Fighting in space isn’t as easy as just spraying bullets and hoping for the best. As a matter of fact, in the vacuum of space and an arena without friction, you’re really just asking for the worst. Even in a training exercise, bullets would go on forever in the absence of anything to slow them down, hitting god-knows-what and killing god-knows-whom and the next thing you know: Interstellar War.
These weapons will help solve that issue.
It’s a proven fact that bullets will fire from a weapon, even in a vacuum. Modern ammo contains its own oxidizer, a chemical that triggers the explosive needed to fire a bullet. But this doesn’t mean you should shoot things in space with bullets.
Luckily, DARPA and other agencies don’t wait for people to come up with things like the Space Corps. They let the Space Corps come to them. And there are already a lot of incredible toys out there.
As long as they don’t get Daredevil-like powers, that’s still an advantage.
A joint U.S.-Israeli laser weapons project, the Tactical High Energy Laser is able to destroy incoming munitions as they fly through the air. The chemical laser, made up of deuterium fluoride, would be able to target satellites in space and is proven to be able to temporarily blind them.
Ask the Taliban how effective drone strikes can be.
3. Space drone strikes
The Air Force has sent the X-37B into orbit a handful of times, but no one is really sure what it’s doing up there. The X-37B is a reusable version of the American Space Shuttle, but the only thing the Pentagon will say about it is that it once tested an advanced propulsion system. But it would still need a space-based weapons system, which brings us to…
2. Excalibur Lasers
DARPA’s got you covered. This is the kind of thing the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency was created to do. Excalibur coherently combines lower-power, electrically-driven lasers for the maximum-possible efficiency. The only remaining part of the plan is to boost the power of the system without affecting the quality of its output.
More like Death for Above.
DARPA’s Magneto Hydrodynamic Explosive Munition has been in development since 2008. The warhead can be placed on something as large as an ICBM or as small as an RPG and shoots an “explosively-formed jet” of chemically molten metal into (and probably right through) any reinforced or armored structure.
Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) approved the first metal part created by additive manufacturing (AM) for shipboard installation, the command announced Oct. 11, 2018.
A prototype drain strainer orifice (DSO) assembly will be installed on USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) in fiscal year 2019 for a one-year test and evaluation trial. The DSO assembly is a steam system component that permits drainage/removal of water from a steam line while in use.
Huntington Ingalls Industries — Newport News Shipbuilding (HII-NNS) builds Navy aircraft carriers and proposed installing the prototype on an aircraft carrier for test and evaluation.
“This install marks a significant advancement in the Navy’s ability to make parts on demand and combine NAVSEA’s strategic goal of on-time delivery of ships and submarines while maintaining a culture of affordability,” said Rear Adm. Lorin Selby, NAVSEA chief engineer and deputy commander for ship design, integration, and naval engineering. “By targeting CVN-75 [USS Harry S. Truman], this allows us to get test results faster, so — if successful — we can identify additional uses of additive manufacturing for the fleet.”
The test articles passed functional and environmental testing, which included material, welding, shock, vibration, hydrostatic, and operational steam, and will continue to be evaluated while installed within a low temperature and low pressure saturated steam system. After the test and evaluation period, the prototype assembly will be removed for analysis and inspection.
The aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman transits the Gulf of Oman.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Taylor M. DiMartino)
While the Navy has been using additive manufacturing technology for several years, the use of it for metal parts for naval systems is a newer concept and this prototype assembly design, production, and first article testing used traditional mechanical testing to identify requirements and acceptance criteria. Final requirements are still under review.
“Specifications will establish a path for NAVSEA and industry to follow when designing, manufacturing and installing AM components shipboard and will streamline the approval process,” said Dr. Justin Rettaliata, technical warrant holder for additive manufacturing. “NAVSEA has several efforts underway to develop specifications and standards for more commonly used additive manufacturing processes.”
Naval Sea Systems Command is the largest of the Navy’s five systems commands. NAVSEA engineers, builds, buys and maintains the Navy’s ships, submarines and combat systems to meet the fleet’s current and future operational requirements.
When the Great War began in 1914, the armies on both sides brought new technologies to the battlefield the likes of which the world had never seen. The destruction and carnage caused by these new weapons was so extensive that portions of old battlefields are still uninhabitable.
World War I saw the first widespread use of armed aircraft and tanks as well as the machine gun. But some of the weapons devised during the war were truly terrifying.
The flamethrower was especially useful because even just the idea of being burned alive drove men from the trenches into the open where they could be cut down by rifle and machine gun fire.
The terrible nature of the flamethrower, Flammenwerfer in German, meant that the troops carrying them were marked men. As soon as they were spotted, they became the targets of gunfire. Should one happen to be taken prisoner, they were often subjected to summary execution.
The British went a different way with their flamethrowers and developed the Livens Large Gallery Flame Projector. These were stationary weapons deployed in long trenches forward of the lines preceding an attack. The nozzle would spring out of the ground and send a wall of flame 300 feet in the enemy’s direction.
These were used with great effectiveness at the Somme on July 1, 1916 when they burned out a section of the German line before British infantry was able to rush in and capture the burning remnants.
2. Trench Knife
Even with the advent of the firearm, hand-to-hand combat was still a given on the battlefield. However, with the introduction of trench warfare, a new weapon was needed in order to fight effectively in such close quarters. Enter the trench knife.
The most terrifying trench knives were developed by the United States. The M1917, America’s first trench knife, combined three killing tools in one. The blade of the weapon was triangular which meant it could only be used for stabbing, but it inflicted terrible wounds.
Triangular stab wounds were so gruesome that they were eventually banned by the Geneva Conventions in 1949 because they cause undue suffering. The knife also had a “knuckle duster” hand guard mounted with spikes in order to deliver maximum damage with a punching attack. Finally, the knife had a “skull crusher” pommel on the bottom in order to smash the enemy’s head with a downward attack.
Along with the trench knife the Allies developed other special weapons for the specific purpose of trench raiding. Trench raiding was the practice of sneaking over to enemy lines’ and then, as quietly as possible, killing everyone in sight, snatching a few prisoners, lobbing a few explosives into bunkers and high-tailing it back to friendly lines before the enemy knew what hit them.
As rifles would make too much noise, trench raiding clubs were developed. There was no specific design of a trench raiding club, though many were patterned after medieval weapons such as maces and flails.
Others were crude handmade implements using whatever was around. This often consisted of heavy lengths of wood with nails, barbed wire, or other metal attached to the striking end to inflict maximum damage.
When Americans entered the fight on the Western Front they brought with them a new weapon that absolutely terrified the Germans: the shotgun. The United States used a few different shotguns but the primary weapon was the Winchester M1897 Trench Grade shotgun. This was a modified version of Winchester’s model 1897 with a shortened 20″ barrel, heat shield, and bayonet lug.
The shotgun, with 6 shells of 00 buck, was so effective that American troops referred to it as the “trench sweeper” or “trench broom.”
The Germans, however, were less than pleased at the introduction of this new weapon to the battlefield. The effectiveness of the shotgun so terrified the Germans that they filed a diplomatic protest against its use. They argued that it should be outlawed in combat and threatened to punish any Americans captured with the weapon.
America rejected the German protest and threatened retaliation for any punishment against American soldiers.
5. Poison Gas
Of course any list of terrifying weapons of war has to include poison gas; it is the epitome of horrible weapons. Poisonous gas came in three main forms: Chlorine, Phosgene, and Mustard Gas.
The first poison gas attack was launched by the Germans against French forces at Ypres in 1915. After that, both sides began to develop their chemical weapon arsenals as well as countermeasures.
The true purpose of the gas was generally not to kill — though it certainly could — but to produce large numbers of casualties or to pollute the battlefield and force the enemy from their positions.
Gas also caused mass panic amongst the troops because of the choking and blindness brought on by exposure causing them to flee their positions. Mustard gas was particularly terrible because in addition to severely irritating the throat, lungs, and eyes, it also burned exposed skin, creating large painful blisters.
Though artillery had been around for centuries leading up to WWI, its use on the battlefields of Europe was unprecedented. This was because of two reasons.
Second, because the world had never seen such concentrations of artillery before.
Artillery shells were fired in mass concentrations that turned the earth into such a quagmire that later shells would fail to detonate and instead they would simply bury themselves into the ground. Massive bombardments destroyed trenches and buried men alive.
Artillery bombardments were so prolific that a new term, shell shock, was developed to describe the symptoms of survivors of horrendous bombardments.
Russian special forces is often seen as a bit backward compared to NATO allies and the U.S. — with dated equipment, low budgets and ships that can’t sail.
But one force Moscow has clearly placed a lot of emphasis on are its special operations units. Like the U.S., the Russian military clearly sees how a small number of these specially-trained and-equipped troops can have an outsized influence on the battlefield — particularly against poorly organized, commanded and equipped terrorist forces like ISIS.
On May 10, 2017, the Russian military bestowed high honors on 13 members of a special forces unit that reportedly killed 300 ISIS fighters in Syria — that’s an average of 23 EKIA per man.
And by the looks of this video from the Russian Special Operations Forces, Moscow’s commandos have taken a few pages out of Washington’s playbook. From their thumb-over-bore rifle handling, to their Multicam uniforms to their OpsCore helmets and red-dot optics, the Russian special operators have clearly learned the lessons of America’s anti-terrorism experience and applied it to their best trained troops.
“We had a good advantage in terms of armament and equipment, including thermal imaging sights,” one Russian commander said of his troops’ experience in Syria. “All this added to our success.”
Not only do the Russians have the latest weapons technology and gear, they’re also using top-end electronic systems for targeting and surveillance, the video shows. And they’ve clearly come a long way from their ham-fisted anti-terrorist operations in the Chechnya of the 1990s, with high-speed direct action and snipers taking the place of tank shells and dumb bombs.
“Training is constantly being improved, and the current special operations forces are touted as highly professional and elite troops,” independent Russian security expert Igor Nikolaychuk told Sputnik News.
And by the looks of this video from the Russian Special Operations Forces, he’s not far off.
A drone-killing, directed energy weapon prototype is now in the hands of Marines. The Compact Laser Weapons System — or CLaWS — is the first ground-based laser approved by the Department of Defense for use by warfighters on the ground.
“This was all in response to a need for counter unmanned aerial systems to take down drones,” said Don Kelley, program manager for Ground Based Air Defense at Program Executive Officer Land Systems. “We developed a CLaWS prototype for Marines to use and evaluate.”
In recent years, the Defense department has assessed directed energy weapons — more commonly known as “lasers” — as an affordable alternative to traditional firepower to keep enemy drones from tracking and targeting Marines on the ground.
CLaWS is not intended to be a standalone system for Marines to use to counter enemy drones. Rather, if the prototype continues to do well in the current research and development phase, it will serve as a component to an overall system used to counter drones.
“We’re providing CLaWS to Marines as a rapid prototype for evaluation,” Kelley said. “Depending on the results, CLaWS could become part of a larger capability set.”
Rapid prototyping, rapid delivery
The GBAD program, managed within the portfolio of PEO Land Systems procured the CLaWS prototype through the Defense Ordnance Technology Consortium — or DOTC — which was commissioned by the then-Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to foster collaboration between government, industry and academia regarding ordnance technology development and prototyping.
“The typical acquisition timeline can be lengthy,” said Lt. Col. Ho Lee, product manager for GBAD Future Weapons Systems at PEO Land Systems. “But this project, from start to finish — from when we awarded the DOTC contract, to getting all the integration complete, all the testing complete, getting the Marines trained, and getting the systems ready to deploy — took about one year.”
From a production standpoint, Lee said that the program office and its partners integrated various commercial items to create CLaWS.
(U.S. Marine Corps)
“We’ve been doing rapid prototyping, rapid delivery,” said Lee. “With this and a lot of the other efforts we are doing, we are using items currently available and integrating them to meet a capability. Little development, if any, went into this.”
Leveraging expertise for increased lethality
Obtaining the green-light to deliver and deploy CLaWS requires a bit more finesse, which is why PM GBAD leveraged DoD interagency partnerships to fulfill the need.
The operational use of new laser weapons, such as CLaWS, requires approval from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, as it involves various factors such as legal reviews, concepts of employment, rules of engagement, tactics, potential collateral damage and human effects, proposed public affairs guidance and other relevant information.
“This program lives and dies with the leveraging of expertise and resources with others,” said Kelley. “It’s about getting these capabilities quickly into the hands of Marines and being good stewards of taxpayer dollars.”
Move fast and laser things
As Marines evaluate the CLaWS systems over the next few months, the GBAD program office already has their next target in mind: upgrading it.
Depending on the results, the program office says it could incorporate the CLaWS into other fixed-site and mobile C-UAS defeat capabilities.
“What’s interesting about CLaWS for the Marine Corps is, usually for things like this, we’re on the back end,” said Lee. “With this one, we’re actually in front. Everybody is watching closely to see what’s going to happen.”
This article originally appeared on Marines. Follow @USMC on Twitter.
The U.S. Army announced that the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Armored Division (1/1 AD) stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas, will convert from a Stryker brigade combat team (SBCT) to an armored brigade combat team (ABCT); and the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division (2/4 ID) stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado, will convert from an infantry brigade combat team (IBCT) to an SBCT.
“Converting a brigade combat team from infantry to armor ensures the Army remains the world’s most lethal ground combat force, able to deploy, fight, and win against any adversary, anytime and anywhere,” Secretary of the Army Mark T. Esper said.
This conversion contributes to Army efforts to build a more lethal force and is an investment to increase overmatch against our potential adversaries — one more critical step to achieving the Army Vision. This effort also postures the Army to better meet combatant commander requirements under the 2018 National Defense Strategy.
“The Army leadership determined that we needed to covert two brigade combat teams to armor and Stryker in order to deter our near-peer adversaries or defeat them if required,” said Maj. Gen. Brian J. Mennes, director of force management.
A Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle.
(U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Ellen Brabo)
Conversion of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, and the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, will begin in the spring of 2019 and spring of 2020 respectively.
This will provide the nation a 16th ABCT bringing the total number BCTs in the Regular Army (RA) and Army National Guard (ARNG) to 58. There will be a total of 31 BCTs in the RA, to include 11 ABCTs, 13 IBCTs and seven SBCTs. The ARNG will have a total of 27 BCTs, to include five ABCTs, 20 IBCTs and two SBCTs, ensuring a more balanced distribution between its light and heavy fighting forces.
If you’ve spent any amount of time in the field, then you likely understand the importance of having quality gear. It can make your life easier and more comfortable, and that alone is worth its weight in gold. One of the most crucial pieces of gear (and often uncelebrated) is a good pair of boots. Not only do you need a pair that will provide protection, support, and comfort; durability, affordability, moisture management, and longevity are other important traits to consider.
While there are a number of brands and styles to choose from, few companies have a reputation, credibility, and legacy like Altama, who has been providing footwear for the military for over 50 years. In fact, Altama is the largest footwear manufacturer for the Department of Defense. They even employ a team of military and civilian volunteers to put their boots through their paces to ensure they perform in real-life scenarios.
But no matter which boots you strap into, here are a few things you should consider when choosing your next pair.
While this might seem like the most obvious reason to purchase a good pair of boots, this wasn’t always a primary consideration. In fact, way back in the day, before the Civil War, many boots issued to troops didn’t even have a specific left or right boot. Each troop was expected to break in each pair through extended wear. As you can imagine, this made the shoe less expensive to produce, but also extremely uncomfortable, often resulting in blisters and soreness.
Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since then. Now, the top manufacturers make use of lightweight, durable materials, like knit and mesh, to improve comfort. Technical additions, like a full shank (a load bearing insert made of Nylon or other hard material), help the wearer by diminishing the load on his/her calves, arches, and knees. This has been particularly important as our service men and women find themselves carrying heavy loads on the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan.
2. Sole Toughness
A durable, non-slip sole is a must-have for operators. Operating in different topographies, such as deserts, mountains, jungles, forests, and urban environments, demands a versatile sole that can handle all surfaces and situations. Altama footwear has incorporated a high-abrasion, rubber sticky outsole into their Urban Assault shoe, which draws its inspiration from rock climbing shoes. This sole also happens to comply with OSHA standards regarding slip resistance and features a zero-drop sole which is believed to promote more of a midfoot landing, reducing wear and tear on the knees. This feature also promotes increased stability, as it offers greater contact with the floor.
3. Moisture Management
Whether you are operating in water, or simply in a hot, sweat-inducing environment, having footwear that’s suited for the task is key. Boots that keep your feet wet for prolonged periods of time can lead to problems with blisters and, in extreme cases, trench foot.
So, how do you know which shoe is right for you? Altama’s Urban Assault shoe, for example, incorporates air mesh linings that help to quickly wick sweat and moisture away from your foot. This, coupled with a chunky knit vent, promotes airflow around your foot. And, most importantly (at least to your battle buddies) it also includes an anti-microbial PU foam insole, which helps manage nasty odor.
Altama’s Maritime Assault shoe, on the other hand, features a fin-friendly fit and free-flow side drainage vents that allow water to exit the shoe for amphibious missions. The fast-dry lining also eliminates the need for a sock that’s susceptible to sogginess.
Altama has been designing footwear for over 50 years with our law enforcement and military members in mind. Check out their full line of tactical boots and shoes. Discounts are available for active duty, veteran, and law enforcement members.
Multiple media outlets are reporting that the largest non-nuclear bomb in the United States arsenal has made its combat debut.
According to a report by CNN, the GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast, also called the Mother of All Bombs, was used to hit a cave and tunnel complex used by the Afghanistan affiliate of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan.
Designation-Systems.net notes that the GBU-43 weighs 21,700 pounds – almost 11 tons – which includes 18,700 pounds of high explosive. It has a 40-inch diameter and is 30 feet long. The bomb is often used by the MC-130, a special operations variant of the C-130 Hercules.
One DOD official told FoxNews.com, “We kicked it out the back door.”
The GBU-43’s GPS guidance allows it to be dropped from high altitudes from as far as three miles away – out of the reach of some air defenses, and also allowing planes to avoid being caught in the bomb’s blast radius. The London Daily Mail noted that the bomb can leave a crater almost a thousand feet wide.
The GBU-43 replaced the BLU-82 Daisy Cutter, a Vietnam-era bomb that weighed in at 15,000 pounds, and saw action in the Vietnam War, Desert Storm, and Operation Enduring Freedom, with a similar delivery method. Designation-Systems.net notes that the bomb’s explosive was 12,600 pounds of a mixture of ammonium nitrate, polystyrene, and aluminum powder. The last BLU-82 was dropped in 2008.
The Tomahawk strike on Shayrat Air Base in western Syria was pretty potent – after all, 59 of the missiles hit the place. But the base still had aircraft taking off and landing within a day of the strike.
That system was called JP233, and while it doesn’t sound very fearsome, if World War III broke out, this was to be a key weapon in shutting down the Warsaw Pact’s air force.
The JP233 was quite a clever armament. According to the “Encyclopedia of Modern Air Weapons,” the system came in two pods. One would be hung in the rear of the aircraft carrying 30 SG357 runway-cratering munitions. Now, President Trump’s tweet that pointed out the ease of repairing runways is accurate. But this is where the second pod comes in.
The second pod, usually hung in front of the first one, carried 215 HB876 area-denial munitions. Or, in a more simple term: Land mines. These diabolical devices were designed to not only take out the trained runway-repair crews, they could also kill the vehicles that make runway repair a quick and simple task.
The Tornado would fly low and fast over the enemy airfield’s runways with the sub-munitions from two sets of pods slung underneath the fuselage scattering all over the place. If the enemy planes were in the air, they had no place to land. If they were on the ground, they were staying there until follow-up strikes could take care of them.
JP233 wasn’t just a one-trick pony. It could also be used on supply bases, highways, docks, railway yards… really just about any place where you wanted to create a bottleneck on land.
Thankfully, World War III never happened. But JP233 did see action in Operation Desert Storm on Iraqi runways. Press coverage at the time, such as a Jan. 23, 1991 article in the Los Angeles Times, blamed the Tornado’s anti-runway mission and use of JP233 for several crashes.
The blog Defence of the Realm, though, notes that of the six RAF Tornados lost during Desert Storm, only one was on a mission using JP233, and its loss was due to a crash during a low-level turn after carrying out a successful strike, not enemy action.
Still, the JP233 took the blame, and between the public-relations black eye, and the 1999 Ottawa Treaty, it was retired. Under the terms of that agreement, all but a few examples sent to museums were destroyed.
The French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation recently published a video that gives a glimpse into what the reported Franco-German next-generation aircraft might look like.
France and Germany announced in July 2017 that they would join forces to build an advanced “European” fighter to replace Dassault’s Rafales and Germany’s Eurofighter Typhoons, The War Zone reported summer 2017.
“As expected, 2-engine deltawing,” Sim Tack, the chief military analyst at Force Analysis and a global fellow at Stratfor, tweeted on July 5, 2018 about the new Dassault Aviation video, in which the conceptual fighter appears around 3:10.
“I think if they can pull it all off, this seems a legitimate candidate for a highly capable competitor to the F-35 and Su-57,” Tack told Business Insider.
Unlike the F-35, Dassault’s next-generation fighter is likely to have two engines and therefore much more thrust, Tack said.
“In terms of capabilities, the focus will probably be on stealth technology, and integration with information systems,” Tack said, such as “sharing information between aircraft, possibly commanding drones, etc.”
Tack added that it was up for debate whether this aircraft would be a fifth- or sixth-generation fighter.
The Dassault fighter also doesn’t appear to have a vertical stabilizer, something that would cut down on radar reflections from the side, giving it greater stealth capabilities, Tack said.
In any event, the next-generation fighter will probably be under development for the next 20 years, Tack said.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
Earlier this month, A-10 Thunderbolt II close-air support planes went on a 16-day deployment to Estonia — a country that along with Latvia and Lithuania, achieved independence in 1991 as the Cold War ended.
The Baltic countries joined NATO on March 29, 2004.
The A-10s, all from the 104th Fighter Squadron of the Maryland Air National Guard, were not the only troops on the scene. Air Force Combat Controllers with the 321st Special Tactics Squadron also took part – a natural team, since there have been many times where special ops teams have been bailed out by the Hogs. So, enjoy these six photos by Air Force photographer Senior Airman Ryan Conroy.
Air Force combat controllers wave to the first A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot from Maryland Air National Guard’s 104th Fighter Squadron to land in Jägala, Estonia, Aug. 10, 2017.
An Air Force combat controller takes wind speed measurements before an A-10 Thunderbolt II lands in Jägala, Estonia. The combat controller is assigned to the 321st Special Tactics Squadron.
An Air Force combat controller looks through binoculars at an A-10 Thunderbolt II that is preparing to land in Jägala, Estonia.
An A-10 Thunderbolt II assigned to the Maryland Air National Guard’s 104th Fighter Squadron ascends towards the runway in Jägala, Estonia.
An A-10 Thunderbolt II assigned to the Maryland Air National Guard’s 104th Fighter Squadron taxis in Jägala, Estonia.
Two Air Force combat controllers observe an A-10 Thunderbolt II preparing to land in Jägala, Estonia, Aug. 10, 2017. The combat controllers are assigned to the 321st Special Tactics Squadron.
If Congress enacts the Trump administration’s 2018 budget request, many in the Army will be ecstatic. Weapons contractors, maybe not so much.
The $137.2 billion request ( $166.1 billion including overseas contingency operations funds) is up by 5 percent from a year ago. It would be the most money the Army has gotten since 2012.
The budget is in tune with the priorities set by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis: Fix near-term readiness, but also make progress toward a more “modern, capable and lethal force,” said Army Budget Director Maj. Gen. Thomas A. Horlander.
The 2018 funding request is about “closing vulnerability gaps,” he said today at a Pentagon news conference. “This budget arrests Army readiness decline and sets conditions for future improvements.”
As expected, most of the money is going to personnel, operations and maintenance. The personnel account grows by $2.5 billion in 2018, and OM gets a $3.2 billion boost. Weapons modernization continues to be squeezed, with a modest increase of $600 million: procurement is slipping by $400 million but research and development is up by $1 billion from 2017.
Army personnel and readiness accounts increased significantly over 2017, while procurement declines slightly.
Horlander ran through long list of modernization priorities, which mirror those cited in recent months by the Chief of Staff, Gen, Mark Milley, and senior Army leaders: Air and missile defense, long-range fires, munitions, mobility, active protection, protection of GPS navigation, electronic warfare, cyber warfare, communications and vertical lift. These capabilities are needed for the “A2/AD fight,” said Horlander, using the Pentagon’s codeword for Chinese and Russian weapons and tactics designed to deny U.S. forces their traditional advantages.
“Air missile defense and long-range fires are the most pressing capability needs,” Horlander said.
The budget, for instance, funds 131 Patriot missile modification kits, upgrades to the Avenger and Stinger air defense systems, 6,000 guided multiple-launch rockets, a 10-year service life extension for 121 expired ATACM surface-to-surface tactical missiles, 88,000 Hydra-70 rockets, 480 war reserve Excalibur precision-guided artillery rounds, and 998 Hellfire missiles.
The Army also seeks funds to overhaul and modernize the Holston ammunition plant in Tennessee. The RDTE request funds next-generations systems such as high-energy lasers. These are the type of weapons that will “enable the Army to retain advantage against advanced adversaries and address a broader range of threats, as well as deter or defeat near-peer adversaries,” said Horlander.
To fund a surge of missiles and munitions production, the Army has had to make tradeoffs. It cut Abrams modernization from 60 tanks last year to 20 in 2018. And aviation spending — helicopters and drones — drops from $5.2 billion last year to $4.5 billion.
Aircraft procurement dropped while missiles, tracked vehicles, and other weapons rose.
The major target of all these new munitions is the Russians, and the Army plans to continue spending big bucks on the European Reassurance Initiative, started by the Obama administration to shore up U.S. allies against an increasingly aggressive Russian posture. The 2018 OCO budget seeks $3.2 billion for ERI, a $400 million bump. The money would fund rotations of Army forces, including a full armored brigade, a combat aviation brigade, a divisional mission command element and logistics support units.
The ERI and overall military support of European allies has become a rising concern on Capitol Hill. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry has directed thePentagon to study the cost of stationing Army brigades in Eastern Europe permanently, as opposed to rotating units there. “I’m not convinced it’s cheaper to rotate,” Thornberry said yesterday at the Brookings Institution. Rotations also create huge burdens on families, he said. Director of Force Structure, Resources and Assessment on the Joint Staff Lt. Gen. Anthony R. Ierardisaid the Pentagon has not begun to study that yet. “These are important questions we need to answer regarding ERI and our support of European allies,” he told me.
A growing concern going forward is how the Army will manage the elephant in its budget: its personnel account that continues to drain resources from everywhere else. With help fromCongress last year, the Army grew the active-duty ranks from 450,000 to 476,000. The addition of 26,000 troops inflates personnel costs by $2.8 billion per year. The kind of buildup that Trump has floated would bring 50,000 more soldiers into the force.
How would the Army cope financially? That’s a discussion now underway, said Horlander. After a strategic review is completed this summer, “we’ll have more information on what the true size of the force should be.”
The iconic U-2 spy plane debuted in 1955, and it’s still deployable thanks to a meticulous inspection called the Programmed Depot Maintenance every 4,700 flight hours.
This incredibly complex process requires technicians to disassemble and strip the paint off the entire plane to analyze every part and make repairs. Over 1,800 individual parts are removed and revised and 40,000 rivets inspected. After completion, the aircraft is reassembled and repainted before returning to the flight line.
For a plane that’s flown over the Soviet Union, Cuba, Korea and other places around the world since its secret introduction to the inventory, it has proven its worth. The Air Force keeps 33 of them on standby and plans to keep it flying until at least 2019.
This time lapse video from Sploid shows the entire process in under two minutes: