Army will get first light tank prototypes in 2020 - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

Army will get first light tank prototypes in 2020

The U.S. Army awarded contracts Dec. 17, 2018, to two defense firms to build prototypes of a new lightweight tank to give infantry units the firepower to destroy hardened enemy targets.

The service awarded General Dynamics Land Systems Inc. and BAE Systems Land & Armaments LP with what’s known as Middle Tier Acquisition (Section 804) contracts worth up to $376 million each to produce prototypes of the Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) system.


The two companies will build 12 prototypes each and begin delivering them to the Army in about 14 months so testing can begin in spring 2020. The goal is to down-select to a winner by fiscal 2022 and begin fielding the first of 504 of these lightweight tanks sometime in fiscal 2025.

“This capability is much needed in our infantry forces,” Brig. Gen. Ross Coffman, director of the Next Generation Combat Vehicle Cross Functional Team, told reporters at the Pentagon on Dec. 17, 2018.

Army will get first light tank prototypes in 2020

MGM-51 Shillelagh Anti-tank missile fired from M551 Sheridan light tank.

“As we close with the enemy, at this time, there is artillery — which is area fires that can be used — but there is no precision munition to remove bunkers from the battlefield and to shoot into buildings in dense urban terrain to allow infantryman to close with the enemy,” he said.

The MPF concept emerged several years ago when maneuver leaders started calling for a lightweight, armored platform armed with a large enough cannon to destroy hardened targets for light infantry forces. The idea was to field it to airborne units for forced-entry operations.

Parachute infantry battalions can be used to seize airfields as an entry point for heavier follow-on forces. Airborne forces, however, lack the staying power of Stryker and mechanized infantry.

The 82nd Airborne Division was equipped with the M551 Sheridan Armored Reconnaissance Airborne Assault Vehicle until the mid-1990s. Developed during the Vietnam War, the Sheridan resembled a light tank and featured a 152mm main gun capable of firing standard ammunition or the MGM-51 Shillelagh anti-tank missile.

The MPF, however, will not be air-droppable, Coffman said, explaining that Air Force C-17 Globemasters will carry two MPFs each and air-land them after an airfield has been secured.

Army will get first light tank prototypes in 2020

A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III T-1 flies over Owens Valley, California, for a test sortie.

(US Air Force photo)

Army requirements call for the MPF to be armed with a 105mm or possibly a 120mm cannon and rely on tracks to maneuver over terrain so it can keep up with advancing infantry, Coffman said.

GDLS and BAE beat out SAIC and its partner ST Kinetics, but Army officials would not comment on the reason the winners were chosen.

“This is an integration of mature technology. The vehicles don’t exist, but the technologies — the pieces, the systems, the subsystems — they do exist,” said David Dopp, project manager for MPF.

The plan is to conduct developmental testing to assess the prototypes’ mobility, survivability, and lethality.

“So these have a long-range precision weapon system on them, so over … several kilometers, how well do they perform? How lethal are they?” Coffman said. “They are going to take a couple of these vehicles out, and they are going to shoot them with likely enemy caliber munitions. They are going to see which ones can absolutely protect our soldiers.”

The Army then will move into a soldier vehicle assessment followed by a limited user test scheduled for fiscal 2021, Dopp said.

“In the soldier user test, we will execute likely missions that [infantry brigade combat team] will have in full-scale combat,” Coffman said. “So this isn’t driving down the road looking for IEDs; this is American soldiers engaged in full-scale combat.”

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

New acting SecDef reportedly thinks F-35 was huge mistake

The new defense chief, a former Boeing employee, has reportedly been extremely critical of Lockheed Martin’s embattled F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter in private meetings, raising questions about whether he is biased in overseeing the largest weapons program in history.

Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, who took over when Jim Mattis resigned, spent over 30 years at Boeing before joining the Department of Defense in 2017 as the deputy secretary of defense.


Though he signed an ethics agreement recusing himself from matters involving Boeing, Shanahan has continuously bashed the F-35, a key program for one of Boeing’s top competitors, in high-level meetings at the Pentagon and at other private gatherings, Politico reported on Jan. 9, 2019, citing former government officials who heard Shanahan make the comments.

Army will get first light tank prototypes in 2020

US Air Force F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter crew chief Tech. Sgt. Brian West watches his aircraft approach for the first time at Florida’s Eglin Air Force Base in 2011.

(US Air Force Photo)

A former senior Defense Department official told Politico that Shanahan described the F-35 stealth fighter as “f—ed up” and said its maker, Lockheed Martin, “doesn’t know how to run a program.”

“If it had gone to Boeing, it would be done much better,” the former official recalled Shanahan saying, Politico reported.

Lockheed beat out Boeing in the Joint Strike Fighter competition, with the Department of Defense ultimately picking Lockheed’s X-35 — which became the F-35 — over Boeing’s X-32 in 2001. Had Boeing been awarded the contract, the military’s JSF might look very different.

A former Trump administration official told Politico that Shanahan “dumped” on the aircraft regularly and “went off” on the program in 2018.

“He would complain about Lockheed’s timing and their inability to deliver, and from a Boeing point of view, say things like, ‘We would never do that,'” the former official said.

In other private meetings, the former official added, Shanahan has called the program “unsustainable,” complaining about the cost of the stealth fighters, with separate versions built for the Navy, the Marines, and the Air Force. The F-35 is expected to cost more than id=”listicle-2625627238″ trillion over the life of the program, making it the most expensive weapon in US military history.

Army will get first light tank prototypes in 2020

Maintainers from the 388th Maintenance Group preparing an F-35A for its mission.

(United States Air Force photo by Todd Cromar)

Current administration officials, however, told Politico that Shanahan’s comments were being taken out of context, stressing that he was not advocating for Boeing.

“I don’t believe that’s the case at all. I think he’s agnostic toward Boeing at best,” one official said, adding, “I don’t think there’s any intent to have Boeing favored in the building.”

It’s not the first time Shanahan’s loyalties have been called into question. The Pentagon is said to be planning a request for id=”listicle-2625627238″.2 billion for 12 Boeing F-15X fighter jets, a decision that was made at Shanahan’s urging, Bloomberg reported.

Air Force leaders had previously said there was no reason to buy these advanced fourth-generation fighters because they lack the necessary stealth capabilities provided by fifth-generation planes like the F-35, according to Defense News.

Army will get first light tank prototypes in 2020

Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan.

Shanahan’s office told Politico he remained committed to his recusal. In public, he has spoken highly of the F-35 program.

“The F-35 is our future,” he said in September 2018 at the Air Force Association’s Air, Space Cyber Conference.

“I think we can all agree that it is a remarkable aircraft, with eye-watering capabilities critical to the high-end fight,” he added. “I tip my hat to its broad team of government, industry, and international partners. Having worked on programs of similar size and complexity, I have enormous respect for your talent and commitment.”

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This was one of the world’s first swing-wing fighters

Russian MiGs are often a punchline for a joke.


In fact, the U.S. Air Force’s 555th Fighter Squadron, now based at Aviano Air Base and part of the 31st Fighter Wing, was once famous as the “World’s Largest Distributor of MiG Parts” due to shooting down 39 MiGs during the Vietnam War.

But some MiGs weren’t exactly slouches. In 1971, the Soviet Union put the MiG-23 Flogger into service. The Flogger was a variable-geometry aircraft, which meant that its wings were capable of being swept or extended, depending on the situation.

Army will get first light tank prototypes in 2020
MiG-23 Flogger with wings extended. (Youtube Screenshot)

According to MilitaryFactory.com, the Flogger was capable of a top speed of 1,553 miles per hour, a range of 1,752 miles, and it was capable of carrying AA-7 Apex radar-guided missiles, AA-8 Aphid missiles (either radar-guided or infra-red guided), and it had a twin 23mm cannon with 200 rounds of ammo.

In essence, it was intended to be an answer to America’s wildly successful F-4 Phantom.

Like the Phantom, it was widely exported, mostly to Warsaw Pact countries and to Soviet allies in the Middle East. Like past MiGs, the parts were often forcefully distributed – albeit this time by the Israeli Air Force in the 1982 Bekaa Valley Turkey Shoot. The United States Air Force got into the business of distributing Flogger parts during Operation Desert Storm, and Navy F-14s shot down two Libyan MiG-23s in 1989 over the Gulf of Sidra.

Army will get first light tank prototypes in 2020
An air-to-air right side view of a Soviet MiG-23 Flogger-G aircraft with an AA-7 Apex air-to-air missile attached to the outer wing pylon and an AA-8 Aphid air-to-air missile on the inner wing pylon. (From Soviet Military Power 1985)

Some MiG-23s did find their way to the United States during the Cold War. Egypt had purchased about 20 Floggers in the 1970s, but eventually sold a dozen to the United States Air Force, which took them somewhere in Nevada for testing.

Today, the MiG-23, like the F-4 Phantom, is fading away as the last airframes are being retired. The Flogger, though, holds a place in history as one of the Soviet Union’s first swing-wing fighters. You can see a video on this plane below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RtD9gfklELE
Articles

A piece of the White House was stolen by the Freemasons

Nearly 20 years after America was born, an Irish architect named James Hoban began laying down the first piece of stone for what would become The White House during an elaborate Freemason ceremony.


Less than 24 hours later, the first piece of stone that was laid down vanished and no one appeared to know its whereabouts. Since then, the search for the stone continues as various participants have attempted to locate the historic piece of foundation.

Although the formation of the Freemason’s fraternity is a fiercely guarded secret, their history dates back to 1390 when they were first referenced in a Regius Poem.

A commonly accepted theory is the group emerged from the stonemasons guild amid the middle ages.

Also read: The 10 most famous ghosts in the White House closets

In the late 1940s during President Harry Truman’s administration, the White House underwent major renovations as crew members brought in metal detectors in hopes to locate the stone by picking up its metallic minerals and many believed they may have discovered its location.

Army will get first light tank prototypes in 2020

President Harry Truman — Freemason

When Truman got wind of the search, he ordered them to halt the exploration immediately, which caught everyone off guard. In response, Truman then sent pieces of the White House to several various Freemason locations throughout the country.

Watch the History Channel‘s video to see how many have tried to unlock the mystery.

(History Channel, YouTube)

Also Read: The 5 weirdest books on Osama Bin Laden’s bookshelf

Fun Facts: George Washington, James Monroe, and Andrew Jackson were some of the 14 U.S. Presidents who reportedly claimed the title of being a part of the Freemasons.

8 signers of the Declaration of Independence and 9 signers of the U.S. Constitution were known Freemasons.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Russia just developed a lethal armored flamethrower

Flamethrowers have always brought a unique, visceral dynamic to war. Back in World War I and World War II, specialized troops carried them — and they were relied on to clear out fortifications. This was particularly important in the Pacific Theater as the Marines (and Army) made their way across the various atolls and island chains.


Army will get first light tank prototypes in 2020
A flamethrower operator doing what they do best.

The problem with flamethrowers then was that they had to be worked by troops. The mixture was, by necessity, volatile. If the fuel tank got hit, the Marine or soldier with the flamethrower went up in flames rather than turning enemy troops into crispy critters. Furthermore, you had to get very close to use a flamethrower effectively.

Army will get first light tank prototypes in 2020
An M67 throwing flames. No big deal. (U.S. Army photo)

In World War II, however, the United States began to install flamethrowers in tanks. This solved the fuel tank’s vulnerability to bullets while it was on the back of the Marine or soldier, but the range was still short. Eventually, flamethrowers changed from something like a backpack to something more like a rocket, launchable from systems like the M202 FLASH.

Army will get first light tank prototypes in 2020
A soldier operates the M202 FLASH, an American flame-throwing rocket launcher. (U.S. Army photo)

Russia, however, has taken this concept to its extreme. In the late 1980s, the T-72 chassis was used as the basis for a large, rocket-launching flamethrower called the TOS-1. The TOS-1 carries up to 30 220mm rockets that it can fire to a range of just over two miles. The TOS-1 saw action in Chechnya, Iraq, and the Soviet-Afghan war.

According to the news agency TASS, Russia has created a new rocket-launching flamethrower, the Tosochka TOS-2, based on the T-14 Armata. The system has a range of just over six miles and the vehicle can travel over 300 miles on a single tank of gas. In short, Russia is likely to be able to make opposing troops feel some serious heat.

Learn more about this powerful rocket launcher in the video below:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lI5nKV_AxZA
(New Update Defence | YouTube)
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This is what China plans to do with its air force of the future

The Chinese Air Force will continue to transform from a territorial air defense unit into an extended arm capable of protecting national interests wherever they exist, according to its new commander.


Lieutenant General Ding Laihang said that as China becomes stronger and security challenges continue to emerge, the military is striving to ensure it can safeguard national interests anywhere in the world.

“In the past, our strategies and guidelines focused on territorial air defense. Now we have been shifting our attention to honing our ability in terms of long-range strategic projection and long-range strike,” he told China National Radio for an article published on Sept. 3.

Army will get first light tank prototypes in 2020
Lieutenant General Ding Laihang. Photo from South China Morning Post.

“A strategic force must go out,” he said. “We will continue to carry out long-distance training over oceans.”

Ding’s predecessor, General Ma Xiaotian, who stepped down in late August, had earlier said the Air Force “cannot simply guard on land and not fly out” in response to questions on Japan’s concerns about the People’s Liberation Army’s “increasing activities” over the Sea of Japan.

Ma said it is normal for the PLA Air Force to conduct training exercises over the sea, adding that “the Sea of Japan is not Japan’s sea”.

Not long after Ma’s comments, six Chinese H-6K bombers flew through the Miyako Strait between the islands of Okinawa and Miyako in the East China Sea and approached the Kii Peninsula. This was the first time the PLA Air Force had flown that route, Japanese media reported.

Army will get first light tank prototypes in 2020
People’s Liberation Army Air Force Xian HY-6 at Zhuhai Airshow. Wikimedia Commons photo from user Li Pang.

In the Sept. 3 article, Ding pledged that the Air Force will intensify its realistic aerial combat drills and continue to carry out exercises with foreign militaries.

Wang Yanan, editor of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, said the Air Force will have two priorities as it moves toward becoming a capable strategic force.

“First, as a lot of new aircraft have been delivered, it must figure out how to make these new planes combat-ready as soon as possible and how to maintain them, as they are different from the old types,” he said.

Army will get first light tank prototypes in 2020
Y-20 at Airshow China 2016. Photo from Wikimedia Commons user Alert5.

“For instance, the Air Force now has Y-20 heavy-lift transport jets, but it needs to design methods and gain experience when it comes to airdropping armored vehicles,” he said. “Owning advanced weapons doesn’t equate to being able to use them well.”

The second priority is that the Air Force must improve its capabilities in coordinating different types of aircraft and air defense missiles in an operation, and also nurture joint operation capabilities with other services, like the PLA Navy and Rocket Force, Wang added.

Citing the new-generation strategic bomber that is under development, Wang suggested the Air Force start studying the plane’s usage in future warfare and work closely with designers to make sure the engine and flight-control system are good and reliable.

Articles

This is why Trump’s announcement about 90 F-35s was a big deal

The F-35 is the most expensive military project in history. On Feb. 3, 2017, the Trump Administration announced that 90 F-35As would be bought.


According to a report by the Daily Caller, the $8.5 billion deal saved taxpayers almost $740 million in costs — a cost of $94 million per aircraft.

The F-35A is arguably the simplest of the three variants, taking off and landing from conventional runways on land. The F-35B, being purchased by the Marine Corps, is a V/STOL (for Vertical/Short Take-Off and Landing) aircraft that required a lift fan and vectored nozzle. The F-35C is designed to handle catapult takeoffs and arrested landings on the aircraft carriers of the United States Navy.

Army will get first light tank prototypes in 2020
The F-35. (Photo by Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen. (Cropped)

The increased production of the F-35 has helped knock the production cost down. An October 2015 article by the Daily Caller noted that per-unit costs of the Zumwalt-class destroyers skyrocketed after the production run was cut from an initial buy of 32 to the eventual total of three.

Earlier this year, the F-35A took part in a Red Flag exercise at Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas, Nev., and posted a 15 to 1 kill ratio, according to reports by Aviation Week and Space Technology. BreakingDefense.com reported that the F-35A had a 90 percent mission capable rate, and that in every sortie, the key systems were up.

Army will get first light tank prototypes in 2020
An F-35A Lightning II parks for the night under the sunshades at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, Feb. 18, 2016. The F-35’s combat capabilities are being tested through an operational deployment test at Mountain Home AFB range complexes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jeremy L. Mosier)

So, with these details in mind, take a look at this video Vox released on Jan. 26 of this year, before the announcement of the contract, and before the F-35s did some ass-kicking at Red Flag.

MIGHTY CULTURE

These ‘hot rods’ are made out of WW2 fighter planes

Following is a video transcript.

Why warplane fuel tanks make great hot rods

Narrator: If you’re not sure what kind of car this is, you’re not alone. These tiny metal capsules with wheels are called belly tanks, or lakesters, and they’re a major part of hot rod culture.

So where does that strange-looking ‘bodywork’ come from? The short answer? The sky. Following World War II, US junkyards and surplus stores were filled with an abundance of leftover warplane parts, which included plenty of drop tanks, or belly tanks. Belly tanks were supplemental gas tanks strapped to World War II fighter planes to help boost their notoriously poor range. However, after the war, racers found another use for them. America’s gearheads quickly began transforming these discarded fuel cells into miniature speed demons and racing them out on dry lake beds, hence the name lakesters.


Bruce Meyer: The belly tank was a natural because it was an extra fuel tank attached to the bottom of a P-38 fighter plane. So it was already proven to to be aerodynamic. So it was the perfect shape for land speed racing.

Narrator: One of the most famous belly tankers belonged to Alex Xydias, founder of the iconic So-Cal Speed Shop. Owned today by rare car collector and enthusiast Bruce Meyer, this legendary lakester still looks just as good now as it ever did.

Why Warplane Fuel Tanks Make Great Hot Rods

www.youtube.com

Bruce: The top speed that this car attained was 198 mph, and that was piloted by Alex Xydias. When we found the belly tank, it was very much complete. It had the original interior, original dash, all the original metal and suspension. So it was all there. Nothing had to be fabricated, but it still took a year of research with Alex Xydias and Wally Parks working with Pete Chapouris, who restored the car, to make it what you see today and as accurate as it is. It is 100% the original car.

Finding a belly tank in the ’40s and ’50s was very, very easy. Today, not so much.

Narrator: That hasn’t stopped plenty of car builders in shops and garages today.

Sundeep Koneru: Sunrise Racing Division is our take on preserving vintage hot rods, especially the different eras of racing. Building our car took us about eight months. The process was first finding these tanks, which are becoming harder and harder to find. Next step was sending it to Steve Pugner, my buddy in Virginia. He does great metalwork, and he’s the one who did all the metalwork on this car. Next was finding a motor.

The biggest challenge we faced was one, me and Steve are pretty tall guys, so trying to fit us in the back of that tank was a challenge. And of course fitting a big motor which ends up sticking out was a bit of a challenge too.

I think belly tankers are still as popular as they’ve ever been. There’s more and more guys in their garages building belly tanks than I’ve ever seen before. Some of the big events you can go and see these are Bonneville during Speed Week or even El Mirage during their time trials.

Bruce: Belly tanks were prolific back then, and some people used them to build land speed records. Today, it’s not so easy. You don’t see belly tanks just laying around, and the few that were used for land speed racing are few and far between. But they do exist and are being held by enthusiasts and people who understand the importance of them.

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

Articles

5 ways to support veterans all year long

Army will get first light tank prototypes in 2020
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian McNeal


Each year over Veterans Day we witness a wonderful outpouring of love for our veteran community. “Happy Veterans Day,” parades, free meals, “thank yous,” and vet-centric events are par for the course over the holiday and the weekends that proceed and follow it.

But what about the other 51 weeks of the year?

While many of you are veterans yourselves, some of our readers are in a relationship of some kind with a currently serving veteran or a veteran of past conflict. We know how to support the veterans in our own homes.

But I believe we also have a responsibility to support the other veterans around us, and help our civilian neighbors do the same. We can lead by example.

So how do we do that? Here are five ideas.

1. Listen. Over Veterans Day weekend this year I worked with our community and the local Team Red, White Blue chapter to run a Veterans Town Hall. Inspired by an idea in Sebastian Junger’s book “Tribe,” the town hall had a simple goal: give veterans a space to talk about their service, and the community a space to listen. While we did not have a huge turnout — only around 50 people — we were able to light a fire on what I hope will be a long-term movement of saying “happy Veterans Day” by listening. Through the simple act of listening we extended grace and understanding to our veteran neighbors. We can do more of that, and we can do it beyond Veterans Day weekend.

2. “Thank a Vet” in a video. Disabled American Veterans (DAV) has an awesome way to create a keepsake to #ThankaVet. You can upload a customized message and a few photos, and the site will turn them into a tribute video. The videos are something you can create and share year round.

3. Serve all year long. Veterans don’t just exist on Veterans Day. The Veterans Home in my little town’s downtown is there every day of the year. Veterans are homeless in our nearest major city. My veteran neighbor will always need his driveway shoveled after it snows. Not every act of service to our community takes a big effort. But every act matters.

4. Tell your civilian friends. When you get ready to help your community’s veterans, invite your civilian friends to come along. I find that my civilian friends don’t ignore veterans on purpose — they just don’t really know any. We can be the people who can help make that connection.

5. Join a veteran organization. Your local VFW and American Legion both have auxiliary memberships for non-veterans. Team Red, White Blue exists purely to connect veterans with their communities, and getting involved is incredibly easy. Team Rubicon is constantly seeking volunteers for the important work they do with disaster relief. Military spouses often focus their volunteer efforts on the currently serving population — and maybe you just flat out don’t have time to add something else to your plate. But if you do, consider even just showing up for one of these groups’ (or countless others’) events. You won’t be sorry.

There’s nothing wrong with wishing anyone a “happy Veterans Day” or using Veterans Day to shine the spotlight on veterans in our community. But let’s keep the momentum going all year long.

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Here’s the latest on North Korea’s saber rattling

North Korea has reportedly miniaturized a nuclear warhead, giving their intercontinental ballistic missiles the ability to deliver a nuclear payload for the first time. The rogue regime has also been moving anti-ship cruise missiles to at least one patrol boat.


The moves come amidst heightened tensions in the region and despite a unanimous UN Security Council vote imposing further sanctions.

According to a FoxNews.com report, the development of the warhead and further threats from the regime of Kim Jong Un prompted President Trump to state that the North Korean leader “best not make anymore threats to the United States.” The President went on to state that threats would “be met with fire, fury and frankly power, the likes of which the world has never seen before.”

Army will get first light tank prototypes in 2020
The test-fire of Pukguksong-2. This photo was released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency on February 13. (KCNA/Handout)

North Korea is believed to have as many as 60 nuclear weapons, and has conducted a string of tests despite sanctions being imposed. One recent test involved an ICBM that could hit targets in half the United States. The regime also has a history of holding Americans hostage.

The war of words between Trump and Kim comes as another report by FoxNews.com indicated that two “Stormpetal” missiles were being loaded on to a “Wonsan-class patrol boat.”

Oddly, the 16th Edition of Combat Fleets of the World does not list any “Wonsan-class” vessel in North Korean service, nor does GlobalSecurity.org. The only Wonsan-class vessel listed in service is a South Korean minelayer.

North Korea is credited by GlobalSecurity.org with a surface-effect ship about the size of most missile boats called the Nongo class, as well as a variant of the Osa-class missile boats called the Soju class.

The Nongo-class can hold from as many as eight anti-ship missiles. Osas generally held four SS-N-2 anti-ship missiles, according to Combat Fleets of the World.

The Stormpetal is also not a known missile system to either source. GlobalSecurity.org, does note that many indigenous North Korean missile designs are ballistic missiles or artillery rockets. The North Koreans have also designed an indigenous version of the SS-N-2 Styx known as the KN-01, and a version of the SA-10 Grumble known as the KN-06.

MIGHTY TRENDING

FBI searches for grenade throwers who attacked embassy

Hours before the inauguration of Mexico’s new president in Mexico City, two grenades were thrown at the US consulate in Guadalajara, the country’s second-biggest city and home to one of the largest US expatriate communities in the world.

A little before 11 p.m. local time on Nov. 30, 2018, an unidentified person was caught on film throwing two grenades into the consulate compound in central Guadalajara, which is also the capital of Jalisco state in western Mexico.


The consulate was closed at the time, and no one was killed or injured, but the blast left a 16-inch hole in an exterior wall, and grenade fragments were found at the scene.

The US consulate said the following day that the damage was minimal and that US and Mexican authorities were investigating and “strengthening the security posture” around the consulate. Jalisco state prosecutors also said that federal authorities had taken over the investigation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QERRt7JLpk
U.S. consulate in Mexico attacked with grenade

www.youtube.com

The consulate’s operations were limited on Dec. 3, 2018, but it resumed normal business on Dec. 4, 2018.

Also on Dec. 4, 2018, the FBI said it was seeking help from the public to identify the person or people involved, offering up to ,000 for information leading to those responsible.

“All information can remain anonymous and confidentiality is guaranteed,” a notice on the consulate’s website said.

Mixed messages

The attack came shortly before Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was sworn in as Mexico’s president, and it illustrates the challenging criminal dynamics he confronts.

Attacks on US facilities and personnel in Mexico have been rare, and when they have happened, the response has been forceful.

Pressure from Washington after the 1985 kidnapping and killing of of DEA agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena led to the breakup of the powerful Guadalajara cartel, and the US response to the 2011 killing of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata helped cripple the Zetas cartel, which was linked to the incident.

While it’s possible the attack Nov. 30, 2018, could be unrelated to organized crime, the timing and nature of the attack suggest it could be tied to political and criminal dynamics in the country.

Guadalajara is the home turf of the Jalisco New Generation cartel, or CJNG, which has grown rapidly over the past decade to become one of Mexico’s largest and most violent criminal groups.

Its rise was boosted by the 2015 shoot-down of a Mexican army helicopter in western Jalisco, killing six soldiers, which came during an operation to capture the cartel’s leader, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, or “El Mencho,” who is among the US Drug Enforcement Administration’s most wanted fugitives.

Army will get first light tank prototypes in 2020

Purported members of Mexico’s Jalisco New Generation cartel.

(Screen grab)

Two weeks before the grenades were thrown at the consulate, the cartel purportedly posted a video online in which it threatened to attack the consulate.

In the recording, a bandaged man says he was ordered to attack the consulate and capture Central American men, women, and children for ransom with which to pay Mexican officials to ignore other criminal activity, according to The Dallas Morning News, which could not independently verify the footage.

That attack, the man reportedly said, was to be a message to the US to leave “Mencho alone.”

The Nov. 30, 2018 attack comes a few weeks into the trial of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman in New York City. Guzman is the longtime leader of the Sinaloa cartel, one of Mexico’s most powerful criminal groups and a main rival of the CJNG.

In the past, the arrest or death of criminal leaders has triggered more violence, as others fight to fill the void.

Criminal groups may also be hurting because of Central American migrant caravans crossing Mexico that don’t need protection from criminal groups or help from those groups’ human-smuggling networks.

Losing that business ahead of the holiday season have put a strain on cartel leaders, security experts told The Dallas Morning News.

Mexico’s political transition — from the center-right government of Enrique Peña Nieto and his establishment Institutional Revolutionary Party to leftist Lopez Obrador and his new National Regeneration Movement party — may also be stirring turmoil in the underworld.

Army will get first light tank prototypes in 2020

Enrique Peña Nieto.

In the past, such changes have led to more violence, as criminals and corrupt officials adjust to a new political environment — an attack designed to avoid death or injury may be a signal to those assuming power 12 years into Mexico’s bloody war on drugs.

The CJNG in recent months has also been challenged in Guadalajara. A new group, called Nueva Plaza, is believed to be led by a one-time confidant of Oseguera, and some have said other rivals, namely the Sinaloa cartel, could be backing the new group.

In the past, criminal groups have committed high-profile acts, like dumping bodies in public, on rivals’ turf to draw authorities’ attention there.

“Remember that the [New Generation] grew exponentially and became what it is now since the beginning of the Peña Nieto government,” Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, a political science professor at George Mason University and expert on security in Mexico, told The Morning News. “But they should not be attracting attention, and with this attack you’re calling for a response from two governments. Why?”

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

How the US Air Force is creating futuristic fighters

Technology around the world is constantly improving, which influences the Air Force to keep up with these new developments by innovating and finding ways to effectively train airmen.

At Dyess Air Force Base, these updates can be seen in various virtual reality training systems. Now, the 7th Security Forces Squadron is implementing the newly-improved Multiple Interactive Learning Objectives training simulator as part of their regular training curriculum.

“The MILO is a 300-degree training simulator which fully immerses our trainees in many different scenarios they may encounter,” said Staff Sgt. Jordan Valentine, 7th SFS instructor. “This new system forces the airmen that go through it to really be aware of their surroundings and create muscle memory, unlike our older system which has them stationary in front of one screen.”


The MILO consists of five screens, with trainees placed in the center. During each encounter, airmen are able to train on the most efficient positions to stand or walk while being recorded from above to review how they handled themselves.

Army will get first light tank prototypes in 2020

Airman 1st Class Lisa Villarreal, 7th Force Support Squadron career development journeyman, speaks to a disgruntled individual during a noise complaint simulation in the Multiple Interactive Learning Objectives training simulator at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, Sept. 18, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Mercedes Porter)

The simulator can create a variety of encounters including active shooters, noise complaints, trespassers and calls regarding individuals who may be in danger.

Each scenario has the ability to be manipulated by an instructor based on the trainee’s responses to conversations or actions. This allows the airmen to have a more realistic perspective of the different outcomes their actions can cause.

“The airmen are not only able to train with firearms for the system, but with non-lethal methods like a baton,” said Richard Cook, 7th SFS instructor. “This helps to show them that they are able to use non-lethal ways to stop confrontations in certain situations.”

Army will get first light tank prototypes in 2020

Staff. Sgt. Jordan Valentine, 7th Security Forces Squadron instructor, left, watches Airman 1st Class Jarod Nalls, 7th Equipment Maintenance Squadron aircraft structural maintenance journeyman, middle, and Airman 1st Class Lisa Villarreal, 7th Force Support Squadron career development journeyman, right, as they encounter a simulated active school shooter with the Multiple Interactive Learning Objectives training simulator at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, Sept. 18, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Mercedes Porter)

For both, the instructors and trainees, MILO helps to effectively lower man hours needed for the training. One instructor is able to control the scenes and debrief the airmen, rather than requiring multiple participants to create a situation for the trainees to react to.

“It was an interesting and new experience when we walked into the new system,” said airman 1st Class Lisa Villarreal, 7th Force Support Squadron career development journeyman, who was training for her security forces’ augmentee duty. “You become immersed and it made you really think on your surroundings to keep an eye on any potential threats.”

The MILO software also allows security forces members to share scenarios with defenders on other Air Force installations across the U.S.

As the technological world continues to grow, the Air Force will continue to improve airmen’s training to fly, fight and win.

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

MIGHTY MOVIES

‘South Park’ banned in China after most recent episode

The most recent episode of “South Park,” called “Band in China,” mocked Hollywood’s submission to the country. Now the long-running Comedy Central animated series has seemingly been banned in China itself.

Episodes, clips, and online discussions of the show have been removed from the Chinese internet, according to The Hollywood Reporter. THR reviewed the Chinese social network Weibo and found zero mention of the series; clips and episodes on Chinese streamer Youku didn’t work; and “South Park” discussion forums on Tieba had been closed.

“According to the relevant law and regulation, this section is temporarily not open,” a note on the platform says when you search for a “South Park” discussion thread, according to THR.


In the episode, Hollywood wants to make a biopic of Stan Marsh’s band, but must alter the movie to fit China’s regulations. Meanwhile, Stan’s dad, Randy, attempts to sell marijuana in the country after people in South Park stop buying his and start growing their own.

The Return of Fingerbang – “Band in China” – s23e02 – South Park

www.youtube.com

China is currently the second-largest theatrical market in the world and Hollywood has increasingly relied on the country’s box office to give potential blockbusters a boost. A report from Ampere Analysis last year predicted that China would surpass the US as the world’s box office leader by 2022.

The “South Park” episode is heavily critical of China’s censorship and references the country’s crackdown on Winnie the Pooh imagery. After China’s ruling Communist Party announced it wanted to eliminate presidential term limits last year, photos comparing its leader Xi Jinping to Pooh popped up online.

Disney’s “Christopher Robin,” a live-action take on the Winnie the Pooh characters, was not released in China last year because the character was such a symbol of resistance, according to THR.

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