These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers - We Are The Mighty
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These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers

A longtime saying in war is that artillery is the king of the battlefield.


But some artillery are better than others, but the best are those that can drive themselves to battle.

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers
An ARCHER Artillery System. (Wikimedia Commons)

For a long time, all artillery was towed. First the towing as done by horses, then by trucks or other vehicles. But there was a problem. The artillery took a while to set up, then, when the battery had to move — either because troops advanced or retreated – or the enemy found out where the artillery was located, it took time to do that.

Fighter pilots say, speed is life.” Artillerymen would not disagree. Towed artillery had another minus: It had a hard time keeping up with tanks and other armored fighting vehicles.

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers
Night falls at Fort Riley, Kan., as an M109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzer with 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery, fires a 155 mm shell during 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division’s combined arms live-fire exercise Oct. 30, 2014. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. John Portela/released)

The way to cut the time down was to find a way a howitzer could propel itself. The advantage was that these guns not only could support tanks and other armored units, but these guns often had an easier time setting up to fire. They could also be ready to move much faster, as well.

This ability to “shoot and scoot” made them much harder to locate.

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers
2S19 Msta self-propelled howitzer. (Wikimedia Commons)

Most self-propelled howitzers fire either a 152mm round (usually from Russia and China, but also from former communist countries like Serbia) or a 155mm round (NATO and most other countries). Often these guns are tracked, but some have been mounted on truck chassis, gaining a higher top speed as a result.

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers
A PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzer belonging to the Dutch Army fires on the Taliban in 2007. (Wikimedia Commons)

Some of the world’s best self-propelled howitzers include the American-designed M109A6 Paladin, the Russian 2S19, the South Korean K9 Thunder, and the German PzH-2000.

You can see the full list of the ten deadliest self-propelled howitzers in the video below.

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This top-secret jet bomber spied on Americans in Normandy

Allied troops on the beaches of Normandy got a shocking view of the future of warfare in 1944 when, as they were moving supplies from ships to the shore, a jet-powered, Nazi bomber ripped past at approximately 460 mph.


The Arado Ar 234 was the first operational jet bomber and flew at up to 540 miles per hour, so quick that no Allied fighter could match it without going into a dive.

In fact, one flight of P47 Thunderbolts spotted a flight of three Ar 234s 10,000 feet below them in 1945 and attempted to use the Thunderbolt’s high dive speeds for an attack run. The Nazi pilots waited until the Americans had almost reached them and then tore away at full speed as the P-47s coughed on their smoke.

For the air crews assigned to protect the American forces landing supplies in Normandy in August 1944, attacking the Arado was essentially impossible. Loaded with reconnaissance gear, it flew over the beaches at 460 mph while taking a photo every 11 seconds.

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers
The only known surviving Arado Ar 234 Blitz aircraft now rests at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. (Photo: Michael Yew CC BY 2.0)

At that speed, it could fly over all five original D-Day beaches in less than eight minutes. By the time that fighter aircraft made it into the air to hunt the Arado down, it would already be long gone.

That didn’t quite make the Arado invincible, though. Like the slightly slower British de Havilland Mosquito, a prop-driven British bomber and reconnaissance aircraft that go its speed from its light weight, the Ar 234 was left vulnerable when it was forced to maneuver or slow down for bombing runs.

 

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers
The P-51 is one of the only aircraft to shoot down an Arado Ar 234 in flight. It did so thanks to a group of P-47 Thunderbolts that forced the jet-powered bomber into a speed-bleeding turn. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Philip Bryant)

One of the only Ar 234s ever shot down was caught because it was forced into a sharp turn while coming out of a bombing run.

A group of German jets were bombing Allied bridges on the Rhine when a group of American P-47s came at them. The German jets took a tight turn to avoid the P-47s, losing so much speed that they were left vulnerable. American Capt. Don Bryan was in a P-51 nearby and was able to position himself so that the turning German planes had to fly just underneath him.

 

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers
Republic P-47C-2-RE Thunderbolts of the 61st Fighter Squadron, 56th Fighter Group. (Photo: U.S. Army Air Force)

Bryan made his attack in a dive which allowed his Mustang to keep up with the German jet while his .50-cal machine guns chewed through the Arado’s right engine. The German pilot was left without momentum, without adequate engine power, and with too little altitude. He went down with his jet.

Adolf Hitler considered the Ar 234 one of his wonder weapons that would save Germany, but it suffered from a number of shortcomings. First, the fragile engines needed an overhaul after every ten hours of flight and were replaced after 25. The jet also needed long runways and large amounts of fuel, two things that were hard for a Luftwaffe on the retreat to provide with regularity.

 

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers
An Arado Ar 234B bomber sits in a captured hangar with Junkers Ju 88G. (Photo: U.S. Army)

In the end, the jets were sent on just a few operational missions. The Normandy reconnaissance was the first, and they also did duty over the Ardennes during the Battle of the Bulge and in the final defense of Germany, flying first against the bridges over the Rhine and later against Soviet troop concentrations.

The only surviving Ar 234 is in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

How to protect yourself from Chinese cyber spies

The FBI has a clear message for the US public: Chinese society itself is a threat to the US due to its heavy engagement with espionage and influence campaigns.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said as much at a February 2018 Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, during which he said naive academics have allowed “nontraditional collectors” of intelligence to infiltrate the US’s revered “very open research and development environment” in universities.


While Chinese citizens have been pouring into US and Western universities and industries, China has seen an explosion in domestic technology, especially in its military and space sectors.

To be fair, all countries with the capability engage in spycraft, but the Chinese Communists don’t gather intelligence like the US does.

China’s society is not like the US’s. In China, everything belongs to the ruling Communist Party, including the military and intelligence services, and its people can be coerced into their service.

Beijing has gone to extreme lengths to police its people on even social interactions, establishing leverage over their citizens, even the ones living abroad. Chinese citizens in the US and Canada have reported threats being made to their families on the mainland when they speak up against the CCP.

The US has accused China of coercing foreign firms into technology transfer. The private sector, as it tries to break into China’s massive market, is filled with off-the-record horror stories of spying and theft of secrets.

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers
(Photo by howtostartablogonline.net)

Because of the clandestine nature of spycraft, it’s almost impossible to know if you’re the subject of Chinese espionage, but there are steps you can take to reduce the risk you face.

Based on insider accounts, here’s how you can protect yourself from suspected outlets of Chinese espionage as a US citizen.

Avoid Chinese tech

Bill Bishop, an author who has lived on and off in China for decades and writes the Sinocism newsletter for Axios, tweeted the following: “Entertaining to talk to Chinese engineers with experience with Huawei about whether or not Huawei installs back doors. Unanimous ‘Of course’ followed by ‘how naive are the foreigners who still doubt that.'”

New court documents filed in the US allege that ZTE, another Chinese phone maker, was set up with the express purpose of conducting international espionage.

With a camera, microphone, and the logins of its owners accounts, accessing the smarphones of US citizens would be a massive intelligence boon for any nation.

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers

Public naivety comes up again and again in intelligence circles. In May, the US banned all Chinese-made smartphones from the Pentagon, saying devices from Huawei and ZTE “may pose an unacceptable risk to department’s personnel, information and mission.”

If the Pentagon is taking seriously the risk of espionage via Chinese-made phones, maybe savvy US citizens should follow suit.

Don’t bring tech to China

“If you have a security briefing” before heading to China for a company with sensitive information, “you would be told ‘do not take a laptop,'” Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project told Business Insider.

“I once got a security briefing or someone told me ‘do not leave the laptop in your room and take a shower, someone could walk in and download your information and be out,'” said Glaser.

Glaser said it’s common for foreigners staying in a hotel in China to return from the gym or a trip and find “people rummaging around their room.”

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers
(Photo by Charles & Hudson)

China has been “aggressive” about intelligence gathering from government and business officials “for years and years and years, and they are really good at it,” said Glaser.

“Any person who is really dealing with proprietary information, nobody takes a laptop, nobody writes an email. People who are really serious about security will take a burner phone, they would never take their own phone,” said Glaser.

Use caution with Chinese nationals

The Chinese Communist Party has extraordinary powers within its borders to detain and reeducate people over something as central and inoffensive as an ethnic or religious identity.

In 2014, the FBI issued a public service announcement warning against being a pawn for Chinese spies. US students are “coming back from an overseas experience saying unusual things happened, offers that didn’t make sense, for money, big favors, positions they really weren’t suited for. And we think a lot of those were pitches or recruitments,” the FBI said.

Naturalized Chinese citizens in the US been indicted countless times, with many being employed by Chinese firms to steal secrets across a broad swath of US industries. The FBI’s Wray warned in February 2018, specifically that Chinese “professors, scientists, students” all participated in intelligence gathering.

China is widely suspected of using cyber crime to steal US plans for the F-35 stealth jet, but other more civilian industries like agriculture and manufacturing are at risk too, according to experts.

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers
F-35 Lightning II
(Lockheed Martin photo)

Wray received considerable backlash for his comments from Asian-American civil rights groups who noted in a letter to Wray that “well-intentioned public policies might nonetheless lead to troubling issues of potential bias, racial profiling, and wrongful prosecution.”

But Wray stood firm in his analysis.

“To be clear, we do not open investigations based on race, or ethnicity, or national origin,” Wray told NBC News. “But when we open investigations into economic espionage, time and time again, they keep leading back to China.”

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

Articles

This WWII vet inspired almost every comic strip in your Sunday funnies

In the cartooning world, Peanuts is the gold standard – the bar of humor and longevity every comic strip hopes to achieve. But even a great like Peanuts creator Charles M. Schultz has his heroes. Schultz went into the Army during WWII, and although his service wasn’t glamorous, he slogged through the mud like every other GI.


Schultz wasn’t a wartime correspondent, but his hero, Bill Mauldin, was. Because many WWII-era troops in Europe experienced hardships similar to Schultz’ – the mud and privation among others – it was no surprise that Mauldin’s comic lampooning of the situation (and not the war) caught on with the guys on the ground.

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers

Mauldin became the hero for many GIs like Schultz fighting in Europe, but it was Schultz who honored Mauldin every Veteran’s Day by dressing Snoopy in his service blues to quaff a few root beers at Bill Mauldin’s place.

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers

William Henry “Bill” Mauldin was a cartoonist and the creator of Willie Joe, the most beloved comic strip ever to come out of the war. It was featured in Stars and Stripes and read by just about every GI in the European Theater. Willie Joe was a single panel comic (think The Far Side and Ziggy) featuring two every day Joes living the daily life of troops fighting the Nazis. Before making it to Stars and Stripes Mauldin, “the fighting cartoonist,” was on the ground in Europe. He landed on the beaches of Sicily in 1943. This dedication to authenticity gave his work the realism with which every American soldier could relate.

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers
Fighting Cartoonist Sgt. Mauldin at work.

His sketches appeared in his division paper before he became a full-fledged combat correspondent. He preferred to draw ideas from experience and stayed close to the front, to the Willies and Joes fighting the war. He was even on the sharp end of German mortars, wounded at Monte Cassino in 1943, which only lent more authenticity to Willie Joe. 

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers

There was one soldier who was less than a fan of Mauldin’s (to put it mildly). General George S. Patton frequently complained to Supreme Allied Headquarters about the cartoon and the cartoonist. He believed the unkempt appearances of Willie and Joe were a disgrace to the Army and subverted discipline. Patton repeatedly called for Mauldin’s dismissal, but luckily for Mauldin and the troops in Europe (and anyone who appreciates humor), the fighting cartoonist was protected from on high by General Dwight D. Eisenhower himself. Mauldin c to skewer anything and everything in his cartoons.

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers

Eventually, Willie Joe became so popular that stateside newspapers began to feature the duo in regular publications. Civilians not only loved the comic, but it helped them understand the everyday struggles faced by troops fighting the war (at least the ones in Europe).

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers

In 1945, Mauldin’s work earned him a Legion of Merit and the Pulitzer Prize. Willie Joe would grace the cover of Time magazine as Mauldin published a collection of 600 comics in a book called “Up Front.” The book was an instant best-seller. He kept writing comics right up until VE-Day.

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers

After the war, Mauldin continued work as a writer and cartoonist, eventually going to the Chicago Sun-Times as a staff member. He won another Pulitzer in 1961 and penned more than one cartoon, including one on November 22, 1963. When he heard about Kennedy’s death, he rushed back to work and drew this iconic panel, depicting President Lincoln (with hair like Kennedy’s) mourning the loss.

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers

Mauldin sketched Willie and Joe only a few times after the war. His work influenced many of the famous cartoonists of the 20th century, including Charles M. Schultz, who always referred to Mauldin as his hero. In fact, the last time Mauldin ever drew the dogface duo, they appeared in a Peanuts strip with Snoopy.

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers

Bill Mauldin died in 2003 and the loss was felt (and depicted) by cartoonists all over the United States, a testament to the lasting memory of  the fearless “Fighting Cartoonist.”

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers

MIGHTY TRENDING

7 pieces of gear vets will still use in the civilian world

The Central Issuing Facility loans plenty of great and not-so-great items to the troops. Many pieces of gear, like the load-bearing vest and the elbow pads, were tossed back with no remorse, but others are just too damn useful to part with.


Whether they’re listed as expendable, given to the troops with no intention of reclamation, or they’re swapped with a second one bought at the surplus store off-installation, troops just can’t part with these things.

 
These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers
The MOLLE straps let you know that it’s legit — not some imitation. (Photo by Sgt. Patrick Eakin)

 

Assault pack

Go to any college campus in America and within ten seconds, you’ll identify who’s using the GI Bill to pay for tuition. Rarely will a vet switch back to a civilian backpack after using the assault pack.

It’s much sturdier than anything you can find in the back-to-school section and it’s free, so… why not?

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers
Even if vets have the options, they’ll only use the multi-tool.
(Photo by Pedro Vera)

 

Multi-tool

Most civilians will stockpile an entire drawer full of miscellaneous tools. Veterans who were issued a multi-tool will just use the one.

Sure, civilians can get their own versions, but there’s just something badass about fixing stuff around the house with a Gerber that has a front sight post adjuster.

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers
Basically what every veteran’s closet looks like. (Photo by Mike Kaplan)

 

Duffel bags

Throughout a troop’s career, they sign off a lot of junk that’s never going to be touched again — even after they clear CIF for the last time. This leads to every veteran owning their very own “duffel bag full of crap.”

The bag may get re-purposed for storing other things, but nine times out of ten, it’s still full of the same crap that was stuffed in there years ago.

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers
I’m totally not talking about myself… Totally. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Taylor Newman)

 

E-tool

Standard shovels are far too bulky to keep around. Collapsing an entrenching tool and tossing it in the trunk is kind of necessary if you live in a state that gets terrible snowfall.

Even if you’re not using it to get your car out of a snowbank because you’re too damn proud to call someone for help and you want to prove to yourself that you’re still a competent survivor and driver, it still makes for a great way to dig holes at a moment’s notice.

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers
Just sayin’. After people stop mocking you for wearing snivel gear, your resistance to the weather goes down — fast. (Photo by Airman Areca T. Bell)

 

Thermals

Troops don’t often get the chance to wear their thermals while in the military without enduring ridicule from their peers. The moment they get out, they finally have the opporunity.

The same thermals can be spotted on both veterans who are out hunting and veterans that just don’t feel like wearing civilian pajamas.

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers
Doesn’t matter if our older brothers hate it. We don’t mind being hated and comfortable.
(Photo by Spc. Michael Sharp)
 

Poncho liner

After veterans get out, they’ll be cuddling on the couch with their significant other, watching TV while draped in some regular old throw blanket. But it just isn’t the same. It’s not their poncho liner or, as it’s more affectionately known, their woobie.

That throw blanket from Bed, Bath, and Beyond didn’t deploy with them. That throw blanket wasn’t their only companion in the bizarrely cold desert nights. That throw blanket wasn’t the only piece of military gear that was fielded with the express intention of being used for comfort.

No, only the woobie holds that special place in the hearts of younger veterans.

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers
The greatest ten-cent beer opener ever!
(Courtesy photo)

 

P-38 can openers

These items aren’t really ranked in any particular order. But if they were, the can opener would certainly top the list. Many troops swear that their beloved woobie is the most cherished, but older generations of veterans will confess a deep love for their can opener.

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ISIS has released a new Android app aimed at children

A news broadcaster affiliated with the terrorist group ISIS has released an Android app that teaches children the Arabic alphabet — and it’s full of references to weapons and jihad.


Al Bayan Radio, which broadcasts ISIS propaganda on radio waves in the Middle East and through its Android apps, made the app available to supporters on the encrypted messaging app Telegram and other platforms ISIS commonly uses. The app isn’t available on the Google Play store, but can be accessed through files shared online.

This app is the latest step in Al Bayan’s expansion — the radio network broadcasts on FM frequencies in the Middle East, but has also recently released other Android apps and Telegram channels that distribute its propaganda to a wider audience.

The Long War Journal explained how the kids’ app works:

The app has games for memorizing and how to write the Arabic letters in addition to including a nasheed (a cappella Islamic songs) designed to help teach the alphabet. The lyrics in the nasheed are littered with jihadist terminology, while other games within the app also include militaristic vocabulary with more common, basic words. Words like ‘tank,’ ‘gun,’ and ‘rocket’ are among the first few taught within the application.

The site took posted these screenshots from the app:

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers
Al Bayan

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers
Al Bayan

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers
Al Bayan

The website noted that this is ISIS’ first app, however, aimed exclusively at children.

But it’s far from the only example of ISIS (which is also known as the Islamic State, ISIL, or Daesh) trying to indoctrinate children under the pretense of educating them.

The group has also released textbooks that teach various subjects using weapons and other terrorist motifs.

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers

Children have also featured prominently in photos and videos that ISIS has distributed through its various propaganda networks. They are shown at training camps and in schools, leading experts to worry that children living in ISIS territory are being indoctrinated with terrorist ideology at a young age, which could be difficult to reverse whenever ISIS is defeated.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Here’s how the Atlanta Falcons honored fallen heroes

Update: This article previously stated that the Falcons would again be wearing the initials of fallen heroes at the Super Bowl. This act of honor was solely done during their Salute to Service game in November.


The Atlanta Falcons, who will face off against the New England Patriots this weekend in Super Bowl LI, honored veterans by wearing the initials of fallen heroes on their helmets during their Salute to Service game in November 2016. Together with TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors), the Falcons put together a meaningful event that including the surviving families of the fallen.

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers
The Atlanta Falcons honored 63 fallen heroes and recognized their surviving families at their Salute to Service game in Atlanta. (Photo credit: Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors)

The tribute is part of the NFL’s Salute to Service campaign; in partnership with USAA, the NFL works throughout the year to honor veterans and raise funds for the USO, the Pat Tillman Foundation, and the Wounded Warrior Project (millions and millions of funds, in fact).

In fact, the Falcons played such a key role in honoring America’s vets and their families, Head Coach Dan Quinn was nominated for USAA’s Salute to Service Award.

The video below features players from the Falcons as they share the names of men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice. The list is a sobering reminder of the cost of freedom, but the comments from people who personally knew the heroes named is what will make you reach for the tissues.


Articles

Now you can own the same rifle you carried in the military (almost)

As announced last year on Veterans Day, the maker of most American troops’ rifles has launched a line of civilian-legal versions that are exact replicas of the ones issued to the post-9/11 generation military.


FN America’s “Military Collector Series” includes the carbine typically issued to Army infantry troops with detailed accessories familiar to any Joe, an M16 that’ll make Leathernecks harken back to deployments in Anbar and Helmand, and even a semi-auto version of the M249.

The FN 15 M4 Military Collector Carbine and FN 15 M16 Military Collector Rifle are not your typical clones. They are faithful reproductions built to exacting standards by the same builders of actual current government-issue service rifles. While other black rifles look like M4s and M16s, these FN America Military Collector Series guns are M4s and M16s, with the only meaningful difference being the lack of full-auto or burst fire. These two rifles take “replica” to a whole new level.

The M249S — the civilian model of the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon — takes it not just to a new level. It’s a whole new playing field.

Though obviously a semi-automatic rather than a machine gun, there just isn’t another gun like this available without signing up for an enlistment. The Military Collector Series sets a new standard for those who want as close to the real thing as the law will allow.

“This new line of products allows us to showcase FN’s battle-proven legacy of producing firearms for militaries worldwide and passing this technology on to our commercial customers,” said Mark Cherpes, President and CEO for FN America. “We’re excited to bring these semi-automatic versions of the world’s most iconic products to America’s gun owners.”

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers
The Limited Edition versions include many of the accessories troops are issued alongside their rifle. (Photo credit FN America)

Most AR-15 pattern guns are advertised as mil-spec, and the wide range of parts and accessories means that the platform’s modular nature makes hot-rodding a base gun into a specialized instrument relatively easy without requiring the services of a gunsmith. But the mil-spec found in these Military Collector Series guns is a lot more “mil-spec” than most mil-spec.

The M4 and M16 model receivers have markings for automatic, though these civilian guns don’t have auto capability. The flash suppressor on the M4 model is permanently affixed to comply with 16-inch minimum barrel length requirements, and the QR code on the Unique ID label simply contains a link to the FN website. Finally, the guns are not stamped “Property of U.S. Government.” Beyond those differences, the guns are the what is currently standard issue.

The M4 model has a 14.5-inch chrome-lined 1:7-inch twist barrel, an A2-style compensator (pinned and welded), six-position adjustable stock, and an ambidextrous selector switch. It also has a Knights Armament M4 Rail Adapter System with rail covers. The M16 model has a 20-inch barrel — also with a 1:7-inch twist — A2 compensator, and ambidextrous selector. It has a fixed A2-style full rifle stock and a Knights Armament M5 RAS with covers. Both guns utilize standard military-issue two-stage triggers designed for the rigors of the combat zone, not the shooting range or 3-gun course. Each model retails for $1,749.

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers
The FN America M249S SAW is about as awesome as it can get. (Photo credit FN America)

The M249S is, predictably, the eye-catching member of the initial Military Collector Series trio. It has a 20.5-inch cold hammer-forged barrel with quick-change capability and a removable heat shield. The receiver has a formed steel frame with a carrying handle and a folding bipod, a flip-up feed tray cover, and top rail system. Unlike the service SAW, the M249S operates from closed-bolt. It has an ergonomic polymer stock, crossbolt safety, and has a non-reciprocating charging handle. Like the military-issued one, the M249S can operate using either belt-fed ammo or standard AR magazines. The M249S weighs in at 17 pounds and retails for about $8,000.

For the collector who truly must have it all, FN Military Collector Series Limited Editions are available as well. The M4 and M16 Limited Edition models include serialized ID tags and a certificate of authenticity, a GI cleaning kit, a GI sling, and a bayonet — an M9 for the M4 carbine and an OKC3S with the M16. Both rifle Limited Editions cost about $2,000.

The M249S Limited Edition includes a cleaning kit; gages and tools; a sling assembly; 500 M27 ammunition links to build a belt of 5.56; and a spare barrel with heat shield. It ships in a hard case with a molded insert and will set you back around $9,500.

While the prices are nothing to sneeze at, these Military Collector Series guns from FN America represent the closest that shooters and collectors can get to service-issue weapons without joining up. FN reported that the initial production run of the M4 and M16 sold out quicker than expected. With the firearms market remaining strong and possibly more members of the FN Military Collector Series coming in the future, these guns are sure to remain in high demand.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This German anti-aircraft tank has never seen combat

Germany has developed a lot of powerful guns and tanks over the years, but one of its most lethal anti-aircraft systems has never seen combat. Despite that, Germany keeps them around — and hands them down to NATO allies.


The system in question is known as the Flakpanzer Gepard (Flakpanzer is translated as “anti-aircraft tank,” but the technical term is “self-propelled anti-aircraft gun,” or SPAAG). In a sense, it’s a product of the Cold War. Today, the United States and its allies have become used to fighting under friendly skies, but in the Cold War, air superiority wasn’t a given. In fact, NATO forces were outnumbered.

 

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers
The Gepard, pictured here with German Leopard 1 main battle tanks, was intended to protect tanks from enemy air strikes. (DOD photo by SSGT David Nolan)

Sure, the planes belonging to NATO allies could win in a one-on-one fight, no problem. The problem was, however, the fight wouldn’t be one-on-one. Instead, it would look more like six F-15s facing roughly eight MiG-23 Flogger fighters escorting a dozen Su-22 Fitter attack planes. If these forces were to collide, the Floggers and six to eight Fitters might be shot down, but that would still leave a half dozen attack places en route to NATO ground forces. Considering that each Fitter carries about five and a half tons of bombs, that NATO ground unit could be in for a world of hurt.

The Flakpanzer Gepard was Germany’s answer to making sure those surviving Fitters enjoyed a hot reception and were either shot down or forced to abort their attack. To do that, it has a pair of 35mm autocannons that are radar-guided. In terms of mobility, the Gepard has a top speed of 40 miles per hour and can go 342 miles on a tank of gas.

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers
The Gepard has been handed down to a number of countries, including Romania. (US Army photo by: Spc. Caitlyn Byrne)

Germany, Belgium, and Chile acquired and retired the Gepard. The Netherlands acquired several as well, and they’re still ready for use. Romania, Poland, Brazil, and Jordan have all acquired second-hand versions of this vehicle.

Articles

US aircraft carrier visits Israel for the first time in nearly two decades

It leads the United States’ war against ISIS and with 75 aircraft on its deck has the ability to carry out numerous combat sorties a day. On July 3, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the USS George H. W. Bush docked opposite the Haifa Port and became the first sitting head of state to visit America’s largest and most lethal floating war machine.


The docking of the ship on July 1 marked the first time an aircraft carrier visited Israel in 17 years.

“The visit of the USS George H.W. Bush speaks to the enduring commitment to our shared interests and a commitment to fight against our common enemies,” Commanding Officer Capt. Will Pennington told reporters during a visit to the ship. According to a statement by the US European Command, the ship’s visit is meant “to enhance US-Israel relations as the two nations reaffirm their continued commitment to the collective security of the European and Middle East Regions.”

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers
USS George H.W. Bush. Photo courtesy of the US Navy

According to Pennington, the crew is constantly engaged in cooperation with Israel, including sharing intelligence.

“There is a tremendous network of shared intelligence. As you are aware the airspace in the region is very, very, busy with lots of different actors so the need to deconflict that and make sure that everyone understands their missions is very important,” he said.

Visiting the ship with US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Netanyahu recalled his visit to another aircraft carrier 20 years ago.

“So much has changed since the first time I visited… our ties have gotten stronger and deeper,” he said. “It is a floating island of America. It is a symbol of freedom and strength and victory.”

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The USS George H.W. Bush was in the region to participate in the fight against ISIS, carrying out its last operational mission on June 30. With 20-25 sorties per day, aircraft aboard the ship have carried out 1,600 sorties over both Syria and Iraq, striking targets in Mosul and in the vicinity of Raqqa on missions that can last seven to nine hours.

The targets which are directed by the coalition ground commander, are sometimes known prior to take-off and pilots have sometimes also received targets while in the air.

According to Carrier Air Wing 8 Captain James A. McCall, one of the real-time targets was the Syrian jet that was downed on June 18 in southern Raqqa province by one of the jets stationed on the aircraft carrier.

“The jet came within visual distance” McCall said, stating that US jets “warned the Syrian aircraft that they were approaching coalition friendlies. They (the Syrian regime jet) ignored the warning and even dropped bombs on the friendlies,” he said referring to the Syrian Democratic Force who are supported by the coalition.

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers
An F/A-18F Super Hornet takes off from an aircraft carrier. Photo courtesy of US Navy

Towards the end of its seven-month deployment, the USS George H.W. Bush arrived in Haifa after a 40 day voyage from Dubai.

While the ship will not be taking part in any joint exercises with the Israeli Navy, Israel provided security as it pulled into the Haifa Bay allowing the ship’s strike group to continue to other missions and port calls.

“We are very tightly linked with our colleagues and partners and allies from the IDF and have been for very many years,” Pennington said.

Speaking at a ceremony aboard the carrier, Admiral Michelle J. Howard, commander of the US Naval Forces Europe-Africa, stated that the visit marks “a special moment” between Israel and the United States which “has had long standing military to military engagements with Israel.”

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on board the USS George H. W. Bush. Photo from DoD

“In this visit to Israel, the ship’s might is a metaphor for the strength of the bonds between our countries. I’d like to thank the Israeli people for hosting us and for taking care of our Sailors,” she added.

Intelligence Minister Israel Katz, who visited the ship on Sunday stated that it was “a timely show of American power projection and deterrence capability.”

“Its support for the countries fighting Islamic extremism and terror and Iran is very important, especially now when Iran is working to create facts on the ground in Syria, including a port on the Mediterranean, and Hezbollah continues to build its arsenal with more advanced and precise missiles.”

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10 ways war has changed since the Cubs’ last World Series win

It’s been a long time since the Cubs won the World Series. 108 years, in fact; the last time the Cubs won was in 1908, when they captured two World Series titles in a row.


Last night they made history and broke the Curse of the Billy Goat by clinching Game 7 of the World Series in extra (rainy) innings with a final score of 8-7.

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The 1908 Cubs and their perfectly normal looking mascot. Source: NBC News

A lot has happened in the world since 1908.  The internet, Communism, Justin Bieber.  But what about warfare?

Well, the military has changed quite a bit too, and some of the changes have completely revamped the way wars are fought today.  Here are ten of the biggest military innovations and changes that occurred since the last time the Cubs won the World Series:

1.  No more cavalry charges

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Horses and trenches don’t mix. | Source: Pinterest

Cavalry charges were still pretty common in the early 20th century, and in World War I all sides used horses to some extent.  The Germans stopped utilizing armed cavalry on the battlefield shortly after the war’s outset, but the Ottoman Empire and the British used cavalry extensively in the Middle East theater.

During World War I, machine guns cut through horses in swaths, and the chemical weapons first used by the Germans killed many more.  They were still used to drag equipment through the mud, however, and at one point German troops were told that the life of a horse has more tactical value than that of an infantryman.

Ultimately, though, machine guns and artillery rendered the horse-led cavalry charge obsolete.  The horses were replaced by tanks, although these didn’t truly live up to expectations until World War II.

2.  Planes flying around, shooting stuff, dropping bombs

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arly airplanes: sometimes they fly, sometimes they crash. | Source: Pinterest

Although the Wright Brothers first flew a heavier-than-air manned airplane in 1903, planes in warfare didn’t come about until around 1911.  During World War I airplanes became very important for reconnaissance missions, and as they became more maneuverable, some planes were designed to shoot down the recon planes.  This led to fighters, bombers, and the jets that we know today.

Modern warfare generally favors the side that controls the skies, and for that reason, high-tech planes with sophisticated radar and other technologies are closely guarded secrets by states concerned about their leakage.  The United States’ protracted counterinsurgency wars, however, have proven that even though you control the skies, it doesn’t always mean you win.

3.  U.S. Army Special Forces started operating operationally

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US Army Green Berets with South Vietnamese troops. | Source: Pinterest

The first true Special Forces Group, the 10th, was formed in 1952 under Col. Aaron Bank.  They evolved from Office of Strategic Services troops that had served behind enemy lines during World War II.  Concurrent with this was the founding of the Psychological Warfare School, later known as the John F. Kennedy School of Special Warfare.  The original goal of the Army’s Special Forces was “to infiltrate by land, sea or air, deep into enemy-occupied territory and organize the resistance/guerrilla potential to conduct Special Forces operations, with emphasis on guerrilla warfare.”

Special Forces have fought in every conflict since Korea and evolved into a number of different roles.  They have grown in number and size and now consist of some of the most elite soldiers in the United States Army, trained in multiple missions, including direct action and foreign internal defense.

4.  Chemical weapons: a sick burn

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A gas attack during World War I. | Source: WWvets.com

The Cubs might have gone 108 years without winning a world series, but the world has only gone 101 years since the first chlorine gas attack.

On April 22, 1915, a man named Fritz Haber oversaw the world’s first successful chemical weapons use.  The German scientist had been attempting to convince a German commander to use the gas on Allied troops but had thus far met with scorn and derision.  One commander, however, let him try it, and when the wind finally turned toward the Allied troops, he unleashed the gas.

That single attack killed more than 1,100 Allied troops.  By the end of World War I, more than 50 different poisons had been used on the battlefield, and gas masks had become a tactical necessity.

Today, the use of chemical weapons is a war crime, although that didn’t stop Saddam Hussein from gassing thousands of Kurds in northern Iraq, or Bashar al-Assad using gas on his own people.

5.  Meals, Ready to Eat began constipating troops everywhere

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The first MRE, 1981. | Source: MRE Info

The Department of Defense decided to re-vamp their combat rations in 1975, when they declared the MRE would be the new way of feeding troops in combat.  The first delivery of MRE’s occurred in 1981, and they were first field tested by the 25th Infantry Division in 1983.

MRE’s were a huge step forward for field rations because they could be kept almost indefinitely, and they did not require a flame to heat the entrees.  MRE’s nowadays are much tastier than the maggot-filled tack that soldiers of the Continental Army used to eat, and troops can pick and choose menu items.  Plus, Jalapeno cheese.  Enough said.

6.  Aircraft carriers became a thing

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The Japanese seaplane carrier Wakamiya, circa 1914. | Source: Wikipedia

With the advent and importance of aircraft in modern warfare, it was only natural that nations sought to project that flight power to different parts of the world.  After all, what good was a runway for planes if it wasn’t near the combat zone?

To that end, armies and navies first tried launching balloons off of wooden ships, but when the propeller plane came around, they started putting aircraft on ships.  The Japanese ship Wakamiya lowered seaplanes onto the water using its crane in 1914 during the battle of Tsingtao, making this the first use of an “aircraft carrier” in warfare.

During the 1920’s, truly dedicated carriers with launch pads were commissioned and became an integral part of shaping the way the world fights wars.  Nowadays, the US Navy’s powerful carriers carry lethal jets and ground forces to places all over the world in order to project United States military power.

7.  Tanks

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British Mark I tank, 1916. | Source: Wikipedia

Tanks, along with airplanes and aircraft carriers, changed the way that wars are fought.  Although the infantry was the major component of fighting in World War I, by World War II the way was being led by quick, lethal tanks that could maneuver and shoot accurately at the same time.  The armor provided by the vehicle shielded its occupants from most small arms fire and allowed infantry to follow behind.

Modern land warfare owes its origins to the tank, which debuted at the Battle of the Somme in 1916 to limited success.  They simply could not operate in the artillery-churning mud of the front, and often became bogged down before even advancing.

During World War II, the Germans used their lightning-fast tanks in the Blitzkrieg doctrine in combination with airplanes and infantry.  Later on, tanks became more and more technologically advanced, and in modern times a tank can make an enormous difference on the battlefield, although they are still vulnerable to ever-more-lethal anti-tank rockets and missiles.

8.  Night vision let people see the night, visually

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An M16A1 fitted with an AN PVS-2 starlight scope. | Source: Wikipedia

In the early days of World War II German scientists experimented with night vision devices with some limited success, even going so far as to equip their Panther tanks with night vision.  But it wasn’t until the Vietnam War that the first practical, mass-produced night vision devices, the AN/PVS-1 and 2 starlight scopes, were introduced.  Even though they were bulky and easily broken, these scopes gave U.S. troops an advantage on the battlefield.  They used ambient light to amplify the picture around them, allowing troops to see enemies moving in the dark.

Today, the United States military has some of the best night vision around, giving it advantages in the wars that it fights worldwide.  Each member of an infantry or special operations unit can have his or her own individual night vision device, which are now compact and project pictures in high definition.  Some devices even incorporate thermal imaging along with amplified ambient light to produce a better picture.  This gives US troops a massive advantage over enemies in Afghanistan and Iraq, who have to use captured equipment and have little repair capability.

9.  Widespread use of body armor

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Two American Servicemen in Korea, 1951, wearing body armor. | Source: Wikipedia

While the concept of protecting oneself from harm with armor has existed for millennia, the modern age of personally-issued body armor didn’t occur until around the time of the Korean War.  Even then, the vests were issued mostly for protection from shrapnel, and were bulkier and heavier than modern vests.

It wasn’t until the 1971 discovery of Kevlar by scientist Stephanie Kwolek that body armor became ligher and able to stop real bullets, including most pistol rounds.

In 1975, American Body Armor introduced a vest that used 15 layers of Kevlar and a “shok plate,” which could protect against high-velocity rifle rounds.  This set the standard for modern military body armor, which now often consists of so-called “soft” armor for pistol rounds and shrapnel, and hard ceramic plates for high-velocity bullets.  Advances in technology have made it so that troops, particularly those in well-funded special operations units, can have the best of both worlds: lightweight protection for vital organs and ultimate maneuverability.

10.  Missiles and precision-guided munitions

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A Regulus guided missile. | Source: Wa3key.com

While airplanes changed the way wars were fought in the 20th century, the way airplanes were used was changed just as fundamentally with the advent of guided missiles.  Although civilizations had been experimenting with rocketry for centuries, the V1 and V2 rockets of Germany in World War II were the first true guided missiles used in warfare.  Following that, various countries began using missiles on their ships, jets and trucks, and creating massive, world-travelling Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles equipped with nuclear warheads.  If it weren’t for our massive experimentation in missile technology, the world would not have known the war-shaping theory of Mutually Assured Destruction, or the standoff capabilities of a guided missile destroyer launching cruise missiles into Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

Modern missiles use Global Positioning Systems to find and destroy the enemy, and are becoming ubiquitous for the United States; today, more than 80 percent of bombs dropped by the United States military are precision-guided  They are essential in preventing civilian casualties in a world where states fight terrorist groups rather than each other.

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Russia just inked a deal that lets its air force stay in Syria for the next 49 years

Russian President Vladimir Putin has endorsed a bill ratifying a protocol to the 2015 agreement between Moscow and Damascus regulating the deployment of the Russian Air Force in Syria for 49 years.


The protocol signed by Russia and Syria in January 2017 regulates issues related to the deployment of the Russian Air Force on Syrian territory as well as related to Russia’s exercise of jurisdiction over its military movable and immovable assets on Syrian territory. It also covers the measures needed to maintain the operation efficiency of the Russia Air Force.

Under the protocol, the Russian Air Force are allowed to stay on Syrian territory for 49 years with an option of automatically extending that arrangement for 25-year periods after this term expires.

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers
Photo from Moscow Kremlin.

The document, published on the Russian official legal information website, particularly says that the Syrian government is handing over a plot of land in the Latakia province, where the Khmeimim Air Base is located, over to Russia for its free use.

The bill ratifying the protocol was signed by Putin on July 27, according to a Kremlin statement.

It was adopted by the Russian State Duma, the Lower House of the Russian Parliament, on July 14 and approved by the Senate five days later.

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Russian military aircraft at Khmeimim Air Base, Syria. Photo from Russian Ministry of Defense.

The Russian Air Force was deployed to Syria on September 30, 2015, at the request of the Syrian government as part of the operation aimed at fighting terrorist groups. The group was stationed at the Khmeimim Air Base.

Most Russian troops initially deployed to Syria were withdrawn in March 2016 after Putin said that the objectives of the five-month anti-terrorist operation in Syria were “generally accomplished.” At that time, Russia said it would keep a military presence at the port of Tartus and at the Khmeimim airbase to monitor the situation in the region and observe the implementation of ceasefire agreements.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Watch these vets give their opinions about whether Hollywood gets the military right

WATM hosted groups of veterans to answer several questions about their time in the military. The vets kept it real when responding to topics ranging from relationships to recruiters.


In this episode, our group of veterans discusses whether or not Hollywood portrays the military accurately on the big screen.

Editor’s note: If you have ideas for questions that you’d like to see a group of veterans answer, please leave a comment below.

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