Watch this high-energy laser weapon shoot down 5 drones - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

Watch this high-energy laser weapon shoot down 5 drones

Lasers have long been a staple of science fiction weaponry — but they are also becoming much closer to reality on the battlefields of today.


American weapons maker Lockheed Martin recently proved it can shoot down enemy drones with a live-fire test of its ATHENA laser weapon system.

Also read: ISIS uses weaponized drones for combat and surveillance

According to a company release, the 30-kilowatt laser was fired against five unmanned aerial vehicles and “defeated airborne targets in flight by causing loss of control and structural failure” during the test, which was conducted in conjunction with Army Space and Missile Defense Command.

Watch this high-energy laser weapon shoot down 5 drones
The Athena laser weapon system. (Youtube Screenshot from Lockheed video)

A video released by Lockheed showed that the targets, MQM-170C Outlaw drones, based on the Griffon Aerospace G2, were destroyed in crashes caused by the damage inflicted on the tail by the laser. Designation-Systems.net notes that the MQM-170A version of the Outlaw, based on Griffon’s G1 has a top speed of 120 miles per hour, can fly as high as 16,000 feet, and has as much as four hours of flight time.

Related: This is the laser that will take out enemy drones

The need to take down enemy drones has been acutely demonstrated in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. During the fighting for Mosul, the radical Islamic terrorist group made extensive use of UAVs, including spotting for mortar gunners, as well as to carry out small bomb attacks.

One particularly insidious tactic was to land a booby-trapped drone, and then to detonate it as coalition troops attempted to recover it.

The development of lasers has been advancing in recent years, and while right now they’re being used to target drones, that’s not all defense planners have planned for beam weapons.

Watch this high-energy laser weapon shoot down 5 drones
One of five MQM-170C Outlaws moments before impact after its tail surface was damaged by Lockheed’s ATHENA laser. (Youtube Screenshot from Lockheed video)

“As we mature the technology behind laser weapon systems, we’re making the entire system more effective and moving closer to a laser weapon that will provide greater protection to our warfighters by taking on more sophisticated threats from a longer range,” Lockheed Martin’s Chief Technology Officer, Keoki Jackson, said.

You can see a video of the Outlaws being put into the ground by the laser below.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Navy’s newest torpedos get a deadly tracking upgrade

Sea bass is considered a culinary delicacy around the world. The Chilean sea bass, in fact, often turns up on five-star restaurant menus. But if you’ve been keeping up with the times, you know that there’s a new, American sea bass out in the ocean that has a very big bite. We’re talking something that can takes a chunk out of the metallic denizens of the ocean, both surface-dwelling warships and the subs that lurk beneath.

Okay, it’s not exactly a “sea bass,” but rather a “CBASS,” or Common Broadband Advanced Sonar System, and it’s a huge upgrade to the MK 48 Mod 7 torpedo currently in service.


You may be wondering why the United States Navy is looking to improve on the MK 48 — especially since a U.S. sub hasn’t fired a torpedo in anger since World War II.

Watch this high-energy laser weapon shoot down 5 drones

MK 48 torpedo aboard USS Rhode Island (SSBN 740).

(DOD photo by Lisa Daniel)

The fact is that technology doesn’t stand still, and the Navy learned the hard way during World War II that reliable torpedoes are essential. Learning from history is why the US is constantly pushing to improve its torpedoes. And it’s a good thing, too, because Russia and China have been pushing to upgrade their naval forces in recent years.

According to Lockheed, the newest Mod 7 will include a suite of new, wide-band sonar systems, advanced signal processing, and enhanced guidance systems. All of this is attached to a 650-pound, high-explosive warhead atop a 3,500-pound torpedo.

Watch this high-energy laser weapon shoot down 5 drones

43 years after this test shot, the MK 48 Mod 7 CBASS ensures that the United States Navy’s subs can still kill anything afloat — or under the surface.

(U.S. Navy photo)

Official handouts credit the MK 48 with a top speed in excess of 28 knots, a maximum range of over five nautical miles, and an operating depth of at least 1,200 feet. However, the real specs are probably much better in terms of performance. Unofficial figures show the torpedo actually has a top speed of 55 knots and a maximum range of 35,000 yards (almost 20 miles).

The United States Navy and the Royal Australian Navy have teamed up to produce this very deadly “fish.” In this case, the CBASS is the predator.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

US Navy’s new autonomous refueling drone flies for the first time

The U.S. Navy and Boeing announced on Sept. 19, 2019, the first flight of the MQ-25 Stingray test asset from MidAmerica St. Louis Airport in Mascoutah, Illinois, which is adjacent to Scott Air Force Base. The drone is set to be the first carrier-launched autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicle to be integrated in a Carrier Air Wing.

The Boeing-owned test asset, known as T1 (Tail 1) and sporting the civilian registration N234MQ, completed the autonomous two-hour flight under the supervision of Boeing test pilots operating from their ground control station. The aircraft completed an FAA-certified autonomous taxi and takeoff and then flew a pre-planned route to validate the aircraft’s basic flight functions and operations with the ground control station, according to the official statement.


Capt. Chad Reed, Navy’s Unmanned Carrier Aviation (PMA-268) Program Manager, stated: “Today’s flight is an exciting and significant milestone for our program and the Navy. The flight of this test asset two years before our first MQ-25 arrives represents the first big step in a series of early learning opportunities that are helping us progress toward delivery of a game-changing capability for the carrier air wing and strike group commanders.”

Watch this high-energy laser weapon shoot down 5 drones

The MQ-25 unmanned carrier-based test aircraft comes in for landing after its first flight Sept. 19 at MidAmerica Airport in Mascoutah, Ill. The Boeing-owned test asset, known as T1, flew two hours to validate the aircraft’s basic flight functions and operations.

(Boeing)

This first test asset is being used for early development before the production of four Engineering Development Model (EDM) MQ-25s under an USD $ 805 million contract awarded in August 2018 in a Maritime Accelerated Acquisition (MAA) program, which aims to deliver mission-critical capabilities to the U.S. Navy fleet as rapidly as possible.

According to Boeing, T1 received the experimental airworthiness certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration earlier this month. Testing of this first development asset will continue over the next years to further early learning and discovery that advances major systems and software development, ahead of the delivery of the first EDM aircraft in FY2021 and in support of a planned Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for 2024.

MQ-25A Stingray Takes First Flight

www.youtube.com

The MQ-25 Stingray will be the first operational carrier-based UAV, designed to provide an aerial refueling capability and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), and the second UAV to operate from an aircraft carrier, after the Northrop Grumman X-47B Pegasus that was tested both alone (2013) and alongside manned aircraft (2014) from the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) and the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71). The integration of the Stingray into the Carrier Air Wing will ease the strain on the F/A-18E Super Hornets that currently perform buddy-tanker missions in support of the aircraft carrier’s launch and recovery operations, leaving them available for operational taskings.

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

Articles

This is what the North Korean military looks like

North Korea’s military escapades were back in the headlines in December, after state media in the secretive country reported news of two large-scale military drills involving rocket launchers and fighter jets.


Also read: North Korea actually fired a missile that worked

Some analysts believe that Kim Jong Un, the country’s despotic leader, is gearing up for war against South Korea — pictures accompanying one report even showed a mock-up of the Blue House, South Korea’s presidential residence, being used as a target by artillery. Others, however, say the drills are the latest in a long line of “sabre-rattling” manoeuvres designed to intimidate neighbours.

In either case, the country’s missile development and huge artillery stocks pose a significant danger to South Korea and the rest of the world.

It is one of the world’s most secretive countries, so the information largely comes from other sources, but the state’s propaganda efforts mean there are plenty of pictures of the country’s colossal military capacity. Take a look.

Watch this high-energy laser weapon shoot down 5 drones
The largest part of the military is the Korean People’s Army Ground Force, which includes about 1.2 million active personnel and millions more civilians who are effectively reservists. (Photo: Reuters/KCNA)

Watch this high-energy laser weapon shoot down 5 drones

Watch this high-energy laser weapon shoot down 5 drones
North Korea’s elderly air force would be easily outmatched by South Korea’s, and the most threatening equipment belongs to other parts of the military. (Reuters/KCNA)

Watch this high-energy laser weapon shoot down 5 drones
One of the most threatening things in the North’s arsenal is its powerful conventional artillery, with hundreds of these 170mm Koksan guns threatening South Korea. (Photo: Reuters/KCNA)

Watch this high-energy laser weapon shoot down 5 drones
And those are actually small in comparison with some of the massive fixed guns in place to fire on South Korean islands if a conflict breaks out. (Photo: Reuters/KCNA)

Watch this high-energy laser weapon shoot down 5 drones

Watch this high-energy laser weapon shoot down 5 drones

Watch this high-energy laser weapon shoot down 5 drones
The launch of satellite-carrying Unha rockets is watched closely, since it’s the same delivery system as North Korea’s Taepodong-2 ballistic missile, which was tested successfully in December 2012 and January 2016. (Photo: Reuters/KNCA)

Watch this high-energy laser weapon shoot down 5 drones
Though the equipment is outdated, North Korea does possess some armoured vehicles, which are largely copies of Soviet or Chinese-made models. (Photo: Reuters/KNCA)

Watch this high-energy laser weapon shoot down 5 drones
In addition to its long-range missiles and nuclear programme, North Korea has a line of shorter-range Hwasong missiles capable of hitting Japan. (Photo: Reuters/KCNA)

Watch this high-energy laser weapon shoot down 5 drones
Despite being developed more than 20 years ago, Pokpung-ho battle tanks pictured on the left here are some of the most advanced equipment operated by the ground forces. (Photo: Reuters/KCNA)

*Mike Bird contributed reporting to an earlier version of this article.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The tactics that make North Korea’s artillery so annoying

In the opening hours of the next Korean War, the North could kill upwards of 250,000 people using just conventional artillery, to say nothing of nuclear weapons or ballistic missiles, a January 2019 Rand Corporation report found. Those numbers are just from the South Korean capital alone.

And there is little the United States could do about it.


The North’s big gun is essentially a self-propelled coastal defense gun, the Koksan 170 mm, mounted on a tank and firing rocket-propelled shells up to 40 miles in any direction. Since the crews work outside of the weapon and North Korea’s air force could do little to protect them, the North had to devise a means of reloading the guns after firing, when they’re exposed and vulnerable.

Watch this high-energy laser weapon shoot down 5 drones

An aging Koksan 170mm artillery piece.

Some 10 million people live within firing range of the Korean demilitarized zone, living and working every day with hundreds of guns pointed at their heads. This includes the population of Seoul as well as the tens of thousands of U.S. and South Korean military personnel stationed on the peninsula. Most of them live within the 25-mile range of Communist artillery pointed at the South, but North Korea has some pieces that can fire as far as 125 miles, affecting a further 22 million people. It’s not a good situation for defending South Korea or protecting our forces.

“Conservative predictions of a likely attack scenario anticipate an initial artillery barrage focused on military targets, which would result in significant casualties,” said U.S. Army Gen. Vincent Brooks, head of U.S. Forces Korea. “A larger attack targeting civilians would yield several thousand casualties with the potential to affect millions… within the first 24 hours.”

Watch this high-energy laser weapon shoot down 5 drones

North Korea has thousands of artillery pieces that could fire tens of thousands of rounds during a 10-minute barrage. The big Koksan 170 carries 12 rounds of its own before it has to go re-arm itself. Since any ammunition depots would be as vulnerable to enemy aircraft as the artillery themselves, North Korea has constructed thousands of reinforced underground bunkers near the DMZ to hold ammo and house the guns.

As a result, in an opening salvo, North Korean artillery are likely to use what military planners call a “shoot n’ scoot” tactic. The guns will come out of the bunkers to fire off their rounds and then go right back into hiding to reload and prepare for another volley in rapid succession. This will make it difficult for allied airpower to track and kill the weapons.

Watch this high-energy laser weapon shoot down 5 drones

The best scenario for Seoul is that the Koksan 170 requires a specialized round to hit Seoul, one the North may have in limited quantities. Even if they do fire at a high rate, it’s likely the barrels of the weapons will heat up to a degree that the ideal rate of fire U.S. military planners plan against won’t be the actual rate used in combat. Another potential advantage for the UN forces is the area covered by the guns. If North Korea wants to destroy Seoul in the first few minutes of a war, all of its weapons would need to be trained on Seoul, work perfectly, and have the maximum rate of fire for a skilled crew – while UN planes and artillery are shooting back.

Unlikely.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Why the F-86 was so deadly over Korea

During the Korean War, the North American F-86 Sabre helped the United States keep control of the skies. As aviation historian Joe Baugher notes, the Sabre shot down at least 792 MiG-15s during the conflict (another 118 were scored as “probable” kills). MiGs, on the other hand, had only 78 kills against the Sabre.


That’s about a 10.15-to-1 ratio. If you include the probable kills, that ratio climbs to 11.67-to-1. That’s a pretty decisive edge for the Sabre. So, why was the F-86 so dominant?

Watch this high-energy laser weapon shoot down 5 drones
F-86 Sabres on patrol over Korea. Sabres shot down at least 792 MiGs. (USAF photo)

First, many American F-86 pilots were World War II vets. Among the better-known dual-war pilots were James Jabara (15 kills in Korea, 1.5 in World War II), Francis Gabreski (6 kills in Korea, 28.5 in World War II), and John W. Mitchell (11 kills in World War II, 4 in Korea. He also lead the mission that killed Isoroku Yamamoto). Pilot quality matters — just ask Japan.

Second, the F-86’s armament was better for the air-superiority mission. The F-86 packed six M3 .50-caliber machine guns. These were faster-firing versions of the M2 machine guns used on the North American P-51 Mustang. By comparison, the MiG-15 had two NR-23 23mm cannon and one N-37 37mm cannon. This was designed to kill a lumbering bomber, not to deal with a fast, maneuvering fighter. Having the right tool for the job matters.

Watch this high-energy laser weapon shoot down 5 drones
This series of four pictures taken from gun camera film shows the beginning of the end of a Russian-built MiG in an air battle high over North Korea. The “kill” was recorded by the camera in a U.S. Air Force F-86 “Sabre” jet flown by 2nd Lt James L. Thompson, a member of the 51st Fighter Interceptor Wing who was credited with the destruction. (USAF photo)

Third, the F-86 had a new, crucial piece of technology: the AN/APG-30, a radar gunsight. This made aiming the weapons much easier for the Sabre pilots. It used to be that a pilot (or anyone firing at an enemy plane) needed to judge angle and deflection on their own. With the AN/APG-30, the radar handled all that. All a pilot needed to do was to put the enemy plane in the center of his gunsight, squeeze the trigger, and bam, the MiG becomes a “good MiG.” Making it easier to put lead on-target matters.

In short, the F-86 came in with three big advantages over the MiG-15. Those advantages helped the Sabre keep South Korea free from Communist domination.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

US doesn’t know what to do with Turkey’s undelivered F-35s

Congress is offering the Defense Department the option to purchase Turkey’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and giving the defense secretary discretion to spend up to $30 million to store the fifth-generation jets until a plan for their use is formalized, according to the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2020.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper has been given the green light to spend funds “to be appropriated for fiscal year 2020 for the Department of Defense to conduct activities associated with storage, preservation, and developing a plan for the final disposition of such F-35 aircraft and Turkish F-35 aircraft equipment, including full mission simulators, helmet-mounted display systems, air system maintenance trainers, and ancillary mission equipment,” the bill states.


That money would fund storage for up to six jets and associated materials. F-35 deliveries to Turkey had originally been slated to occur between late summer and the end of this year.

Watch this high-energy laser weapon shoot down 5 drones

(photo by Tom Reynolds)

Lawmakers will not allow the F-35As once destined for Turkey to be transferred unless that country gets rid of its S-400 surface-to-air-missile systems and associated equipment and promises never to purchase or use the Russian-made weapon again, according to the bill.

“Turkey’s possession of the S-400 air and missile defense system adversely affects the national security of Turkey, the United States, and all members of the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance,” lawmakers said.

In a joint statement provided with the bill Tuesday, Congress said it would “support” the U.S. purchase of all jets originally meant for Turkey. The aircraft have been stationed at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, where international pilot training is conducted.

“The conferees also encourage the Secretary of Defense to maximize the procurement quantity of Turkish F-35A aircraft associated with Lots 12, 13, or 14 during fiscal year 2020 using the additional funds authorized in section 4101 of this Act,” according to the statement.

Esper has 90 days from the bill’s passage to provide congressional defense committees a report outlining a long-term plan for Turkey’s F-35s, “which includes options for recovery of costs from Turkey and for unilateral use of such assets,” the bill states.

Watch this high-energy laser weapon shoot down 5 drones

Hill Air Force Base F-35A Lightning IIs fly in formation.

(U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

Despite months of efforts to sway the NATO ally from purchasing the S-400, known to Moscow as the “F-35 killer,” Pentagon officials have been steadily phasing Turkey out of the JSF program.

The Pentagon in July officially booted Turkey from participating in the program over its purchase of the Russian-made S-400 and asked students — pilots and maintainers — attending F-35 training in the U.S. at Luke and at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, to leave.

The DoD also began phasing out aircraft parts manufactured by Turkey. Turkish industries produce 937 parts for the F-35, including items for the landing gear and fuselage.

“We’re on the path to March 2020 to transition all of those parts out. … The U.S. absorbed about a 0 million bill for that,” Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord said in October.

Lord at the time said top brass estimates that Turkey’s surface-to-air missile systems will be ready to track aircraft in the region by the end of 2019.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

Why the USS Jimmy Carter isn’t an aircraft carrier

The Navy’s tradition of honoring past American Presidents by naming aircraft carrier after them is alive and well. The USS Ronald Reagan, the Abraham Lincoln, and the Gerald Ford are all symbols of the projection of American naval power all over the world. There’s just one exception, one that goes unnoticed by many, mainly because it’s supposed to.

The USS Jimmy Carter is named after the 39th President of the United States, but it’s a nuclear submarine. And there’s a great reason for it.


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Carter dreamed of attending the U.S. Naval Academy even as a three-year-old.

Like many 20th Century Presidents before him, Carter was a Navy veteran. Unlike Nixon, Bush 41, or President Ford, Carter’s contributions to the Navy didn’t happen primarily in wartime, however, it happened after the Second World War. Carter, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, was immediately appointed as an officer aboard a Navy submarine, the USS Pomfret. He served aboard a number of submarines, mostly electric-diesel submarines, until it was time to upgrade them. All of them.

While the United States was embroiled in the Korean War, Carter the engineering officer, was sent to work with the Atomic Energy Commission and later Union College in Upstate New York, where he became well-versed in the physics of nuclear energy and nuclear power plants. He would use that knowledge to serve under Admiral Hyman Rickover, helping develop the nuclear Navy. Carter would have to leave the active Navy in 1953 when his father died and left the family peanut farm without an owner. In less than a year after Carter’s departure, Rickover’s team would launch the USS Nautilus, the world’s first-ever nuclear-powered submarine and the first ship in a long line of nuclear ships.

Watch this high-energy laser weapon shoot down 5 drones

The USS Nautilus

According to President Carter, Rickover was of the biggest influences on the young peanut farmer’s life. Carter’s 1976 campaign biography was even called Why Not The Best? – after a question Rickover asked the young naval officer while interviewing to join the nuclear submarine program.

Rickover asked Carter what his standing was in his graduating class at Annapolis and when Carter replied, Rickover asked him if he did his best.

“I started to say, ‘Yes sir,’ but I remembered who this was and recalled several times I could have learned more about our allies, our enemies, weapons, strategy and so forth. I was just human. I finally gulped and said, ‘No sir, I didn’t always do my best.”

“Why not?” asked Rickover. It was the last thing the Admiral said during the interview.

Watch this high-energy laser weapon shoot down 5 drones

Rickover (far right) with then-President Carter and his wife Rosalyn, touring a U.S. nuclear submarine.

Later, of course, Carter would become Hyman Rickover’s Commander-in-Chief, having taken in everything he learned from Rickover about nuclear energy and the U.S. Navy. The nuclear sub would become one of the pillars of American national security.

As President, Carter would restrict the building of supercarriers due to their massive costs, instead favoring medium-sized aircraft carriers, much to the consternation of the Navy and defense contractors. It would make little sense to have Carter’s name on a weapons program he discouraged as President – kind of like having Andrew Jackson’s face on American currency even though the 12th President was opposed to central banking.

But the Navy had to do something for the only Annapolis graduate to ascend to the nation’s highest office and serve as the Leader of the Free World. So naming the third Seawolf-class submarine after the former submarine officer and onetime nuclear engineer made perfect sense. The USS Jimmy Carter is the most secret nuclear submarine on the planet, moving alone and silently on missions that are never disclosed to the greater American public.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is the missile the IDF uses to spike enemy tanks

Over the years, Israel has nurtured a high-tech defense industry that has developed its own missile-defense systems and tanks. They’ve even “hacked” F-16s to make them deadlier. Israel’s military tech is so good, that even their historical enemy, Saudi Arabia, is a willing buyer.


Much of this development was out of necessity. Israel has had to defend its territories from political enemies and neighbors for centuries. And, in the wake of the Six-Day War, France went back on the sale of an airframe that would become the Mirage V. A constant need for arms and the unreliability of vendors led Israel to develop and maintain the capacity to build their own weapons.

One such weapon system is the Spike family of anti-tank missiles. There are six varieties of this armament: the Spike-MR for grunts and special forces; the Spike-LR for use from armored vehicles; the Spike-ER, which is used from helicopters like the AH-1 Cobra; the Spike-SR, which was modified for shorter ranges; the Mini-Spike, which is a portable, anti-personnel version of the missile, and, finally, the Spike-NLOS, which offers a range of roughly 15 miles.

Watch this high-energy laser weapon shoot down 5 drones
While the Spike-LR is meant for use from armored vehicles, it can also be carried by infantry. (Wikimedia Commons photo by Natan Flayer)

The missile packs a tandem warhead. This means it has a smaller warhead used to trigger the explosive reactive armor (ERA) on a tank, which then allows the larger warhead to get inside the tank and destroy.

Watch this high-energy laser weapon shoot down 5 drones
South Korea is a major user of the Spike anti-tank missile. (Photo by Republic of Korea Armed Forces)

The Spike has been a very successful product for Israel, with a number of countries buying, including Poland, Chile, Belgium, South Korea, Finland, and the United Kingdom. Now, this isn’t the first time Israeli systems have been exported. India has become a major customer of Israel’s Barak point-defense surface-to-air missile, using it on a number of naval platforms.

To learn more about this tank-spiking family of missiles, check out the video below.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7oAX6xl59Y
MIGHTY TACTICAL

The military’s ‘war for talent’ is affecting what the Navy’s future ships will look like

More than one senior military leader has said the services are facing a “war for talent,” as a stronger economy and two decades of war, among other factors, make military service less appealing to young Americans.


The Army, striving to reach 500,000 active-duty soldiers by the end of this decade, has rolled out an esports team to attract recruits. The Air Force, facing a protracted pilot shortage, capitalized on the recent blockbuster “Captain Marvel” with a recruiting drive.

For the Navy, which wants more ships to do more operations across a greater area, the effort to attract more people — and the right people — and to retain them is influencing ship design, the service’s top civilian official said this week.

“What we have to think about — and we’re sort of a platform-centric service, both us and the Marine Corps — is how do we reduce the number of people we have and that distributed maritime force that we have? How do we get lethality out there without having to have 300 people on a ship to deliver it?” Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said Friday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in response to a question about personnel costs, which rise faster than inflation.

“It also requires, I think, an increase in the level of capability and skill that we have in the force, and that’s why we’re investing so much in education, because you’re going to ask these people to do a lot more and to be a lot more adaptable in the jobs that … we’re asking them to do,” Modly said.

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Guided-missile frigate USS Reuben James at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, June 20, 2011.

US Navy/Petty Officer 3rd Class Daniel Barker

That thinking was “sort of the philosophy” behind the Navy’s future guided-missile frigate, Modly added.

Frigates do many of the same missions as destroyers and cruisers but are smaller and less equipped and therefore generally do those missions in lower-threat areas.

The Navy wants the new frigate to be able to operate in open-ocean and near-shore environments and to conduct air, anti-submarine, surface, and electronic warfare and information operations.

“That’s going to be a fairly lightly-manned ship with a lot of capability on it,” Modly said.

“I had a great example of a ship, and I won’t mention which manufacturer it was, but I went into the ship and they showed me a stateroom with four bunks and its own shower and bathroom facility,” Modly said.

He continued: “I was in the Navy back in the Cold War, and I said, ‘Wow, this is a really nice stateroom for officers.’ They said, ‘No, this where our enlisted people live.’ And I said, ‘Well, why did you design the ship like that?’ And they said, ‘We designed the ship like this for the type of people we want to recruit to man it.'”

“That’s really what we have to think about,” Modly added. “They’re going to be more lightly manned but with probably more highly-skilled people who have lots of opportunities to do things in other places, so we have to be able to attract those people. That is a big, big part of our challenge.”

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Guided-missile frigate USS Reuben James in the Pacific, March 23, 2012.

US Navy/MCS 3rd Class Sean Furey

10 frigates in four years

The Navy’s most recent frigates were the Oliver Hazard Perry class, or FFG-7 — 51 of which entered service between 1977 and 1989 and were decommissioned between 1994 and 2015.

While the design for the future frigate, designated FFG(X), has not yet been selected, the Navy plans to award the design and construction contract in July, according to budget documents released this month.

The Navy is only considering designs already in use, and the firms in the running are Fincantieri with its FREMM frigate design, General Dynamics Bath Iron Works and Navantia with the latter’s F-100 variant, Austal USA with a frigate version of its Independence-class littoral combat ship, and Huntington Ingalls with what many believe may be a variation of the National Security Cutter it’s building for the Coast Guard, according to Defense News.

The Navy plans for design and construction of the first ship to take until 2026 but expects construction to increase rapidly thereafter, with the 10th arriving by 2030, eventually producing 20 of the new frigates.

Without an exact design, cost is hard to estimate, but the Navy wants to keep the price below a billion dollars per ship for the second through 20th ships and hit a total program cost of .81 billion.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F5e52b12bfee23d66006c4523%3Fwidth%3D700%26format%3Djpeg%26auto%3Dwebp&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.insider.com&s=269&h=5514579908ba348be688d3625e87f36495206bc44eda240f2c6e7e33ea37367c&size=980x&c=131112658 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F5e52b12bfee23d66006c4523%253Fwidth%253D700%2526format%253Djpeg%2526auto%253Dwebp%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.insider.com%26s%3D269%26h%3D5514579908ba348be688d3625e87f36495206bc44eda240f2c6e7e33ea37367c%26size%3D980x%26c%3D131112658%22%7D” expand=1]

Guided-missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts returns to Naval Station Mayport, October 23, 2013.

US Navy/Cmdr. Corey Barker

The Navy also wants to use dual-crewing to maximize the time its future frigates spend at sea.

Switching between a “blue crew” and a “gold crew” extends the amount of time the ship can operate — allowing frigates to take on missions that larger combatants, like destroyers, have been saddled with — without increasing the burden on the crew and their families; it’s already in use on ballistic-missile submarines and littoral combat ships.

Dual-crewing “should double” the new frigate’s operational availability, Vice Adm. Ronald Boxall, then the surface-warfare director for the chief of naval operations, told Defense News at the end of 2018.

In the blue-gold crew model, the crew of the ship would still be working to improve their skills in what Boxall described as “higher-fidelity training environments.”

“In an increasingly complex environment, it’s just intuitive that you have to have time to train,” Boxall told Defense News. “We think Blue-Gold makes sense for those reasons on the frigate.”

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

US Army to field hypersonic missiles, laser weapons in under 4 years

The US Army says it will be able to field combat vehicle-mounted lasers and hypersonic missiles within the next four years to prepare for combat against rivals like Russia or China that may employ enemy drones or their own hypersonic weapons.

The service will begin fielding 50-kilowatt directed energy weapons on Stryker combat vehicles in 2022 and road-mobile Long-Range Hypersonic Weapons (LRHWs) in 2023, Army Lt. Gen. L. Neil Thurgood, director of the Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO) told reporters June 5, 2019, according to Breaking Defense.

The Army intends to field test its 50-kilowatt vehicle-mounted laser, which is designed to shoot down enemy drones, rockets, and artillery and mortar rounds, in 2021, and then a battery of four vehicles will be delivered to troops the following year.


There is also a project to develop a 100-kilowatt laser that could be mounted on a heavy truck. The challenge so far has been generating the necessary power levels.

Watch this high-energy laser weapon shoot down 5 drones

A MEHEL-equipped Stryker that can shoot small UAS out of the sky using a 5-kW fiber laser.

(U.S. Army photo by C. Todd Lopez)

As for the hypersonic weapon, Thurgood’s office is overseeing the development of a common boost-glide vehicle that travels faster than five times the speed of sound, and which will be incorporated into submarine- and air-launched hypersonic weapons for the Navy and Air Force. The Army announced recently that the first joint flight test of a future hypersonic weapon will be conducted next year.

That test will be followed by flight tests every six months.

The ground-based LRHW will be delivered to soldiers in sets of four launchers carrying two rounds each. The transporter erector launchers (TELs) will be installed on trailers and pulled by Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Trucks.

Soldiers will first be introduced to the launch system in 2021, at which point troops will begin training for the first TEL launch in 2022.

The LRHW is one of four priorities for the Long-Range Precision Fires (LRPF) team at Army Futures Command.

Watch this high-energy laser weapon shoot down 5 drones

A Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Charles Rivezzo)

This program is expected to deliver a weapon that can, at very long ranges, target critical strategic infrastructure and fixed site radars, disabling vital components of an enemy’s anti-access, area-denial (A2/AD) system, Col. John Rafferty, head of the LRPF CFT, previously explained to Business Insider.

As Russia and China are also racing to field hypersonic weapons, the Army is planning to spend around id=”listicle-2638707734″.2 billion on experiments to counter these capabilities. Hypersonic weapons are particularly threatening not only because of their high speeds, in excess of five times the speed of sound, but also because they are able to maneuver along unpredictable flight paths, making them nearly impossible to intercept.

Thurgood’s office has been tasked with delivering hypersonic and directed energy weapons.

“We’ve been in a full-out sprint since then,” Thurgood said recently.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Army has a dream team working on its robotic future

As part of a strategy to develop and deliver new robotics capabilities to future soldiers, Army researchers have partnered with world-renowned experts in industry and academia.

The University of Pennsylvania hosted a series of meetings in Philadelphia, June 5-7, 2018, for principal investigators and researchers from the Army’s Robotics Collaborative Technology Alliance, or RCTA.


“We are coming together to tell each other what we’ve done over the last year,” said Dr. Stuart Young, a division chief in the U.S. Army Research Laboratory at Adelphi, Maryland, and the RCTA’s collaborative alliance manager.

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Principal investigators and researchers from the Army’s Robotics Collaborative Technology Alliance meet at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia June 5-7, 2018, to coordinate efforts.
(U.S. Army photo by David McNally)

The group formed in 2009 to bring together government, industrial and academic institutions to address research and development required to enable the deployment of future military unmanned ground vehicle systems ranging in size from man-portables to ground combat vehicles.

Partners include:

• General Dynamics Land Systems – Robotics
• Carnegie Mellon University – The Robotics Institute
• Massachusetts Institute of Technology
• Florida State University
• University of Central Florida
• University of Pennsylvania
• QinetiQ North America
• Cal Tech/Jet Propulsion Lab

Young said the laboratory is focused on transitioning new capabilities to industry partners so they can continue to mature them.

“Since this is a basic and applied research program, we’ll transition it to them so they can get it into an experimental prototype in development,” he said. “Certainly the problem that we are working on is very hard. It is difficult to operate robots in the wild, anywhere in the world, but that’s the kind of problem the Army has to solve.”

Watch this high-energy laser weapon shoot down 5 drones
World-renowned robotics researchers from industry, academia and the U.S. Army are part of an alliance to explore futuristic robotics that may lead to new capabilities for the future force.
(U.S. Army photo by David McNally)

The Army’s vision is to make unmanned systems an integral part of small unit teams.

“We’re trying to go from tools to teammates so you can work side-by-side with them,” Young said, continuing with, “In order for robots to be teammates, they must operate in unstructured, complex environments.

“And then in order for the robots to be a useful teammate, they have to communicate naturally like a human does,” Young said. “We’re doing a lot of work in human-robot relationships, understanding concepts in the same way that humans do, trying to get the robots to understand those concepts in the same way so that the teaming can occur more naturally.”

Over the eight years of the alliance, researchers have achieved many milestones in the robotics field.

“New methods for robots to autonomously interact with and perceive the outside world have been developed to improve reasoning, situational awareness, trust and mobility in challenging battlefield environments,” said Dr. Jaret Riddick, director of the lab’s Vehicle Technology Directorate. “In the past eight years, researchers have teamed with academia and industry supported by the Robotics CTA to establish robotics technology critical to next generation Army objectives for multi-domain operation.”

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Geoff Slipher (right), the U.S. Army Research Laboratory’s Autonomous Systems Division chief speaks with Army researcher Chris Kroninger June 6, 2018, at the Robotics Collaborative Technology Alliance review at the University of Pennsylvania.
(U.S. Army photo by David McNally)

The alliance conducts research in four technical domains:
  1. Perception: Perceive and understand dynamic and unknown environments, including creation of a comprehensive model of the surrounding world
  2. Intelligence: Autonomously plan and execute military missions; readily adapt to changing environments and scenarios; learn from prior experience; share common understanding with team members
  3. Human-Robot Interaction: Manipulate objects with near-human dexterity and maneuver through 3-D environments
  4. Dexterous Manipulation and Unique Mobility: Manipulate objects with near-human dexterity and maneuver through 3-D environments

“We’ve certainly come a long way, and yes, we have a long way to go,” Young said. “We’ve made a lot of progress in understanding and developing new theory and techniques for communicating between the robots and the humans. We must generate more novel techniques to be able to address those types of problems.”

Researchers said the meetings in Philadelphia were a valuable experience as they continue to plan for a capstone event at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, in 2019, where they will demonstrate the culmination of their research achievements to Army leaders.

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities that provide decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the joint warfighter and the nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Hong Kong riot police will be rocking futuristic ‘RoboCop-style’ body armor

Police in Hong Kong have imported a new type of anti-riot body armor from China which are said to be lightweight and bulletproof and can reportedly protect against attacks using sharp and flammable objects.

Kong Wing-chueng, Hong Kong Police Force’s Senior Superintendent, said Aug. 27, 2019, that new protective suits were purchased for police who have been confronting over 12 weeks of violent pro-democracy protests.

“As a responsible employer, we purchase any equipment that provides the best protection to our officers,” he said, according to the Post.


Sources told the South China Morning Post that 500 sets of the suits had been purchased from a manufacturer in China. Police sources told the Post that it was the first time Hong Kong forces received supplies from the mainland, having previously imported gear from the United Kingdom or France. Britain suspended its sale of teargas and other crowd control equipment to Hong Kong in June, citing allegations of police brutality against protesters.

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New anti-riot armor used by Hong Kong police imported from China has garnered comparisons to RoboCop for its futuristic appearance.

(China Commodities/Chinese Ministry of Commerce)

Chinese state tabloid Global Times confirmed the order for 500 sets of the anti-riot armor, citing the suits developers, Guangzhou-based Guangzhou Weifu Science Technology Development. According to the report, the armor is more lightweight than other suits used by police, and provide better protection against knives, bullets, and flammable objects.

According to the Times, Guangzhou Weifu Science Technology Development also provide protective gear to other countries, including Israel, Iraq, Morocco and Jordan. The company says on its website that it has worked on over a dozen projects with China’s Ministry of Public Security.

A Hong Kong police source told the Post that each suit costs 0, while the Times estimates that suits cost roughly 0. The police source told the Post that the suits were “bullet-resistant” and could protect officers from sharp objects and small firearms, like a “.22 caliber handgun.”

Police told the Post that the suits had been delivered on Friday to Ngau Tau Kok police station in East Kowloon, and were then distributed to other officers stationed across the city.

The suit appears similar to those used by Chinese forces and has been compared to “RoboCop”

The suits appear similar to those used by Chinese police in Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong and has seen a buildup of Chinese troops within the last few weeks. The suits feature scaled shoulder armor which also runs along their arms, a protective chest plate and jointed leg coverings, and were used in joint training exercises August 2019.

The suits have garnered comparisons to “RoboCop,” a 1987 American film character who was a cyborg law enforcement officer.

The futuristic armor arrives as tensions in Hong Kong continue to escalate.

On Aug. 25, 2019, protesters clashed with police in the Tsuen Wan area in Hong Kong’s north. An offshoot group of protesters hurled Molotov cocktails at forces and reportedly chased police with metal pipes. Police responded by pointing live firearms at protesters, with one firing a warning shot into the air.

Police also used water cannons to disperse crowds for the first time since protests began.

On Aug. 27, 2019, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam vowed to tackle protests using any legal means necessary and did not rule out invoking sweeping emergency powers to quell the violence.

“All laws in Hong Kong – if they can provide a legal means to stop violence and chaos – the [Hong Kong] government is responsible for looking into them,” Lam said.

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