These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield

While infantry carries the title of “Queen of the Battle,” it’s the artillery that’s king. It strikes over vast distances, hits with a lot of force, and remains mobile and accurate. Here are 18 photos of these awesome weapons and their crews:


1. Artillery belches smoke and fire every time it shoots a round.

 

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
Photo: US Marine Corps Cpl. Ali Azimi

2. When crews emplace the weapons, they anchor them to the ground and set up aiming aids to ensure rounds go exactly where they should.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
Photo: US Army Spc. Nathaniel Mercado

3. While the gun crews are emplacing the cannons, other artillerymen move the rounds to the firing point and prepare them for action.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Daniel Love

4. Different guns have different muzzle velocities, but most can fire rounds at over 1,500 feet per second.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
Photo: US Marine Corps Cpl. Matthew Manning

5. Between shots, crew members quickly remove the spent casing and load a new round.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
Photo: US Army 1st Lt. Zachary Kohl

6. Between shots on 155mm howitzers, the gun is swabbed out. (The white-tipped rod in the left of the photo is the swab.)

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
Photo: US Marine Corps Cpl. Ali Azimi

7. The guns are often towed around the battlefield behind vehicles, but can also be flown to firing points.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Freeman

8. Even UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters can fly the guns around.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
Photo: US Army 1st Lt. Travis Mueller

9. When they need to travel long distances, the artillerymen can throw their guns out of the backs of planes (with parachutes).

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
Photo: US Army Capt. Joe Bush

10. Some artillery units have self-propelled guns with light armor.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
Photo: Capt. Alex Aquino

11. They’re highly mobile, but still put on an awesome light show.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Jon Cupp

12. Back in the day, the Navy’s artillery moved quickly as well, provided there was plenty of water.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
Photo: US Navy

13. Night fires light up the darkness.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Annette B. Andrews

14. Maneuver units can request illumination rounds from artillery, giving them plenty of light with which to see.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
Photo: US Army National Guard Sgt. Joshua S. Edwards

15. Modern artillery carries a lot more than just cannons. Multiple-Launch Rocket Systems can fire a dozen rockets each.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
Photo: US Air Force Senior Airman Duane Duimstra

16. MLRS can put on its own amazing light show.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Carlos R. Davis

17. Also back in the day, the U.S. Army fielded atomic artillery that could launch rounds with .5 to 15-kiloton yields.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
Photo: US Federal Archives

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SOCOM wants drugs to turn its K9s into super dogs

Officials in charge of equipping America’s top commando units are looking for some high-tech drugs to help boost the performance if their 150 “multi-purpose canines.”


According to news reports, U.S. Special Operations Command wants to find pharmaceutical products or nutritional supplements that will enhance canine hearing, eyesight and other senses.

Think of it as a “Q” for America’s four-legged special operators.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
Military Working Dog Toby, 23d Security Forces Squadron, prepares for an MWD demonstration, Feb. 2, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Ttoby is a Belgian Malinois and specializes in personnel protection and detecting explosives. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Zachary Wolf)

According to an official solicitation for the Performance Enhancing Drugs, SOCOM is looking for a product or combination of products that will do the following:

  • Increase endurance
  • Improve a dog’s ability to regulate body temperature
  • Improve hydration
  • Improve acclimatization to acute extremes in temperature, altitude, and/or time zone changes
  • Increase the speed of recovery from strenuous work
  • Improve hearing
  • Improve vision
  • Improve scent
  • Decrease adverse effects due to blood loss.

SOCOM’s military working dogs have been front and center on several top commando raids — with the most famous being Cairo, a Belgian Malinois who joined SEAL Team 6 in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield

SOCOM, though, is also looking to neutralize enemy K9s through what another solicitation calls “canine response inhibitors.”

Now, during the Vietnam War, the preferred “canine response inhibitor” was known as the “Hush Puppy.” But these days SOCOM is looking for some less permanent methods, including:

  • Inhibit barking, howling, and whining
  • Inhibit hearing
  • Inhibit vision
  • Inhibit scent
  • Induce unconsciousness
  • Induce movement away from the area where the effects are deployed

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Julia A. Casper

Like the performance enhancers, the “canine response inhibitors” could also be used outside the military.

So, the company or companies that win the hearts and minds of SOCOM’s puppies could catch a huge break.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

That time Chile used a US Navy hand-me-down to bail out Canada

Ships are often handed down from one nation’s navy to another. More often than not, the countries responsible for passing ships along are leading naval powers, like the United States, France, or the United Kingdom. Usually, the ships that get handed down are warships, but recently, the U.S. Navy gave up a replenishment oiler, which ended up going halfway across the world — and then came back.


The Henry J. Kaiser-class oiler, USNS Andrew J. Higgins (T-AO 190), named after the man who designed the famous “Higgins boat,” entered service in 1987. In 1996, after less than a decade of service, she was laid up in reserve for 12 years, part of the post-Cold War drawdown, before the George W. Bush administration offered her to Chile.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield

USNS Andrew J.Higgins (T-AO 190) during her service with the United States Navy.

(US Navy)

Originally, there were plans to build 18 Henry J. Kaiser-class oilers. Two of these, the planned Benjamin Isherwood (T-AO 191) and Henry Eckford (T-AO 192), were halted when nearly complete. Of the remaining 16 vessels, 15 still serve in the United States Navy. In 2010, the USNS Andrew J. Higgins was renamed the Almirante Montt as she was commissioned into the Chilean Navy.

These oilers can hold up to 180,000 barrels of fuel — that’s a lot when you consider that each barrel holds 42 gallons. They have a top speed of 20 knots, a range of 6,000 nautical miles, and have a crew of 86 merchant mariners and 23 Navy personnel. And, to make sure they can keep all that oil, it can be equipped with two Mk 15 Phalanx close-in weapon systems and also pack a pair of M2 .50-caliber machine guns.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield

The Almirante Montt refuels the Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigate USS Boone (FFG 28) in 2011, shortly after entering Chilean service.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Steve Smith)

Chile maintains a rather prominent navy in South America. For a while, it operated a pair of Brooklyn-class light cruisers alongside a Swedish cruiser. These days, their Navy centers on a mix of former British and Dutch frigates, as well as German-designed submarines.

The Almirante Montt has not exclusively stayed south of the equator. In 2014, Canada got rid of its Protecteur-class replenishment oilers before their replacements could enter service. So, they signed a deal with Chile. In 2015, 2016, and 2017, this Chilean oiler went north to keep the Royal Canadian Navy’s at-sea refueling skills sharp.

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How the tough-as-nails OV-10 Bronco landed on a carrier

Sure, we all love the “Brrrrrt” of America’s A-10 Warthog — the legendary close air support plane that’s become the terror of Taliban insurgents and Iraqi bad guys alike.


These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
This photo shows a row of OV-10 Broncos parked on the deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Saipan. (WATM photo)

But before the A-10 was the OV-10 Bronco. And while not a 100 percent close air support plane and tank killer like the A-10, the Bronco could deliver it’s own version of hurt when soldiers and Marines were in a pinch.

It’s rugged, powerful and can land just about anywhere with its beefed-up landing gear and high wing. In fact, it was even tested aboard the carrier USS John F. Kennedy in 1968 — without arresting gear.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
Check out that smokin’ gear!

Since it was retired in the 1995, the OV-10 has experienced a bit of a resurgence these days, with many in the special operations community, Army and Marine Corps calling for a “low and slow” light attack aircraft that can carry more, fly faster and orbit for longer than a helicopter, at a lot less cost than a sophisticated fighter like the F-35 Lightning II or even the aging A-10.

Heck, it even has a small cargo bay for gear and troops.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
No cat? No problem…

While there are other options out there, the OV-10 had been in the post-Vietnam inventory for years and still has a solid following in the services. In fact, U.S. special operations troops tested a NASA-owned Bronco recently for several of its missions and, according to an active duty aviator with knowledge of the tests, they loved it.

And if the Marine Corps or Navy says the OV-10 isn’t for them because it can’t land on a carrier? Well, here’s the evidence that it can.

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5 rare survival rifles designed for Air Force crews that crash in the wilderness

On Dec. 21, 1943, Lt. Leon Crane was conducting a flyover of the Alaska interior when one of the engines of his B-24 Liberator malfunctioned and caused the aircraft to spiral out of control. Crane grabbed a parachute and dove from the open bomb bay doors into the frigid Alaska wilderness, the lone survivor of the crew.

Despite his initial good fortune, Crane would endure another 84 days in the wilderness before being rescued. Initially, Crane had only a Boy Scout knife and some matches as survival equipment and fashioned a makeshift bow to hunt game. The bow was largely ineffective, and after nine days of failed hunts, Crane was nearly dead. 

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Lt. Leon Crane survived over 80 days in the Alaska wilderness after his B-24 crashed on a training flight. His ordeal inspired the Air Force to issue survival rifles to aircrews. Picture courtesy of University of Alaska-Anchorage Archives.

He set out and, by luck, managed to find a trapper cabin that had food, supplies, and most importantly a rifle. Crane used this rifle to hunt game, which sustained him long enough to be rescued. Had he not found a firearm, he surely would have perished in the brutal Alaska interior. 

Firearms are important tools when it comes to survival. Used for both sustenance and defense, a rifle can be the defining factor for surviving long stretches in the wilderness. The United States Air Force has made many attempts over the years at providing aircrews with a rifle suitable for such a task, and we’ve compiled a list of some of those purpose-built survival rifles.

Here are five survival rifles used by Air Force crews. 

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Savage Model 24, first introduced as the Stevens 22-410. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

1. Savage-Stevens Model 22-410 — A combination rifle utilized by the US Army Air Corps as a survival weapon for aircrews during World War II. Introduced in 1938, the basic model in .22 LR over .410 gauge weighed 7 pounds and had two 24-inch barrels, with an overall length of 41 inches. The upper rifle barrel could also be chambered in .22 WMR, .22 Hornet, .222 Rem., .223 Rem., .30-30 Win., .357 Magnum, or .357 Max; the lower shotgun barrel, in 20 or 12 gauge. 

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
Harrington and Richardson M4. Photo courtesy of Curiosandrelics/Wikimedia Commons.

2. Harrington and Richardson M4 — Designed after World War II, this bolt-action .22 rifle was specifically developed as a survival weapon for downed aircrews to utilize for hunting small game. In an attempt to optimize the firearm for storage on an aircraft, the M4 was fitted with a removable 14-inch barrel and utilized a sliding wire buttstock similar to that on the M3 “Grease Gun.” With the stock collapsed and the barrel removed, the overall length was less than 14 inches and its overall weight was approximately 4 pounds.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
M6 survival rifle, chambered for both shot and .22 rounds. Photo courtesy of Armémuseum/Creative Commons.

3. M6 — In 1952 the Air Force approached the Ithaca Gun Company with a request for a new survival weapon for its aircrews and was presented with the M6. A combination rifle similar to the Stevens 22-410 but with a modern construction similar to the M4’s, the M6 was built predominantly of stamped steel and featured two 14-inch barrels. It had a “trigger bar” under the wrist to allow firing while wearing heavy gloves and a storage compartment in the stock for spare .410 shotshells and .22 rounds.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
Armalite AR-5. The rifle can be broken down and stored in the buttstock, and it floats. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

4. AR-5 — The AR-5 is a lightweight bolt-action takedown rifle, chambered in .22 Hornet, that Armalite developed for the Air Force in 1954. The Air Force put out a request for a compact and lightweight rifle to outfit survival kits for its new XB-70 manned bomber, as the M4 and M6 rifles were no longer in production. It officially adopted the AR-5 in 1956. The rifle was made from lightweight plastics and aluminum alloys, and all working parts could be broken down and stored within the hollow plastic buttstock. When stowed in this manner, the rifle was able to float. Unfortunately, the XB-70 fleet was canceled, and the Air Force never received funding for more than a dozen test models of this rifle. 

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
USAF GAU-5, broken down for attachment to ejection seats. Photo courtesy of US Air Force.

5. GAU-5A Aircrew Self Defense Weapon — Known as the GAU-5A, the 7-pound, semi-automatic rifle is similar to the M4 carbine and was designed by the Air Force Gunsmith Shop as additional firepower for downed aircrew. This compact and capable rifle is able to be broken down to fit in an aircraft ejection seat survival kit (in a compartment measuring 16 by 14 by 3.5 inches) with four spare magazines. It can be assembled and fired in 60 seconds with no tools. The rifle utilizes standard 5.56 mm rounds and is capable of hitting a man-sized target at 200 meters.

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The F-4 Phantom was inspired by this fighter

The McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom was a legend with over 50 years of service with the United States (yes, this included its service as a target drone). But every classic design has been inspired by something somewhere in the past.


These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield

In the case of the F-4 Phantom, the inspiration was the McDonnell F-101 Voodoo. What did this old century-series fighter end up contributing to the classic plane that saw action in Southeast Asia and the Middle East? Believe it or not, it was the engine placement. The first version of the Voodoo, the XF-88, was intended as a long-range escort fighter (beating out the Lockheed F-90). The F-101, the version the Air Force actually bought, was seen as a long-range interceptor fighter-bomber and recon bird.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
A McDonnell F-101B Voodoo. (USAF photo)

How did they get that long range? The XF-88 and F-101 put the engines low in the fuselage. This added a lot of space for fuel storage – and that gave the plane long range. That helped with the XF-88’s mission of bomber escort, and the F-101’s mission of being a fighter-bomber, interceptor, and reconnaissance plane also was given a boost.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
Missile bay where the F-101 carried AIM-4 Falcons. (Wikimedia Commons photo by Wiarthurhu)

According to MilitaryFactory.com, the F-101 had a top speed of 1,221 miles per hour, a maximum range of 1,550 miles, and was armed with three M39 20mm cannon, up to six AIM-4 Falcon missiles, a combination of AIR-2 Genie rockets and AIM-4 Falcons, or conventional or nuclear bombs.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
CF-101 Voodoo. (Wikimedia Commons photo by Bzuk)

The F-101 was a classic plane. It entered service in 1957, and was still in some Air National Guard units in 1983 — a 26-year service career in the United States. The plane’s long range made it a good fit for Canada as well. The Republic of China on Taiwan also acquired these planes. You can see more about this long-serving inspiration for the F-4 below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sRTNSGIttU
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Here’s how DARPA’s Gremlins are going to change strike warfare forever

DARPA wants “gremlins” to fly out of the bellies of C-130s or other large planes, assist jets in bombing missions, and then return to their motherships for the flight home in order to be ready for another mission within 24 hours.


These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
Illustration: Defense Advanced Research Project Agency

The gremlins are semi-autonomous drones that would hunt targets and find air defenses ahead of an attack by a piloted fighter or bomber. In some cases, the gremlins could even find and identify targets that their motherships would engage with low-cost cruise missiles.

Some of the drones could be configured as electronic warfare platforms, hiding themselves and the other aircraft from enemy air defenses or jamming the enemy radar altogether.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
GIF: YouTube/DARPAtv

A typical mission would play out like this: A stealth jet would approach unfriendly airspace ahead of the gremlins’ mothership. The drones would launch and proceed ahead of the jet into hostile territory, seeking out enemy air defenses and mission objectives on the ground.

The jet pilots would then use the intelligence from the gremlins to decide how to engage the target, either with weapons on the jet or with cruise missiles from the mission truck that is still flying just outside of the enemy air defenses. Once the bombs or missiles take out the radar, other aircraft can now force their way into the country while the drones fly back into the mothership.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
GIF: YouTube/DARPAtv

Four companies were recently awarded phase 1 contracts for the project and are tasked with designing launch and retrieval systems for the gremlins. Phase 2 involves the creation of a preliminary design of the drone itself and phase 3 will requires that manufacturers create a functioning prototype.

The drones would be “limited-life” aircraft and fly approximately 20 missions each before being retired. Their downtime between missions would need to be 24 hours or less.

If everything comes together, the gremlins will be part of DARPA’s “System of Systems” project. The idea is a new weapons system that would work with different aircraft as time went on. So, the gremlins could fly from C-130s in support of F-22s and F-35s now, then support new aircraft as they’re added to the U.S. military arsenal.

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What do you get when you cross an AK-47, an M-16 and a…bottle opener?

In 1967, Israel fought the Six-Day War. Also known as the June War, the Israeli Defense Force was armed with the FN FAL battle rifle against the AK-47s of the Arab coalition. In the desert sand and dust, the Israeli FALs were prone to jamming and malfunctions. Moreover, the rifle was considered long and heavy. Israel needed a new rifle.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
Israeli soldiers armed with the FAL (Public Domain)

In the 1960s, America was replacing France as Israel’s primary ally and weapons supplier. The Israelis were offered the M16A1 to replace the FAL. While the new rifle was lighter and accurate, early M16s (and the accompanying ammunition) were not reliable enough for the IDF.

During the Six-Day War, Israel captured thousands of AKs. The IDF found that the stories of the rifle’s legendary reliability were true, but found its accuracy lacking. What they needed was a weapon that combined the accuracy of the M16 with the reliability of the AK-47.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
An Israeli soldier with a Galil ARM (Public Domain)

Uziel Gal, designer and namesake of the iconic Uzi submachine gun, submitted a design for the new rifle. However, it was determined to be too complex and unreliable. Yisrael Galil, a British Army veteran of WWII, entered a competing design.

Galil’s rifle was based on the Finnish Valmet Rk 62. The Valmet uses the same 7.62x39mm cartridge as the AK-47 and is based on the Polish licensed version of the AK. However, Galil modified the Valmet to fire the 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge from the M16. Not only was the smaller American round more accurate, but it was readily available to Israel from the United States. The rifle, named Galil after its designer, was declared the winner and Israel’s new primary rifle.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
Gotta give the troops what they need

Designed for the specific needs of Israeli soldiers, the standard service rifle version issued to infantry units had some special features. Designated as the Automatic Rifle Machine-gun variant, the Galil ARM was fitted with a bipod. This allowed troops to fire the weapon from a more steady position in the prone. The bipod hinge also functioned as a wire cutter. This reduced the time needed for IDF troops to cut through the wire fences common in rural Israel. Finally, the bipod latch could be used as a bottle opener. Civilian reservists often used the magazine feed lips of the Uzi to open bottles which resulted in damaged magazines. The Galil came with a bottle opener built right in to prevent this.

However, in 1973, Israel was caught off guard with the Yom Kippur War. The Arab coalition launched coordinated surprise attacks on the Jewish holiday and the IDF was forced to rapidly mobilize. This war delayed the production and issuance of the Galil. Additionally, most Israeli conscripts preferred the lighter, but less reliable, M16.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
The manual showing the Galil’s wire-cutting and bottle-opening capabilities (IWI)

By 1975, 60,000 M16A1s from the United States were issued to the IDF. Compared with the high cost of domestically producing the Galil, the M16 was simply a better option to arm the majority of the IDF. The introduction of the even lighter, more versatile, and more reliable M4 and new 5.56x45mm NATO ammo sealed the Galil’s fate and it was phased out of standard-issue by 2000.

Although its use by the IDF was limited, the Galil saw extensive service overseas. Many third world countries adopted the Galil in 5.56x45mm NATO or 7.62x51mm NATO for its rugged reliability and use of NATO ammo. Licensed as the Vektor R4, the Galil is a favorite of the South African military and police. The Galil was even reportedly used by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department SWAT Team in California. The Galil ACE is a modernized version of the rifle that comes in more calibers and configurations than its predecessor. The ACE has been adopted by the Chilean Army and People’s Army of Vietnam. However, it lacks the famous bipod with its wire cutter and bottle opener.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
IDF troops trains with the Galil (IDF)

Feature Image: United States Marine Corps photo

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You’d better get used to the M4 carbine because it’s here to stay

When Eugene Stoner first introduced his aluminum and plastic Armalite rifle that would later become the basis for the M16 and M4, he scarcely could have imagined his little black rifle would still be in the hands of infantrymen more than 50 years later. Yet, after dozens of conflicts, Stoner’s lightweight automatic rifle persists — though it’s been modernized along the way.


The M16 evolved into the M16A1 all the way through M16A4 before being retired to non-frontline units. But along the way a shorter, handier carbine version was introduced. The earliest version of the M4 that featured most of the telltale aspects of the design was the CAR-15 SMG. Despite being labeled a submachine gun, the CAR-15 SMG still used the 5.56mm cartridge.

The SMG featured an overly-complex (yet functional) collapsible stock, shortened barrel and fixed carry handle. The biggest difference between early versions of the M16 and modern variations is modularity. Older models needed either modification, or special components to attach accessories like tac lights, lasers or optics. Yet underneath the anodized aluminum shell of every M4, lies the original M16.

Why does this matter? Because it shows that the M4 (in one form or another) is here to stay. It may evolve and grow, but the rifle itself will likely only leave U.S. service when something truly revolutionary emerges. Not a different rifle, nor a different caliber, but a different method of launching projectiles than smokeless powder altogether.

Imagine the cost and logistical nightmare of replacing all M4 rifles in service with all branches of the military. The price would be staggering. And that’s largely why the Army balked at replacing the M4 several years ago — too expensive, and not enough of a “leap” in technology to justify the cost.

The only way Congress would green light a true replacement weapon system is if something arrived that instantly made all modern firearms obsolete.

What would that weapon be? It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what that might look like, but it’s reasonably simple to determine what it wouldn’t do – launch solid projectiles.

First on the chopping block – solid or liquid-fueled rockets. Sounds obvious, but inventor Robert Mainhardt successfully built a series guns that fired small rockets known as microjets back in the late 1950s. While the rifles (really launchers) had many issues, the core problem that could never be solved is the lack of velocity close to the muzzle.

Whereas gunpowder-propelled bullets are at their peak velocity at the muzzle of the barrel, rockets accelerate much more slowly. So at close range the rounds would be ineffective. Add to this the complex nature of the round’s construction and the limited magazine capacity due to projectile size, and any weapon utilizing these rounds is objectively inferior to the M4.

What about magnets? The concept of a railgun isn’t new and has been around since the World War I, and the German air force even designed anti-aircraft batteries of railguns in WWII – but these never even reached prototype status. The biggest issue has been power supply, the large magnets required to launch projectiles at hypersonic speeds consume insane amounts of energy.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
One of two electromagnetic railgun prototypes on display aboard joint high speed vessel USS Millinocket (JHSV 3) in port at Naval Base San Diego. The railguns are being displayed in San Diego as part of the Electromagnetic Launch Symposium, which brought together representatives from the U.S. and allied navies, industry and academia to discuss directed energy technologies. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristopher Kirsop/Released)

Modern physicists and engineers have successfully developed methods of magnetic propulsion that don’t require as much power, and have made railguns feasible. So feasible that railguns are currently being developed by the US Navy with one slated to deploy on a vessel this year.

For the uninitiated, the advantage of these guns over traditional cannons or guided missiles has to do with the incredible velocities of the projectiles themselves. When the Army worked alongside the University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Electromagnetics, they found that railguns could fire a 4-pound tungsten rod at nearly two miles per second, or 6,840 mph. At this velocity, the round not only defeats the armor of a main battle tank like the M1 Abrams, it passes clean through both sides.

Sounds great, but currently the technology isn’t capable of being scaled down for use by individual soldiers. Also, the amount of power required still isn’t man-portable with current battery technology. Though even if it were, railguns are currently single-shot weapons, making them inferior to the M4 in close combat or urban fighting.

So what is the likely replacement for the M4? As crazy as it sounds, a directed energy weapon. Think more Star Trek than Star Wars – weaponized lasers would offer an enormous advantages over solid projectile firearms and cannons.

One of the largest benefits of a laser weapon would be velocity. With your beam traveling at the speed of sound and being relatively unaffected by gravity. So hitting a distant target wouldn’t require adjusting for wind or drop. But that’s impossible, right?

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
The Afloat Forward Staging Base (Interim) USS Ponce (ASB(I) 15) conducts an operational demonstration of the Office of Naval Research (ONR)-sponsored Laser Weapon System (LaWS) while deployed to the Arabian Gulf. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)

Actually, the United States and Israel have been developing and deploying a Tactical High Energy Laser for more than a decade. Israel’s IDF even used the THEL to shoot down 28 incoming Katyusha rockets in 2000. Like the railgun, the THEL is currently far too massive and consumes too much power to be man-portable. But, the same thing was said about computers only a few decades ago. Who knows, maybe the M5A2 laser carbine is only a decade away.

Until then, the US military is stuck with upgrading, tweaking and tuning the M4 carbine. It might not be bleeding edge tech, but the old warhorse still accurately slings lead further than most soldiers can see, and it doesn’t weigh a ton.

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There’s a new space race heating up, and the military’s being left behind

For the first time since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011, NASA says it may soon have the capability to send astronauts to the International Space Station from U.S. soil.


Critical milestones are on the horizon for Boeing and SpaceX, the space agency’s commercial crew partners: Flight tests of their spacecraft, including crewed missions, are planned for 2018.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
The 45th Space Wing supported SpaceX’s launch of the twelfth Commercial Resupply Services mission (CRS-12) from Launch Complex 39A Aug. 14, 2017, at 12:31 p.m. EDT. (Courtesy photo by SpaceX)

That’s launched something of a “new space race” at the Kennedy Space Center, officials said.

“We have invested a lot as a center, as a nation into Kennedy Space Center to ready us for that next 50 years of spaceflight and beyond,” saidTom Engler, the center’s director of planning and development. “You see the dividends of that now, these commercial companies buying into what we’re doing.”

The public-private partnership is transforming Kennedy Space Center into a multiuser spaceport. NASA is developing the Space Launch System and the Orion spacecraft for missions to deep space, including to Mars, leaving private companies to send people to low Earth orbit.

Boeing is building the CST-100 Starliner, a spacecraft that will send astronauts to the space station, in a hangar once used to prepare space shuttles for flight. Three Starliners are in production, including one that will fly astronauts next year.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
The 45th Space Wing supported SpaceX’s successful launch of a Falcon 9 Dragon spacecraft headed to the International Space Station from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station April 8 at 4:43 p.m. ET. This is the seventh major launch operation for the Eastern Range this year, and this launch is the eighth contracted mission by SpaceX under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract. (Courtesy photo by SpaceX)

“If Mars is the pinnacle of Mount Everest, low Earth orbit is base camp. The commercial companies are the sherpas that haul things there,” saidChris Ferguson, a former NASA astronaut and director of crew and mission operations at Boeing. “It opens up a whole new world of business.”

SpaceX, which flies cargo missions to the space station with its Dragon spacecraft, has modified an old shuttle launch pad for its Falcon 9 rockets, which the company has successfully reused. It plans to use Dragon 2, a new version of the spacecraft, to send astronauts to the space station.

Blue Origin, founded by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, is building a rocket factory; it also plans to launch its rockets from Cape Canaveral.

Boeing and United Launch Alliance built a crew access tower so astronauts can board the Starliner. The Atlas V, one of the world’s most reliable rockets, will launch the spacecraft and its astronauts.

“This is really the Apollo era for the next generation,” said Shannon Coggin, a production integration specialist at United Launch Alliance. “This is inspiring this next generation to fall in love with space again, to really test their boundaries and us paving their way for the future of commercial space exploration.”

To meet NASA’s requirements, Boeing and SpaceX must demonstrate their systems are ready to begin regular flights to the space station.SpaceX’s first flight test is scheduled for February. Boeing’s is scheduled for June.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This little Flyer can deliver a squad of troops at 95 miles per hour

Let’s face it, troops often need to move fast and take all their gear with them. At a time when combat loads can weigh as much as 200 pounds, according to a report from the Modern War Institute, that can be tricky.


But some countries are trying to help troops take the load off.

According to information from General Dynamics, there are some lightweight vehicles that could help troops make those fast moves. While they are officially called the Family of Light Tactical Vehicles, they are called “Flyers” by the troops.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
The Flyer 72, showing the GAU-19. (Photo from General Dynamics)

There are two versions of the Flyer in this family: the Flyer 60, and the Flyer 72. While both of them use a 195-horsepower engine, and both are capable of fording 30 inches of water without preparation, there are some big differences.

Let’s take a look at the Flyer 60 first. According to GD, the Flyer 60 has a top speed of 70 miles per hour and can travel up to 350 miles. It can carry up to four passengers, plus a gunner, or can be used to hold five litters. It can carry up to 3,000 pounds of cargo, and has a turret for a M2 .50-caliber machine gun, a 7.62mm machine gun, a 40mm automatic grenade launcher, or a remote weapon system.

Its rear doors also hold swing mounts for 7.62mm machine guns or 5.56mm machine guns. It can be transported inside a V-22, CH-47, C-130, or C-17.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
A Flyer 60 with a M2 heavy machine gun. This vehicle can be carried in a V-22 Osprey like the one in the background. (Photo by General Dynamics)

The Flyer 72, though, can do more. About a foot wider than the Flyer 60 (72 inches wide to 60 inches wide), the Flyer 72 can carry up to nine troops. It has a top speed of 95 miles per hour, can go as far as 500 miles, and can be carried in a CH-47, C-130, or C-17. While it can’t be hauled by the V-22 Osprey, it does have more firepower options for its turret, adding the GAU-19, a three-barreled Gatling gun (bringing .50-caliber BRRRRRT!) and a 30mm cannon to the M2, 7.62mm machine gun, the 40mm automatic grenade launcher, and the remote weapon system.

These vehicles, though, aren’t street legal. But it’s nice to know that troops have them available as options when they have to move fast to an objective.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Watch F-35s in ‘beast mode’ on a war mission in the Middle East

Two F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters recently flew a mission in the Middle East in “beast mode,” meaning they were loaded up with as much firepower as they could carry.

The F-35s with the 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron took off from Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates to execute a mission in support of US forces in Afghanistan, Air Forces Central Command said. The fifth-generation fighters sacrificed their high-end stealth to fly with full loadouts of weaponry on their wings.


“Beast mode,” the carrying of weapons internally and externally to boost the overall firepower of the aircraft, is also known as the “Third Day of War” configuration. At the start of a fight, the F-35 would store all of its weapons internally to maintain low observability, as the external weapons would likely increase the surfaces that enemy radar could detect.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield

An F-35A Lightning II in “beast mode” during an operation in support of US forces in Afghanistan in May 2019.

(US Air Force)

The fighters carried six GBU-49 Paveway laser-guided precision bombs and two AIM-9X Sidewinder infrared-tracking short-range air-to-air missiles externally. Air Forces Central Command released a video on Friday of 380th Expeditionary Maintenance Group teams loading the weapons onto the jets.

US Air Forces deployed the F-35A to the Middle East, the US Central Command area of responsibility, for the first time in April 2019. The aircraft flew their first sortie on April 26, 2019.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield

A F-35A Lightning II.

(US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chris Thornbury)

Four days later, the F-35s, which were pulled from the active-duty 388th Fighter Wing and Reserve 419th Fighter Wing, conducted a strike in Wadi Ashai, Iraq. The mission, carried out in support of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve marked the F-35A’s first combat mission, according to the US Air Force.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Marines get a tank-killer upgrade just in time for Christmas

Let’s face it, when the Army bought the Stryker, in one sense, they were really just catching up with the Marines, who were making an 8×8 wheeled, armored vehicle work for quite a while. Now, though, the Marines are getting a new system for one variant of their Light Armored Vehicles, the LAV-AT, which will make them even deadlier and easier to maintain.


According to a release by Marine Corps Systems Command, the LAV-ATM project gives this version of the LAV a new turret. The LAV will still be firing the BGM-71 Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided missile.

Don’t be surprised that the TOW is still around – the BGM-71’s latest versions could be lethal against Russia’s Armata main battle tank.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
A Light Armored Vehicle Anti-Tank Modernization A2 model sits under an awning at Production Plant Barstow, Marine Depot Maintenance Command, aboard the Yermo Annex of Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif., June 15. The turret atop the LAV-ATM is a Modified Target Acquisition System, MTAS, containing a state of the art rocket launcher designed to be more quickly deployed on target with fewer mechanical parts. The MTAS replaces the more than 30 year old Emerson 901 turret. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

“Compared to the legacy version, the new turret is unmanned, it fires both wire-guided and radio frequency TOW missiles, and it can acquire targets while on-the-move with an improved thermal sight,” said Jim Forkin, Program Manager’s Office LAV-ATM team lead.

“The turret is important because it protects Marines and gives them an enhanced capability that they didn’t have before,” Chief Warrant Officer 4 Michael S. Lovell, Ordinance Vehicle Maintenance officer, PM LAV team, explained.

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
A Marine tests the enhanced vision capability—part of an upgrade to the Light Armored Vehicle’s Anti-Tank Weapon System—during new equipment training Sept. 18-29, at Camp Pendleton, Calif. Marine Corps Systems Command completed its first fielding of four upgraded ATWS in September. (United States Marine Corps photo)

The new LAV also makes maintenance easier with an on-board trouble-shooting system that allows operators and maintenance personnel conduct checks on the systems involved with the vehicle and turret. Learning how to use the new turret takes about one week each for operators and maintainers. The Marines have also acquired 3D computer technology to enhance the training on the new LAV-AT.

But the real benefit of the turret is that “Marines who serve as anti-tank gunners will be able to do their job better,” according to Chief Warrant Officer Lovell. “We’re providing a product that gives Marines an enhanced anti-tank capability improving their forward reconnaissance and combined arms fire power on the battlefield.”

These 17 photos show why artillery is king of the battlefield
3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion Marines operate a Light-Armored Vehicle equipped with a new Anti-Tank weapons system to their next objective during testing at range 500 aboard the Combat Center, Feb. 16, 2015. The testing of the new system began Feb. 9 and is scheduled to end March 8. (Official Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo)

Enemy tanks will hopefully be unavailable for comment on these enhancements.

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