30 years later, the Marine Corps AH-1W Super Cobra makes its final flight - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

30 years later, the Marine Corps AH-1W Super Cobra makes its final flight

In October, after 34 years of service and more than 930,000 flight hours, the AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopter made its final flight. Maj. Patrick Richardson, Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 773, flew the last flight out of Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans.

In a video released by Bell Helicopter, Maj. Richardson said that the final flight is very important to aviators as a way to honor the aircraft. He counted it as an honor to be able to fly the last flight. 

The dual-blade helicopter was received in 1994. Marines flew it in Afghanistan between 2003 and 2005. The aircraft was also flown in Iraq, Somalia, the Gulf War and with Marine expeditionary units operating on Navy ships worldwide.

This battle-hardened helicopter performed a photo-worthy display over New Orleans in tandem with its successor, the AH-1Z Viper. The last “Whiskey” sortie was performed by the Red Dogs, Detachment A of the Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 772. The Red Dogs are part of the Marine Corps Reserve forces based in New Orleans. 

In total, the Super Cobra’s career included 933,614 flight hours as of August 2020. Maj. Richardson called the final flight bittersweet. 

Marine Corps Colonel David Walsh said that the AH-1W Super Cobra served admirably and leaves a remarkable legacy of “on-time, on-target helicopter support” for the Marines. 

An evolution of aviation for the Marine Corps 

The Marine Corps first flew the Super Cobra in Vietnam in 1969. This single-engine aircraft was on loan from the Army. Then, the service introduced the two-engine AH-1J Sea Cobra in 1971. It saw combat at the end of the conflict in Vietnam and participated in Operation Frequent Wind, the evacuation of American diplomatic personnel from Saigon in April 1975. Just a year later, the Marine had the improved Ah-1T version, which helped add precision weapon capabilities with the BGM-71 Tube-Launched, Optically Tracked Wire-Guided (TOW) anti-tank missile.

The Whiskey model, as it’s known today, can trace its origins to the AH-1T+ demonstrator, originally developed for Iran under the Shah. The Iranians wanted an enhanced Ah-1J that could incorporate new engines and the transmission from the Bell Model 214 ST helicopter. But the overthrow of the Shah in 1979 put an end to those ambitions. The T+ variant emerged as a suitable replacement for the Army’s AH-64 Apache after Congress refused to grant funds for a Marine procurement of the A-64. 

In 1980, the AH-IT+ made its maiden flight powered by a part of 1,258-shaft-horsepower GE T700-GE-700 engines. By 1983, the helicopter was the de facto prototype for the AH-1W. Besides getting upgraded engines, the AH-1W featured bulged cheek fairings to accommodate electronics associated with TOW missiles. These cheeks were relocated from the tail boom. Enlarged exhaust suppressors helped reduce the AH-1W’s infrared signature. 

The Marines placed an order of 44 AH-1W, and the first of them were delivered in March 1986. The final aircraft was delivered in 1999, and its addition made a fleet of 179 AH-1Ws. Retirement is the official end of the AH-1W, but many of the Whiskey frames will fly on as they are remanufactured into updated AH-1Zs.

In 2000, the Turkish Army expressed interest in procuring the AH-1Z, but that order was canceled in 2004. In 2012, South Korea expressed interest in purchasing 36 of the AH-1Zs, but the country ultimately selected the comparable Boeing AH064 Apache instead. 

AH-1Z Viper

The AH-1Z Viper has now officially replaced the AH-1W. It began life as a “four-bladed Whiskey” and is now in operation together with the UH-1Y Venom. The AH-1Z has been in Marine Corps service since 2010. 

AH-1Ws will continue to serve abroad with Taiwan and Turkey. There’s still a chance that some of the Marine Corps’ fleet will be transferred to a partner ally, which might future extend its illustrious legacy.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Russia’s one-of-a-kind destroyer is a Cold War spinoff

Spinoffs are a curse of entertainment. Any successful TV series soon spawns one or two others that are of suspect quality and have a vague connection to the original. For instance, the overwhelmingly popular Friends led to the creation of the underwhelming Joey. AfterMASH tried (and failed) to piggyback off of the successes of M*A*S*H.

But did you know warships also generate spinoffs? In fact, Russia pulled off a one-of-a-kind spinoff from one of its most successful ships.


The Russian navy destroyer ADM Chabanenko (DD650), right, moves past the French navy frigate FS Ventose (F733) while getting underway during the 2011 FRUKUS (French, Russia, United Kingdom, United States) event.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Marie Brindovas)

The Udaloy-class destroyers were built for protecting high-value assets, like Kiev-class carriers and Kirov-class battlecruisers, from NATO submarines. Udaloy-class vessels carried two 100mm guns, two quad SS-N-14 Silex launchers, 64 SA-N-9 Gauntlet point-defense surface-to-air missiles in eight eight-round launchers, four quad 53mm torpedo tube mounts, and four AK-630 close-in weapon systems. The destroyer could also operate two Ka-27 Helix anti-ship helicopters.

The Russian navy destroyer RFS ADM Chabanenko (DD 650) fires the AK-130-MR-184 130 mm gun at a distant target during a gunnery exercise as part of the at-sea phase of FRUKUS 2011.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Darren Moore)

That’s some serious firepower — a submarine captain would have some trepidation having to take those on. But the Udaloy was a little weak in one crucial area: fighting surface ships. The SS-N-14 and the 533mm torpedoes could be used against ships, but they were primarily intended to hunt subs. In short, the Udaloy was out-ranged by the RGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile, which was in service with U.S. Navy three years before the first Udaloy was commissioned. So, in 1989, the Soviet Union laid down what they hoped would be the answer to this shortcoming.

Despite plans to build several, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union would leave this vessel as the only one of its kind. The Admiral Chabanenko underwent a lengthy construction process — it took ten years to be commissioned. For this ship, the Soviets turned to the Udaloy’s contemporary, the Sovremennyy, as a baseline. The Admiral Chabanenko replaced the two 100mm guns with a twin 130mm gun mount, the quad SS-N-14 mounts were replaced with quad SS-N-22 Sunburn launchers, and the four AK-630s were replaced with CADS-N-1 close-in weapon systems.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5YXvOLWHAY

www.youtube.com

Today, this unique vessel is still in service with the Russian Navy. Two planned sister ships were never finished.

Learn more about this one-of-a-kind ship in the video below.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Soldiers got to fire the Army’s new pistol — and they liked what they saw

McGregor Range, New Mexico – Eager soldiers shared looks of excitement and awe under the watch of the immense New Mexico golden mesas as they awaited their opportunity to finally fire the newly fielded M17 pistol.

Soldiers assigned to 1st Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division fired the M17 pistol for the first time during a qualification range, Oct. 10, 2019. Within 1AD, 3ABCT is the first brigade to field and fire the new weapons system.

“The M17 pistol is an adaptable weapons system. It feels a lot smoother and a lot lighter than the M9,” said 2nd Lt. Michael Preston, an armor officer assigned to 1-67 AR. “I feel like the transition to the M17 will benefit us greatly in combat. Just from being out here today I was able to shoot well and notice that it felt lighter.”


2nd Lt. Michael Preston, an armor officer assigned to 1st Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, fires an M17 pistol during a pistol qualification range, Oct. 10, 2019.

(US Army photo by Pvt. Matthew Marcellus)

The M17 is a 9mm semi-automatic handgun, which offers a lighter weight than the previous M9 pistol, weighing 30.8 ounces. It has an improved ergonomic design and a more modern internal striker firing mechanism, rather than an external hammer firing mechanism, to reduce trigger pull and improve accuracy and lethality.

The striker design of the M17 is less likely to snag on clothing or tactical gear when firing than an external hammer and furthermore, the M17 has a capacity of 17 rounds, two more than the M9.

The M17 pistol is the full-sized variant of the Modular Handgun System which also includes the compact M18 pistol, designed to replace the M9 and M11 pistols.

Staff Sgt. Tramel Gordon, an M1 armor crewman assigned to 1st Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, fires an M17 pistol during a qualification range, Oct. 10, 2019.

(US Army photo Pvt. Matthew Marcellus)

Soldiers using the new M17 pistol will potentially have greater maneuverability and operational flexibility while in combat, due to the reduced weight and improved design compared to the M9 pistol.

“When we climb out of our tanks, less weight is good,” said 1st Lt. Shannon Martin, an armor officer assigned to 1-67 AR and native of Scituate, Massachusetts.

“Every ounce that you shave off the equipment is less weight for soldiers to carry. So for those infantrymen who are rucking miles at a time, it is good for them to have less weight that they’re carrying so that they can focus on staying fit for the fight and being ready to go.”

Staff Sgt. Tramel Gordon, an M1 armor crewman assigned to 1st Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, fires an M17 pistol during a qualification range, Oct. 10, 2019.

(US Army photo by Pvt. Matthew Marcellus)

The Modular Handgun System has an ambidextrous external safety, self-illuminating tritium sights for low-light conditions, an integrated rail for attaching enablers and an Army standard suppressor conversion kit for attaching an acoustic/flash suppressor.

“Coyote brown” in color, it also has interchangeable hand grips allowing shooters to adjust the handgun to the size of their hand.

2nd Lt. Michael Preston, an armor officer assigned to 1st Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, fires an M17 pistol at a target, Oct. 10, 2019.

(US Army photo by Pvt. Matthew Marcellus)

The primary service round is the M1153 9mm special purpose cartridge, which has a jacketed hollow-point projectile. It provides improved terminal performance against unprotected targets as well as reduced risk of over-penetration and collateral damage compared to the M882 9mm ball cartridge and the Mk243 9mm jacketed hollow-point cartridge.

The M1152 9mm ball cartridge has a truncated, or flat, nose full-metal-jacket projectile around a solid lead alloy core. It provides improved terminal performance compared to the M882 ball cartridge.

A soldier assigned to 1st Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, checks his target for accuracy after he engaged it with an M17 pistol, Oct. 10, 2019.

(US Army photo by Pvt. Matthew Marcellus)

The fielding of the M17 pistol has generated great excitement and energy among 1AD soldiers, most of whom have never fired a handgun other than the M9 pistol.

“I think having a new weapons system has sprouted interest. We have soldiers who say ‘Cool, I’m so excited to go and shoot these,’ so it creates more interest in qualifying with a handgun,” said Martin. “During our deployment to Korea, we saw the M17 and we were all excited to get our hands on them, train with them and to see what’s different about them.”

Staff Sgt. Tramel Gordon, an M1 armor crewman assigned to 1st Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, walks back to his firing position after collecting his target during a pistol qualification range, Oct. 10, 2019.

(US Army photo by Pvt. Matthew Marcellus)

The adoption and implementation of the M17 pistol reflects the Army’s continued commitment to modernization, ensuring that soldiers are best equipped to deal with any threat and to project lethal force with efficiency.

The division began fielding and distributing the M17 to its units in August and have used classroom training time with these live-fire ranges to familiarize their soldiers with the new handgun, ensuring that they are ready and proficient with the weaponry.

Soldiers assigned to 1st Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, carry their equipment prior to a qualification range with their new M17 pistol, Oct. 10, 2019.

(US Army photo by Pvt. Matthew Marcellus)

Soldiers learn through innovation and iteration. As part of ongoing modernization efforts, research teams rapidly develop new prototypes and arm soldiers with new technologies, including protective gear, weaponry and communications capabilities.

“Adopting the M17 pistol is good for our readiness and lethality,” said Martin. “It forces us all to go out, shoot and be familiar and proficient with our new weaponry.”

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

Articles

This is the incredible history of the deadly Harpoon Missile System

Boeing’s Harpoon Missile System is an all-weather, over-the-horizon, anti-ship weapon that is extremely versatile. The U.S. started developing the Harpoon in 1965 to target surfaced submarines up to 24 miles away, hence its name “Harpoon,” a weapon to kill “whales,” a naval slang term used to describe submarines.


Related: The U.S. Navy Testing a “game-changing” new missile

It was a slow moving project at first until the Six-Day War of 1967 between Israel and Egypt. During the war, Egypt sunk the Israel destroyer INS Eilat from 14 miles away with Soviet-made Styx anti-ship missiles launched from a tiny patrol boat. It was the first ship in history to be sunk by anti-ship missiles.

The surface-to-surface destruction shocked senior U.S. Navy officers; after all, it was the height of the Cold War, and the weapon indirectly alerted the U.S. of Soviet capabilities at sea. In 1970 Admiral Elmo Zumwalt—then Chief of Naval Operations—accelerated the Harpoon project, strategically adapting it for deployment from air and sea. Seven years later, the first Harpoon was successfully deployed.

May 1992 air-to-air view of an F-16 Fighting Falcon equipped with an AGM-84 Harpoon all-weather anti-ship missile over Eglin Air Force Base. USAF photo by Cindy Farmer.

Today, the U.S. and its allies—more than 30 countries around the world—are the primary users of the weapon. 2017 marks its 50th anniversary, and it’s only getting better with age. Over the decades, the missile has been updated to include navigation technology, such as GPS, Inertial navigation system (INS), and other electronics to make it more accurate and versatile against ships and a variety of land-based targets.

This Boeing video describes the incredible history behind the Harpoon Missile System and its evolution throughout the years.

Watch:

Boeing, YouTube
MIGHTY TACTICAL

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons

Upon entering a room lined with panels and LED lights, described solely as something out of a science fiction movie, people in polar white suits are ready to re-skin a new beast.

The airmen working across two shifts in the work center, paint and renovate the aircraft and equipment assigned to the Air Force’s largest combat F-16 Fighting Falcon wing.


The work being performed on the aircraft is intended to provide a protective finish that prevents damage to the structure and enhance the aircraft’s overall lifespan.

“Our mission here is to remove defective aircraft coatings,” said Tech. Sgt. Ryan Tinsley, 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron corrosion control noncommissioned officer in charge. “We also inspect for corrosion and reapply coats should the aircraft need it.”

Airmen assigned to the 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron corrosion control paint barn, work on an F-16CM Fighting Falcon at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Nov. 13, 2018.

Tinsley went on to say the flight helps identify and troubleshoot paint fatigue that may be caused by consistent flights.

Within the facility, a locker room houses the protective gear of the airmen assigned to the 20th EMS aircraft structural maintenance flight.

“When we paint, no matter what we are working on that day, we keep safety in mind at all times,” said Tech. Sgt. Joseph Harris, 20th EMS corrosion control shift lead.

Each job requires the airmen to gear up from top to bottom to prevent any damage or poisoning that could be caused by the exposure to paint fumes.

During the painting process, corrosion control airmen inspect the aircraft for any cracks or wear that may have been caused through various aerial missions.

“Our airmen are the ones out there doing the hard work,” said Tinsley. “They are either sanding or painting anything that may come into the paint barn … they’re the real work horses, they’re killing it.”

With the continued support of these technicians the mission of the 20th Fighter Wing can thrive and allow the pilots to accomplish the suppression of enemy air defenses mission anytime, anywhere.

This article originally appeared on the United States Air Force. Follow @usairforce on Twitter.

Articles

Meet another plane in the next generation of Eagles from Boeing

The F-15 Eagle has been around in one form or another since entering service with the United States Air Force in 1973. It has an excellent combat record of over 100 air-to-air kills with very few combat losses.


But at the same time, the world’s not been standing still. Russia has developed the Su-27/Su-30/Su-33/Su-35 family of Flankers, and they are proving very deadly. China has the J-11/J-15/J-16 family of Flankers as well.

An F-15E Strike eagle conducts a mission over Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2008. The F-15E Strike Eagle is a dual-role fighter designed to perform air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. This plane is the basis for the F-15SE Silent Eagle. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon)

Boeing, though, hasn’t thrown in the towel. The F-15SE, or F-15 Silent Eagle, is a stealthier version of the legendary Eagle. This is accomplished by putting the many weapons that the F-15E Strike Eagle can carry into conformal bays, thus eliminating their radar signatures.

With reports that the Air Force is planning to retire the F-15C/D Eagles, the air superiority mission could now fall almost entirely on the F-22 Raptors — and with the production line stopped at 187 of those planes, the Silent Eagle could help fill the gap. In any case, the F-15SE could be an option for folks who can’t afford — or don’t want to wait for — the F-35.

Take a look at this video from FlightGlobal on the F-15SE, an Eagle that could be around for a long time.

You can also see the Eagle 2040 video that should have been a Super Bowl commercial.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

See what happened when world’s top snipers competed

The finest snipers in the US military, as well as local, state, and federal law-enforcement agencies, have been battling it out against teams from across the US and around the world in the annual International Sniper Competition.

The Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment came in first, the Colorado Army National Guard took second, and Sweden’s 17th Wing Air Force Rangers came in third. There were also some surprises in the rankings.


(U.S. Army photo by Markeith Horace, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

(U.S. Army photo by Patrick A. Albright, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

(U.S. Army photo by Patrick A. Albright, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

(U.S. Army photo by Patrick A. Albright, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

According to the Army, teams must complete “a gauntlet of rigorous physical, mental and endurance events that test the range of sniper skills that include, but are not limited to, long range marksmanship, observation, reconnaissance and reporting abilities, and abilities to move with stealth and concealment.”

Source: US Army

(U.S. Army photo by Patrick A. Albright, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

Snipers play a critical role in combat, with missions including “precision fires on enemy personnel and equipment, intelligence gathering, counter-sniper operations, infiltration and overwatch of [named areas of interest], occupation of and operations in support by fire positions, ballistic interdiction of IEDs, and disruption of enemy operations.”

Source: US Army

(U.S. Army photo by Patrick A. Albright, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

(U.S. Army photo by Patrick A. Albright, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

“Working together in this venue is a great way for us to share ideas, build rapport, and train our forces,” Brig. Gen. David M. Hodne, the US Army Infantry School commandant, said at the closing ceremony, “After all, the purpose of the International Sniper Competition is to improve our collective lethality.”

Source: Fort Benning Public Affairs Office

(U.S. Army photo by Patrick A. Albright, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

(U.S. Army photos by Markeith Horace, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

(U.S. Army photos by Markeith Horace, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

(U.S. Army photos by Markeith Horace, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

(U.S. Army photos by Markeith Horace, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

US Army teams dominated the competition. One surprising result: The US Coast Guard’s Special Missions Training Detachment edged out the US Marine Corps’ Scout Sniper instructors.

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

Articles

Upgrades to the CH-47 Chinook will allow it to serve for 100 years

U.S. Army photo by Sgt. William Tanner


The Army plans to fly its Vietnam-era workhorse CH-47 Chinook cargo helicopter for 100 years by continuously upgrading the platform through a series of ongoing technological adjustments designed to improve lift, weight, avionics and cargo handling, among other things.

The Army goal is to allow the helicopter, which was first produced in the early 1960s, to serve all the way into the 2060s – allowing the aircraft service life to span an entire century.

“Our primary goal is maintaining the CH-47F’s relevance to the warfighter,” Lt. Col. Ricard Bratt said in a special statement to Scout Warrior.

The latest model, called the Chinook F helicopter, represents the latest iteration of technological advancement in what is a long and distinguished history for the workhorse cargo aircraft, often tasked with delivering food, troops and supplies at high altitudes in mountainous Afghan terrain.

Able to travel at speeds up to 170 knots, the Chinook has a range of 400 nautical miles and can reach altitudes greater than 18,000-feet. Its high-altitude performance capability has been a substantial enabling factor in the mountainous regions of Afghanistan.

The aircraft is 52-feet long, 18-feet high and able to take off with 50,000 pounds. The helicopter can fly with a loaded weight of 26,000 pounds. In addition, the aircraft can mount at least three machine guns; one from each window and another from the back cargo opening.

U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Freeman

The Chinook F is in the process of receiving a number of enhancements to its digital cockpit called the Common Avionics Architecture System, or CAAS, such improved avionics, digital displays, Line Replacement Units, navigational technology, multi-mode radios, software and emerging systems referred to as pilot-vehicle interface. Pilot-vehicle interface involves improved computing technology where faster processor and new software are able to better organize and display information to the crew, allowing them to make informed decisions faster.

By 2018, the Army plans to have a pure fleet of 473 F-model Chinooks. By 2021, the Army plans to field a new “Block 2” upgraded Chinook F which will increase the aircraft’s ability to function in what’s called “high-hot” conditions of 6,000 feet/95-degrees Fahrenheit where lower air pressure makes it more difficult to operate and maneuver a helicopter.

The Block 2 Chinook will also be engineered to accommodate a larger take-off maximum weight of 54,000 pounds, allowing it to sling-load the Army’s new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle underneath. This provides the Army with what it calls a “mounted maneuver” capability wherein it can reposition vehicles and other key combat-relevant assets around the battlefield in a tactically-significant manner without need to drive on roads. This will be particularly helpful in places such as Afghanistan where mountainous terrain and lacking infrastructure can make combat necessary movements much more challenged.

A Chinook lands at Forward Operating Base Kala Gush. Photo: US Army Maj. Christopher Thomas

The Chinook F is also in the process of getting new rotorblades engineered with composites and other materials designed to give the helicopter an additional 1,500 pounds of lift capability, Army officials explained.

Another key upgrade to the helicopter is a technology called Cargo-On/Off-Loading-System, or COOLS, which places rollers on the floor of the airframe designed to quickly on and off-load pallets of equipment and supplies.  This technology also has the added benefit of increasing ballistic protection on the helicopter by better protecting it from small arms fire.

“The COOLS system has been added to the current production configuration and continues to be retrofitted to the existing F fleet. We have completed approximately 50-percent of the retrofit efforts. Since its fielding we made very minor design changes to improve maintainability.

The helicopter will also get improved gun-mounts and crew chief seating, along with a new vibration control system.

“We are finalizing design efforts on an improved vibration control system that, in testing, has produced significant reduction in vibration levels in the cockpit area,” Bratt said.

The F-model includes an automated flight system enabling the aircraft to fly and avoid obstacles in the event that a pilot is injured.

Additional adjustments include the use of a more monolithic airframe engineered to replace many of the rivets build into the aircraft, Army officials said.

“The program is looking at some significant airframe improvements like incorporating the nose and aft sections of the MH-47G (Special Operations Variant) on to the CH-47F. In addition, the program office has conducted an in depth structural analysis with the intent of setting the stage for increased growth capacity of the airframe for future upgrades,” Bratt said.

The CH-47 F program is also planning to add Conditioned-Based Maintenance to the aircraft – small, portable diagnostic devices, which enable aircraft engineers to better predict maintenance needs and potential mechanical failures, service officials said.

A military policeman pulls security as other soldiers load a CH-47 during non-combatant evacuation training. (Photo: U.S. Army Spc. Thomas Scaggs)

Protecting Helicopters

The CIRCM system is an improved, lighter-weight version of Advanced Threat Infrared Countermeasures, called ATIRCM, — a high-tech laser jammer that is able to thwart guided-missile attacks on helicopters by using an infrared sensor designed to track an approaching missile. The system fires a multiband heat laser to intercept the missile and throw it off course,

ATIRCM has been fielded now on helicopters over Iraq and Afghanistan. CIRCM, its replacement, lowers the weight of the system and therefore brings with it the opportunity to deploy this kind of laser counter-measure across a wider portion of the fleet.

Chinooks are also equipped with a combat-proven protective technology called Common Missile Warning System, or CMWS; this uses an ultraviolet sensor to locate approaching enemy fire before sending out a flare to divert the incoming fire from its course.

Finally, over the years there have been several efforts to engineer a small-arms detection system designed to locate the source of incoming enemy small-arms fire to better protect the aircraft and crew.

MIGHTY CULTURE

A brief history of US Army snipers

Throughout history, snipers have had two basic roles: deliver long range precision direct fire and collect battlefield information. Their heritage can be traced to the Revolutionary War.

Many of America’s soldiers fighting for their independence in the late 1700s were militia, marksmen by necessity, farmers, and settlers who hunted to feed their family. At the time, their weapons were still relatively primitive, little more than basic hunting rifles, but these hunters were skilled and, according to the American Shooting Journal, while fighting the British, long-range kills were common. Without any formal guidance, these volunteers were doing exactly the same mission as snipers do today.


Snipers continued to play an integral part in battlefield operations during World War I, when trench warfare provided good hiding places for sharpshooters, World War II’s lengthy field deployments, and the Vietnam War, when sniper fire eliminated more than 1,200 enemy combatants.

Since 1945, we have recognized the sniper as an increasingly important part of modern infantry warfare. Sniper rifles and their optics have evolved into costly but effective high-tech weaponry. Although technology, as far as snipers are concerned, can never replace experience and skill.

Annual International Sniper Competition, October 2018.

(U.S. Army photos by Markeith Horace)

Infantrymen U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Micah Fulmer and Spc. Tristan Ivkov, 1st Battalion, 157th Infantry (Mountain), Colorado Army National Guard, showed off their sniper skills, taking second place at the 2018 International Sniper Competition at Fort Benning, Georgia, in October 2018.

The International Sniper Competition is also open to law enforcement agencies, and the 2018 competition featured some of the best snipers from around the globe, including the U.S. military, international militaries, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The best teams face a gauntlet of rigorous physical, mental and endurance events that test the range of sniper skills, including long range marksmanship, observation, reconnaissance, and reporting abilities as well as stealth and concealment.

It is a combat-focused competition that tests a sniper team’s ability to communicate and make decisions while stressed and fatigued, to challenge comfort zones of precision marksmanship capability and training methodology, and to share information and lessons learned regarding sniper operations, tactics, techniques, and equipment.

Army Staff Sgt. Mathew Fox waits to engage a target in the live-fire stalk event during the 2012 International Sniper Competition at the U.S. Army Sniper School on Fort Benning.

(U.S. Army photo)

Ivkov suffered a knee injury prior to the National Guard match. Despite the injury, his team took first place, securing their spot in the international competition. However, concerned about how the injury may impact the team’s ability at the next level, he felt as if they shouldn’t have even been there.

“We went in with quite the train up,” Ivkov said. “Coming in with a second place medal was even a little higher than we figured on.”

The team attended an eight-week training course just before the competition took place.

In order to keep things fair, “We used schoolhouse-issued weapons so everyone was running the same gear,” Ivkov said. “The competition lasted 96 hours…we probably slept 10.”

Their targets ranged from “M9 (Pistol) targets at 5 feet to .50 caliber at a little over a mile away,” Fulmer said. “The actual shooting is just a fraction of the knowledge and discipline you have to have to be a sniper.”

The team must gauge atmospheric and wind conditions, factors that can change a bullet’s course. At some of the longer ranges, even Earth’s rotation must be taken into account. They must also move undetected through varied terrain to get into the right shooting position.

Sgt. Nicholas Irving, of 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, takes aim during the “Defensive Shoot” event at Wagner Range on Fort Benning, Ga., during the Ninth annual U.S. Army International Sniper Competition.

(U.S. Army photo)

Hitting the target also takes “a little bit of luck,” Fulmer said.

Fulmer served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps before joining the Colorado National Guard. Working as mentor and spotter for Ivkov, he earned the honor of top spotter at the international competition.

U.S. Army Staff Sgts. Brandon Kelley and Jonathan Roque, a team from the 75th Ranger Regiment, took first place, for the second consecutive year. Swedish Armed Forces Lance Cpls. Erik Azcarate and David Jacobsson, from the 17th Wing Air Force Rangers, finished third.

The key for any sniper is to remain “calm, cool and collected,” Fulmer said. “We’re not going to let up now; this is just the beginning.”

With ever-changing combat environments and the necessity to stay ahead of the adversary, the U.S. Army, as recently as November 2018, awarded contracts for the fielding of the M107 .50-caliber, long-range sniper rifle. These rifles will assist soldiers such as Ivkov and Fulmer continue to take the fight to the enemy.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This was the Army’s fixed-wing recon plane

United States Army Aviation Branch is perhaps best known for revolutionizing the use of helicopters in combat. Whether it’s the highly versatile UH-60 Blackhawk, the extremely lethal AH-64 Apache, or the logistically mighty CH-47 Chinook, Army Aviation seems to be all about the choppers.

But that’s not all they fly. Despite being known for its rotorcraft, the Army has operated fixed-wing aircraft for the last seven decades, including the CV-2/C-7 Caribou and the C-23 Sherpa.

The Army’s operation of fixed-wing aircraft has been a touchy subject ever since the Army-Air Force divorce that followed World War II. Ultimately, this split led to the Key West Agreement of 1948. This agreement laid out the responsibilities of each branch of the United States Armed Forces. In brief, it left airborne combat in the capable hands of the US Air Force, while the US Army would only take to the seas or skies to support the troops on the ground.

But this agreement didn’t leave the Army solely with transports.


Three of the variants of the Mohawk.

(Graphic by Greg Goebel)

The Army also needed aircraft to provide reconnaissance for troops in the fight. The fact was, in the late 1950s, helicopters were fairly fragile and weren’t yet capable of carrying a significant payload. So, the Army turned to fixed-wing planes that could operate from rudimentary conditions.

One such plane was the OV-1 Mohawk, which came in three variants. The OV-1A was intended to operate with regular cameras. The OV-1B used a side-looking aerial radar to locate enemy vehicles. The OV-1C was equipped with infrared sensors to detect enemy forces (both vehicles and personnel) in all weather conditions. Later, the OV-1D was developed, capable of handling any of these systems.

An OV-1D prepares to take off during Operation Desert Storm. Note the side-looking radar underneath the fuselage.

(DOD photo)

The OV-1 entered service in 1959. It had a top speed of 297 miles per hour, a maximum range of 1,678 miles, and a crew of two. It also had a provision for rocket pods and gun pods under the wings. That last provision caused a stir — the Air Force claimed it violated the Key West Agreement. Ultimately, the Army agreed not to arm planes like the Mohawk in return for not having limits on the performance of helicopters.

The Mohawk served for an impressive 35 years, finally retiring in 1996. Some surplus Mohawks are flown at air shows or with private companies, while other have gone to museums.

Watch the Army introduce this historically significant recon plane in the video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cK591X5oEQs

www.youtube.com

MIGHTY TACTICAL

New Army vehicle will outmatch Russian equivalent

The U.S. Army plans to build prototypes in the next several years of a new lightweight Mobile Protected Firepower armored vehicle expected to change land war by outmatching Russian equivalents and bringing a new dimension to advancing infantry as it maneuvers toward enemy attack.


Long-range precision fire, coordinated air-ground assault, mechanized force-on-force armored vehicle attacks, and drone threats are all changing so quickly that maneuvering U.S. Army infantry now needs improved firepower to advance on major adversaries in war, Army leaders explain

“Mobile Protected Firepower helps you because you can get offroad. Mobility can help with lethality and protection because you can hit the adversary before they can disrupt your ability to move,” Rickey Smith, Deputy Chief of Staff, G-9, TRADOC, told Warrior Maven in an interview.

Smith did not elaborate on any precise weight but did stress that the effort intends to find the optimal blend of lethality, mobility, and survivability. Senior Army leaders, however, do say that the new MPF will be more survivable and superior than its Russian equivalent.

The Russian 2S25 Sprut-SD air-transportable light tank, according to Russian news reports, weighs roughly 20 tons and fires a 125mm smoothbore gun. It is designed to attack tanks and support amphibious, air or ground operations. The vehicle has been in service since 2005.

A Russian 2S25 Sprut-SD. (Photo by Vitaly Kuzmin)

“It (U.S. Army MPF) is a light vehicle but not at the expense of the protection that the Russians accept. The level of protection on the vehicle they (the Russians) airdrop is not even close to what we are talking about,” Maj. Gen. David Bassett, former Program Executive Officer, Ground Combat Systems, said last Fall at the Association of the United States Army annual symposium.

In light of these kinds of near-peer adversaries with longer-range sensors, more accurate precision fires and air support for mechanized ground assault, the Army is acutely aware that its maneuvering infantry stands in need of armored, mobile firepower.

Current Abrams tanks, while armed with 120mm cannons and fortified by heavy armor, are challenged to support infantry in some scenarios due to weight and mobility constraints.

Accordingly, Smith explained that Infantry Brigade Combat Teams (IBCTs), expected to operate in a more expansive battlespace, will require deployable, fast-moving close-to-contact direct fire support. This fast-changing calculus, based on knowledge of emerging threats and enemy weapons, informs an Army need to close the threat gap by engineering the MPF vehicle.

While referred to by some as a “light tank,” Army officials specify that plans for the new platform seek to engineer a mobile combat platform able to deploy quickly. The MPF represents an Army push toward more expeditionary warfare and rapid deployability. Therefore, it is no surprise that two MPFs are being built to fit on an Air Force C-17 aircraft.

A C-17 Globemaster III. (USAF photo by Senior Airman Dennis Sloan.)

Rapid deployability is of particular significance in areas such as Europe, where Russian forces, for instance, might be in closer proximity to U.S. or NATO forces.

Tactically speaking, given that IBCTs are likely to face drones armed with precision weapons, armored vehicle columns advancing with long-range targeting technology and artillery, infantry on-the-move needs to have firepower and sensors sufficient to outmatch an advanced enemy.

All of these factors are indicative of how concepts of Combined Arms Maneuver are evolving to account for how different land war is expected to be moving forward. This reality underscores the reason infantry needs tank-like firepower to cross bridges, travel off-road and keep pace with advancing forces.

Designs, specs, and requirements for the emerging vehicle are now being evaluated by Army weapons developers currently analyzing industry submissions in response to a recent Request for Proposal.

The service expects to award two Engineering Manufacturing and Development (EMD) deals by 2019 as part of an initial step to building prototypes from multiple vendors, service officials said. Army statement said initial prototypes are expected within 14 months of a contract award.

Related: The Army wants a new light tank to fill gaps on the battlefield

While requirements and particular material solutions are expected to adjust as the programs move forward, there are some initial sketches of the capabilities the Army seeks for the vehicle.

According to a report from Globalsecurity.org, “the main gun has to be stabilized for on-the-move firing, while the optics and fire control system should support operations at all weather conditions including night operations.”

BAE Systems, General Dynamics Land Systems, and SAIC (partnered with ST Kinetics and CMI) are among the industry competitors seeking to build the new MPF. It is by no means surprising that, given the ongoing competition, industry competitors are reluctant to discuss details of their various offerings.

For the Army, the effort involves what could be described as a dual-pronged acquisition strategy in that it seeks to leverage currently available or fast emerging technology while engineered the vehicle with an architecture such that it can integrate new weapons and systems as they emerge over time.

An estimation of technologies likely to figure prominently in the MPF developmental process leads towards the use of lightweight armor composites, active protection systems, and a new generation of higher-resolution targeting sensors. Smith explained how this initiative is already gaining considerable traction.

An example of an active-protection system. (Image from DRS Technologies)

This includes the rapid incorporation of greater computer automation and AI, designed to enable one sensor to perform the functions of many sensors in real-time. For instance, it’s by no means beyond the imagination to envision high-resolution forward-looking infrared (FLIR) sensors, electromagnetic weapons, and EO-IR cameras operating through a single sensor.

“The science is how do I fuse them together? How do I take multiple optical, infrared, and electromagnetic sensors and use them all at once in real-time ” Smith said.

“If you are out in the desert in an operational setting, infrared alone may be constrained heat so you need all types of sensors together and machines can help us sift through information,” added Smith.

In fact, the Army’s Communications Electronics Research, Development, and Engineering Center (CERDEC) is already building prototype sensors — with this in mind. In particular, this early work is part of a longer-range effort to inform the Army’s emerging Next-Generation Combat Vehicle (NGCV). The NGCV, expected to become an entire fleet of armored vehicles, is now

being explored as something to emerge in the late 2020s or early 2030s.

One of the key technical challenges when it comes to engineering a mobile, yet lethal, weapon is to build a cannon both powerful and lightweight enough to meet speed, lethality and deployability requirements.

Also Read: This is what the Army’s top general wants in a future tank, and it’s straight out of ‘Starship Troopers’

U.S. Army’s Combat Vehicle Modernization Strategy specifically cites the need to bring large caliber cannon technology to lightweight vehicles. Among other things, the strategy cites a lightweight 120mm gun called the XM360 — built for the now-cancelled Future Combat Systems Mounted Combat System. While the weapon is now being thought of as something for NGCV or a future tank variant, its technology bears great relevance to the MPF effort – which seeks to maximize lightweight, mobile firepower.

Special new technology was needed for the XM360 in order to allow a lighter-weight cannon and muzzle to accommodate the blast from a powerful 120mm tank round.

Elements of the XM360 include a combined thermal and environmental shroud, blast deflector, a composite-built overwrapped gun, tube-modular gun-mount, independent recoil brakes, gas-charged recuperators, and a multi-slug slide block breech with an electric actuator, Army MCS developmental documents describe.

For lighter weight vehicles, recoil limitations are overcome by incorporating the larger caliber rarefaction wave gun technology while providing guided, stabilized LOS, course-corrected LOS, and beyond LOS accuracy.

An article in nextBIGFuture cites progress with a technology referred to as rarefaction wave gun technology, or RAVEN. explaining it can involve “combining composite and ceramic technologies with castings of any alloy – for dramatic weight reduction.” The idea is, in part, to develop and demonstrate hybrid component concepts that combine aluminum castings with both polymer matrix composites and ceramics, the report says.

Articles

This Komet was the fastest combat plane of World War II

The P-51 may have been the plane that won the skies over Europe, and the Me-262 and Gloster Meteor may have been the first operational jet fighters on the sides of the Axis and Allies.


But those planes weren’t the fastest. That honor goes to the Me 163 “Komet.”

The Me 163 was short (about 19.5 feet long), with a wingspan of about 30 feet and looks like a miniature version of the B-2 Spirit. It was armed with two Mk 108 30mm cannon intended to rip apart Allied planes and it had a top speed of almost 600 miles per hour.

Me 163 at the Udvar-Hazy National Air and Space Museum. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

So, why isn’t it more well-known? Well, for starters, the way the plane got its speed — by using a rocket engine — tended to burn up a lot of fuel. That gave it a little over seven minutes of powered flight. The short flight time meant the Me 163 really didn’t have much range — about 25 miles.

After the fuel ran out, the Me 163 was an armed, fast glider. When it landed, it had to be towed. That meant it was a sitting duck until help arrived, and Allied pilots would just wait for the plane to start gliding down before putting a burst into it.

A P-47’s gun-camera footage shows a Me 163 just prior to being shot down. (USAF photo)

According to MilitaryFactory.com, despite operating for about 10 months, the Me 163 just didn’t get a lot of kills – anywhere from nine to 16, depending on the estimate. That’s less than one pera month. Furthermore, only one fighter group ever operated the plane, which was also hobbled by a shortage of rocket fuel.

AcePilots.com notes that the Me 163 was also dangerous to fly. The rocket fuel ingredients were very nasty – and when they leaked through the suit, it did bad things to the pilot. It wasn’t unheard of for Me 163s to just explode on landing as residual amounts of fuel would mix.

This Me 163 in Australian hands shows what a Komet looked like after landing. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

For all intents and purposes, the Me 163 was a manned, reusable surface-to-air missile that could make two attacks. Eventually, the Nazis decided to just use an expendable rocket instead of a manned plane for these types of missions.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

China just added another aircraft carrier to its rapidly growing navy

China’s navy is growing at a rapid rate. On Dec. 17, 2019, China commissioned its first homegrown aircraft carrier, the Shandong, into service as part of the People’s Liberation Army Navy, Chinese state media reported.

The new carrier entered service at the naval port in Sanya on the South China Sea island of Hainan. The ship bears the hull number 17.

China joins only a handful of countries that maintain multiple aircraft carriers, but its combat power is still limited compared with the UK’s F-35B stealth-fighter carriers and especially the 11 more advanced carriers fielded by the US.


The Shandong is the Chinese navy’s second carrier after the Liaoning, previously a rusty, unfinished Soviet heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser that was purchased in the mid-1990s, refitted, and commissioned in 2012 to serve as the flagship of the Chinese navy.

The Liaoning.

The Shandong is an indigenously produced variation of its predecessor. It features improvements like an upgraded radar and the ability to carry 36 Shenyang J-15 fighters, 12 more than the Liaoning can carry.

Construction of a third aircraft carrier is believed to be underway at China’s Jiangnan Shipyard, satellite photos revealed earlier this year.

China’s first and second carriers are conventionally powered ships with ski-jump-assisted short-take-off-barrier-arrested-recovery launch systems, which are less effective than the catapults the US Navy uses on its Nimitz- and Ford-class carriers.

The third aircraft carrier is expected to be a true modern flattop with a larger flight deck and catapult launchers.

A J-15 taking off from Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning.

“This design will enable it to support additional fighter aircraft, fixed-wing early-warning aircraft, and more rapid flight operations,” the US Department of Defense wrote in its most recent report on China’s military power.

The US Navy has 10 Nimitz-class carriers in service, and it is developing a new class of carrier. The USS Gerald R. Ford is undergoing postdelivery tests and trials, and the future USS John F. Kennedy, the second of the new Ford-class carriers, was recently christened at Newport News Shipyard in Virginia.

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