The 'Big Five' systems that helped win Desert Storm - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

The ‘Big Five’ systems that helped win Desert Storm

America’s ground supremacy in the 21st century is due primarily to the “Big Five” Army acquisition of the 20th century. These five systems, although designed and procured with fighting the Soviets in mind, first proved their combined might in the Middle East during Operation Desert Storm. Despite being built to stem a communist tide in the Fulda Gap of Germany, these five systems were instrumental in pushing the Iraqi Army out of Kuwait in 1991 and then toppling the Iraqi regime in 2003.

1. M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank

The ‘Big Five’ systems that helped win Desert Storm
M1A1 Abrams tanks of the 3rd Armored Division during Desert Storm (U.S. Army)

The M1 Abrams is to the Army what the F-15 Eagle is to the Air Force: iconic. Since the Marine Corps divested its tanks in 2020, the Army is now the sole American operator of the Abrams. Built to slug it out with Soviet T-72 and T-80 tanks, the Abrams entered service in 1980 to replace the M60 Patton tank. Despite being one of the heaviest tanks in modern service, its multi-fuel turbine engine can propel it to a limited top speed of 45 mph. Originally equipped with a 105mm rifled main gun, the M1A1 tanks that took part in Desert Storm were upgraded to a 120mm smoothbore main gun that fired an armor-piercing fin-stabilized discarding-sabot round. Combined with advanced Chobham composite armor, night vision optics, and modern rangefinders, the Abrams easily outclassed the Iraqi T-55, T-62, and T-72 tanks. Of the nine Abrams tanks destroyed during Desert Storm, seven were destroyed by friendly fire. The other two were scuttled to prevent their capture after being damaged. Abrams tanks were also used in the Iraq War where they saw more close-quarters urban fighting in support of infantry house-to-house clearing operations.

2. M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle

The ‘Big Five’ systems that helped win Desert Storm
An M2 Bradley of the 24th Infantry Division (U.S. Army)

The M2 Bradley had a troubled development. It was mainly a response to the Soviet BMP infantry fighting vehicles which served as both armored personnel carriers and tank-killers. The existing M113 armored personnel carrier lacked offensive capabilities in its troop-carrier configuration and was too slow to keep up with the new M1 Abrams tank. The Bradley was given the M242 25mm autocannon for its main gun and a compliment of 2 TOW anti-tank missiles. To increase its survivability, it was also outfitted with spaced laminate armor. However, in making the Bradley more lethal, the Army sacrificed the vehicle’s cargo capacity and it could only carry six passengers in addition to its crew of three. Still, the Bradley served as an excellent scout and fighting vehicle during Desert Storm. During the 100 hours of ground combat, the Bradley actually destroyed more Iraqi armored vehicles than the Abrams. 20 Bradleys were destroyed—three by enemy fire and 17 by friendly fire. During the Iraq War, the Bradley proved to be more vulnerable to IEDs and close-quarter RPG attacks and was given upgraded reactive armor. Though Bradley losses rose, crew and passenger casualties remained relatively light.

3. AH-64 Apache Attack Helicopter

The ‘Big Five’ systems that helped win Desert Storm
An AH-64 Apache in the Kuwaiti desert (U.S. Army)

Designed to replace the Vietnam-era AH-1 Cobra, the AH-64 Apache entered service with the Army in 1986. Armed with the M230 30mm chain gun and capable of carrying a combination of AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and Hydra 70 2.75-inch rockets, the Apache was built as a tin-opener for Soviet tanks. Its first action was in Panama during Operation Just Cause. General Carl Stiner, the operation’s commander, praised the Apache for its ability to deliver precision fire. “You could fire that Hellfire missile through a window from four miles away at night,” he said. It also was the Apache that fired the first shots of Operation Desert Storm. On January 17, 1991, eight Apaches flew over the desert at low altitude and destroyed an Iraqi radar station. The attack opened a gap in the radar network that allowed the first Coalition air strikes to hit with surprise. 277 Apaches took part in the war and destroyed 278 tanks in addition to numerous other Iraqi vehicles. One Apache was lost after it was hit by an RPG, though the crew survived. A deadlier threat to the Apache was the desert sand. Built to fight in Europe, the early Apaches had no engine filters for the fine particulates. Ground crews came up with the ingenious solution of covering up the engines with pantyhose on the ground. With the addition of advanced optics and weapons management systems, the Apache has become one of the deadliest battlefield implements of the 21st century.

4. UH-60 Black Hawk Medium-Lift Utility Helicopter

The ‘Big Five’ systems that helped win Desert Storm
A UH-60 Black Hawk lands to pick up troops (U.S. Army)

The UH-60 Black Hawk entered service in 1979 to replace the Vietnam-era UH-1 Iroquois, better known as the Huey, as the Army’s tactical transport helicopter. Designed to carry 11 combat-loaded troops, the Black Hawk was more survivable than the Huey thanks to its run-dry gearbox, redundant subsystems, armored seats, shock-absorbing landing gear, and ballistically-tolerant fuselage. It was first used during the invasion of Grenada in 1983 and saw action again during the invasion of Panama in 1989. During Desert Storm, the Black Hawk was instrumental in carrying out the largest air assault mission in U.S. Army history with over 300 helicopters involved. During the war, 2 Black Hawks were shot down on February 27, 1991 during a combat search and rescue mission. The Black Hawk has since been upgraded with electronic countermeasures, modern navigation systems, and in the case of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment’s Direct Action Penetrator, M134 7.62mm miniguns and Hydra 70 2.75-inchrockets. Two stealth versions of the Black Hawk also helped to deliver the Navy SEALs that killed Osama bin Laden during Operation Neptune Spear in 2011.

5. MIM-104 Patriot Missile

The ‘Big Five’ systems that helped win Desert Storm
A Patriot missile battery set up in the desert (U.S. Army)

The MIM-104 Patriot is a surface-to-air missile that replaced both the MIM-14 Nike Hercules High to Medium Air Defense missile and the MIM-23 Hawk medium tactical air defense missile. Though it entered service in 1981, the Patriot was unproven in combat when it deployed to the Middle East in 1990. In addition to its anti-aircraft mission the Patriot was also called upon to intercept Iraqi Scud and Al Hussein missiles. Over the course of the war, Patriot missiles attempted to engage over 40 Iraqi missiles. On February 15, 1991, President George H. W. Bush visited Raytheon’s Patriot missile plant and praised its success in the Middle East. “Patriot is 41 for 42: 42 Scuds engaged, 41 intercepted!” The President’s claim of a 97% success rate was challenged by independent investigations into the Patriot’s effectiveness and a government investigation into a failed Scud intercept that resulted in the deaths of 28 American soldiers. The latter was blamed on a one-third of a second deviation in the system’s internal clock due to it being in operation for over 100 hours. Still, the Patriot remains the primary anti-ballistic missile system for America and its allies and is expected to remain in use until at least 2040.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Army-funded technology wins Oscar for technical acheivement

Creative geniuses behind digital humans and human-like characters in Hollywood blockbusters Avatar, Blade Runner 2049, Maleficent, Furious 7, The Jungle Book, Ready Player One, and others have U.S. Army-funded technology to thank for visual effects.

That technology was developed at the U.S. Army Institute for Creative Technologies at the University of Southern California. The ICT is funded by the RDECOM Research Laboratory, the Army’s corporate research laboratory (ARL).

Developers of that technology were recently announced winners of one of nine scientific and technical achievements by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.


A Technical Achievement Award will be presented at the Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills on Feb. 9, 2019, to Paul Debevec, Tim Hawkins, and Wan-Chun Ma for the invention of the Polarized Spherical Gradient Illumination facial appearance capture method, and to Xueming Yu for the design and engineering of the Light Stage X capture system during the Academy’s annual Scientific and Technical Awards Presentation.

The ‘Big Five’ systems that helped win Desert Storm

Creative geniuses behind digital humans and human-like characters in Hollywood blockbusters have U.S. Army-funded technology to thank for visual effects. Pictured here, engineers work on the Light Stage X capture system’s recording process.

(U.S. Army Institute for Creative Technologies)

The Scientific and Technical Academy Awards demonstrate a proven record of contributing significant value to the process of making motion pictures.

The Academy Certificate reads: “Polarized Spherical Gradient Illumination was a breakthrough in facial capture technology allowing shape and reflectance capture of an actor’s face with sub-millimeter detail, enabling the faithful recreation of hero character faces. The Light Stage X structure was the foundation for all subsequent innovation and has been the keystone of the method’s evolution into a production system.”

The new high-resolution facial scanning process uses a custom sphere of computer-controllable LED light sources to illuminate an actor’s face with special polarized gradient lighting patterns which allow digital cameras to digitize every detail of every facial expression at a resolution down to a tenth of a millimeter.

The ‘Big Five’ systems that helped win Desert Storm

A Soldier demonstrates the Light Stage X capture system technology.

(U.S. Army Institute for Creative Technologies)

The technology has been used by the visual effects industry to help create digital human and human-like characters in a number of movies and has scanned over one hundred actors including Tom Cruise, Angelina Jolie, Zoe Saldana, Hugh Jackman, Brad Pitt, and Dwayne Johnson at University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies.

Additionally, the Light Stage technology assists the military in facilitating recordings for its Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program through a system called the Digital Survivor of Sexual Assault (DS2A). DS2A leverages research technologies previous created for the Department of Defense under the direction of the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and allows for Soldiers to interact with a digital guest speaker and hear their stories. As part of the ongoing SHARP training, this technology enables new SHARP personnel, as well as selected Army leaders, to participate in conversations on SHARP topics through the lens of a survivor’s firsthand account. It is the first system of its kind to be used in an Army classroom.

All four awardees were members of USC ICT’s Graphics Laboratory during the development of the technology from 2006 through 2016.

The ‘Big Five’ systems that helped win Desert Storm

Paul Debevec is one of the designers and engineers of the Light Stage X capture system.

(U.S. Army Institute for Creative Technologies)

Paul Debevec continues as an Adjunct Research Professor at USC Viterbi and at the USC ICT Vision Graphics Lab. Wan-Chun “Alex” Ma was Paul Debevec’s first Ph.D student at USC ICT and Xueming Yu joined the USC ICT Graphics Lab in 2008 as a USC Viterbi Master’s student. Tim Hawkins now runs a commercial light stage scanning service in Burbank for OTOY, who licensed the light stage technology through USC Stevens in 2008.

This is the second Academy Sci-Tech award being given to the Light Stage technology developed at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies. The first, given nine years ago, was for the earliest light stage capture devices and the “image-based facial rendering system developed for character relighting in motion pictures” and was awarded to Paul Debevec, Tim Hawkins, John Monos, and Mark Sagar.

Established in 1999, the Army’s ICT is a DOD-sponsored University Affiliated Research Center working in collaboration with the Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM) Research Laboratory’s UARCs are aligned with prestigious institutions conducting research at the forefront of science and innovation.

The RDECOM Research Laboratory is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to ensure decisive overmatch for unified land operations to empower the Army, the joint warfighter and our nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.

This article originally appeared on the United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

5 ‘boondoggles’ that actually slaughtered enemy troops

There are a lot of valid criticisms of most weapon programs while they’re in development, but some get hit with the dreaded title of “boondoggle,” a massive waste of taxpayer funds that should be canceled. But some boondoggles prove the naysayers wrong and go on to have successful careers protecting U.S. troops and killing enemies. Here are 5 of the weapons that ascended:


The ‘Big Five’ systems that helped win Desert Storm
Abrams tanks roll down Norwegian streets

(U.S. Army Sgt. Williams Quinteros)

M1 Abrams tank

The M1 Abrams was famously seen as a failing, expensive program in its early days. It was an heir to two failed tank programs, the MBT-70, and the XM803. Both programs cost billions but failed to produce a suitable weapon, largely because they were too complex and didn’t quite work. So, when the Army pursued a turbine-powered tank with the XM1 program, there were a lot of naysayers.

And the initial prototypes kept the laughter going. The Abrams was massive and heavy and burned through fuel, and many thought it was clear that the Army had made another misstep. But then the Abrams went to its first war game and devastated more conventional tanks. Then Desert Storm came and 2,000 Abrams tanks slammed their way through Iraqi forces with losses of only 18 tanks and zero lost crews.

The ‘Big Five’ systems that helped win Desert Storm

Kadena F-15C Eagle takes off like the glorious beast she is…

(U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Matthew Seefeldt)

F-15

The F-15 was a response to the Air War over Vietnam where multi-role F-4s were struggling against older MiGs. The Air Force decided they needed a dedicated air superiority fighter once again. But the program was expensive, leading to the press and Congress saying the service was buying too many of an overpriced, overly complex aircraft when they could just buy Navy F-14s instead.

But the F-15 has a legendary combat history with 104 enemy shootdowns for only two combat losses, both to ground fire. No enemy force has been able to prove an air-to-air victory over the F-15 (though some have claimed it).

The ‘Big Five’ systems that helped win Desert Storm

An F-14D Tomcat flies during Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001. The plane was retired in 2006.

(U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Michael D. Gaddis)

F-14

But back to the F-14, the Tomcat was designed to defend carrier fleets and beat out other planes during a fly-off before the Navy picked it. But during development, test pilots encountered multiple stalls in the plane and had to eject multiple times. In order to sidestep criticism, especially from then-Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, the Navy rushed the fighter into production. It came under fire again in 1989 as Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney tried to cut purchases to save other programs.

But the F-14 ended up proving itself in U.S. service over Libya, Iraq, Bosnia, and Afghanistan, but it really dominated in Iranian service back when they were a U.S. ally. In all, the F-14 is thought to have a 164-to-1 record of air-to-air kills and losses. The number is a little soft, though, since it takes data from multiple services including Iran.

The ‘Big Five’ systems that helped win Desert Storm
F/A-18 Cleaning

(U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Donell Bryant)

F-18

Yeah, there are a lot of planes on the list. And the F-18 was the Navy’s answer to the high and rising costs of the F-14. Congress told it to find a cheaper plane to fill some slots that would otherwise require the F-14, but then the cost of the F-18 program ballooned from billion to billion despite the F-18 having less range, speed, and ordnance carrying capability.

The F-18 would prove itself though, later leading the Navy to brag that it had broken “all records for tactical aircraft in availability, reliability and maintainability.” During Desert Storm, individual planes could shoot down Iraqi jets and take out ground targets on the same mission. It was the Navy’s primary air combatant for decades.

The ‘Big Five’ systems that helped win Desert Storm

The B-1B Lancer

(U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Emily Copeland)

B-1

The B-1 Bomber bucked the trend of bomber design in the late 1960s. Most were focused on faster, higher-flying bombers that could fly over enemy air defenses and outrun fighter taking off for intercepts. But the B-1 was envisioned as a low-flying bomber that would maneuver through air defenses instead. But the costly development was controversial, and the B-1 bomber was canceled in 1977.

But Reagan revived the program in 1981, and the requirements of the plane were changed, slowing it to Mach 1.2 and increasing the required payload. The production B-1B debuted in 1984 and “holds almost 50 world records for speed, payload, range, and time of climb in its class,” according to Airman Magazine. It has flown over Yugoslavia, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and accounts for 40 percent or more of bombs dropped during some periods of conflict in those countries.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

High-tech body armor of the future could come from spider butts

The silk spiders produce is tougher than Kevlar and more flexible than nylon, and Air Force researchers think it could be key to creating new materials that take the load and heat off troops in the field.

Scientists at the Air Force Research Lab and Purdue University have been examining natural silk to get a sense of its ability to regulate temperature — silk can drop 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit through passive, radiative cooling, which means radiating more heat than it absorbs, according to an Air Force news release.


The ‘Big Five’ systems that helped win Desert Storm

Spc. Arielle Mailloux gets some help adjusting her protoype Generation III Improved Outer Tactical Vest from Capt. Lindsey Pawlowski, Aug. 21, 2012, at Fort Campbell, Ky.

(US Army photo by Megan Locke Simpson)

Those researchers want to apply that property to synthetics, like artificial spider silk, which is stronger than Kevlar, the polymer typically used in body armor, and more flexible than nylon.

Enhancing body armor and adding comfort for troops is one of many improvements hoped for by a team led by Dr. Augustine Urbas, a researcher in the Functional Materials Division of the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate.

“Understanding natural silk will enable us to engineer multifunctional fibers with exponential possibilities. The ultra-strong fibers outperform the mechanical characteristics of many synthetic materials as well as steel,” Urbas said in the release. “These materials could be the future in comfort and strength in body armor and parachute material for the warfighter.”

In addition to making flexible, cooler body armor, the material could also be used to make tents that keep occupants cooler as well as parachutes that can carry heavier loads.

Artificial spider silk may initially cost double what Kevlar does, but its light weight, strength, flexibility, and potential for other uses make it more appealing, according to the release.

Air Force researchers are also looking at Fibroin, a silk protein produced by silkworms, to create materials that can reflect, absorb, focus, or split light under different circumstances.

It’s not the military’s first attempt to shake up its body armor with natural or synthetic substances.

The ‘Big Five’ systems that helped win Desert Storm

Maj. James Pelland, team lead for Marine Corps Systems Command’s Individual Armor Team, jumps over a log to demonstrate the mobility provided by a prototype Modular Scalable Vest, the next generation body armor for the Marine Corps.

(USMC photo by Monique Randolph)

Two years ago, the Army said it was looking into using genetically modified silkworms to create a tough, elastic fiber known as Dragon Silk.

Dr. James Zheng, chief scientist for project manager Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment, told Army Times at the time that while the Army is developing and testing material solutions all the time, “Mother Nature has created and optimized many extraordinary materials.”

At the end of 2016, then-Air Force Academy cadet Hayley Weir and her adviser, professor Ryan Burke, successfully tested a kind of viscous substance that could be used to enhance existing body armor. Weir did not reveal the formula for the substance, but she used plastic utensils and a KitchenAid mixer to whip up the gravy-like goo, placing it in vacuum-sealed bags and flattened into quarter-inch layers.

The material was designed to be lighter than standard Kevlar and offer more flexibility for the wearer. During tests, when struck by bullets, the gooey material absorbed the impact and stopped the bullets.

“Like Under Armour, for real,” Weir told the Colorado Springs Gazette.

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

popular

These are the 5 best snipers in modern history

The sniper is more than an expert marksman and being a sniper is about more than one good shot. Snipers are highly-trained in stealth movement, allowing them to slowly infiltrate enemy positions and observe their movements. Taking out a high-ranking official is just one of the benefits of a sniper team.

Once behind enemy lines, they provide crucial intelligence information and reconnaissance on enemy movements not to mention the size, strength and equipment of the enemy.


The lethality of the sniper can provide overwatch for regular forces on the ground and strike fear into the heart of an enemy encampment. When a sniper does take that well-placed shot, it can change history. These are the 5 best snipers in modern history:

5. Unknown Canadian Special Forces Sniper

No one knows the name of this Canadian sniper because he’s still out there, giving terrorists a reason to consider giving up on terrorism altogether – lest they get a bullet they won’t even see coming.

This special operator from the great north took down a Taliban fighter in Afghanistan from more than two miles away. Using a McMillan TAC-50 sniper rifle from an elevated position, he fired the shot from nearly twice as far as the weapon’s maximum range. In 10 seconds, it was all over.

To make that shot takes more than crosshairs. The sniper’s spotter was likely using a telescope to make its target. The sniper then has to account for gauge wind speeds, distances, terrain, heat and even the curvature of the earth to hit its mark.

The ‘Big Five’ systems that helped win Desert Storm

4. Red Army Capt. Vasily Zaytsev

It’s one thing to be a successful sniper when the world around you is quiet. It’s a whole other beast to do it in the stadium of death that was the World War II siege of Stalingrad. Vasily Zaytsev grew up in the Russian wilderness, learning to shoot by necessity, hunting food for his family.

It was just as necessary when he was transferred from the Russian Navy into the Red Army following the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, a gig he volunteered for. He took down 255 Nazis at Stalingrad, creating a new method for snipers in fixed areas, called the “sixes.” He was briefly wounded but returned to the front eventually ending the war in Germany with around 400 total kills – often using a standard issue rifle.

The ‘Big Five’ systems that helped win Desert Storm

3. Chief Petty Officer Chris Kyle

“The Deadliest Sniper in U.S. Military History,” this Navy SEAL’s exploits were known to both the Marines he protected as well as the enemy. The Marines called him “The Legend.” Insurgents called him “The Devil.” They also put an ,000 bounty on his head.

Kyle learned to shoot from the tender age of 8 years old, and joined the Naval Special Warfare Command in 2001. He would do a total of four tours in Iraq, racking up so many confirmed and unconfirmed kills even he lost track of them all. To Kyle, however, it was all to protect his Marines. And the Marines loved him for it.

The ‘Big Five’ systems that helped win Desert Storm

2. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Hathcock

Moving on from “The Legend” to a legend even among other snipers, comes Gunny Hathcock. Hell hath no fury like Carlos Hathcock when the lives of his fellow Americans are on the line.

“If I didn’t get the enemy, they were going to kill the kids over there,” he once said.

His exploits in Vietnam are each worth a Hollywood blockbuster, from the time he low-crawled for miles to take out a North Vietnamese general, to his showdown with “The Apache,” a female sniper who tortured American GIs to make Hathcock come out and fight.

He did. He called the shot that killed The Apache, “The best shot I ever made.”

The ‘Big Five’ systems that helped win Desert Storm

1. Finnish Army 2nd Lt. Simo Häyhä

No sniper’s record can compare to that of Lt. Simo Häyhä. When the USSR invaded Finland in 1939, Häyhä set out to kill as many Red Army soldiers as possible. It earned him the nickname “White Death” and a record that still stands.

The final tally on that promise turned out to be a lot: 505 kills in fewer than 100 days. That means the old farmer from Rautajävi killed at least five people a day on average, all with just the iron sights on his rifle.

Every countersniper the Russians sent to kill the White Death never returned. Even when the Red Army tried to use artillery to kill him, they weren’t successful. One Russian marksman got lucky enough to hit Häyhä in his left cheek with an explosive bullet, but the old man stood up with half his face blown off and killed his would-be assassin. He lived to the ripe old age of 96.

When you come at the king, you best not miss.

Articles

This is the most powerful sidearm ever issued by the US military

In 1846, American firearms legend Samuel Colt teamed with Capt. Samuel Hamilton Walker to produce the most powerful sidearm ever issued to the U.S. military – the Colt Walker 1847.


Walker, a Texas Ranger (no joke) and officer in the militaries of both the Republic of Texas and the United States when Texas entered the Union, served in the American West’s many armed conflicts. He fought the Indian Wars and the Texian War of Independence as well as the Mexican-American War.

The ‘Big Five’ systems that helped win Desert Storm

After he was discharged from the Texas Rangers, Walker self-funded a trip to New York to meet Colt. The duo based their design on the five-round Colt Paterson revolver. Walker and Colt would add a sixth round to the chamber, along with a stationary trigger and guard. With that, they created the most powerful black powder handgun ever made.

With a 9-inch barrel and .44 caliber round, this weapon had an effective range of 100 yards and the muzzle energy of a .357 Magnum. At only 4.5 pounds, the Colt Walker 1847 was the most powerful U.S. military sidearm ever issued and the most powerful pistol until the introduction of the Magnum .357 in 1935. Walker himself carried two of his own pistols into Mexico during the war with the U.S. mounted rifles.

When one of his troops killed a Mexican soldier with the pistol at Veracruz, a medical officer reportedly remarked that the hand cannon shot hit with equal force and range as a .54-caliber Mississippi Rifle.

The ‘Big Five’ systems that helped win Desert Storm
(Warner Bros.)

There were some drawbacks to the design, including that sometimes the cylinders blew up in the shooter’s hand due to the amount of powder used — which was twice the amount used in similar weapons of the time. Colt recommended using 50 grains of powder, instead of the prescribed 60. Lard was sometimes used to keep all the cylinders from exploding at once.

Walker was killed leading troops through Huamantla, Mexico, during the Mexican-American War. Colt, who was bankrupt when he met Walker, rebuilt his business and reputation beginning with the Colt Walker 1847.

The ‘Big Five’ systems that helped win Desert Storm

The Colt Walker’s legacy lives on in the hearts of firearms enthusiasts and American historians. In 2008, an original model, with original powder flask, fetched $920,000 at auction. That model was sold by Montana’s John McBride, whose great-great uncle was a Mexican War veteran.

Watch below as two European enthusiasts load and shoot a reproduction of the Colt Walker 1847.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Firearms: Training solo versus training in groups

Firearms training presupposes a purpose or goal when we step out onto the range. While most would agree that training with your firearm is an essential part of improving skills; without a method to track your progress or reassess your goals, training turns quickly into recreation. There is no purpose beyond punching some holes in paper or seeing if that watermelon really does explode as it does on video. We’re not saying that it’s not fun. It just isn’t really training.

There’s an old saying, “You don’t win nothing for practice. You don’t win nothing without it.” Grammar aside, we agree. Practice means working on a skill. In any physical endeavor, there is no substitute for putting in reps. The arena of use doesn’t matter, be it self-defense, hunting, or competition. The path from competence to proficiency to mastery is one that’s sometimes solitary and sometimes shared.

Whether training by yourself, with a partner, or as part of a class each dynamic has benefits and drawbacks. But each has a place in skill developing.


The ‘Big Five’ systems that helped win Desert Storm

Photos by Jay Canter and Muzzle Flash Media

Take a Class

Taking a course requires a commitment of time and money. Classes offer students a predetermined focus or theme revolving around a specific skill, and there are a multitude of different types of classes available.However, not all courses are created equal.

So you need to do some research to answer some basic questions. Is the individual/company providing the course reputable? Have they been around for a while? Are the reviews for the course good? Is the class size reasonable for the skill(s) being taught?

We recently took a defensive handgun class with Aaron Cowan of Sage Dynamics. Sage Dynamics was founded in 2012, and the reviews for the defensive handgun course were positive. The course had 18 participants, was taught over two days, and the participants were a mix of law enforcement and civilians.

Perhaps the defining element of the class was Cowan’s discussion of not just how something is done, but why it’s done. Knowing how to do something is important, but knowing why something is done in a certain way is vital when building skills because it defines a skill’s application. Real-life situations are not neat. Bad guys don’t just stand there, innocents are almost always involved, and only God knows what they’re going to do.

There are some drawbacks to training classes. They tend to be costly and don’t always fit your schedule. Unless you’re lucky enough to live near a training center with open enrollment classes, such as Gunsite or the Sig Academy, or a city where classes are often hosted, you’ll have to travel. Now, that means road tripping or booking flights and arranging lodging. Then there’s the added hassle of flying with guns and ammunition. Class size has a significant impact on the quality of the instruction. If there are too many participants, the likelihood of getting significant one-on-one time with the instructor goes down.

Or, if your skill level happens to fall in the middle of the ol’ bell curve, and you’re not outspoken, you may be easily overlooked. There’s also the harsh reality that simply taking a class, even with all the time and money invested, will not make you a better a shooter — however, this is one of the most important aspects of taking a class, learning how to improve your abilities on your own or with a buddy. It’ll simply give you the tools to pursue being a better shooter.

The ‘Big Five’ systems that helped win Desert Storm

Photos by Jay Canter and Muzzle Flash Media

Instructor skill set is critical. The ability of the instructor to execute his/her own training philosophy and required skills will make or break the class. We’re not saying the instructor must be former military, law enforcement, a national champion, or world-renowned hunter. There are many excellent shooters who are simply not excellent teachers. On the flip side, an instructor must be able to walk their talk. The best firearm instructors have the skills to execute what they teach.

Some group settings come with interesting twists. All students in RECOIL’s own Summit in the Sand training event, held in fall of 2017, were provided SIG P320 X5 pistols and ammunition for the class. Students got to run drills with an unfamiliar gun that separated them from the baggage they normally brought to the range with their own pistols. Aside from taking you slightly out of your element, running something strange also gives you a different perspective on your own gear, helping inform future gear purchases.

Using the P320 X5s, students either walked away with a greater appreciation for the guns they normally ran, or left scratching their chin and wondering if maybe it was time to go shopping for a new EDC.

The ‘Big Five’ systems that helped win Desert Storm

Photos by Jay Canter and Muzzle Flash Media

Training with a buddy

Training with a partner, friend, family member, or mentor is another good way to advance your training agenda. It provides a free(-ish) and flexible alternative to training in a group setting. You’ve got to provide your own targetry, but paper is cheap and steel lasts a long time, as does a rubber dummy. And going to the range with a partner is less of a scheduling challenge than wrapping your schedule around a class and skips the pain of planning and traveling, or telling the significant other you’re going to miss your in-laws’ 50th wedding anniversary party.

The variables that loom large are the commitment to your training goals, the skills to practice, to what degree they are practiced, and the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) of your partner.

If your partner’s KSAs are less than yours, you may wind up in a case of the not knowing what you don’t know, which can derail your progress. If your shot group looks like you’re using a shotgun while combatting a severe case of hiccups and your buddy looks you in the eye and tells you your group is, “a bit wild,” that may be an accurate statement, but it won’t help you correct the problem. He or she may dig deep and say something profound like, “It seems your sight alignment is off.” That’s a slightly more helpful suggestion, but still falls short of correcting the problem. Yet shooting with someone of lesser skills is not without benefit.

You might notice an error in how they shoot and realize it’s a common problem. That realization hopefully puts you on the path to correcting the problem. And, if you’re at all competitive, training with a partner will motivate you both to a higher level of performance as you practice. Bragging rights do matter, especially if there’s a cigar or case of beer on the line when it’s all said and done.

While training with a partner of like abilities can be good, it shares some of the same pitfalls as training with someone of lesser ability. Most notably, not knowing what you don’t know. This lack of knowledge makes progress on your training goal a hit-or-miss proposition if you find yourself struggling. So when you hit that point of failure neither of you really knows how to solve the problem. The temptation at this point is to simply switch to a drill you’re more comfortable with.

The ‘Big Five’ systems that helped win Desert Storm

Photos by Jay Canter and Muzzle Flash Media

Shooting with someone of like abilities helps in reinforcing good habits, as your buddy is likely to call you out when you get sloppy. Your partner is able to give you more accurate feedback, such as telling you that you’re pushing forward on the gun as you pull the trigger. This is helpful, but feedback without instruction doesn’t give you the tools to correct the problem.

The third option, training with someone who is significantly better than you, eliminates the most glaring of problems noted above. They’ll know what you don’t. They’ll be able to not only tell you what you are doing wrong, but help you correct the error. They can take you to the point of failure and give you tools to move past it.

They can help you refine your training goal and give you the practice scenarios to aid in achieving the desired outcome. They can teach you how to self-diagnose problems. There is the normally unspoken motivation to shoot as well they do along with the awareness that, in most cases, it is possible.

The ‘Big Five’ systems that helped win Desert Storm

Photos by Jay Canter and Muzzle Flash Media

Flying solo

Training by yourself is the most flexible way to train. You decide when, where, and what skills you’re going to practice and how many rounds you’re going to shoot. It can be most relaxing, as you’re not comparing yourself to — or being judged by someone. Yet, this requires the most self-discipline. Without it, your practice session can quickly go from a bona fide training day to just blowing up household objects found on the range.

The major failing, again, is not knowing what you don’t know. Unless you’ve reached the level of being able to self-diagnose, it’s difficult to move past the point of failure. There is also the common tendency of practicing what we’re already good at. Fun? Yes, but fun alone isn’t much help in advancing your overall training agenda.

We don’t get better by wishing. Wanting something doesn’t make it happen. There are many avenues of training and some are inherently better than others. We suggest training with someone whose abilities outmatch your own or paying to learn from bona fide professionals are the most efficient ways to go — and combining the two is even better. That being said, it’s not the only way.

Editor’s Note: The Best of Both Worlds

An alternate, and highly beneficial form of group training is competition. While matches don’t provide much opportunity for one-on-one remedial instruction, they do offer a unique chance to pressure test the skills you’ve worked so hard to cultivate through the other methods listed by Kris in his article. Shooting unfamiliar courses of fire among a group of shooters all vying for status under time limit adds a whole slew of stressors that are all excellent tools for determining just how deeply you’ve been able to program your shooting skills.

In RECOIL’s Summit in the Sand training event, we gave students one day of formal instruction followed by one-day competition that allowed attendees to check their learning progress against their peers. The P320 X5 gave students a unique tool to gain experience. Even though the P320 was designed from the ground up as a duty pistol, the X5 is a highly refined version of that template optimized for speed and efficiency on the competition circuit, showcasing a cross-pollination of ideal features from both the tactical and competition worlds.

Ammunition for Summit in the Sand was also provided by SIG. In addition to the FMJ range ammo we used, SIG also has the corresponding V-Crown line of defensive hollow point ammo. Being able to train with the same brand of ammo you carry eliminates one more variable between training and carry.

This article originally appeared on Recoilweb. Follow @RecoilMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This Czech training jet was the Warsaw Pact’s answer to the T-38

The T-38 Talon has seen a long career training fighter pilots, entering service in 1961. Since then, over 72,000 pilots have been trained in that plane. But there were a number of countries that needed an advanced jet trainer, but had no access to the T-38. Those would be the Soviet Union and their allies.


Thankfully, for them, the Czechoslovakian aircraft manufacturer Aero came along. In 1972, the L-39 Albatros entered service with the Czechoslovakian Air Force, and then was imported by the Soviet Union and its allies. In the 45 years since, it has proven to be an excellent trainer and light-attack plane. MilitaryFactory.com notes that almost 3,000 of these planes have been built – compared to only 1,146 T-38s!

The ‘Big Five’ systems that helped win Desert Storm
An Aero L-39 Albatros on takeoff. (Wikimedia Commons)

Unlike the T-38, the L-39 wasn’t supersonic – its top speed is 391 miles per hour. It’s just under 40 feet six inches long, with a wingspan of roughly 31 feet, and about 15 feet six inches tall. It has a maximum range of just under 1,100 miles. The lane can carry up to 1,100 pounds of weapons, including a 23mm cannon in a centerline pod, AA-2 Atoll missiles, and rocket pods. There are also provisions for two wing tanks.

The L-39 was exported to the Soviet Union (and after 1991, to the various successor states), as well as to many other Warsaw Pact countries (Poland being a notable exception), and to planes like Libya, Algeria, Vietnam, and North Korea. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the L-39 airframe has been receiving Western technology, including engines and avionics.

The L-39’s 45 years of service have seen huge changes. Over 200 L-39s are in private hands across the United States, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. You can see a video about this long-lasting trainer below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hi9c3vhK6vc
MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is Russia’s flying ‘tank killer’

During the last years of the Cold War, the Soviet Union was debuting two aircraft intended to hit ground targets on a tactical level. The Sukhoi Su-25 Frogfoot was one of these planes, the Soviet (and later, Russian) answer to the A-10. The other plane was the MiG-27 Flogger, which had some tank-killing power in its own right.

How could the MiG-27, a modification of the MiG-23 Flogger (which was designed to fight other fighters) be such an effective option against tanks? Well, one answer is in the gun — and as the A-10 has demonstrated, the right gun can do a hell of a lot of damage to armor on the ground.


The United States chose the GAU-8 as its tank-killer, pairing it with 1,174 30mm rounds to deliver that sweet, iconic BRRRT. Russia, on the other hand, opted for the GSh-6-30. According to RussianAmmo.org, this gun fires a staggering 5,000 rounds per minute. The only problem here is that the MiG-27 Flogger could only carry 260 rounds for this gun — which is enough for all of three seconds of firing time.

The ‘Big Five’ systems that helped win Desert Storm

The GSh-6-30 cannon is the heart of the MiG-27 Flogger.

(Photo by VargaA)

The Flogger didn’t just have a gun, though. The World Encyclopaedia of Modern Aircraft Armament notes that MiG-27 Flogger also could carry missiles, like the AS-7 Kerry and the AS-14 Kedge, for attacking ground targets. This platform could also haul up to a dozen 250-kilogram bombs, six 500-kilogram bombs, or four UB-32-57 rocket pods. The rocket pods were particularly lethal — each pod holds 32 S-5 rockets, armed with one of nine warheads, one of which was an extremely potent anti-tank option.

The ‘Big Five’ systems that helped win Desert Storm

A MiG-27 taking off.

(Photo by Rob Schleiffert)

The MiG-27 has retired from the service of Russia and former Soviet republics. India, however, still has this plane in service and there are a dozen more in Kazakh service.

Learn more about this lethal Russian attack plane that could kill tanks in the video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXUp71rd5q4

www.youtube.com

popular

This is what happened when a C-130 and a C-17 had a baby

The C-130 has a long legacy of getting troops and cargo from point A to point B. However, while the Hercules is versatile (from a gunship to wielding the powers of the Shadow) and a legend, let’s face it, it does have limitations. Part of it is the fact it can carry 22 tons at most in the C-130J-30 version.


So, Airbus decided to try to address that shortcoming. The result is the A400M Atlas, and like Japan’s C-2 transport, it is intended to fit in the niche between the C-130 and the C-17.

The difference is that while Japan chose to build a scaled-down C-17, Airbus decided that the answer involved giving the C-130 a “steroid” boost, just as Japan did with the F-16.

The ‘Big Five’ systems that helped win Desert Storm
The 58 foot by 13 foot by 13 foot cargo bay of the A400M. (Wikimedia Commons)

The result is a plane that lists more (37 tons compared to 22), has more endurance (4,800 nautical miles to 2,100), and which can still land on rough fields like the C-130. The C-17, according to an Air Force fact sheet, needs a 3,500 foot runway.

So, what exactly does this mean? The cargo hold is 58 feet long, 13 feet high, and 13 feet wide. Airbus says the plane can carry an NH90 or CH-47 helicopter, or most infantry fighting vehicles.

And we’re not talking a Stryker — we’re talking a heavy infantry fighting vehicle like Germany’s Puma.

The ‘Big Five’ systems that helped win Desert Storm
Two of the A400M’s engines turn clockwise, two turn counter-clockwise. (Wikimedia Commons)

The A400M will also be able to haul troops, and unlike the C-2 or C-17, it is also capable of being used as a tanker. Yeah, like the C-130, the Atlas is capable of topping up fighters on a ferry run or when they are headed out to carry strikes.

Below, you can see the Atlas do a move that few transports can do. But ultimately, this transport’s going to be doing a lot of hauling. Already, 46 are in service, with a total of 174 ordered.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

These pics of an F-35 in the snow-covered mountains are epic

The stunning photographs in this post were taken on Feb. 21, 2019, by our friend and photographer Christopher McGreevy.

They show a 461th FLTS F-35A from Edwards Air Force Base, at low level, on the Sidewinder low level route, enroute to the famous “Jedi Transition.”

While we are used to see some great photographs of the F-35s, F-16s, and many other types thundering over the desert in the “Star Wars” canyon, the rare snow days in California provided a fantastic background for these shots McGreevy shot from an unusual spot, deep in the Sierra Mountains.


As mentioned several times here at The Aviationist, what makes the low level training so interesting, is the fact that aircraft flying the low level routes are involved in realistic combat training. Indeed, although many current and future scenarios involve stand-off weapons or drops from high altitudes, fighter pilots still practice on an almost daily basis to infiltrate heavily defended targets and to evade from areas protected by sophisticated air defense networks as those employed in Iran, Syria or North Korea. While electronic countermeasures help, the ability to get bombs on target and live to fight another day may also depend on the skills learnt at treetop altitude.

To be able to fly at less than 2,000 feet can be useful during stateside training too, when weather conditions are such to require a low level leg to keep visual contact with the ground and VMC (Visual Meteorological Conditions). Aircraft involved in special operations, reconnaissance, Search And Rescue, troops or humanitarian airdrops in trouble spots around the world may have to fly at low altitudes.

Even a stealth plane (or helicopter), spotted visually by an opponent, could be required to escape at tree top height to survive an engagement by enemy fighter planes or an IR guided missile.

That’s why low level corridors like the Sidewinder and the LFA-7 aka “Mach Loop” in the UK are so frequently used to train fighter jet, airlifter and helicopter pilots.

And such training pays off when needed. As happened, in Libya, in 2011, when RAF C-130s were tasked to rescue oil workers that were trapped in the desert. The airlifter took off from Malta and flew over the Mediteranean, called Tripoli air traffic control, explained who they were and what they were up to, they got no reply from the controllers, therefore continued at low level once over the desert and in hostile airspace.

H/T to our friend Christopher McGreevy for sending us these shots. Make sure to visit his stunning Instagram page here.

This article originally appeared on The Aviationist. Follow @theaviationist on Twitter.

Articles

How the tough-as-nails OV-10 Bronco landed on a carrier

Sure, we all love the “Brrrrrt” of America’s A-10 Warthog — the legendary close air support plane that’s become the terror of Taliban insurgents and Iraqi bad guys alike.


The ‘Big Five’ systems that helped win Desert Storm
This photo shows a row of OV-10 Broncos parked on the deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Saipan. (WATM photo)

But before the A-10 was the OV-10 Bronco. And while not a 100 percent close air support plane and tank killer like the A-10, the Bronco could deliver it’s own version of hurt when soldiers and Marines were in a pinch.

It’s rugged, powerful and can land just about anywhere with its beefed-up landing gear and high wing. In fact, it was even tested aboard the carrier USS John F. Kennedy in 1968 — without arresting gear.

The ‘Big Five’ systems that helped win Desert Storm
Check out that smokin’ gear!

Since it was retired in the 1995, the OV-10 has experienced a bit of a resurgence these days, with many in the special operations community, Army and Marine Corps calling for a “low and slow” light attack aircraft that can carry more, fly faster and orbit for longer than a helicopter, at a lot less cost than a sophisticated fighter like the F-35 Lightning II or even the aging A-10.

Heck, it even has a small cargo bay for gear and troops.

The ‘Big Five’ systems that helped win Desert Storm
No cat? No problem…

While there are other options out there, the OV-10 had been in the post-Vietnam inventory for years and still has a solid following in the services. In fact, U.S. special operations troops tested a NASA-owned Bronco recently for several of its missions and, according to an active duty aviator with knowledge of the tests, they loved it.

And if the Marine Corps or Navy says the OV-10 isn’t for them because it can’t land on a carrier? Well, here’s the evidence that it can.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The President intervened in the case of a Navy SEAL on trial for murder

The U.S. military alleges Chief Petty Officer Eddie Gallagher, a Navy SEAL from California-based SEAL Team 7, murdered a teenage ISIS detainee and then posed with the corpse during a re-enlistment ceremony. NCIS investigators are also looking into allegations the SEAL killed civilians with a sniper rifle and threatened to intimidate other SEALs who would testify against him.


Gallagher proclaimed his innocence immediately after his 2017 arrest, one made while he was receiving treatment for traumatic brain injury at Camp Pendleton. Ever since, it is alleged that the SEAL has been held in inhumane conditions at the Navy’s Consolidated Brig Miramar.

Not anymore, by order of the Commander-In-Chief.

Gallagher’s platoon leader, Lt. Jacob X. “Jake” Portier, is also being prosecuted for his role in trying to cover up the alleged incidents. Unlike Gallagher, Portier is not under arrest or otherwise confined. California and federal legislators want Gallagher to also be released while awaiting trial, not languishing in Miramar with “sex offenders, rapists, and pedophiles.” The Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar is located some 10 miles north of San Diego and houses the Navy’s Sex Offender Treatment Program.

“(Gallagher) risked his life serving abroad to protect the rights of all of us here at home,” North Carolina Rep. Ralph Norman, said at a rally. “He had not one deployment, not two deployments, but eight deployments … We urge this be fixed In light of his bravery, his patriotism and his rights as an American citizen.”

The ‘Big Five’ systems that helped win Desert Storm

Chief Gallagher after his 2017 arrest.

Some 40 members of Congress asked the Navy to “analyze whether a less severe form of restraint would be appropriate” for Gallagher instead of the usual pre-trial confinement. Those members of Congress included former Navy SEALs, Marine Corps veterans, and others from both sides of the political aisle. Representative Norman spoke to President Trump personally about the matter.

“To confine any service member for that duration of time, regardless of the authority to do so, sends a chilling message to those who fight for our freedoms,” the lawmakers said. Gallagher’s family has already publicly thanked President Trump for his intervention.

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