Earlier this year, both the Air Force and Navy were forced to ground planes due to pilots reporting hypoxia-like symptoms. Among the planes that have had pilots experience hypoxia include the F-35 this past June and the T-45 in April.
It goes without saying that hypoxia is a big deal for pilots. To put it simply, hypoxia is a fancy term for someone is not getting enough oxygen. This tends to happen at high altitudes where the atmosphere is thinner. Not getting enough oxygen leads to unconsciousness, brain damage, and if you’re really unlucky, death.
However, Cobham Mission Systems has been working to address the hypoxia epidemic, through the development of new breathing sensors. These sensors can be incorporated into the life-support systems of any tactical jet.
According to a handout obtained from Cobham’s booth at the AirSpaceCyber expo in National Harbor, Maryland, the new sensors are battery-powered and can collect data for up to 10 hours for analysis after the flight, or they can display the data in real time. These sensors are intended to be used as part of a new life-support system that will prevent hypoxia.
The first sensor, the Inhalation Breathing Sensor, monitors oxygen pressure, the gas flow, the temperature of the gas, the pressure in the hose, the humidity of the gas, the pressure in the cockpit, the cabin temperature, and three-axis acceleration.
The other sensor, the Exhalation Breathing sensor, also monitors oxygen pressure and three-axis acceleration. However, it also notes the pressure, temperature, and humidity of the exhaled gas. It also measures the carbon dioxide and the pressure inside the mask.
Cobham is working to mate these sensors with a warning system to alert the pilot and allow him to take measures to correct the situation. The data gathered will also be used to determine the root cause of why a pilot suffers hypoxia.
According to DARPA researchers at the University of Maryland, funded by the agency’s Mathematics of Sensing, Exploitation and Execution (MSEE) program, recently developed a system that enabled robots to process visual data from a series of “how to” cooking videos on YouTube. “Based on what was shown on a video, robots were able to recognize, grab and manipulate the correct kitchen utensil or object and perform the demonstrated task with high accuracy – without additional human input or programming,” DARPA said.
These scientists throwing the calculus of “cooking is as much of an art as it is a science” way off. Perhaps one day having a personal robot chef will be as commonplace as having a toaster, microwave or blender.
“If we have robots that are humanoid and they have hands, that will be the next industrial revolution,” said Yiannis Aloimonos, University of Maryland computer scientist. “I am particularly very happy to be participating in this revolution because it will change fundamentally our societies.”
Still, it’s hard to imagine Chef Ramsay getting any satisfaction out of yelling at a robot on an episode of Hell’s Kitchen . . .
In the modern era, the M-16 style rifle chambered in 5.56x45mm has become ubiquitous in imagery of the U.S. military, but that wasn’t always the case. America’s adoption of the 5.56mm round and the service rifle that fires it both came about as recently as the 1960s, as the U.S. and its allies set about looking for a more reliable, accurate, and lighter general issue weapon and cartridge.
Back in the early 1950s, the fledgling North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) set about looking for a single rifle cartridge that could be adopted throughout the alliance, making it easier and cheaper to procure and distribute ammunition force-wide and adding a much needed bit of interoperability to the widely diverse military forces within the group. Despite some concerns about recoil, the 7.62x51mm NATO round was adopted in 1954, thanks largely to America’s belief that it was the best choice available.
Sometimes it pays to have uniformity.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Justin Connaher)
The 7.62x51mm cartridge (which is more similar to the .308 than the 7.62x39mm rounds used in Soviet AKs) actually remains in use today thanks to its stopping power and effective range, but it wasn’t long before even the 7.62’s biggest champions in the U.S. began to recognize its shortcomings. These rounds were powerful and accurate, but they were also heavy, expensive, and created a great deal of recoil as compared to the service rifles and cartridges of the modern era.
As early as 1957, early development began on a new, small caliber, high velocity round and rifle platform. These new cartridges would be based on the much smaller and lighter .22 caliber round, but despite the smaller projectile, U.S. specifications also required that it maintained supersonic speed beyond 500 yards and could penetrate a standard-issue ballistic helmet at that same distance. What the U.S. military asked for wasn’t possible with existing cartridges, so plans for new ammo and a new rifle were quickly drawn up.
In order to make a smaller round offer up the punch the U.S. military needed, Remington converted their .222 round into the .222 Special. This new round was designed specifically to withstand the amount of pressure required to make the new projectile meet the performance standards established by the Pentagon. The longer case of the .222 Special also made it better suited for magazine feeding for semi-automatic weapons. Eventually, the .222 Special was redubbed .223 Remington — a name AR-15 owners may recognize as among the two calibers of rounds your rifle can fire.
The 7.62×51mm NATO and 5.56×45mm NATO cartridges compared to a AA battery.
That led to yet another new round, which FN based off of Remington’s .223 caliber design, that was dubbed the 5.56x45mm NATO. This new round exceeded the Defense Department’s requirements for muzzle velocity and range, and fired exceedingly well from Armalite designed rifles. Early tests showed increases in rifleman accuracy as well as decreases in weapon malfunctions when compared to the M1 Garand, with many experts contending at the time that the new rifle was superior to the M14, despite still having a few issues that needed to be worked out.
Armalite (which is where the “A” in AR-15 is derived) had scaled down their 7.62 chambered AR-10 to produce the new AR-15, which was capable of firing the new .223 rounds and later, the 5.56mm rounds. It also met all the other standard requirements for a new service rifle, like the ability to select between semi-automatic and fully-automatic modes of fire and 20 round magazine capacity. The combination of Armalite rifle and 5.56 ammunition was a match made in heaven, and branches started procuring the rifles in the 1960s. The 5.56 NATO round, however, wouldn’t go on to be adopted as the standard for the alliance until 1980.
Polish Special Forces carrying the Israeli-made IWI Tavor chambered in 5.56 NATO
Ultimately, the decision to shift from 7.62x51mm ammunition to 5.56x45mm came down to simple arithmetic. The smaller rounds weighed less, allowing troops to carry more ammunition into the fight. They also created less recoil, making it easier to level the weapon back onto the target between rounds and making automatic fire easier to manage. Tests showed that troops equipped with smaller 5.56mm rounds could engage targets more efficiently and effectively than those firing larger, heavier bullets.
As they say in Marine Corps rifle teams, the goal is to locate, close with, and destroy the enemy — and the 5.56mm NATO round made troops better at doing precisely that.
“If it’s stupid and it works, it isn’t stupid,” is how the old saying goes. Though it isn’t said much anymore, the meaning behind it still rings true – and has for generations. A tactic that seems so stupid can be useful to the right mind. It can goad an enemy into losing focus and abandoning caution. These tactics can be used to influence an enemy’s thoughts and actions. It can even change the future for millions.
So don’t be so quick to judge.
Napoleon at Austerlitz
In the beginning of the 19th Century, Napoleon was making his presence known across Europe. The end of the old order was at hand as “The Little Corporal” from Corsica took control of the French and dominated the armies and rulers of Europe. But the social order wasn’t the only thing he upended. Napoleon upended the entire doctrine warfare, how battles were fought, forever. Nothing is more obvious than his win at Austerlitz, where a seemingly rookie mistake was the key to victory.
As Napoleon fielded the French to take on a superior Russian-Austrian force outside of Vienna, things looked bleak, and the French were widely expected to lose and be forced to flee Austria. With every passing day, Napoleon’s enemies became stronger. To goad them into a fight in the place of his choosing, he occupied the heights overlooking the town of Austerlitz, basic military strategy since the days of Sun-Tzu. As the combined enemy army approached, they saw the French abandon those heights. The battle was on, and Napoleon used the heights as a psych-out. Once the French took the heights in combat, the battle was over for the Russian-Austrian allies, and Napoleon was Master of Europe.
When the state of Israel was proclaimed in 1948, it was a jubilant day for the Jewish people – and no one else in the region. The Jews of the new nation of Israel were immediately surrounded on all sides by Arab enemies with superior numbers, technology, money, and basically anything else you might need to win a protracted war for independence. What the Israelis had going for them was a ton of World War II veterans and a lot of cunning brainpower. So even when they had to make bombing runs in single-engine prop planes, they managed to win the day even if they didn’t have bombs.
As an advancing Arab army approached Tel Aviv, the Jewish forces in the area were at a loss on how to repel them. They had no bombs to support the Israeli troops in the region, and even if they did, they had no bombers to fly them. They needed an equalizer. Someone with combat experience in WWII remembered that seltzer bottles tend to whistle like bombs when dropped from a height. When full of seltzer, they also explode with a loud bang. So that’s what the nascent IAF used. The Arabs didn’t really have seltzer or those old-timey bottles used to spray it, so they really thought they were being bombed – and disbursed.
The army led by a zombie
Some people are just so necessary for success you can’t afford to let them go. Unfortunately for Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar and the people of Valencia, one such person was missing when Muslim armies from Morocco were marching their way. They must have gotten wind that Rodrigo was no longer with the army of Valencia, which was true. Rodrigo was no longer among those defenders because Rodrigo was also no longer among the living. Since the Christian knight had never lost a battle, his reputation alone was enough to keep invaders at bay.
Luckily for Rodrigo – whom you might know better as El Cid – he had a pretty cunning wife, Jimena. Jimena ordered El Cid’s dead, decomposing body be fully armored and dressed, then lashed to his horse. Jimena then told the army to make a valiant last cavalry charge to break the siege, with El Cid at the head. When the Muslims saw the Spaniards coming at them with El Cid at the head of the attack, they immediately broke ranks and tried to flee but were cut down by the Spanish defenders.
Strong men marry strong women. Remember that.
Island-hopping to fight another day
In 1942, things looked really bad for the allied naval forces in the Pacific. The December 1941 attack on the U.S. Navy at Pearl Harbor came at the same time of a half dozen other surprise Japanese attacks throughout the region. Attempts to hit the Japanese back at the Java Sea and the Sunda Straits were met with abject failure. After the Japanese Empire captured the Dutch East Indies, the Navy was limping pretty bad. Hong Kong, Malaya, Burma, and more had all fallen to the mighty Japanese initiative. As all allied ships were ordered to retreat to Australia, one was somehow left behind.
That was the HNLMS Abraham Crijnssen, a Dutch minesweeper which was separated after the attacks on the East Indies. Armed with one three-inch gun and two 20mm cannons, the minesweeper was no match for any of the Japanese warships floating around the islands. In order to stay undetected, the Dutch covered the ship in foliage and painted the hull the color of rocks. They moored the ship near islands by day and moved only by night – and it worked. She not only made it to Australia, she survived the war.
(Laughs in Mongol)
Mongols think differently
For much of the Western World in the Middle Ages, a retreat was not a good thing. If a cavalry force appears routed, it might lead to the infantry breaking ranks and running. Even the most orderly of retreats was considered as an option only at the last possible moments. That was not how the Mongols under Genghis Khan thought of a retreat. A retreat was a tactic to be used like any other tactic.
There are many examples of the use of a feigned retreat in this history of the Mongol conquests. The reason for this is because it worked. It worked really really well. Troops from China to Poland would be locked in a life-or-death struggle against the Mongol hordes when suddenly the Mongols would turn tail and run, their spirit to fight seemingly broken. As a chorus of cheers went up from the exhausted defenders, they would inevitably give chase to the invaders – only to watch as the retreating Mongols turn again, in full force, and on ground that supports them.
The Cold War was a great time for weapons manufacturers. It seems like almost everything was fair game to be weaponized, and nothing seemed out of bounds. The CIA weaponized everything from cars to cats.
But the Americans weren’t alone in their planning to fight World War III with a variety of unique weapons. Our French allies were in on the game too. And nothing could be more stereotypically French than a bazooka-armed Vespa, which seems like something more out of the movie “Roman Holiday” than the 1944 capture of Rome.
Yet, in 1950, the French military commissioned one: an anti-tank scooter that used a two-wheeled Vespa as its base model. It featured a bulletproof, reinforced frame, and an M20 75mm recoilless rifle mounted to the front.
Vespa 150 TAP scooters (also called Vespa ACMA, after the company who designed and made them, Ateliers de Construction de Motocycles et Automobiles) was designed to be a fast-moving anti-armor weapon that could be parachuted into a combat zone to support paratroopers (troupes aéroportées, hence the TAP designation).
A two-man team would be air-dropped in along with a pair of the Vespa 150 TAP motorbikes. The duo worked in concert with one another, one carrying the weapon, and the other carrying the 75mm rounds.
The Vespa was never intended to be able to actually fire the recoilless rifle while moving. The intent was for the pair to stop, unmount the rifle from its perch on the Vespa, use a machine gun mount to set up the rifle, fire, then move on. But it could be fired while moving, if necessary. Still, it was a very mobile anti-armor system.
While the weapon wasn’t as effective against heavy armor, it could still penetrate up to 100mm with high-explosive warheads. This would not be effective against the later T-72 Soviet tanks, but could still be used against T-54 and T-55 as well as the T-62 main battle tank the Soviet Union was fielding at the time.
While the combat Vespa may seem a little silly and stereotypically “French” by today’s standards, the project was actually designed to replace France’s then-current motorcycle fleet. Airborne motorbikes aren’t supposed to be heavy duty gear. Think of them more like pack animals that can be airdropped into combat and make quick runs wherever they were needed.
The French used American-made Cushman scooters to great effect during World War II. Just like the Vespa TAP, Cushman scooters were designed to be dropped with paratroopers from aircraft. Although not fitted with the same (or even similar) firepower, the Cushman line of World War II bikes were similarly lightweight but could be used to move supplies, wounded troops, and messages quickly and efficiently.
France’s new Vespa was designed to handle all of the old Cushman bike’s missions, with the added benefit of being able to potentially take down some of the enemy’s armor along the way. Best of all (for the French Army) it was entirely made and serviced in France.
The French Army eventually made more than 500 of the scooters and deployed the Vespa 150 to serve in both Algeria and in Indochina.
Anyone who might be doubting the effectiveness of the scooter in post-World War II combat (or even today) should remember that messengers on bikes was one of the means of communication used by retired Gen. Paul Van Riper to defeat the U.S. military in the 2002 Millennium Challenge exercise.
So remember the old military adage: if it’s stupid and it works, it isn’t stupid.
US Army sharpshooters recently field tested a new, more accurate sniper rifle out west, where these top marksman fired thousands of rounds and even when waged simulated warfare in force-on-force training.
Eight Army Ivy Division snipers assigned to the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team tested out the new M110A1 Compact, Semi-Automatic Sniper System (CSASS), an upgraded version of the current M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System (SASS), at Fort Carson in Colorado, the Army revealed in a statement.
Comparatively, the new CSASS offers advantageous features like increased accuracy and reduced weight, among other improvements.
“The CSASS is smaller, lighter, and more ergonomic, as the majority of the changes were requested by the soldiers themselves,” Victor Yarosh, an individual involved in the weapon’s development, explained in summer 2018. “The rifle is easier to shoot and has less recoil, all while shooting the same round as the M110,” which fires a 7.62 mm round.
A test sniper engages targets identified by his spotter while wearing a Ghillie suit during the Compact, Semi-Automatic Sniper Rifle (CSASS) operational test at Fort Carson, Colo.
(Maj. Michael P. Brabner, Test Officer, Maneuver Test Directorate, U.S. Operational Test Command)
“The CSASS has increased accuracy, which equates to higher hit percentages at longer ranges.”
The recent testing involved having the “snipers employ the system in the manner and the environment they would in combat,” according to Maj. Mindy Brown, a US Army Operational Test Command CSASS test officer.
These types of drills are an “extremely fantastic way for us as snipers to hone our field craft,” Sgt. 1st Class Cecil Sherwood, one of the snipers involved in the testing said.
The CSASS has not been fielded yet, but in 2018,Congress approved the Army’s planned .2 million purchase of several thousand CSASS rifles.
The Army began fielding the Squad Designated Marksman Rifle (SDM-R), distributing the weapon — a derivative of the CSASS — to a few select units for limited user testing last fall. The rifle “provides infantry, scout, and engineer squads the capability to engage with accurate rifle fire at longer ranges,” the Army said.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
One of the reasons why American weapons systems have been so dominant is computer power. Whether it’s helping the M1 Abrams keep its gun on target or helping secure communications, computers give American troops an edge. Now, the Pentagon wants to bring the next generation of computers, quantum computers, into the fight.
You’re probably asking yourself, “what, exactly, is quantum computing and how would it give our troops an edge? Well, here’s a quick rundown.
As explained by one of America’s top tech companies, IBM, quantum computing is a form of computing that uses quantum mechanics — the mathematics of subatomic particle movements. Current processors distill all information down, eventually, to a simple ‘0’ or ‘1.’ Quantum processors, however, can distill information down to ‘0’ and ‘1.’ In short, this has the potential to greatly increase the baseline speeds at which computers operate. To put that increase in speed into perspective, it’s the difference between using a horse to go from New York to San Diego and using a SR-71 Blackbird for that same trip.
Joint Direct Attack Munitions, currently dependent on GPS, could become more accurate thanks to quantum clocks.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael B. Keller)
So, how might this translate to military operations? Well, one application could be a replacement for the Global Positioning System. The satellite-based system relies on multiple updates per day, and there have been concerns the system could be vulnerable to attack. Quantum clocks could provide GPS-like accuracy when the satellite system is down.
Quantum computing could help make satellite communications more secure.
A number of other countries, including the United Kingdom, Israel, Canada, and Australia, are also working on quantum computing programs. The Air Force Research Laboratory expects to have working prototypes in five years, with other systems rolling out later. In one sense, this program is an urgent one: China is also working on quantum computers, and has reportedly launched a purportedly unhackable satellite using that technology — and it’s not a good idea to be technologically outgunned if tensions should boil over.
In the firearms community, people are either Glock haters or Glock lovers. Whichever camp you belong to, the popularity and reputation of the Glock platform cannot be denied. Since its adoption by the Austrian Army as the P80 in 1982, Glock pistols have been issued to the armed forces, security agencies and law enforcement organizations of over 48 countries, including the FBI and U.S. Navy SEALs. Today, you can now buy a reissue of the Glock that started it all: the P80.
An FBI Special Agent takes aim with a Glock 19M (FBI)
Since WWII, the Austrian Army’s standard-issue sidearm has been the Walther P38. Though it was an important pistol from an engineering standpoint, having introduced technical features that ended up in the Beretta 92/M9, antiquated features like its 8-round magazine led the Austrian Army to solicit a new pistol in 1980. Among the Army’s 17 criteria, they required that the new pistol be self-loading, chambered in 9x19mm Parabellum, secure from accidental discharge, and use magazines that did not require any means of assistance for loading.
Engineer and company founder, Gaston Glock, had extensive experience with advanced synthetic polymers, but no experience with firearm design or manufacturing. When he heard about the Army’s planned procurement in 1982, he assembled a team of leading handgun experts including military, police, and civilian shooters from around Europe to develop a revolutionary new handgun. Less than three months later, Glock had a working prototype. Incorporating Glock’s expertise in synthetic polymers, the new pistol made extensive use of synthetic materials and modern manufacturing processes that made it very cost-effective.
Austrian soldiers train with modern Glock pistols (Bundesheer)
Though the pistol held 17 rounds and conformed to the Army’s 17 criteria, it was called the Glock 17 because it was the 17th patent procured by the company. Several samples were submitted to the Austrian Army for testing. After an intense and abusive assessment, Glock was declared to be the winner of the competition, beating out pistols like the Heckler Koch P7, Sig Sauer P226, Beretta 92, and the FN Browning Hi-Power. The Glock 17 would be a new sidearm for both the Austrian military and police. It was designated as the P80 and an initial order of 25,000 pistols was placed.
Today, these initial Glock 17/P80 models are known as Gen 1 Glocks. They are most easily recognized by their pebble finish grips which wrap all the way around. The first Glock 17s were imported into the United States in 1986 and were shipped and sold in plastic boxes which are often referred to as “Tupperware” boxes.
The P80 reissue in the iconic “Tupperware” box (Lipsey’s Guns)
Original Gen 1 Glocks are few and far between on the used market and fetch top dollar; priced more like collectibles than shooter guns. In order to satisfy consumers, companies have released aftermarket P80 kits that allow shooters to build replicas of the original Glock that they can take to the range without fear of ruining their investment. Noticing this demand in the market, firearms distributor Lipsey’s Guns reached out to Glock to do a collaboration and bring the original P80 back to the market.
This reissue of the venerable P80 incorporates both original features and styling along with modern shooting luxuries to provide consumers with an authentic and shootable pistol. Like the original P80, the reissue utilizes a non-railed frame free of finger grooves. It also features the iconic pebble grain texturing that wraps all the way around the grip. Lipsey’s worked with Glock to recreate the Gen 1 single pin frame, smooth trigger, and original flat extractor. Though the reissue incorporates the original P80 markings in the same font from 1982, they were unable to acquire the licensing to apply the Austrian Army markings to the pistol. Also unlike the original P80, the reissue comes with a magazine that drops free from the gun, a feature that makes the reissue more shootable than the original. The pistol also comes in the classic “Tupperware” box which sits in a commemorative overbox along with a certificate of authenticity from Glock.
The commemorative overbox that holds the “Tupperware” box (Lipsey’s Guns)
“I have always wanted to do a retro Glock pistol,” said Lipsey’s Project Development Manager Jason Cloessner. “Glock took painstaking measures to recreate the original frames and packaging to make this P80 edition as close to the original as we could get. Not only is this edition a great shooter, but it also helps tell the amazing story of how Glock came to be.” The P80 reissue carries an MSRP of 9. Compared to the MSRP of 9 for a modern Glock 17 Gen 5, the reissue allows shooters to own a P80 at the cost of a regular Glock. Though production of the first wave of P80 reissues is limited, Lipsey’s has announced that the P80 itself will not be a limited edition and that more waves of stock will follow in the future.
The US Navy’s latest aircraft carrier deployment began in an unusual way, and it appears to be part of efforts to make the service less predictable.
In a break from the norm, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and its strike group deployed immediately after completing a final certification exercise instead of first returning to the carrier’s home port.
Carrier Strike Group 10, a formidable naval force consisting of the Eisenhower, two cruisers, three destroyers and more than 6,000 sailors, set sail on deployment right after completing the Composite Unit Training Exercise, the Navy announced Thursday.
“Upon the successful completion of C2X, strike groups are certified and postured to deploy at any time,” US 2nd Fleet spokeswoman Lt. Marycate Walsh told Insider.
“IKE’s timeline for departure was demonstrative of the inherent agility of our naval forces,” she continued. “There is no one size fits all policy; operations at sea routinely flex for a variety of reasons.”
But the Eisenhower’s latest deployment, as The Virginian-Pilot notes, appears to be a part of the Navy’s efforts to implement dynamic force employment, which the Navy argues makes the fleet much less predictable and strengthens deterrence against potential adversaries.
The Truman executed the first DFE deployment in 2018, when it sailed into the North Atlantic and Arctic shortly after returning from the Mediterranean.
After that deployment, Adm. James G. Foggo III, commander of US Naval Forces Europe-Africa and Allied Joint Force Command Naples, Italy, said: “The National Defense Strategy makes clear that we must be operationally unpredictable to our long-term strategic adversaries, while upholding our commitments to our allies and partners.”
It is unclear where the Eisenhower is currently headed.
“The sailors of IKE Strike Group are trained and ready to execute the full spectrum of maritime operations in any theater,” Rear Adm. Paul Schlise, commander of Carrier Strike Group 10, said in a statement.
“Carrier Strike Groups,” he said, “are visible and powerful symbols of US commitment and resolve to our allies and partners, and possess the flexibility and sustainability to fight major wars and ensure freedom of the seas.”
The standard-issue combat boot that most soldiers wear today — the one most commonly worn in Iraq and Afghanistan — is great for sandy dunes, hot dry weather and asphalt. But it’s proven to be not so good in hot and wet environments.
So the Army has developed a new jungle boot that some soldiers will see this year.
In September, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley directed the Army to come up with a plan to outfit two full brigade combat teams in Hawaii, part of the 25th Infantry Division there, with a jungle boot. The Army had already been testing commercial jungle boots at the time — with mixed results — but didn’t have a specialized jungle boot, so Program Executive Officer Soldier, headquartered at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, had to get a plan together to make it happen.
By October of last year, the Army had made a request to industry to find out what was possible, and by December, contracts were awarded to two U.S. boot manufacturers to build a little more than 36,700 jungle-ready combat boots — enough to outfit both full IBCTs in Hawaii.
“This is important to the Army, and important to soldiers in a hot, high-humidity, high-moisture area,” said Army Lt. Col. John Bryan, product manager for soldier clothing and individual equipment with PEO Soldier. “We are responding as quickly as we possibly can, with the best available, immediate capability, to get it on soldiers’ feet quickly, and then refine and improve as we go.”
Right now, the new jungle boot the Army developed will be for soldiers at the 25th ID in Hawaii — primarily because there are actually jungles in Hawaii that soldiers there must contend with. The new boots look remarkably similar to the current boots soldiers wear — they are the same color, for instance. And the boots, which Bryan said are called the “Army Jungle Combat Boot” or “JCB” for short, sport a variety of features drawn from both the legacy M1966 Vietnam-era jungle boot and modern technology.
The M1966 Jungle Boot — which featured a green cotton fabric upper with a black leather toe that could be polished — had a solid rubber sole that soldiers reportedly said had no shock-absorbing capability. The new boot uses a similar tread, or “outsole,” as the M1966 “Panama style” — to shed mud for instance and provide great traction, but the added midsole is what makes it more comfortable and shock absorbing, said Albert Adams, who works at the Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center in Massachusetts.
The outsole of the new boot is connected to the leather upper via “direct attach,” Adams said. That’s a process where a kind of liquid foam is poured between the rubber outsole and leather boot upper. It’s “a lot like an injection molding process,” he explained.
The foam layer between the rubber sole and the upper portion of the boot not only provides greater shock absorbing capability, but he said it also keeps out microbes in hot, wet environments that in the past have been shown to eat away at the glues that held older boots together. So the new boots won’t separate at the soles, he said. “It provides a high level of durability, and it also adds cushioning.”
Also part of the new boot is a textile layer that prevents foreign items from puncturing through the sole of the boot and hurting a soldier’s foot, Adams said. The M1966 boot accomplished that with a steel plate. The new boot has a ballistic fabric-like layer instead.
Army Staff Sgt. Joshua Morse, an instructor at the Jungle Operations Training Center in Hawaii, said the puncture resistance is welcome, noting that punji sticks, familiar to Vietnam War veterans, are still a problem for soldiers.
“They use these punji pits for hunting purposes,” he said. “In Brunei, you are literally in the middle of nowhere in this jungle, and there are natives that live in that area, and still hunt in that area, and it can be an issue.” And in mangrove swamps, he said, “you can’t see anything. You don’t know what’s under your feet at all. There are a lot of sharp objects in there as well.”
The new JCB also features a heel with a lower height than the M1966 model, to prevent snags on things like vines in a jungle environment. That prevents tripping and twisted ankles. Among other things, the boot also has additional drainage holes to let water out if it becomes completely soaked, speed laces so that soldiers can don and doff the boots more quickly, a redesigned upper to make the boots less tight when they are new, an insert that helps improve water drainage, and a lining that makes the boot breath better and dry faster than the old boot.
“You’re going to be stepping in mud up to your knees or higher, and going across rivers regularly,” Adams said. “So once the boot is soaked, we need it to be able to dry quickly as well.”
Morse has already been wearing and evaluating early versions of the JCB and said he thinks the efforts made by the Army toward providing him with better footwear are spot-on.
“The designs were conjured up in a lab somewhere, and they were brought out here, and the main focus was the field test with us,” Morse said. “A lot of us have worn these boots for a year now, different variants of the boots. And all the feedback that we’ve put into this, and given to the companies, they have come back and given us better products every single time.”
Morse said he hadn’t initially worn the new jungle boots that he had been asked to evaluate. On a trip to Brunei, he recalled, he went instead with what he was familiar with and what he trusted — a pair of boots he’d worn many times, the kind worn by soldiers in the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I wore a pair of boots I’d had for a couple of years,” he said. “I wore them in Brunei and I had trench foot within a week. But then I thought — I have this brand new pair of test boots that they asked me to test; they are not broken in, but I’m going to give them a shot. I put them on. After 46 days soaking wet, nonstop, my feet were never completely dry. But I wore those boots, and I never had a problem again.”
The Army didn’t design the new JCB in a vacuum. Instead, it worked with solders like Morse to get the requirements and design just right — to meet the needs of soldiers, said Army Capt. Daniel Ferenczy, the assistant product manager for soldier clothing and individual equipment.
“We worked with soldiers to come up with this boot. We take what soldiers want and need, we boil that down to the salient characteristics, hand that over to our science and technology up at Natick; they work with us and industry, the manufacturing base, to come up with this product,” Ferenczy said. “This is a huge win, a great win story for the Army, because it was such a quick turnaround. Industry did a fantastic job. Our product engineers are also top of the line. And we had a ton of soldier feedback. … We really dealt very closely with what the soldier needs to get where we are.”
In March, the Army will begin fielding the current iteration of the JCB to soldiers in the first of two brigade combat teams in Hawaii. During that fielding, the boots will be available in sizes 7-12. In June, the Army will begin fielding the JCB to the second BCT — this time with a wider array of sizes available: sizes 3-16, in narrow, regular, wide and extra wide.
They will also go back and take care of those soldiers from the initial fielding who didn’t get boots due to their size not being available. A third fielding in September will ensure that all soldiers from the second fielding have boots. Each soldier will get two pairs of JCBs.
In all, for this initial fielding — meant to meet the requirement laid out in September by the Army’s chief of staff — more than 36,700 JCBs will be manufactured.
By December, the Army will return to Hawaii to ask soldiers how those new boots are working out for them.
“Al Adams will lead a small group and go back to 25th ID, to conduct focus groups with the soldiers who are wearing these boots and get their feedback — good and bad,” said Scott A. Fernald, an acquisition technician with PEO Soldier. “From there, the determination will be made, if we had a product we are satisfied with, or if we need to go back and do some tweaking.”
Fernald said that sometime between April and June of 2018, a final purchase description for the JCB will be developed — based on feedback from soldiers who wore it. He said he expects that in fiscal year 2019, an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract will be signed with multiple vendors to produce the final version of the JCB for the Army.
Bryan said the JCB, when it becomes widely available, will be wearable by all soldiers who want to wear it — even if they don’t work in a jungle.
“From the get-go we have worked… to make sure we all understood the Army wear standards for boots,” he said. “One of the pieces of feedback we have gotten from soldiers before they wear them is they look a lot like our current boots. That’s by design. These will be authorized to wear.”
While the JCB will be authorized for wear by any solider, Bryan made it clear that there will only be some soldiers in some units who have the JCB issued to them. And right now, those decisions have not been made. Soldiers who are not issued the JCB will need to find it and purchase it on their own if they want to wear it.
“We are not directing commercial industry to sell them,” Bryan said. “But if they build to the specification we’ve given them for our contract, they can sell them commercially and soldiers are authorized to wear them.”
The skies above the United States and its allies aren’t just an intelligence battleground anymore, they’re also a big business arena. Some of the world’s top aircraft designers are looking to get their designs airborne with America’s most top secret missions.
Today, Sweden’s air forces are flying nondescript, ulta-secret spy missions in what appear to be the swankiest luxury aircraft on the market. In April 2021, Sweden flew a pair of luxury airplanes off the coast of Russia, where Russian military signals and radar were highly active.
It looked like a luxury private jet that could have belonged to any corporate officer from anywhere in the world. The converted Gulfstream IV was nothing of the sort; it was filled with the latest and greatest in signals intelligence collection equipment.
This isn’t the first time Sweden has employed its sleek fleet of Gulfstream spy planes over the past few years. They’ve been seen flying around Syria and the Mediterranean Sea. Sweden isn’t alone in employing them – other governments are bringing a demand for converted luxury aircraft.
According to Reuters, the market for selling special mission business jets to intelligence agencies is worth more than $3 billion worldwide. Using converted luxury aircraft is apparently a lower-cost alternative to converting larger passenger planes or military aircraft.
One defense and military analyst believes the shift is coming from the advanced listening and intelligence systems. As they get smaller and more powerful, the size of the aircraft needed to house them also gets smaller.
These special missions can vary from passive radar detection, communications interception, and early-warning systems. Countries from South Korea to France to the Israel Defense Forces are looking for more inexpensive ways to continue these missions using advanced equipment and smaller planes.
A private corporate jet can cost anywhere from $20 million to $60 million, the Reuters report says. Conversion to a spy plane with the latest technology could run state actors upwards of another $200 million.
The new demand for smaller aircraft is a boon to the private aviation industry, according to industry executives, who saw a drop off in demand from the civilian sector. A focus on military conversion means the companies will be more dedicated to that sector.
Although using luxury private aircraft as spy planes is a tradition that dates back to the Cold War, the breakthroughs in signals intelligence technology mean that smaller planes can be as effective as larger ones in singular “special mission” roles. The only threat to this new, emerging marketplace for corporate aircraft: special mission drones.
Unmanned aerial vehicles can be a slightly cheaper alternative for some countries looking for so-called “special mission aircraft,” but they aren’t that much cheaper. The Northrop Grumman Global Hawk UAV will still run about $130 million.
But converted executive aircraft are a good investment. The U.S. military purchased a number of Grumman Gulfstream I planes in the early 1960s, converting many to long-range command and control aircraft. They remained in service until 2001.
If there was one single place that could be called the front lines of the clandestine Cold War, Berlin was it. The city, like the rest of Germany, was divided. It was a bastion, deep inside the heart of the Eastern Bloc, where Westerners could roam relatively freely within their sector by day and sneak into enemy territory under the cover of darkness.
A divided Berlin was the setting for so many stories, many of which are just now coming to light. And many of those stories are about Detachment-A, a Special Forces unit so secret, many in Special Forces couldn’t even know about it.
If World War III broke out, their mission was not to win — they were 110 miles behind enemy lines and couldn’t possibly win a pitched battle. Their mission was to just buy time for NATO. Along the way, their training helped develop the units and tactics used by American special operations the world over.
Retired Special Forces soldier and former CIA agent James Stejskal was among among the members of Detachment A. He served in it for nine years and just wrote a book on the recently-declassified unit, called Special Forces Berlin: Clandestine Cold War Operations of the U.S. Army’s Elite, 1956-90. Working behind enemy lines in an unconventional conflict is one of the foundational duties of the U.S. Army’s Special Forces, but Detachment A had no misconceptions about what would happen in a war with the Soviet Union. They would operate as small teams inside and outside of Berlin, tripping up the Red Army in any way they could.
“We were going to, basically, break out of the city. Two of the six teams would stay behind and cause trouble inside the city. Four of the teams would go outside the city,” James Stejskal told WATM. “A railway network, basically called the Berliner Ring, would carry the majority of the Russian forces from east to west. Our mission was to report on and sabotage the railway, communications… to cause as much havoc as possible.”
Stejskal grew up with the military. His father was drafted for World War II in 1941, before Pearl Harbor. He would earn a commission during the war as a combat engineer in Patton’s XII Corps. His father even went to Germany during the Korean War. The younger Stejskal was always interested in intelligence, commando, and what he calls the “darker arts.” He read about the British Special Operations Executive and the Office of Strategic Services during WWII and it captivated him. So when it came time for him to join the Army, the Green Beret called to him. He joined with Special Forces on his mind. But Det A was so secret, he didn’t know it existed even after he earned his place among the elite.
“I only found out about it on one of my exercises in Germany,” he recalls. “We jumped into it, into Southern Germany for our annual winter warmer exercise and one of the guys on the ground that met us was a civilian-clothes guy, speaking German. Only later on in the exercise did he start to speak in English to us and, before too long, I figured out that he was actually American. He told us he’s from a unit Berlin and he couldn’t really talk about it.”
That piqued Stejskal’s interest. He continued to dig into it and, as one thing led to another, he found himself in Berlin. Detachment A was the closest unit to the old OSS that a soldier could get in to. Speaking German, the men of Det A wore their hair long, civilian clothes, and worked with soldiers from other countries. Their commander was a Czech officer and their Sergeant Major was a German who was in the Bundeswehr, both veterans of World War II.
“It’s a strange feeling. We were 110 miles behind the East German border, with about 12,000 allied troops inside West Berlin surrounded by close to a million Russian and Warsaw Pact soldiers,” He says. “Oddly enough, I think most of us were very energized to be where we were.”
This would be an Emmy-winning TV show today. Mad Men, eat your heart out.
During peacetime, they performed protection duties for VIPs and – most importantly – they trained. Detachment A trained with the British Special Air Service, who taught them to watch how the Germans and Israelis performed anti-terror operations, like clearing a hijacked aircraft. They soon became the U.S. Army’s first counter-terrorism team, long before Delta Force or SEAL Team Six. Charlie Beckwith, Delta’s first commander, came to Berlin to see Detachment A for himself.
“He came over to Berlin to see how we were doing things and took a lot of our training techniques and tactics and exported them back to Fort Bragg, about 1980,” Stejskal says. “The commander of SEAL Team Six, Marcinko, he also came over and observed. We did our operability training with Delta Force later on in the 1980s. We also trained a lot of the SEALs in the city.”
Aside from forming the foundations of modern Special Forces and SEAL Team operations, veterans of Detachment A also took their knowledge back home, joining police departments as local SWAT teams popped up around the United States. They trained law enforcement and military alike in building assault tactics, urban combat, and clearing buildings. But if war broke out, these soldiers had no illusions about their fate.
“I never thought about it being certain death, but it could have,” says Stejskal. “I think we would’ve been hard-pressed to survive more than 72 hours, but you never can tell. You’re anticipating you’re going in to a very bad situation, but you got the best tools, the best cover, and everything else. You have a confidence level that you can do it, but you, there’s always that element of uncertainty that you don’t have everything under control, so that’s part of the energy that fuels you when you’re there.”
A .44 mag revolver holds a special place among true gun aficionados. It has been the symbol of intimidation, power, and hard-boiled action since the seventies. Anyone who has seen Taxi Driver or Dirty Harry knows what I’m talking about.
And if you want to follow the footsteps of action legends like Clint Eastwood, there’s no better gun to strap on your belt.
So, buckle up. Today we’ll dive into the world of this near-mythical handgun and try to find the best .44 magnum revolver on the market.
Standing The Test Of Time: A Brief History Of .44 Mag
“This is the .44 magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world and it can blow your head clean off. So, you got to ask yourself one question – Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?”
Nothing describes the sheer awesomeness of the revolver quite like this immortal line from Dirty Harry.
Believe me, I’ve held some much more powerful six-shooters, including the .454 Casull. There’s nothing that threw me into the “action hero” mode quite like this one.
The .44 magnum handgun hasn’t made its mark in the Civil War or the Wild West. In fact, it’s still a relatively new revolver by today’s standards, first appearing in 1955.
Elmer Keith, the famous cowboy and writer of the time, developed the first revolver. It didn’t take long for Remington to develop and release the first .44 Remington Magnum and others to follow.
However, despite being the go-to gun of numerous big-screen protagonists, it never found its place in law enforcement. But it gained popularity in hunting and as the most reliable self-defense weapon. It managed to maintain its reputation over decades as well.
The emergence of the more convenient semi-automatic pistols and even more powerful revolvers didn’t overshadow the .44 mag. Many experts I talked to would still choose it over some newer models.
Through all of that, this revolver has achieved a symbolic status. When you think of a revolver, you picture the .44. If a shooter video game allows you to carry a revolver, it will probably be this one.
So, what else makes it so unique? Let’s find out.
The Benefits Of The .44 Magnum
Do you know what the greatest upside of a revolver is? A first-timer can learn to use it in a minute.
You won’t see a cowboy de-cocking their six-shooter and pulling the safety lever. Instead, you can just lift it up and pull the trigger.
What’s better – you can load your gun and keep it for years without damaging the recoil springs or magazine.
Moreover, it’s easy to holster or conceal and easy to carry around your belt at all times. It makes for a perfect self-defense weapon against both four-legged and two-legged beasts. Especially since it has quite the explosive power.
Still not sure about its capability? Maybe you’ll change your mind when I tell you that one guy took down a 12-foot polar bear using only this gun in 1965. Don’t believe me? Look it up!
What About The Downsides?
I can understand those who move away from six-shooters. First of all, you have a small capacity there. Although five or six rounds could be enough, you may still feel a lot safer with a fully loaded Glock.
Another thing that bugs the gun-friendly people is the reload time. Even with innovative speed loaders, it’s still an extensive process. You have to open the cylinder to drop the empty shells before you insert the live rounds again.
But that’s not all. Handling a mag can be quite an unpleasant experience for some. It’s a sturdy gun with a heavy recoil such that it requires a tight grip. I’ve witnessed people busting their teeth at the drawback of the mag.
And lastly, there’s that controversial revolver muzzle flash that’s dividing firearm proponents across the globe. While some enjoy “seeing what they fire,” some claim that they “may get an epileptic seizure” if they fire two rounds in a row.
Who Should Use The .44 Mag?
This is a tricky question.
Is it powerful? Yes, but not the most powerful.
Is it a good concealed-carry gun? It’s doable, but still not the lightest.
But there’s still something about it that makes it unique and extremely popular.
Throughout the years, I’ve realized that this gun may be the best for the following:
Hunting game animals of all sizes: Honestly, a good shot can take out a wild boar with a .44 mag
Target practicing at more than 100 yards
Safely carrying around a revolver that you can draw quickly
Going all Travis Bickle in case your life’s in danger
The top three revolver manufacturers (Taurus, Ruger, Smith & Wesson) have cut back on production in recent years. On the flip side, the demand has risen. This means you can expect a several-month waiting list to get one directly from the manufacturer.
There are plenty of people who are put off by the price of a magnum. You can’t really blame them; a brand new S&W 69 may cost north of $800. However, you can find Taurus models for $600 or less too.
The real issue lies in the prices of the side equipment. Practice ammo costs $25 for a pack of 25 rounds and the serious stuff can go up to $40 (box of 20). On top of that, there’s also maintenance and additional equipment (e.g. speed loader) to consider.
But you need to remember that you’re not buying just a gun. You’re buying a myth. An artifact that shows its teeth to the zeitgeist.
It’s something that you buy because you love everything it represents. And if you’re one of those people, no price can stop you.
The Raging Hunter has a large frame with an above-average barrel of 8.37”. This makes it one of the longest revolvers in its class and therefore, the hardest to conceal.
However, I expected it to be much heavier than it is. In fact, I believe it’s one of the lightest pistols. That’s due to the aluminum alloy shroud and angular barrel design. According to Taurus, they first thread the barrel onto the frame and then they coat the cover over it.
This handgun is a next-generation revolver. First, it breaks the traditional ties as it features a seven-shot cylinder instead of the usual six. It’s mostly a double-action revolver, but you can use it as a single-action as well.
The power and accuracy are also top-notch. It’s ideal for anything from home defense to the recreational shooting of tin cans from over 100 yards out.
In the end, the price may put some people off, but there probably isn’t a better mag six-shooter around.
For one, it contains devastating explosive power, but it also comes with the best possible scope-mounting system among revolvers. Every hunter wants a clean and quick kill that spares the game unnecessary suffering and this gun makes it possible.
The first thing that impressed me with the Super Redhawk is its smooth black rubber grip. Despite having a heavy recoil, this grip allows you to hold tight and avoid any accidents.
The small air pouch between the grip and your hand softens the drawback so even new firearm users can steady the shot. It’s simply one of the more accurate handguns around.
This six-shooter comes in two models: Super Redhawk and Super Redhawk Alaskan.
The former has a bunch of additional features like a hammer-forged barrel and an extended frame for a scope machine. It comes in both 7.5” and 9.5” barrels.
On the other hand, the Alaskan is a smaller model without the extensions. However, it’s popular among those who want to walk around with more confidence. It’s small, convenient, and easy to conceal.
Although it may fall in the best .44 magnum revolver category, this revolver may be expensive for what it brings to the table.
The Raging Bull is one of the bigger handguns around. However, a seasoned hunter will know that you can determine the gun by the way it “sits” in your hand, and this shooter is impeccable when it comes to fit and feel.
The award-winning design consists of a 6.5” barrel length with an elegant matte stainless-steel finish. A soft black grip keeps the gun steady in your hand and enhances accuracy. But you can fire it in double-action to increase precision even more.
Two things about this gun got to my attention.
First, it comes at a much affordable price than most of its counterparts. And you get a big-game handgun in return.
But above all, I appreciate Taurus’ safety mechanism; all the company’s guns have a security system that allows you to lock/unlock the revolver with a unique key. If you don’t have the key, you can’t fire or cock the gun at all.
On the other hand, the only downside is the monumental size of this revolver. If you prefer carrying it around with you, you’ll have some trouble concealing it. In short, it can defend you from the sharp-toothed beast, but it may prove inconvenient for defending your home (or your life).
It has a 4” barrel with stainless steel construction and a shiny chrome finishing that looks beautiful. Although the grip has a captivating design, I found it a bit slippery during my test runs. I’d recommend being extra careful during the recoil.
On the other hand, I found that this small six-shooter can really pack a punch. It combines the power and accuracy of a lighter gun. Although I haven’t tested it on game animals, I think it’s a perfect choice for self-defense. Especially since it’s easy to tote around.
Overall, it’s a cool-looking gun from one of the most trusted revolver manufacturers.
When I got my hand on this monster, I thought I was dreaming. The design, the fitting, and the overall feeling were out of this world. A fantastic DLC finish makes the shooter always look brand new, while the Turkish walnut grip adds a sophisticated touch.
I immediately noticed the recoil-reducing and balancing weight under the 6-inch barrel, which is great for beginners. You can remove it, but it adds fine detail to the overall design if you leave it alone.
One thing this revolver is notable for is its smooth double-action performance. Furthermore, it has a fast-changeable front sight along with a removable rear sight, too.
But here’s the bad part … It costs a boat load! Is it worth it? It depends on how badly you want it. It’s probably the best .44 mag revolver, but would you pay a used car’s price to own one? I probably would in this case. Guess I better buy a bus pass.
Smooth double-action performance
One of the best magnum revolvers
All things considered; the Taurus 44 Raging Hunter is probably the best and most affordable .44 magnum revolver on the market. It’s an award-winning, next-gen revolver that’s equally suitable for entry-level users and big-game hunters.
Of course, I don’t mean to take anything away from the other guns. As I hold this type of six-shooter close to my heart, I’d tell you that you can’t go wrong with any. However, if we’re talking about the price-to-quality ratio, the Raging Hunter would be my choice as best for the money.