5 things troops won't miss about the M9 - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

5 things troops won’t miss about the M9

The replacement of the Colt M1911A1 with the Beretta 92F as the primary sidearm of the U.S. military in 1985 was a controversial move. Not only was the military dropping from the hard-hitting .45acp to the smaller 9x19mm, but the adoption of an Italian pistol over an all-American Colt just seemed plain wrong. On top of this, the 92F, later designated the M9, was actually beat out by its competitor, the SIG Sauer P226, in the competition for the government contract. It was the 92F’s lower price point that ultimately won Beretta the coveted contract. In 2017, the Army announced the winner of its Modular Handgun System competition and replacement for the M9 to be the SIG Sauer P320. Designated the M17 and M18, the new SIGs are making their way into the armories and holsters of service members across the military as other branches followed the Army’s lead in adopting the new handguns to replace the M9. As the old Beretta is phased out, let’s take a look at why many troops won’t be mourning its departure.

1. Size and Weight

5 things troops won’t miss about the M9
(U.S. Marine Corps)

The M9 is a full-size combat handgun made mostly of metal. Weighing in at 34.2oz unloaded, you certainly notice it strapped to your thigh or on your hip. A product of its time, many troops find the M9 to be unnecessarily heavy for a piece of kit that few of them will ever actually draw in combat. By comparison, the M17 and M18 weigh 29.4oz and 26oz respectively. While this may not seem like a huge difference, the old infantry adage comes to mind: ounces equal pounds and pounds equal pain. Additionally, the new SIG platform offers a more compact and modular weapon system to serve more suitably in a wider array of duty roles.

2. Ergonomics

5 things troops won’t miss about the M9
The safety actuates in the opposite direction of most pistol safeties because it is also a decocker (U.S. Army)

A weapon can perform exceptionally, but if it’s difficult to use, then it loses its effectivenes. Just look at SOCOM’s Mk23. The handgun exceeded the stringent requirements put forth by America’s elite operators, but it was large, heavy, and cumbersome. As a result, it goes largely unused. The M9 suffers from this problem too. In addition to the size and weight previously mentioned, the M9 has a large grip that troops with smaller hands can find difficult to hold in a solid shooting grip. It also makes it difficult to eject the magazine one-handed. Furthermore, the M9 has a safety/decocker on the slide rather than on the frame. This makes it difficult to operate even for troops with medium-sized hands. On top of that, the safety/decocker sits high on the slide and sweeps down 90-degrees from the muzzle. This means that it’s possible, and common, for the user to decock the M9 and engage the safety depending on how they rack the slide.

3. Reliability

5 things troops won’t miss about the M9
A soldier qualifies with an M9 (U.S. Army)

Let me preface this by saying that the Beretta 92F is a very reliable firearm. During its testing, the handgun survived temperatures of −40 and 140 °F, being soaked in salt water, being dropped on concrete, and being buried in sand, mud, and snow. The 92F also boasted an impressive 35,000 mean rounds before failure during the tests. Its large ejection port and near-straight blowback design also make it less prone to jamming. However, the M9 suffered heavily as a result of government cost-saving. Although Beretta won the contract for the M9, the contract for the M9’s magazines was given to Check-Mate Industries. The original Beretta magazines were made by Mec-Gar, an industry leader famed for producing reliable and high-quality magazines. Combined with the fine sand of the Middle East, the lower-quality Check-Mate magazines led to feeding issues in the M9. Airtronic eventually took over the magazine contract and patterned its magazines after the OEM Mec-Gars. Additionally, after years of heavy use in adverse environments, the military’s stock of M9s are prone to failure in their locking blocks.

4. Double-Action Trigger

5 things troops won’t miss about the M9
A double-action trigger requires more pressure and can accurate first shots difficult

The M9 features a double-action trigger. This means that the weapon can be fired by a long trigger pull which cycles the hammer back before releasing it. It can also be fired single-action with the hammer back. Generally, a double-action trigger acts as a safety mechanism. With the hammer in the down position, significantly more force is required to pull the trigger and fire the weapon compared to a single-action shot from the cocked position. As a result, many shooters argue that the inclusion of a manual safety is redundant. Because of this, troops have to disengage the safety (which can be difficult, see 2) and overcome a heavy first-shot trigger pull in order to engage a target. Although the new M17 and M18 also feature manual safeties, their striker-fired actions provide an easier trigger pull that is consistent with every shot.

5. Stopping Power

5 things troops won’t miss about the M9
M17/M18 magazines loaded with hollow-point ammunition (U.S. Army)

The military’s adoption of the 9x19mm cartridge was met with much concern. Although troops were able to carry more of the smaller rounds, the 9mm lacks the punch of the larger .45acp. “If you’re using an M9 in a firefight, be sure to punch it forward with each shot. It makes the bullets go faster,” one Army sniper sarcastically commented. The argument over capacity versus stopping power isn’t likely to end any time soon, and the M17 and M18 are still chambered in 9mm. However, in 2019, the Army introduced a new hollow-point 9mm round for its new pistols. Designated as the XM1156, the new round is described as “barrier blind”. This means that it can penetrate certain types of cover like windows and doors without expanding and losing much of its stopping power. Like other barrier blind ammo, the XM1156 is able to punch through obstacles and retain enough inertia to expand within its target and cause maximum trauma, thereby increasing the round’s lethality.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

These are the 4 most savage attack helicopters of all time

Since rotary wing aircraft were introduced during the Korean War, they’ve proved their utility in a bunch of mission areas like troop transport, reconnaissance, vertical replenishment, and MEDIVAC. But, perhaps, no other capability has changed the dynamic on the battlefield as much as the use of helicopters as attack platforms.


Here are four models that enemies have learned to fear over the years:

1. Huey Gunship

 

5 things troops won’t miss about the M9

This is the one that started it all. As the Vietnam War expanded the Huey became the workhorse because of its utility in jungle environments and maintainability. The engineers added sponsons with hard points, and the Huey became a lethal gunship capable of firing rockets, grenades, and 20mm bullets.

2. Huey Cobra

5 things troops won’t miss about the M9

As defenses got more sophisticated during the Vietnam War, the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps decided they needed a more sophisticated attack helicopter. Enter the Cobra with wing mounts that can be loaded with rockets and missiles and a chin mount that can fire at a rate of 4,000 rounds per minute. The two-man crew sits in tandem, with the pilot sitting — surprisingly enough — in the rear cockpit. The Cobra most recently proved it’s mettle during the invasion of Iraq in 2003 where it was used in urban environments very effectively.

3. Mi 24 Hind

5 things troops won’t miss about the M9

Arguably the meanest-looking helicopter ever, the Soviets used the Hind extensively against the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan, and it was during that war that it earned it’s reputation. It was designed to be fast (it held the helicopter speed record (228.9 mph) from 1978-1986), survivable (fuselage is armored and the rotor blades are titanium), and lethal (both internal and external bombs, guns, and rockets). Most recently, Hinds have been seen in the skies over Syria carrying out attack missions against both ISIS insurgents and Syrian rebels.

4. AH-64 Apache

5 things troops won’t miss about the M9

 

The Apache is the most technologically advanced of the bunch, with helmet-mounted cueing and avionics that allow it to prioritize 256 targets day or night and in all weather conditions. Like the Cobra, the two-man crew sits in tandem with the pilot in the rear cockpit. The Apache carries a mix of weapons including rockets, Hellfire missiles, and a chin-mounted 30MM chain gun. The Apache first proved its worth during Desert Storm, an environment for which it was well suited. It’s also been extensively employed in the wars since 9-11.

Time to get moto with a couple of awesome videos. First, check out this Cobra compilation:

 

Now dig this Apache action:

Articles

Cool off this summer with the new water gun from Noveske

Yes, that’s right. The legendary AR-15 manufacturer Noveske Rifleworks is now making a water gun. Based in Grants Pass, Oregon, Noveske has long been a supplier to top-tier American military units. In fact, the company has been awarded nearly $4.9 million in contracts by the U.S. Navy since 2007, including the Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division. Noveske’s rifles are available to the civilian market as well but can cost thousands of dollars. Instead, consider Noveske’s new water gun to beat the summer heat.

5 things troops won’t miss about the M9
The most tactical water gun ever (URT/Noveske)

In conjunction with URT Clothing, Noveske released the Water Hog 5000 sqURT rifle. The AR-pattern water gun is bright yellow with a lime green top-mounted water tank and orange trim to clearly identify it as a toy. The pump-action sqURT gun has a capacity of 24oz and is California legal. “We’ve modernized the vintage pump-action sqURT gun and given it some teeth. Tackle the heat with this beast and take control of your summer,” URT says on the product page.

5 things troops won’t miss about the M9
The Water Hog name plays on Noveske’s classic Flaming Pig (URT/Noveske)

At $43.00, the Water Hog is a bit pricey compared to other water guns. However, it’s probably the cheapest blaster that will ever come with the Noveske logo on it. The company even put together an over-the-top promotional video. Just be sure to watch it at home and away from more sensitive eyes. Whether it’s a water gun fight in the park or a Friday night in the barracks, the Noveske Water Hog 5000 has your tactical water blaster needs covered.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

A B-52 bomber part landed in a woman’s yard during training

A part from a US Air Force B-52 Stratofortress bomber fell off and landed in a British woman’s front garden during a training exercise last week, the BBC reports.

The B-52 bomber is part of the 2nd Bomb Wing from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, which is deployed to Royal Air Force Fairford in Gloucestershire.

The aircraft was participating in a training exercise when its wing-tip gear door fell into the yard of a Warwichkshire woman, according to the BBC.


“Yesterday around 5:30 PM in Brailes a resident reported hearing a thud in her front garden,” the nearby Shipston on Stour police department said on its Facebook page on Oct. 24, 2019. “Thankfully no harm to persons/animals/property.”

The woman, who requested anonymity, told local media outlet Gloucestershire Live that it was a “miracle” no one was hurt.

“You won’t find any evidence in the front garden where it landed, we managed to get it back to normal pretty quickly,” the woman said. “I’ve been contacted by the police and even the MOD [Ministry of Defense]. We are on a flight path here but you never expect something like this to happen.”

“The part landed in a local national’s garden and was retrieved by 2nd Bomb Wing personnel, in partnership with the UK Ministry of Defence Police,” the US Air Force told the BBC. “A safety investigation is being conducted, as is the standard with these types of events.”

Insider reached out to the US Air Force and the 2nd Bomb Wing for more information about the aircraft’s status, as well as what led to the incident, but did not receive a response by press time.

Four B-52s and about 350 airmen deployed to the UK earlier in October 2019 to train with the RAF and other NATO partners as part of US Air Force’s Bomber Task Force. The B-52 has been in service since 1955 and can carry both nuclear and conventional weapons.

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

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

7 ways to mentor a military girlfriend and renew confidence in yourself at the same time

There are so many resources for military spouses and service members, but the military girlfriends and boyfriends are often forgotten. In military dating life, the best resources possible are the men and women who have been there, done that.


After mentoring a young military girlfriend, I realized after the fact that the experience may have done me just as much good as it did her. It gave me the opportunity to reflect on my own journey as a milspouse/girlfriend and see the many obstacles I’ve overcome in the process.

My husband and I dated for nearly five years before we got married, which included living together for three and a half years. To be honest, this felt like forever, especially since we moved from the East Coast to Alaska during that time. We never experienced the carefree dating experience that some do, as I was a single mom already when we met. I moved to be closer to him within months of the start of our relationship and knew no one in town. I had a minor emergency one day and called him in a panic. He couldn’t physically help me at the moment, but he remembered that one of his coworkers happened to live in my neighborhood, so he connected me with the spouse of said service member. Long story short, she saved my day!

I will never forget my first encounter (as a military girlfriend) with a military spouse. She dropped what she was doing to help out a stranger in need. She told me afterward if I ever needed anything to never hesitate to reach out, and she meant it. She sprinkled snippets of wisdom over me during the next two years whenever our paths crossed. She was brutally honest about the things that frustrated her about military life, but she always did it with a laugh and a follow-up of something she loved about that same life. Fifteen years and many cross-country duty stations later, she is still there on the other end of the line (or Facebook messenger) whenever I need her. Both of us are more “seasoned” now than we were all those years ago, but the truth is we still have value to bring to each other’s lives and military journey. I will be forever grateful for her influence in my life, and I truly feel it set the pace for how I’ve approached every military spouse or girlfriend ever since.

Here are seven ways to mentor a military girlfriend:

5 things troops won’t miss about the M9

media.defense.gov

Remember that girlfriends matter too.

We’ve all been there; just some spent much longer unwed than others. Give them hope. Share your pride in your journey. All these new trials are temporary. Some will resurface again from time to time in your military journey (hello PCS), but let her know that with each experience, she will grow and be better prepared to handle it next time. Whatever she’s stressing about, it’s likely you’ve been there. You’ll find yourself after this counseling session with a renewed appreciation for your own experiences.

Pay it forward. 

Someone at some point in your journey held your hand and gave you strength or advice when you needed it most. There’s no one better than a seasoned military spouse to do this as long as you’re mindful and empathetic, not condescending. Sometimes a military girlfriend needs to be reminded that ALL military spouses have been the outsider at some point…no one gets married before spending some amount of time first dating that lucky hero. A good deed like mentoring will always leave you feeling full of gratitude for all who mentored you along the way.

Know that you’re both worth it. 

Simply by giving your time, you are rescuing another from loneliness in some form or another. YOUR soul will benefit from that quality time with her as well. Valuable life lessons you’ve experienced are worth talking about. You never know when your story may help someone down the road. We often have no clue what battles others are facing or when they will arise, so when you take the time to share your personal challenges and victories, you are offering value whether you realize it or not.

5 things troops won’t miss about the M9

Good vibes.

Teach her to focus on the positive while still being aware of the potential negative. Don’t allow stress to cloud all judgement. Release the weight of what you can’t control, and not only will your life outlook change, but so will your LIFE. Hello? We all need this reminder!

Share your strength.

Unpredictability may be totally new to her. Help her see the perks and seize the opportunities that come her way. No better excuse to “just do it” than knowing that the chance to do so may not last long. Military life offers the perfect time to see just how brave you can be, and in the end, it’s totally empowering!

5 things troops won’t miss about the M9

Give her resources.

You’ll find yourself digging through your internal toolkit and will be amazed at what you pull out of there for her! Links, groups, and ideas will all be helpful, and you’ll likely run across a few you forgot existed but quickly realize how handy they will be in your own life again now that they’ve resurfaced.

Show her love.

Teach her about military spouse bonds and how vital it is to build relationships within the community. It’s okay that she isn’t yet married, many of the issues she’s facing don’t discriminate between married/unmarried couples. Show her that she’s never alone and remind yourself of the same while you’re at it. Sometimes we allow ourselves to forget that one, and it’s one of the most important lessons of all.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This soldier trained to carry backpack nukes on one-way suicide missions

Mark Bentley of De Pere, Wisconsin was proficient in the use of the Army’s top secret W54 weapon. But it’s a great thing he never had to use it. 

The W54 was a nuclear weapon that fit inside an Army-issued duffel bag with a payload one-tenth the size of the “Little Boy” weapon dropped on Hiroshima, Japan in World War II.

Bentley told the Green Bay Press Gazette that the portable nuclear weapons were part of a plan to disrupt any potential Soviet movements into Western Europe in the event of World War III. 

The Army learned a lot about mountain fighting in the Korean War. It also developed smaller nuclear weapons, ones like the M28 Davy Crockett device. These tactical devices could be fired from a weapon as small as a recoilless rifle. The idea was to block certain passes with ash and radiation, forcing the massive Red Army to redirect its movement. 

An estimated 400 W54 man-portable Special Atomic Demolition Munitions  (SADM) – backpack nukes – were built by the United States in 1961 and deployed until 1971. They weighed roughly 50 pounds and were roughly 11 inches in diameter, with a height of 15 inches. 

SADM backpack nukes
Scientists look at a MADM nuclear land mine. Cutaway casing with warhead inside, code-decoder / firing unit is at left.

Originally the nukes were built with the idea that special operations forces like the U.S. Navy SEALs could infiltrate enemy harbors and destroy them with such devices. For the U.S. Army, the idea was not to destroy large chunks of Soviet military units or bases. Instead, the idea was to funnel large formations into a greater kill zone.

“The problem was, the blast range was larger than the trajectory,” he said.

This means there was no way of escaping the nuclear device’s death zone before it was triggered. Still, he signed up for the job in 1968 – because it was better than being drafted.

Bentley had a very low draft number during one of the hottest years of the Vietnam War. He described his choice as either getting drafted to be a target for two years or spending three years doing something he actually wanted to do. 

5 things troops won’t miss about the M9
H-912 transport container for Mk-54 SADM

The draft ended just after he signed on to enlist, but stayed in, eventually joining a Special Atomic Demolitions Munitions platoon.  He spent his entire career training for World War III in Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

He said someone would have to set the explosive and secure it until it went off. It would either be the person carrying it or another person who would secure the site after the soldier who set the nuclear charge made a hasty retreat. 

“You set your timer, and it would click when it went off, or it went ding or I forget what, but you knew you were toast,” he said. “Ding! Your toast is ready, and it’s you.”

The U.S. Air Force developed similar nuclear devices affixed to the AIM-4 Falcon air-to-air missile, the only air-to-air device to be fitted with a nuclear warhead, intended to knock out large Soviet bomber formations. 

The W54 wasn’t the only compact nuclear device developed by the U.S. military. An advanced version, the W72 was an air-to-ground guided bomb device that could be used for the same purpose, without the suicide sacrifice of a soldier on the ground. 

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

Watch this EOD guy dismantle an IED with a pickaxe and pliers

We’re spending a lot of time on the internet these days watching plenty of useless information — cat videos, TikToks, Tiger King all the Netflix in the land. Finally, here’s something useful, with a heart-stopping, compelling element: an EOD badass dismantling IEDs with only a pickaxe and pliers and no protective equipment. DISCLAIMER: DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME. OR ANYWHERE.


Forget everything you thought you knew about dismantling IEDs. As this Peshmerga EOD guy clearly shows, all you need is a pickaxe and a pair of pliers.pic.twitter.com/hZOoP9m291

twitter.com

Researcher Hugo Kaaman posted a clip of a “Peshmerga EOD guy” dismantling IEDs with only a pickaxe and a pair of pliers (Did we mention? Do not try this!). After a little more digging, another Twitter user cited that the subject was Major Jamal Bawari who is/was a part of a Peshmerga EOD unit.

BBC Four, Storyville did a documentary on ‘Crazy Fakhir’, a Kurdish colonel in the Iraqi army and legendary bomb disposal expert, who was in the same unit as Jamal, titled “Hurt Locker Hero” in 2018.

The description of the documentary on BBC Four is: The heart-stopping story of ‘Crazy Fakhir’, a Kurdish colonel in the Iraqi army and legendary bomb disposal expert who single-handedly disarmed thousands of landmines across the country with just a pocket knife and a pair of wire clippers.

Between the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 and the chaos and destruction wreaked by IS ten years later, Fahkir’s unwavering bravery saved thousands of lives throughout Iraq. ‘Hurt Locker Hero’ tells Fakhir’s story through the raw and visceral amateur footage captured by his soldiers on a camcorder intended for filming family occasions. Instead, it records Fakhir endlessly snipping wires, searching family homes and digging out roadside IEDs, insisting it’s too dangerous to wait hours for the highly trained American bomb disposal teams to arrive.

Whilst their father and husband becomes a hero, Fahkir’s wife and eight children struggle to make ends meet and worry endlessly about his safety. Fakhir will be remembered as the man who risked his life to save others -‘If I fail, only I die, but if I succeed, I can save hundreds of people.’.

This is definitely better than cat videos.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Army is building robot attack tanks

The Army is engineering high-tech autonomy kits designed to give “robot” tanks and other armored combat vehicles an ability to operate with little or no human intervention, bringing new tactical and operational dimensions to the future of ground combat.

Unmanned systems, utilized in a fast-evolving, high-threat ground combat operation, could enable robot vehicles to carry supplies, test enemy defenses and even fire weapons — all while manned vehicles operate at a safer distance.

“A kit of hardware and software can be installed into different ground platforms to increase the level of autonomy,” Osie David, Chief Engineer for Mission Command, Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, told Warrior Maven in an early 2018 interview.


The technology kits, which can integrate on a small unmanned ground vehicle or a wide range of larger combat vehicles, use emerging computer algorithms, on-board processing, and artificial intelligence to gather and organize sensor information.

Robot vehicles, often referred to by Army weapons developers in the context of “manned-unmanned” teaming, are a fast-growing element of the developmental calculus when it comes to future combat platforms.

Having unmanned assets operating in tandem with manned assets in combat introduces a range of new tactics available to commanders. If robot “scout” vehicles could operate in a forward position to identify enemy threats or test defenses, manned tanks might be able to operate at lighter weights, making them faster and more maneuverable in combat.

5 things troops won’t miss about the M9

(U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. James Avery, 16th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

In fact, senior Army weapons developers have told Warrior Maven that virtually all future combat vehicles now in development will likely be engineered with various new levels of autonomy.

Using things like embedded infrared optical payloads, unmanned vehicles can use machine-learning technology to process key combat details, independently organize them and then send information to a human in the role of command and control, David explained.

AI enables computers to instantly draw upon vast data-bases with millions of pieces of information to perform real-time data analytics before sending useful information to combat commanders.

The advantage is that combatant commanders can quickly receive integrated intelligence or sensor information from a range of sources, analyzed and condensed to enable faster decision-making.

“Instead of sending bits of information back up to a command post, the autonomy kits can enable sensors to perform detection and object identification in real time…and then push that information up to a human,” David said.

Also, advanced integrated sensors, fortified by AI and greater levels of autonomy, can connect aerial and ground assets to one another — to ID and hand off-targets, send real-time video of nearby enemy activity or pass other intelligence data to vehicle crews.

It is certainly within the realm of the technically feasible for a future tank to simultaneously control a small fleet of unmanned robotic “wing man” vehicles designed to penetrate enemy lines while minimizing risk to soldiers, transport ammunition or perform long-range reconnaissance and scout missions.

In fact, Army modernization strategy documents specifically cite autonomy enabled platforms, speed and maneuverability as fundamental to future armored warfare.

5 things troops won’t miss about the M9

An Iraqi M1A1 Abrams tank

(Photo by Spc. Timothy Koster)

“As the armored BCT fields new systems, it will replace main battle tanks, howitzers, and mortar indirect fire platforms. Far-term initiatives aim to solve the absence of the armored BCT’s ability to deploy rapidly. The Army assesses the feasibility and application of autonomous or semi-autonomous sub-systems, manned and unmanned teaming, and autonomy enabled combat platforms,” the Army documents read.

CERDEC and other Army entities are working on these projects with the Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center to prototype, test and advance these technologies. The current effort is an extension, or next-generation iteration, of a previous TARDEC effort described as “leader-follower” algorithms. This technology, evolved and successfully tested in recent years, enables an unmanned tactical truck or vehicle to precisely follow a manned vehicle in front of it.

The concept with “leader-follower” algorithms is to free up vehicle crew members such that they can focus on other pressing, threat-conscious tasks without needing to expend all their energy navigating the vehicle. These newer kits, however, bring the concept of autonomy to an entirely new level, enabling unmanned systems to maneuver quickly in response to fast-changing ground combat circumstances — without needing human intervention.

The current “autonomy kits” effort is a new Army program, slated to gain traction and begin testing in 2018, Army developers said.

“TARDEC will decide which platforms are used. Some sort of tank is being evaluated, as well as smaller platforms,” David explained.

David explained that the autonomy kits are now being worked on for the Army’s Next-Generation Combat Vehicle program — a future combat vehicle effort planning to engineer new platforms for the 2030s and beyond.

“We are closely tied with them (NGCV program) and we are looking to see how we can insert this kit onto these future platforms,” he explained.

The kits are also being engineered to help ensure that combat vehicles can continue to function in the event that GPS communications are jammed or destroyed by enemy forces. Gyroscopes and accelerometers, for instance, can help ground forces navigate in the absence of GPS, David explained.

“These technologies are focused on how you actually navigate and detect your position in a GPS denied environment where there is challenging terrain or an enemy is jamming you,” he said.

This article originally appeared on Warrior Maven. Follow @warriormaven1 on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Chinook could have been a search and rescue legend

Search-and-rescue choppers have become legendary. Remember the Jolly Green Giants and Pave Hawks? Well, it turns out that there was another helicopter that almost joined those two in fame. Why it didn’t make it? Well, it’s a long story — and it had nothing to do with the chopper’s performance.


The Air Force had been looking to replace their search and rescue helicopter, the HH-60G Pave Hawk, in the 2000s. The program even had a name — Combat Search and Rescue, or CSAR-X. Three designs competed for that contract, one from Lockheed (based on the EH-101 helicopter, also used then as the basis for a Marine One replacement), one from Sikorsky (based on the S-92), and one from Boeing (the HH-47, based on the MH-47G, a special ops version of the CH-47F Chinook).

5 things troops won’t miss about the M9
An Army CH-47 helicopter attached to the 159th Aviation Regiment lifts a Naval Special Warfare 11-meter rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) during a maritime external air transporation system training exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Robyn Gerstenslager)

Boeing’s HH-47 won the contract, but Lockheed and Sikorsky protested the decision. Such protests aren’t exactly unusual  — the recent M17/M18 handgun contract drew a protest from the loser of that competition, too. Unlike the protest over the M17/M18, however, the Government Accountability Office upheld the protests and forced a re-do.

Well, the HH-47 won again. That’s when the politicians, including Senator John McCain, stepped in. All in all, the CSAR-X program never had a chance to get off the ground. In 2009, the HH-47 was cancelled by the Obama Administration. In 2013, the new Combat Rescue Helicopter program picked a joint Lockheed-Sikorsky design, the HH-60W, as a winner after other companies declined to bid.

5 things troops won’t miss about the M9
Artist’s impression of Sikorsky’s HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter (Graphic from Lockheed Martin)

Did the Air Force miss out on a better helicopter due to the political maneuverings of the CSAR-X competition losers? A look at the specs on paper indicates the HH-47 would have offered higher speed, more range, and more capacity to evacuate wounded personnel. But by sticking with a version of the HH-60, however, the Air Force will not have to make major changes to logistics systems training programs. Much of this is speculation, however, as both Lockheed and Sikorsky reps declined to comment for this piece.

Interestingly enough, the South Korean Air Force uses a modified version of the CH-47D Chinook as a search and rescue platform, an aircraft very similar to the contract-winning HH-47. One has to wonder what it could have done in the hands of the United States Air Force.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

6 military technology breakthroughs to look for in 2019

2018 was a pretty good year for military innovation, but 2019 is shaping up to be even better. The Pentagon and DARPA are experimenting with virtual and augmented reality, developing new aircraft and vehicles, and expanding their robotics and hypersonic offerings.

Get the skinny on what will likely break next year in the six entries below:


5 things troops won’t miss about the M9

Gen. Robert B. Neller, commandant of the Marine Corps, uses a HoloLens to manipulate virtual objects April 4 at the Marine Corps Installations Pacific Innovation Lab aboard Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan.

(U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Tayler Schwamb)

Augmented reality headsets

The Army signed a contract for 100,000 HoloLens headsets from Microsoft for 9 million in late 2018 and they should start reaching combat units within the next year or so, once the Army figures out exactly how to use them. The idea is to give infantrymen and other troops true heads-up displays. Tankers could even see through their armor to better track enemy vehicles.

The Army and other branches have researched augmented reality before, so there’s plenty of groundwork already done. Once the HoloLens is incorporated, infantry could just glance around and see where their fire support is, how far it is to their objective, and where their squad support robot is. Speaking of which…

5 things troops won’t miss about the M9

DARPA’s Squad X competition aims to better incorporate robots into infantry squads.

(DARPA)

Robots joining human squads

Yeah, one of the other additions to infantry squads and other maneuver units could be robots to carry gear, sensors, and electronic warfare modules. It’s all part of DARPA Squad X Experimentation Program. The idea is to nest robots into Army and Marine units, especially infantry squads.

Test runs have begun, and Lockheed Martin and CACI are each providing capabilities. The system brings in capabilities from all sorts of robots and drones already on the market. The Marines were able to use the robots to detect enemies and plan their assault before the simulated enemy even knew the Marines were there.

5 things troops won’t miss about the M9

DARPA wants new materials to make hypersonic missiles more stable and reliable.

(DARPA graphic)

U.S. hypersonic missiles get faster, more operable 

Hypersonic missiles are the ultimate first-strike weapon. They fly at five times the speed of sound or faster, making it nearly impossible for ballistic missile interceptors to catch them. And reporting in the open seems to indicate that Russia and China are further along than the U.S.

But DARPA is working to change that with a call for new materials that can withstand the forces at Mach 5, especially the extreme heat from friction with the air. That would be a huge breakthrough for the U.S., and it might allow America to leapfrog its rivals.

5 things troops won’t miss about the M9

The S-97 Raider is the basis of Sikorsky’s SB-1 Defiant, the company’s proposed aircraft for the Army’s Future Vertical Lift helicopter.

(Lockheed Martin-Sikorsky)

The SB-1 Defiant and V-280 Valor will show their stripes

The Army wants a whole new family of vertical-lift aircraft, starting with a bird to replace Black Hawks. The two top prototypes are going through trials now, and each has some exciting milestones scheduled for 2019. The biggest and earliest is the imminent first flight of the SB-1 Defiant, a compound helicopter that is thought capable of almost 290 mph in flight.

Bell Helicopters, meanwhile, is promising that their tilt-rotor offering, the V-280 Valor, still has a lot more skills to show off, and it’s already hit over 120 mph in forward flight and shown off its agility in hover mode. If Bell Helicopters wins the competition, the Army’s first order will likely be the largest tilt-rotor sale in military history.

5 things troops won’t miss about the M9

One of the leading contenders for the Army’s new light tank is the AJAX armoured fighting vehicle from Britain, but with a beefed up gun to destroy enemy gun emplacements. The resulting vehicle would be known as the Griffin.

(British Ministry of Defence)

Light tank prototypes will be unveiled

Over the next 14 months, BAE and General Dynamics will produce 12 examples of their light tanks, a modified Griffin and an updated version of the M8 Buford. Once the final prototypes roll off the line, the Army will test them side-by-side in exercises and trials, and then choose one design to purchase.

It’ll be sweet to see the first prototypes in 2019, but it’ll be even greater at the end of 2019 or start of 2020 when the Army starts actually putting them through their paces. No matter which design is chosen, it’ll be a big capability upgrade for the infantry.

US Army Pilot Tests ALIAS’ Autonomy Capabilities in Demonstration Flight

www.youtube.com

More autonomous aircraft, especially Army helicopters

It seems like the civilian market rolls out a new drone every weeks, and drone designs come around every few months. But the Army is trying to get a kit made that would actually change military aviation: a software and hardware suite that could make every Black Hawk — and other helicopters — into an optionally piloted drone.

The ALIAS program is currently limited to a Sikorsky demonstrator, but if it reaches full production, any and all Army helicopters could be controlled via some commands typed into a tablet. They can even pick their own landing zones and fly at near ground lever, usually better than human pilots.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Everything to know about Italy’s homegrown attack helicopter

When you think about the best attack helicopters out there, the Boeing AH-64 Apache, the Bell AH-1 Cobra, the Westland Lynx, the Mil Mi-24 Hind, and the Kamov Ka-50/52 Hokum all come to mind. But one of the world’s best attack helicopters comes from a surprising place: Italy.


Yep, that’s right, the land of pasta, romance, and Roman legions is also the birthplace of one of the world’s best tank-killing helicopters. That helicopter is the Agusta A129 Mangusta (Italian for ‘mongoose’). The project was ambitious, but would never reach its full potential thanks to the end of the Cold War.

5 things troops won’t miss about the M9
An Italian Army Agusta A129A Mangusta. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons user Aldo Bidini)

This was a very capable attack helicopter. It had a top speed of 174 miles per hour, a maximum range of 317 miles, and a crew of two. The firepower it could bring was impressive: A M197 20mm Gatling gun (that gave it a bite just like the AH-1 Cobra’s), eight BGM-71 TOW or AGM-114 Hellfire anti-tank missiles, FIM-92 Stinger or Mistral anti-aircraft missiles, not to mention rocket pods and gun pods with .50-caliber machine guns. Yeah, this chopper would definitely ruin some armored column’s day.

Italy planned to build 100 of these helicopters. It first flew in 1983, but the research and development process took a while, and West Germany eventually bailed on the program, leaving Italy to for ahead alone. The first production examples didn’t arrive until 1990. The planned purchase of 100 was then slashed to 60. Another version of this chopper capable of hauling eight troops in addition to the firepower, the A139, never got off the ground.

Still, the A129 has served Italy well. In fact, the Italians are converting two dozen of their existing choppers into armed reconnaissance helicopters to join two dozen newly build helicopters. Plus, Turkey has acquired a production license to build a local version of this lethal helicopter.

Learn more about Italy’s deadly helicopter in the video below.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11Qf3B3FwsQ
(Dung Tran | YouTube)
Articles

U.S. Army trains winter camouflage techniques in Poland

Now you see them, and now you don’t. Learning how to conceal 28-ton Bradley fighting vehicles and M1 Abrams tanks in any type of terrain takes a high level of skill.


5 things troops won’t miss about the M9
An M1 Abrams tank emerges out of wooded terrain after soldiers assigned to the 4th Infantry Division’s 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team had concealed it to blend in with the surrounding environment at Presidential Range in Swietozow, Poland, Jan. 20, 2017. The vehicles and soldiers are part of a nine-month deployment in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Tarr)

Whether they are training in a desert environment or — as they are now — in the forested hills of Poland, the soldiers assigned to the 4th Infantry Division‘s 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team trained on camouflaging Bradley fighting vehicles and M1 Abrams tanks at Presidential Range in Swietozow, Poland, Jan. 20.

“Today we’re here to prove the concept that, regardless of the color of the vehicle, with enough preparation and dedication, we have the ability to camouflage in any scenery, but specifically here in the forest of western Poland,” said Army Capt. Edward Bachar, commander of Company C, 1st Battalion, 68th Armored Regiment.

How it’s Done

Army Sgt. Cody Flodin, an infantryman assigned to 1-68, said the initial step of camouflaging a vehicle is to place it in an assault position and cover the vehicle with a camouflage net — a radar- and laser-scattering net that deters detection from the air or the ground.

Then, Flodin said he covers the vehicle using dead foliage from the forest floor to break up the visual outline of the vehicle.

Once the vehicle is concealed, Flodin said, he places snow on the foliage to mimic the natural environment, ensuring that all vehicle functions still work properly.

“We need to have the ability to quickly move into a wooded area and not be able to be observed by any potential enemy,” Bachar said. “It is important that within approximately 15 minutes, this Bradley was able to go from maneuvering in a large open area directly into the wood line and blend in with the local surroundings.”

The unit prepared for this mission during a 30-day training rotation at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California.

5 things troops won’t miss about the M9
A Trooper with B Troop, 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, communicates enemy positions to higher headquarters during a June 15, Situational Training Exercise at Fort Irwin, Calif. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Erik A. Thurman)

From Desert to Forest

“Three months ago, we had to do the same thing in the desert with these vehicles and we did it phenomenally,” the captain said. “We have the ability to execute hide sites, [conduct] assembly area operations, [assume] assault positions and remain undetected from the enemy. To be able to do the same thing in a completely different environment really shows the proficiency of the crew themselves to camouflage their Bradley fighting vehicles and tanks.”

The Bradleys and tanks are slated to be painted in green foliage camouflage in a few months, making it a little easier for the “Iron Brigade” soldiers to conceal themselves. In the meantime, Bachar said, they will continue to train and hone their skills.

Also read: This new camouflage could make troops totally invisible

“Field craft is a priority, really in anything, from a dismounted squad being able to blend into its surroundings to a Bradley fighting vehicle,” he added. “So we will emphasize field craft camouflage and the ability to blend in to your immediate surroundings in every training exercise. This [Jan. 20 training] is just a proof of concept and the initial training to ensure we have the ability to do it. From here on out, we’re going to continue to get better in our ability to do exactly that.”

The Iron Brigade is here as the first rotation of back-to-back armored brigades in Europe in support of Atlantic ResolveU.S. European Command officials said this rotation will enhance deterrence capabilities in the region, improve the U.S. ability to respond to potential crises and defend allies and partners in the European community. U.S. forces will focus on strengthening capabilities and sustaining readiness through bilateral and multinational training and exercises, officials added.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Hint about big changes coming to naval aviation hidden in new seal

November 2019, the US Navy unveiled the official seal for the future aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy, which was officially launched on Oct. 29, 2019 — three months ahead of schedule.

The Kennedy will be christened in Newport News, Virginia, on Dec. 7, 2019, and even though it likely won’t be commissioned into service until 2020, the carrier’s seal reveals what naval aviation will look like aboard the Kennedy in the decades to come.

The seal, which is meant to honor Kennedy, his Navy service, and his vision for space exploration, depicts several of the aircraft that will operate on the carrier.


In front of the superstructure is what appears to be an E-2 Hawkeye early-warning aircraft, its wings folded back. Next to it, on the carrier’s bow, are F/A-18 Super Hornet jets, while an F-35C Lightning II stealth fighter and an H-60 helicopter variant are on the other side of the deck.

5 things troops won’t miss about the M9

The crest for the Ford-class aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy.

(US Navy graphic)

Between the F-35C and the helicopter is a new addition to the carrier air wing: an MQ-25 Stingray unmanned aerial vehicle, its wings folded above it.

In an email, Cmdr. Jennifer Cragg, public affairs officer for Naval Air Force Atlantic, confirmed that the MQ-25 was pictured on the seal, which “displays future naval aviation capabilities that the aircraft carrier will likely support throughout its estimated 50 year service life.”

The MQ-25’s inclusion means the Navy “firmly expects UAVs will play a key role in directly supporting the primary combat function of the carrier, which will still be conducted by Super Hornets, Growlers, and the F-35,” said Timothy Choi, a Ph.D. student at the University of Calgary’s Center for Military and Strategic Studies.

“Contrast the MQ-25’s presence with the absence of other carrier aircraft, such as the C-2 or its replacement, the CMV-22, that don’t play a combat role,” added Choi, who first spotted the MQ-25 on the seal when it was released.

5 things troops won’t miss about the M9

Boeing’s MQ-25 unmanned aerial refueling tanker, being tested at Boeing’s facility in St. Louis, Missouri.

(Boeing photo by Eric Shindelbower)

A heavyweight champion

The Navy awarded Boeing an 5 million contract for the Stingray in August 2018, and one of four development models made the drone’s first flight in September. The first of four development models is expected to be delivered in fiscal year 2021, followed by planned initial operational capability for the aircraft in 2024.

In all, the Navy expects to get 72 MQ-25s and for a total cost of about billion, according to James Geurts, Navy assistant secretary for research, development, and acquisition, who called it “a hallmark acquisition program.”

The MQ-25 is a refueling drone, meant to ease the workload of the Navy’s F/A-18 Super Hornets, which currently conduct both combat missions as well as refueling operations, using detachable tanks.

The drone would also allow carrier aircraft to fly longer and farther, conducting more missions and putting more space between the carrier and the growing variety of weapons that threaten it.

A dedicated carrier-based aerial refueling tanker could allow carrier aircraft “to reach [combat air patrol] stations 1,000 [nautical miles] from the carrier and conduct long-range attacks to respond promptly to aggression while keeping the carrier far enough away from threat areas to reduce the density of air and missile threats” to a level the carrier strike group’s defense could handle, according to a 2018 report on the carrier air wing by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

5 things troops won’t miss about the M9

Boeing and the US Navy’s MQ-25 unmanned aerial refueler during its first test flight, Sept. 19, 2019.

(Boeing)

The Stingray “gives us additional reach, just like that of heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali,” Adm. James Foggo, head of US Naval Forces Europe-Africa, said on a recent edition of his On the Horizon podcast.

The Navy may eventually ask for more than range, however.

The CSBA report also recommended redesignating the MQ-25 as a “multi-mission UAV,” modifying later versions to conduct attack, electronic warfare, or intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions where appropriate.

Those modified MQ-25s “would be able to complement [unmanned combat aerial vehicles] when the risk is acceptable, providing the future [carrier air wing] a potentially less expensive option for surveillance, EW, or attack missions in less stressing environments,” the report said.

But the Stingray is still a long way from joining the fleet, and what it can do when it gets there, if it gets there, remains to be seen.

“The positioning of the MQ-25 into the background and off to the side might also be interpreted as a certain hesitancy” by the Navy, Choi said. “In the event UAVs turn out not to be as successful as expected, it can be easily ignored and the seal is not burdened with a white elephant sitting front and center on the deck.”

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

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