gun, the Koksan 170 mm, mounted on a tank and firing rocket-propelled shells up to 40 miles in any direction. Since the crews work outside of the weapon and North Korea’s air force could do little to protect them, the North had to devise a means of reloading the guns after firing, when they’re exposed and vulnerable.
Some 10 million people live within firing range of the Korean demilitarized zone, living and working every day with hundreds of guns pointed at their heads. This includes the population of Seoul as well as the tens of thousands of U.S. and South Korean military personnel stationed on the peninsula. Most of them live within the 25-mile range of Communist artillery pointed at the South, but North Korea has some pieces that can fire as far as 125 miles, affecting a further 22 million people. It’s not a good situation for defending South Korea or protecting our forces.
“Conservative predictions of a likely attack scenario anticipate an initial artillery barrage focused on military targets, which would result in significant casualties,” said U.S. Army Gen. Vincent Brooks, head of U.S. Forces Korea. “A larger attack targeting civilians would yield several thousand casualties with the potential to affect millions… within the first 24 hours.”
North Korea has thousands of artillery pieces that could fire tens of thousands of rounds during a 10-minute barrage. The big Koksan 170 carries 12 rounds of its own before it has to go re-arm itself. Since any ammunition depots would be as vulnerable to enemy aircraft as the artillery themselves, North Korea has constructed thousands of reinforced underground bunkers near the DMZ to hold ammo and house the guns.
As a result, in an opening salvo, North Korean artillery are likely to use what military planners call a “shoot n’ scoot” tactic. The guns will come out of the bunkers to fire off their rounds and then go right back into hiding to reload and prepare for another volley in rapid succession. This will make it difficult for allied airpower to track and kill the weapons.
The best scenario for Seoul is that the Koksan 170 requires a specialized round to hit Seoul, one the North may have in limited quantities. Even if they do fire at a high rate, it’s likely the barrels of the weapons will heat up to a degree that the ideal rate of fire U.S. military planners plan against won’t be the actual rate used in combat. Another potential advantage for the UN forces is the area covered by the guns. If North Korea wants to destroy Seoul in the first few minutes of a war, all of its weapons would need to be trained on Seoul, work perfectly, and have the maximum rate of fire for a skilled crew – while UN planes and artillery are shooting back.
When the Red Army crossed the border into Finland in 1939, along with them came a battalion of remote-controlled tanks, controlled by another tank some 1000 meters behind them. Along with the usual heavy armaments, the tank drones shot fire from flamethrowers, smoke grenades, and some were even dropping ticking time bombs, just waiting to get close to their target.
It’s a surprising technological feat for a country that had only just recently undergone a wave of modernization.
The Soviets had this remote technology in its pocket for a decade, having first tested the tanks on a Soviet T-18 in the early 1930s. While the earliest models were controlled with a very long wire, the USSR was soon able to upgrade to a more combat-friendly radio remote. By the time the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, the Red Army had two battalions of the drones, which it called teletanks. At this time, the teletank technology was in Soviet T-26 tanks, called the Titan TT-26, and there was a big list of tanks, ships, and aircraft on which the Soviets wanted to equip with tele-tech.
Unfortunately, the TT-26 wasn’t able to fully participate in the Soviet Union’s Great Patriotic War. In the beginning of Operation Barbarossa, Hitler’s Luftwaffe was able to destroy the vast majority of the Red Army’s TT-26 teletanks. In the months that followed, it proved to be more economical and timely to produce a regular version of the T-26 and man them with human crews.
T-20 Komsomolets Teletanks
It would have been unlikely that the teletank technology would have made the difference on the Eastern Front of World War II anyway. They were notoriously unreliable in unfamiliar terrain and were easily stopped by tank spikes. If a teletank managed to outpace the range of its controller, it simply stopped and did nothing. The Soviets mitigated this by mining the hatches of the tanks, but an inoperative tank is still not very useful to the Allied cause.
Eventually, the USSR’s remaining teletanks were converted to conventional tanks in order to join the fight against the Nazis. Perhaps the emerging technology of the time was an interesting aside for military planners before the war, but the fun and games must stop when you have to start fighting for survival.