With the North Korean nuclear program leading to increased tensions, one big question is how to protect South Korea from any attacks from the North.
This is no small question – North Korea has many deadly planes, including the An-2 Colt, which it would be best to stop before they can deliver their lethal cargos, be they bombs, rockets, missiles, or commandos.
However, the South Koreans have been on this for a while. Unlike the U.S. Army, the South Korean army has been thinking about short-range air defense on the battlefield. This is reflected in that military’s development of self-propelled air-defense systems. The latest is the Hybrid BIHO.
According to Hanwha Defense Systems, the Hybrid BIHO uses a combination of two 30mm cannon and four surface-to-air missiles to take out enemy planes and helicopters. This is not a new approach – Russia has a similar vehicle in the Pantsir – but South Korea has developed its own twist.
The South Koreans have been using the original BIHO anti-aircraft system for a while now. This weapon packs two 30mm cannon that fire at a rate of 600 rounds per minute. The BIHO Hybrid adds four Shingung surface-to-air missiles, each of which has a range of just under four and a half miles. It also had a radar, as well as TV cameras and infrared sensors, for detecting and tracking targets.
The Shingung uses both infra-red and ultra-violet seekers to detect aircraft, and has shot down targets traveling at over twice the speed of sound. The missile can hit targets flying over 11,000 feet above the ground, and carries a five and a half pound warhead.
With the Hybrid BIHO, South Korea’s going to be able to keep its skies clear of North Korean trouble-makers, no matter what the payload.
Russia is planning to supply its troops with small-scale drones that can drop bombs, Russian news site Izvestia reported July 2019. The quadcopters outfitted with explosives are modeled after similar commercial drones rigged with explosive devices used by ISIS fighters in Syria.
“This is a very tactical [unmanned aerial vehicle], we’re talking about small UAV with a close range,” Samuel Bendett, a researcher at the CNA Corporation and a member of CNA’s Center for Autonomy and AI, and a fellow in Russia studies at the American Foreign Policy Council, told INSIDER.
“Downrange, they will probably be able to strap a couple of grenades or bombs” to the UAVs, Bendett said.
While the UAVs aren’t yet outfitted with weapons, Izvestia cited sources in the Ministry of Defense saying the upgrade is imminent, and Bendett told INSIDER via email “given the relative simplicity in turning them into strike drones so they can drop grenades or mortar rounds, I would say that can happen relatively quickly.”
U.S. Air Force Academy cadets in the Unmanned Aerial System Operations Program familiarize themselves with quad-copter flight controls at the Cadet Field House, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo., March 4, 2019.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Joshua Armstrong)
The US has pioneered drones in military operations, and many of them are larger than piloted planes and carry a suite of surveillance sensors and missiles. The armed MQ-9 Reaper has a 66-foot-long wingspan that’s twice that of an F-16 fighter. In contrast, the kind of small drones favored by remote-control hobbyists weren’t thought of as a weapon until their use by ISIS combatants.
“Suddenly ISIS does a 180 and turns these very simple, unsophisticated devices into very deadly ones,” he said. “So there was that realization that anything and everything could be turned into a weapon and therefore the Russian military should look at the successful adoption of the systems that have proven successful.”
ISIS fighters used drones to terrifying effect against the US-led coalition, the attacks did not result in a “large number of deaths,” according to a report by West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center.
Russian law enforcement agencies already use small drones, Bendett said. What’s new is Russia’s decision to weaponize them — and the Ministry of Defense announcement of the decision.
It’s unclear how large the drones will be, or how many Russia will utilize, although Bendett said they could number in the thousands.
A Scan Eagle unmanned aerial vehicle launches from the amphibious dock landing ship USS Comstock.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joseph M. Buliavac)
“I don’t believe that very small weaponized drones pose a particularly dangerous threat simply because a drone that weighs 33 grams simply can’t carry much of a payload,” Jeff Ellis, a partner at Clyde Co. in New York, told INSIDER via email.
“That being said, slightly larger drones can be used to target individuals or small groups and remain very difficult to detect and interdict,” he said.
The drones will need to be able to support secure communication and small-scale sensors before they are useful to the Russian military, Bendett said.
But anything that the military uses, Bendett noted, would eventually trickle down to Russia’s state security apparatus, including the FSB, but only for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance efforts “for now.”
While the adoption of terrorist tactic by a state might seem ethically dubious, Bendett said that Russia has adopted other technologies used by extremist groups, like technicals — a pick-up truck that has a mounted machine guns.
Furthermore, Bendett said it’s important to note that the Russian military is thinking tactically. “For Russians it’s a very matter of fact thing right now,” he told INSIDER. “They’re seeing what works best, and if it doesn’t work, they’ll discard it.”
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
Prince Harry is best known recently for his involvement in the Invictus Games for wounded and sick vets. However, he’s also a combat vet, with two tours in Afghanistan, one of which involved flying the AH-64 Apache. But before that, he commanded a platoon of light tanks with a powerful punch (the British Army calls that unit a troop).
The tank in question was the FV 107 Scimitar, part of the Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) (or CVR(T)) family. According to the British Army web site, the Scimitar weighs just under 18,000 pounds, and is armed with a 30mm Rarden cannon (the same as the one on the Warrior infantry fighting vehicle) and a 7.62mm machine gun. It has top speed of just under 50 miles per hour.
The real impressive part of this is the size of this vehicle. It is only 16 feet long, seven feet four inches wide, and just under seven feet tall. Compare that to the dimensions of a M1127 Stryker (23 feet long, just under nine feet wide, and eight feet eight inches tall), which only has a .50-caliber machine gun.
The CVR(T) family was designed in the 1960s to fit inside transports of the era. The Scimitar saw action in the Falklands War, Desert Storm, in the Iraq War, and during Operation Enduring Freedom.
Prince Harry was slated to serve in Iraq with his troop, but after threats from insurgents, he was instead assigned to be part of a Tactical Air Control Party for his first tour in Afghanisan. He later trained to fly the British Army’s version of the Apache and served as an Apache pilot for his second tour.
You can see a video about this light tank that proved to be a Royal ride below.
Usually, when someone or something retires, it’s because they’ve grown a little older — and maybe a little slower — over time. Maybe their skills aren’t as useful as they once were, so they opt to spend their sunset years peacefully watching others take over their old duties.
But not the SR-71 Blackbird. It went out with a sonic boom.
The SR-71 was in the prime of its amazing life. This was a titanium bird designed to outrun and spy on the Russians, a bird that was fooling Russians even before it was assembled.
(Laughs in Blackbird)
When the Blackbird was retired in 1990, not everyone was thrilled with the idea. Much of the debate around the SR-71’s mission and usefulness was because of political infighting, not because of any actual military need the plane couldn’t fill. Still, the program was derided by Congressional military and budget hawks as being too costly for its designated mission. Some speculate the old guard of Air Force Cold Warriors had long since retired and newer generals couldn’t explain the plane’s mission in the post-Soviet order.
Whatever the reason for its retirement, the Air Force’s most glorious bird was headed for the sunset — but not before making history and setting a few more records.
An SR-71 refuels in mid-air during sunset.
(U.S. Air Force)
When it was operationally retired in 1990, a Blackbird piloted by Lt. Col. Raymond E. Yeilding and Lt. Col. Joseph T. Vida was tasked to fly one last time from Palmdale, Calif. to its new home at the Smithsonian Institution’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. Apparently, they had somewhere to be in the D.C. area that day, too.
West Coast of the United States to the U.S. East Coast – 2,404 miles in 68:17.
Los Angeles, Calif., to Washington, D.C. – 2,299 miles in 64:20
Kansas City, Mo., to Washington, D.C. – 942 miles in 25:59
St. Louis, Mo., to Cincinnati, Ohio – 311 miles in 8:32
(U.S. Air Force)
The SR-71 refueled in mid-air over the Pacific Ocean before beginning its transcontinental journey. It arrived at Dulles International Airport to a throng of onlookers and well-wishers who knew a good thing when they saw one.
Addressing the full Senate after the historic, record-setting 1990 flight, Senator John Glenn told the assembly that the flight would be remembered as “a sad memorial to our short-sighted policy in strategic aerial reconnaissance.”
Much has been made of Russian and Chinese missiles – and they do warrant attention. But the submarine still remains a very deadly assassin. If anything, that danger has taken on new forms, as the crew of the South Korean corvette Cheonan found out in 2010.
So, how will these underwater assassins be prevented from carrying out their nefarious deeds? Here are four systems that were displayed by L3 Ocean Systems at SeaAirSpace 2017.
The big problem many helicopters deal with is weight. Every pound for sensors is a pound that can’t be fuel or a weapon or a sonobouy.
At less than 400 pounds, the Firefly is a dipping sonar that can be used on much smaller helicopters – allowing someone who needs some coastal ASW to install it on more platforms than if it were a heavier sonar. Or, on the flip side, the helo that trades in a heavier dipping sonar for this lighter one gains more fuel, and thus, more range – or possibly an extra weapon, giving it an extra shot at an enemy sub.
Firefly can operate as deep as 656 feet of water, and can pick up a target almost 20 miles away. That’s not bad for this small package.
The Helicopter Long Range Active Sonar is used by nine separate navies, including Italy, Thailand, Greece, and Turkey. This sonar weighs 716 pounds – but it is also interoperable with the sonars on surface ships and the sonobouys dropped by other helicopters and maritime patrol planes.
It can operate at depths of up to 1,640 feet — meaning running silent and running deep won’t help a sub escape detection from this sonar. And once the sub is located… its captain will have an exciting – and short – time to ponder his situation.
Let’s face it – diesel-electric submarines are getting better and better. They are finding ways to operate without having to snorkel while charging their batteries. The batteries are getting better, and even cell phone battery technology is being leveraged for subs.
The solution is to do what they did in World War II – use active sonar to ping and find the submarine. The Low-Frequency Active Towed Sonar can do that – and can be placed on a vessel as small as 100 tons. It can operate at depths of up to 984 feet. In essence, in shallow water, there is no place for a sub to hide from this sonar. Not when every patrol boat can have one.
You might find it interesting that a towed-array for a submarine is on here, but the U.S. Navy’s nuclear submarines sometimes have to operate in shallow water where diesel boats can hide a lot more easily.
Able to operate at depths of over 1,000 feet at a speed of up to 12 knots, the TB-23F makes any submarine that tows it more capable when it comes to hunting the submarines of the enemy.
So, while the submarine threat has gotten worse, a lot of works has been done on developing ways to find these underwater assassins before they can do harm to the valuable ships.
Whether he spends his weekends streaming on Twitch or if he’s lucky enough to squeeze in a few hours a week, every gaming dad needs the best gear to unlock his next achievement. From the resurgence of retro consoles to the latest in high-resolution headphones, here are 11 gifts that can help any dad level up his game.
1. NES Wireless Controllers for Switch
It’s the perfect hybrid of old-school aesthetics and modern tech. This wireless two-pack brings back the vintage NES controllers as an alternative for the Nintendo Switch. This isn’t some nostalgia cash grab, it’s specifically for the classic NES games you can play on the Switch via the Nintendo eShop. Plus, there are just two updates — the controllers come with two new shoulder buttons.
Created by eSports innovative tech company Scuf Gaming, this controller reimagines Sony’s DualShock 4 by borrowing the style of the Xbox One controller and ups the customization factor. With additional buttons (paddles, actually) placed under the gamepad, you can create custom button settings allowing you to keep your thumbs on the sticks during any game.
Nintendo Labo not only gets kids more involved with gaming titles, but it also invokes a DIY spirit before the console is turned on. Their newest kit, the Labo Vehicle, gives you everything you need to craft a cardboard steering wheel and pedal for racers, a joystick for planes, and a submarine wheel for underwater adventure.
Following in the footsteps of the absurdly successful and adorably cute retro consoles by Nintendo, Sony is dipping its toes in the nostalgia pool with their PlayStation One Classic. Roughy 45% smaller than the 1994 original, the Classic comes with two wired controllers, an internal memory card, and 20 preloaded titles including Metal Gear Solid, Ridge Racer 4, Twisted Metal and Rayman.
The world’s first certified high-res gaming headphones may just be the best set of cans for gaming. The headphones can take PS4 or PC audio and deliver lossless, crystal clear sound. Not to mention, they’re equipped for online chat with a built-in retractable mic, comfy leather ear cushions, and the Arctis signature ski goggle suspension strap over the steel headband for a perfect fit. Choose a reliable wired controller, or go wireless.
Fans of Red Dead Redemption have waited eight long years to traverse the wild west once again. Red Dead Redemption 2 is already being called an all-time great, and Sony is celebrating the critically acclaimed sequel with a PS4 Pro bundle. The PS4 Pro itself may have no RDR2 inspired decorations or skins, but with the game in full 4K glory, no one will ever look at the console.
Delivering the best VR visuals with no PC or wired connection needed, and at half the price of the Oculus Rift, Go is the sleekest VR headset to date. The elastic straps on the Go make for the most pleasant fitting VR headset available, and with thousands of compatible apps for the Go, you’ll appreciate the comfort after a few hours.
8. Blood Sweat & Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made
It can take hundreds of people countless hours over a number of years to create one single game. All of that work often goes unnoticed, until now. Jason Schreier, an editor at Kotaku, takes readers through first-hand tales of video game development from the biggest AAA games to the smallest indies, giving credit to the unsung heroes behind your favorite games including Destiny, Dragon Age, and games that made it to consoles.
It’s the biggest video game of 2018, and Microsoft is piggybacking off of the popular title with an Xbox One S bundle. The 1TB edition comes with a full download of the first person shooter and a DLC complete with different skins, 2,000 in-game money (V-Bucks) and a free month to Xbox Live. It’s worth nothing, Fortnite has cross-platform play, so you can take on friends who are playing on other gaming systems.
According to the science from Kontrol Freek, the company feels every gamer would see an improvement in performance if every thumbstick on current controllers were just taller. Freek says their sticks ups your accuracy and takes the tension off your thumbs. And with a slew of different styles, colors, and game themes, you can find the thumbstick that’s just right for you.
After that, an intense arms race erupted to counter this devastating threat to ships.
The Styx is a primitive missile. According to GlobalSecurity.org, it has a range of up to 54 nautical miles, based on the variant, and travels at 90 percent of the speed of sound, or around 600 miles per hour. It is radar-guided. While primitive, it can carry a 1,000-pound warhead, or roughly the same amount of high-explosives in a Mk 84 2,000-pound bomb.
The Styx is perhaps the most common of the early Russian-style anti-ship missiles out there. Versions have been made in China and North Korea.
The best way to kill the Styx – or any anti-ship missile – is to kill the platform carrying them before the missiles are launched. Second-best is to use missiles to kill the other missiles far away.
But sometimes, you don’t get to choose one of those options. Sometimes, the missile gets too close to use missiles.
That is where the Mk 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon System comes in. This is essentially a self-contained package containing the targeting system, ammo, and a M61 Gatling gun – the same gun used on legendary warplanes like the F-4 Phantom, F-15 Eagle, F/A-18 Hornet, and F-16 Fighting Falcon.
A version is also used by the Army to shoot down rockets and mortar rounds.
The Phalanx has a top range of just under three and a half miles, but it is really only effective for just under a mile. In essence, it has six seconds to kill the target.
Fortunately, the M61 can spew out a lot of bullets in a very short period of time — up to 75 a second. Killing the missile will protect a ship from the worst of the impact, but the ship will be hurt.
However, fragment damage beats having a huge hole blown into a ship. And a damaged ship can be fixed and return to the front. Ships that are sunk are lost forever. You can see the Phalanx do its thing in the video below.
Critics have long given the B-52 plaudits for its longevity as a combat aircraft. Can’t blame them — 65 years is one hell of a run. But there is another plane that has done almost as well, and it’s still providing some countries with defense.
That plane is the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk. Perhaps its most famous pilot is now-Senator John S. McCain III, who was a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War after his Skyhawk was shot down. But the plane had been in service for over a decade before McCain was downed.
The A-4 was designed and built by the Douglas Aircraft Company, makers of the SBD Dauntless, the plane best known for fatally damaging three Japanese aircraft carriers in five minutes during the Battle of Midway.
The A-4 came to be known as “Heinemann’s Hot Rod” after its designer, Ed Heinemann. It was easy to see why. The Skyhawk had a top speed of 645 miles per hour and an impressive range of up to 2,001 miles. It could haul nearly 10,000 pounds of bombs and could carry the AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missile. An additional two 20mm cannons gave it the ability to handle air or ground targets.
The Skyhawk saw lengthy service with the Navy and Marines, and the Marines liked their baseline models so much that they designed the A-4M instead of buying the A-7 Corsair.
The Skyhawk was a truly international affair. Singapore developed the A-4SU, which equipped the jet with two 30mm Aden cannon and added a F404 engine. Argentina, on the other hand, put F-16 avionics on some second-hand A-4Ms, creating the A-4AR Fightinghawk.
Today, Argentina’s Skyhawks are still on the front line. Most others have retired, but some fly for Draken International and other private companies. Learn more about Heinemann’s Hot Rod in the video below:
Throughout history, the U.S. Military has used a wide variety of guns to win its battles. Prior to the M16, there were several weapons used across the service throughout some of the most devastating wars the world has ever seen.
Here are some of those weapons:
These rifles are still in use by the Danish military as they perform reliably in arctic conditions.
(War Relics Forum)
Model 1917 Enfield
The Lee–Enfield is a bolt-action British rifle that used heavily in the first World War. Americans took that original design and had it modified to fit its needs, thus giving birth to the Model 1917 Enfield, widely referred to as the “American Enfield.” The official name, however, was “United States Rifle, cal .30, Model of 1917.” You can see why it was given a nickname.
This is one of the weapons Sergeant Alvin York, one of the most decorated American Soldiers of WWI, used on the night of October 8th, 1918.
Soldiers in French trenches with Springfield 1903 .30-06s during World War I.
(Imperial War Museums)
The bolt-action Springfield 1903 .30-06 saw service as the standard-issue rifle from the first World War until it was replaced by the M1 Garand in 1936. By the time WWII broke out, it wasn’t standard issue but, despite this, it was a popular sniper rifle during World War II, the Korean War, and even into the early stages of Vietnam.
(U.S. Library of Congress)
One of the most notable rifles used during World War II, the M1 Garand was favored by Soldiers and Marines across the military. As a semi-automatic rifle firing a .30 caliber cartridge, it was useful in a wide variety of military applications.
General Patton even once said it was “the greatest battle implement ever devised.” It was eventually replaced by the M14 during the late 1950s.
Marine Sgt. John Wisbur Bartlett Sr. fires a Thompson submachine gun during the Battle of Okinawa during World War II.
Thompson submachine gun
Favored by gangsters, cops, civilians, and Soldiers alike, the Thompson submachine gun was fully automatic and fired a .45 ACP round from a 20-round stick magazine.
It initially earned its infamy on the streets of Chicago during the Great Depression but was later adopted by the U.S. Military and used from 1938 until 1971. It’s no M16, but the Thompson was well loved.
Marines using M14s in Vietnam.
(American Historical Foundation)
Of all the items on this list, the M14 is the only one still in active service in the military since its introduction in 1959. This rifle fires a 7.62x51mm NATO round (.308 Winchester) and was the first standard-issue rifle to take a 20-round box magazine.
This powerhouse of a weapon saw service during Vietnam as the standard-issue rifle until it was replaced by the M16. Now, it’s a designated marksman rifle.
This baby helped us win independence.
(Norfolk Island Museum)
Land Pattern Musket aka “Brown Bess”
This was the most commonly used long gun during the American Revolution. This .75 caliber musket was originally British-made but many American colonists were required to have this on-hand for militia duty.
The nickname “Brown Bess” is of unknown origin, though there is a lot of speculation about it.
Myth: Helicopters will drop like a rock when the engine shuts down.
In fact, you have a better chance at surviving in a helicopter when the engine fails than you do in an airplane. Helicopters are designed specifically to allow pilots to have a reasonable chance of landing them safely in the case where the engine stops working during flight, often with no damage at all. They accomplish this via autorotation of the main rotor blades.
Further, when seeking a helicopter pilot’s license, one has to practice landing using this no-power technique. When practicing, instead of actually shutting the engine off completely though, they usually just turn the engine down enough to disengage it from the rotor. This way, if the student encounters a problem during a no-power landing, the helicopter can be throttled back up to avoid an accident. Given that this isn’t an option during actual engine failure, it’s critical for helicopter pilots to practice this until they have it down pat.
A landing via autorotation is also sometimes necessary if the rear rotor blades stop functioning properly, no longer countering for the torque of the main rotor blades, so the helicopter will spin if the engine isn’t turned off. Whether this happens and the pilot shuts off the engine or in the case of actual engine failure, once the engine drops below a certain number of revolutions per minute, relative to the rotor RPM rate, a special clutch mechanism, called a freewheeling unit, disengages the engine from the main rotor automatically. This allows the main rotor to spin without resistance from the engine.
Once the engine fails or otherwise is shut off, the pilot must immediately lower the pitch, reducing lift and drag, and the helicopter will begin to descend. If they don’t do this quick enough, allowing the RPM of the main rotor to drop too far, they’ll then lose control of the helicopter and will likely not get it back. When this happens, it may well drop like a rock. However, this isn’t typical because as soon as the freewheeling unit disengages the engine, the pilot is trained to respond appropriately immediately.
Exactly what the correct glide angle is to maintain optimal rotor RPM varies with different helicopter designs, but this information is readily available in the helicopter’s manual. The glide angle also varies based on weather conditions (wind, temperature, etc.), weight, altitude, and airspeed, but in all cases a correct glide angle has the effect of producing an upward flow of air that will spin the main rotor at some optimal RPM, storing kinetic energy in the blades.
As the helicopter approaches the ground, the pilot must then get rid of most of their forward motion and slow the decent using the stored up kinetic energy in the rotors. If done perfectly, the landing will be quite gentle. They accomplish this by executing a flare, pitching the nose up, at the right moment. This will also have the effect of transferring some of that energy from the forward momentum into the main rotor, making it spin faster, which will further allow for a smooth landing. Because the flare will often need to be somewhat dramatic, the tricky part here is making sure that the rear of the helicopter doesn’t hit the ground. Ideally the pilot executes the flare (hopefully stopping most all the forward motion and slowing the decent to almost nothing), then levels the nose out just before touchdown.
Autorotation may sound like a fairly complex and difficult thing to do, but according to one instructor I briefly chatted with about this, it’s really not all that difficult compared to a lot of other aspects of flying a helicopter. In fact, he stated that most students have a lot more trouble when they first try things like hovering, than they do when they first try a no-power landing. Granted, this is partially because students don’t try autorotation landings until they are near the end of their training, so they are more skilled than when they first try a lot of other maneuvers, but still. It’s apparently not nearly as difficult as it sounds and most of the problems students have just stem from being nervous at descending at a higher rate than normal.
You can see a video of someone executing a near perfect autorotation landing below:
The F-15 Eagle has been around in one form or another since entering service with the United States Air Force in 1973. It has an excellent combat record of over 100 air-to-air kills with very few combat losses.
But at the same time, the world’s not been standing still. Russia has developed the Su-27/Su-30/Su-33/Su-35 family of Flankers, and they are proving very deadly. China has the J-11/J-15/J-16 family of Flankers as well.
Boeing, though, hasn’t thrown in the towel. The F-15SE, or F-15 Silent Eagle, is a stealthier version of the legendary Eagle. This is accomplished by putting the many weapons that the F-15E Strike Eagle can carry into conformal bays, thus eliminating their radar signatures.
With reports that the Air Force is planning to retire the F-15C/D Eagles, the air superiority mission could now fall almost entirely on the F-22 Raptors — and with the production line stopped at 187 of those planes, the Silent Eagle could help fill the gap. In any case, the F-15SE could be an option for folks who can’t afford — or don’t want to wait for — the F-35.
Take a look at this video from FlightGlobal on the F-15SE, an Eagle that could be around for a long time.
The U.S. Army of the future needs the gear appropriate for tomorrow’s conflicts — and that means armor. Not only will that that future Army be responsible for everything it does at current, it also needs to be prepared for the unknown — situations we can’t foresee today. Who knows which country or actors will be the major threat of the coming days anyway?
The Army’s solution is the Soldier Protection System, a modular, scaleable armor that is both lightweight and adaptable to future technology and threats.
Like former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld once infamously said, you go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you might wish you had. Now, the Army is prepping to go to war with the Army it wants to have. Each piece of the new armor system is designed so the wearing soldier can modify and scale it up (or down) depending on the nature of their mission on any given day.
At its most minimal, the system is a 2.8 pound vest that is capable of being worn under civilian clothing. Even at such a small weight, the new armor can still stop rounds from a sidearm. At its most protective, the armor is a mix of plates and soft kevlar that can stop blasts from explosions and shell fragments from munitions like Russian artillery shells — all without compromising the soldier’s range of motion.
Pfc. Chris Lunsford, 4-14 Cavalry Regiment, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, communicates with local children during a presence patrol in Sinjar, Iraq, on May 30, 2006.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jacob N. Bailey)
Over the course of the last 15 years of war, body armor has evolved — but usually only getting bigger and more restrictive in the process. The total weight of armor added to a soldier’s carry topped out at 27 pounds in 2016. The Soldier Protection System, from its onset, has been aimed at curbing the weight, reducing it as much as one-quarter in some areas of protection. New systems also include hearing protection and a modular face shield, all without increasing the weight carried overall.
The old system was protective, but limiting in many ways. It had none of the included ear and eye protection the Soldier Protection System has and it was not very conducive to the terrain troops had to overcome in the mountains of Afghanistan. It also wasn’t very helpful in beating the blazing heat of Iraqi deserts. The clunky armor was protective, but often impaired mobility while maneuvering and bringing small arms to bear while in the heat of the moment. When facing lightly-outfitted insurgents, and the armor could impede a soldier’s ability when running to cover.
U.S. Army Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment conduct a halt while searching mountains in Andar province, Afghanistan, for Taliban members and weapons caches June 6, 2007.
(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Marcus Quarterman)
Even with the new modifications, the Army’s armor doesn’t protect much against the blast-induced brain injuries so common on the battlefields of the Global War on Terror. Even firing heavy weapons at an enemy can cause traumatic brain injuries. Some studies suggest the new, lighter-weight helmet of the Soldier Protection System can help with the issues surrounding blast damage, but cannot mitigate it completely.
The recent improvements in armor design aren’t the end of the road for Army researchers. They continue to design and redesign the armor to meet the needs of today’s (and tomorrow’s) Army operations, to protect vulnerable areas not covered by even the Soldier Protection System while continuing to drop the total weight carried by U.S. troops in combat.
For a long time, the AGM-84/RGM-84 Harpoon missile has been the primary anti-ship weapon of the United States military. Over the years, with improvements, it’s successfully held the line. But, as is perpetually the case, time and technological advances have forced the U.S. Military to look for a missile with even more reach and punch.
Fortunately, the answer is, in some ways, already in service. A version of the AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (or JASSM) is going to replace the venerable Harpoon as the military’s primary anti-ship weapon. This new iteration is called the Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile (or LRASM).
The AGM-84 Harpoon served well as the main anti-ship missile of the United States Military.
The AGM-158 was primarily designed to hit land targets. The first version, fielded by the Air Force in 2004, had a range of 200 nautical miles and carried a 1,000-pound warhead. The Navy, however, held out and stuck with a Harpoon variant called the AGM-84 Standoff Land-Attack Missile (or SLAM). The latest versions of SLAM have a 150-nautical-mile range and a carry an 800-pound warhead.
The LRASM is based off of the second version the AGM-158, called the JASSM-ER, or Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile – Extended Range. This missile has a 600-mile reach and carries the same 1,000-pound warhead. Just as with previous iterations, however, the JASSM-ER was intended for land targets. So, how did the newest missile, designed for targets at sea, come to be?
There’s just one reason for its development — well, three reasons, technically: the Chinese Navy currently has 3 aircraft carriers in their fleet (with plans to build more). Yes, submarines can do the job against carriers – just ask USS Wasp (CV 7) what a sub can do to a carrier — but more often than not, carriers fight carriers. The Harpoon missile, as good as it is, just doesn’t have the oomph to do in an 85,000-ton carrier.
The good news for the United States is that a F/A-18E/F Super Hornet can haul four LRASMs. A B-1B Lancer can haul up to 24 internally. The F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-15E Strike Eagle can also carry this missile. But, more likely, the LRASM will be launched from surface ships like the Zumwalt-class destroyers.
In other words, this missile could very well be a worthy successor — or partner — to the Harpoon for years to come.