How Marines used a 3D printer and a little 'grunt ingenuity' to make gadgets that help them in combat - We Are The Mighty
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How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat

Second Lt. Ben Lacount knows that it’s never a good thing to run out of rounds during a firefight. And it’s certainly not a good thing to be surprised that you have.


That’s why he invented the “Lacounter” with help from Navy engineers and a 3D printer that allowed him to cut prototyping time down to a fraction. The device allows shooters to see how many rounds they’ve expended while pulling the trigger so that they’re not in a bind when they do.

The Lacounter even works with belt fed weapons like the M249 and M2 .50cal.

Lacount’s prototype takes advantage of a process known as “additive manufacturing,” and it’s one that could change the face of military logistics forever.

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat
U.S. Marine 2nd Lt. Ben Lacount presents his winning entry from the Marine Corps Innovation Challenge during a showcase at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division, in West Bethesda, Md., Aug. 15, 2017. Lacount created an expended rounds counter for the M16 rifle in the Manufacturing, Knowledge and Education Laboratory, Carderock™s additive manufacturing collaborative space. (U.S. Navy photo by Dustin Q. Diaz/Released)

“My goal for this project was to have a simple, lightweight, low-cost and no battery solution to this issue,” Lacount said, according to a Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock release.

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat

And Lacount’s not alone.

Captain Kyle McCarley helped come up with a new way to carry the “Bangalore torpedo,” an explosive device used to blow up obstacles like barbed wire. While they are very useful, they are bulky, and take up space. But McCarley used a 3D printer to make a quiver-like pack with elastic straps for the devices that can attack to a normal assault pack.

Then there was Staff Sgt. Daniel Diep, an artilleryman. After noticing that the cable for the Chief of Section Display got damaged from debris that got stuck in the cable – something that took a week and $3,000 to fix – he designed a 3D-printed cable head that cost $10 to make.

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat
Marines with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit fire their M777 Howitzer during a fire mission in northern Syria as part of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve. USMC photo by Lance Cpl. Zachery Laning

“The neat thing about this cable cap is the cable heads themselves can be additively manufactured, and Marines like myself can take all the old cables, cut them down, and we can put new heads on them after 3-D printing,” Diep said.

But the neatest trick of all is getting the 3D printers closer to the grunts. Captain Tony Molnar and Master Sgt. Gage Conduto have worked that out – not only by bringing the printers to units at FOBs, but also a processing center to recycle plastic, like water bottles often delivered to troops on deployment. This will be a huge boon for explosive ordnance techs like Conduto.

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat
Spc. Ryan Rolf, a combat engineer from Fullerton, Nebraska, with the 402nd Engineer Company, places a field expedient bangalore packed with C-4 explosive in a barbed wire obstacle during an in-stride breach event at the 2014 Sapper Stakes competition at Fort McCoy, Wis., May 5. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Michel Sauret)

“I can’t walk down to the Marine Corps machinist with a stinger missile in my hand and say, ‘I need a set of tools made, can you get these back to me next week?'” he said.

But the tech could go even further, than just helping come up with new tools. In fact, it could be a huge game-changer for any forward-deployed unit.

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat
3D Printing in a laboratory setting. Now, imagine a field-deployable 3D printer set-up, along with something to harvest or recycle materials to use in the printer. (Photo by Jonathan Juursema.)

“This container will benefit the Marine expeditionary units and the Marine Corps and DOD because it can do two things: One, it enhances the expeditionary readiness of forward-deployed units by being able to print parts locally on site using recycled materials, and second, it helps those combat units forward by providing stuff that they can’t do, as well as printing stuff for the local populous during humanitarian disaster relief that we couldn’t normally do and that we’d have to pay someone to do,” Molnar told the Navy News Service.

Marine grunts getting inventive — that’s a very frightening thought … for America’s enemies.

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17 surreal photos of the US Navy at night

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat
Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Airman Zach Byrd directs a CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter assigned to the Purple Foxes of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 364 (Reinforced) during nighttime flight operations aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20). | US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Elizabeth Merriam


The US Navy is the dominant force on the world’s oceans.

Helping to support open trade lanes, tackle piracy, and providing humanitarian missions are all part and parcel of the Navy’s mission in addition to its obvious military role. These massive responsibilities require that the Navy must be always ready to act.

Below, we’ve shared some of our favorite photos of the US Navy operating at night.

Boatswain’s Mate Seaman Clayton Jackson, from Minneapolis, guides an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to the “Dragon Whales” of Sea Combat Squadron 28 during a night vertical replenishment aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea.

An MV-22 Osprey assigned to the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 166 takes off during flight operations aboard the amphibious-assault ship USS Boxer.

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat

US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brian Jeffries

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the third Mobile User Objective System satellite for the US Navy creates a light trail as it lifts off, January 20, 2015

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat

US Navy/United Launch Alliance

Aircraft land aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise during nighttime flight operations in the Arabian Sea.

Weapons Department Sailors on a sponson fire a .50-caliber machine gun and flares during a night gun shoot for tiger-cruise participants watching from the hangar bay aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat

US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class James R. Evans

An F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to the Swordsmen of Strike Fighter Squadron 32 lands on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat

US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class J. Alexander Delgado

An SH-60 Sea Hawk helicopter is seen from the well deck of the amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown as the ship transits the East China Sea.

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat

US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher Lindahl

Sailors recover combat rubber raiding craft with Marines assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit during night operations in the well deck of the forward-deployed amphibious-assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard.

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat

US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Adam D. Wainwright

The Phalanx close-in weapons system is fired aboard the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Cowpens during a weapons test at sea.

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat

US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Paul Kelly

Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Kevin Williams directs an F/A-18C Hornet from the Warhawks of Strike Fighter Squadron 97 on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis.

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat

US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kenneth Abbate

A 25 mm machine gun fires during a live-fire exercise aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Carter Hall.

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat

US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Chelsea Mandello

CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters assigned to the Evil Eyes of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 163 refuel on the flight deck aboard the amphibious-assault ship USS Boxer during night-flight operations.

An F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the Knighthawks of Strike Fighter Squadron 136 prepares to launch from catapult two during night-flight operations aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise.

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat

US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jared M. King

A student at the Aviation Survival Training Center ascends on a hoist during a simulated night exercise as part of an aircrew refresher course in Jacksonville, Florida.

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat

US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Todd Frantom

Sailors observe from the primary flight-control tower as an F/A-18 Hornet lands aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan.

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat

US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Dylan McCord

Aviation Boatswain’s Mate Airman Zach Byrd directs a CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter assigned to the Purple Foxes of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 364 during nighttime flight operations aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay.

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat

US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Elizabeth Merriam

An E-2C Hawkeye assigned to Carrier Air Wing 1 sits on the flight deck of USS Enterprise at night. Enterprise is deployed to the US 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater-security cooperation efforts, and support missions as a part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat

US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brooks B. Patton Jr.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why a North Korean defector fled the for the South

The 24-year-old North Korean defector who successfully made it across the North Korean border and into South Korea under a hail of gunfire was reportedly involved in a crime “that led to a death,” according to South Korean intelligence officials cited in Donga Ilbo, a South Korean newspaper, on Jan. 23.


Chung-sung Oh reportedly confessed to the alleged crime, according to intelligence officials who are investigating his background as part of the standard procedure involving North Korean defectors. The National Intelligence Service, the primary intelligence agency in the country, was said to be looking into all circumstances of the alleged death, including whether it was a murder or an accidental death.

Related: Watch a North Korean defector dodging bullets to cross the DMZ

A reporter from Chosun Ilbo, another South Korean news organization, also said he received a similar unconfirmed report in December, in which Oh is believed to have been involved in a vehicle accident involving another person and may have defected in fear of being punished.

Oh, who has been recovering after sustaining multiple gunshot wounds, is said to have a carefree personality, according to government sources. But those sources noted that his testimony seemed to change depending on his mood. The investigation is expected to extend beyond February.

If reports of Oh’s statement proves to be true, it could complicate the proceedings and exclude him from benefits for North Korean defectors, according to the South Korean newspaper. But because the government does not have an extradition treaty with North Korea, Oh does not appear to be at risk of being sent back to the North.

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat
A defector from North Korea dodges bullets as he crosses the DMZ.

Meanwhile, South Korean intelligence officials have publicly denied Oh’s testimony and said those involved with the matter had “never made a statement of that kind.”

The Ministry of Unification, the government body responsible for inter-Korean relations, said that it could not confirm the account because the investigation was still ongoing.

News surrounding Oh has become a hot-button subject in Korea after footage of his dramatic escape in November was captured in stunning detail. Following Oh’s rescue, those involved in the recovery, including his physician, have been the center of media attention in the country.

Articles

This is how the red cross became a medical symbol for military medics

While traveling in northern Italy, a Swiss businessman, Henry Dunant, witnessed the bloody repercussions of a Solferino battle between Austrian and Franco-Sardinian forces. The battle had left approximately 40,000 troops missing, wounded and dead. Both armies and residents of Solferino were inadequately equipped to deal with the situation. Nevertheless, Henry Dunant completely abandoned the original intent of his trip and organized the locals to cater to the soldiers’ injuries, feed and console them.

Establishment of The Red Cross Symbol

Based on what he witnessed in 1859, Henry Dunant published a book titled “A Memory of Solferino,” which lobbied and captured the need to establish national relief organizations. The organizations would be composed of trained volunteers who would offer medical assistance to injured non-combatants and war-wounded soldiers, notwithstanding their fighting sides.

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat
A Memory of Solferino. Public domain

A Swiss committee, the international committee for relief to the wounded, was established to develop a comprehensive plan for national relief associations. By 1863, the committee held an international conference set up in Geneva to address and establish a possible course of action to enhance medical services on the battlefield. At the end of the conference, the attendees had proposals that addressed the neutrality and protection for wounded soldiers, the establishment of national relief societies for wounded soldiers, and the implementation of volunteers for relief assistance on the battlefield.

The committee eventually transformed into the international committee of the red cross (ICRC) and adopted an emblem of a red cross against a white background. This symbol would assist combatants in identifying medical workers on the battlefield.

Evolution of The Red Cross Emblems

At the outset of the ICRC, a red cross on a white background was the original protection symbol. Despite that, the red cross symbol is not the only symbol displayed on medical personnel during wars. During the Russo-Turkish War, the Ottoman Empire rejected the red cross as it reminded the Muslims of the Crusaders, and this resulted in the use of the red crescent emblem that is a red crescent on a white background. In 1878 the ICRC declared that the emblem would serve as a symbol for the red cross volunteers in Islamic countries.

The Israelites also felt that none of the emblems worked for them, resulting in the adoption of The Magen David Adom emblem. The Magen David Adom is commonly translated in English as the Red Star of David. On June 22, 2006, the ICRC recognized this emblem for use by the Israelite and Palestine nations. As an alternative, the emblem can be used where religious strife results in confusion over the Red Cross and Red Crescent emblems.

The red crystal was adopted as an additional emblem and is symbolized by a red diamond on a white background. It also denotes neutrality, where countries feel that the red cross and red crescent have religious, political, or cultural connotations.

International Protection of Red Cross Volunteers

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat
1917 Red Cross World War I poster: If you can’t go across with a gun, come across with your part of the Red Cross war fund, by C. W. Love; The United States Printing & Lithograph Co., N.Y.

The ICRC has instituted a pledge that affords protection to Red Cross volunteers. The ICRC vows to give precedence to the security of the Red Cross volunteers when deploying them to disaster-stricken areas by ascertaining safe access to those areas. Aside from that, the organization will ensure smooth relief activities and consign them at an opportune moment.

The ICRC also emphasizes that all the Red Cross volunteers will be offered insurance that ensures that they will be fully compensated if anything happens.

According to the Geneva Conventions, medical personnel are entitled to special protection from attacks and may not be captured when they are in the service. If an enemy detains them, they must be respected and protected. Medical personnel shall enter any area where their services are essential, subject to such supervisory and safety measures. At the same time, medical personnel shall not be forced to discharge acts or carry out work contradictory to medical ethics.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is how long NATO tanks would last against Russian attack helicopters

Russia has two advanced helicopter gunships in service – the Kamov Ka-50/Ka-52 Hokum, and the Mi-28 Havoc. The obvious question – one thankfully never answered in real life – is how well they’d take out American (or Western) tanks and fighting vehicles?


The two helicopters competed against each other near the end of the Cold War — just as the Soviet Union was teetering but was still desperate to find something to match the tank-killing AH-64 Apache.

Related: This deadly Russian attack helicopter is known as ‘the flying tank’

The Mi-24 Hind, which had earned a fearsome reputation as a “flying tank” in Afghanistan, was quickly becoming out-classed.

 

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat
A left front view of a Soviet Mi-28 Havoc attack helicopter being towed on the flight line. (DOD photo)

According to GlobalSecurity.org, the Mi-28 has a top speed of about 162 knots, and a range of 130 nautical miles. It is armed with the same 30mm cannon as the BMP-2, and carries about 250 rounds of ammunition. RussianHelicopters.aero notes that the Havoc can carry a wide variety of rockets and missiles.

The Kamov Ka-50 and Ka-52 are two versions of the Hokum attack helicopter. According to GlobalSecurity.org, the Hokum was officially named the winner of the competition with the Havoc in 1995, but in post-Cold War Russia, the production was slow.

Like the Mi-28, it has the same 30mm cannon used on the BMP-2 and can carry rockets and anti-tank missiles.

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat
The Ka-52 Hokum B. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

According to World Air Forces 2016 by FlightGlobal.com, Russia has a grand total of 81 Mi-28s and 74 Ka-50/52s on hand. Another 14 Havocs and 82 Hokums are on order.

That is a total of 251 attack helicopters. This creates a problem for the Russians.

Having so few chopper means that they have two options: To either disperse the Havocs and Hokums, and let them be taken out piecemeal, or to concentrate them, and accept that the presence of Havocs and Hokums will be a big indication of where a Russian attack would take place for NATO intelligence.

Related: That time the US Army stole a Russian helicopter for the CIA

So, how well would the Hokum and Havoc do in combat? One big problem is that the Russians will likely not have air superiority, largely due to the fact that many NATO planes are better.

While American and NATO F-22s, F-35s, Rafales, and Typhoons take air superiority from Russian Flankers and Fulcrums, a lot of F-16s and A-10s will be carrying out air support missions. The F-16s will feast on the Russian choppers when they aren’t dropping bombs themselves.

While those that reach the front will kill some Abrams, Leopard, Challenger, or LeClerc tanks, they will likely be wiped out as NATO takes advantage of air superiority.

Articles

Standby for another North Korean ballistic missile test very soon

American speculation is mounting that North Korea will soon be testing a nuclear-capable missile. This follows a seismic event that the Kim regime claimed was its first successful hydrogen bomb test.


How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat

Japan and the United State regularly monitor North Korean test sites for activity via satellite. Two U.S. officials told AFP that the Communist state’s Sohae satellite complex is buzzing with activity.

The North has launched satellites into orbit before, most recently in 2012, but the same U.S. officials believe the technology used for those launches could be used for intercontinental ballistic missile launches as well.

International bodies are still struggling with how to respond to the hydrogen bomb test. There isn’t much left to sanction in North Korea. China, the North’s largest trading partner, is unlikely to slap any more restrictions on trade with the Kim regime without a direct threat to itself or its interests.

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat
A rocket lifta off from its launch pad in Musudan-ri, North Korea (DPRK State Media)

Why does North Korea act so provocatively? According to former Soviet diplomat Alexei Lankov, the saber rattling is a function of the nation being starved for resources and strapped for cash. The North’s military mobilizes while the government threatens South Korea, all in an effort to convince the west that the only way to prevent war is to provide funding and grain. But Kim’s strategy has backfired, resulting in sanctions rather than assistance.

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat

“All the nuclear test proved is the North still does not have a reliable launch vehicle,” Lankov told Fox News.

North Korea is said to have over a thousand missiles of varying capabilities, but is not yet known to have developed a nuclear-capable warhead. Its longest-range missile, the Taepodong-2, has a advertised range of 6,000 kilometers, but the North has never successfully tested one.

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat

If the North Korean Taepodong-2 missile becomes operational, it would be be able to hit America’s Pacific allies as well as U.S. bases on Okinawa, Guam, and most of Alaska.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Last surviving Doolittle Raider, Lt Col Dick Cole, passes away at age 103

A legendary chapter in Air Force history has come to a close.

Retired Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” E. Cole, the last survivor of the “Doolittle Raid,” died April 9, 2019, in San Antonio.

“Lt. Col. Dick Cole reunited with the Doolittle Raiders in the clear blue skies today,” said Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson. “My heart goes out to his friends and family as our Air Force mourns with them. We will honor him and the courageous Doolittle Raiders as pioneers in aviation who continue to guide our bright future.”


On April 18, 1942, the U.S. Army Air Forces and the Doolittle Raiders attacked Tokyo in retaliation for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which boosted American morale in the early months of World War II.

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat

Doolittle Tokyo Raiders, Crew No. 1 (Plane #40-2344, target Tokyo): 34th Bombardment Squadron, Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle, pilot; Lt. Richard E. Cole, copilot; Lt. Henry A. Potter, navigator; SSgt. Fred A. Braemer, bombardier; SSgt. Paul J. Leonard, flight engineer/gunner.

(U.S. Air Force photo)

“There’s another hole in our formation,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein. “Our last remaining Doolittle Raider has slipped the surly bonds of Earth, and has reunited with his fellow Raiders. And what a reunion they must be having. Seventy-seven years ago this Saturday, 80 intrepid airmen changed the course of history as they executed a one-way mission without hesitation against enormous odds. We are so proud to carry the torch he and his fellow Raiders handed us.”

Cole was born Sept. 7, 1915, in Dayton, Ohio. In 1938, he graduated from Steele High School in Dayton and attended two years of college at Ohio University before enlisting as an aviation cadet on Nov. 22, 1940. Soon after he enlisted, Cole received orders to report to Parks Air College in East St. Louis, Illinois, for training before arriving at Randolph Field, Texas and later, Kelly Field, Texas. He completed pilot training and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in July 1941.

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat

U.S. Air Force Retired Lt. Col. Richard E. Cole stands in front of a refurbished U.S. Navy B-25 Mitchell displayed at an airshow in Burnet, Texas.

(U.S. Air Force photo)

While Cole was on a training mission with the 17th Bombardment Group at Pendleton, Oregon, word came that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor.

The 17th BG flew anti-submarine patrols until February 1942, when Cole was told he would be transferred to Columbia, South Carolina. While there, he and his group volunteered for a mission with no known details. Cole would later say that he thought his unit was heading to North Africa.

For weeks, Cole practiced flying maneuvers on the B-25 Mitchell, a U.S. Army Air Corps twin-engine propeller-driven bomber with a crew of five that could take off from an aircraft carrier at sea, in what some would call the first joint action that tested the Army and Navy’s ability to operate together. When the carrier finally went to sea to bring 16 bombers closer to maximize their reach, it wasn’t until two days into the voyage that the airmen and sailors on the mission were told that their carrier, the U.S.S. Hornet, and all of its bombers, were heading in the direction of Tokyo.

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat

A U.S. Army Air Force B-25B Mitchell medium bomber, one of sixteen involved in the mission, takes off from the flight deck of the USS Hornet for an air raid on the Japanese Home Islands on April 18, 1942.

(U.S. Air Force photo)

In an age-before mid-air refueling and GPS, the U.S.S. Hornet weighed less than a quarter of today’s fortress-like aircraft carriers. With Cole as the copilot to then-Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle, the B-25 Mitchell bomber #40-2344, would take off with only 467 feet of takeoff distance.

What made the mission all the more challenging was a sighting by a Japanese patrol boat that spurred the task force commander, U.S. Navy Adm. William F. “Bull” Halsey, to launch the mission more than 650 nautical miles from Japan – 10 hours early and 170 nautical miles farther than originally planned. Originally, the Mitchells were supposed to land, refuel and proceed on to western China, thereby giving the Army Air Corps a squadron of B-25s and a commander. But now the aircrews faced increasing odds against them, in their attempt to reach the airfields of non-occupied China. Still, Cole and his peers continued with their mission.

Flying at wave-top level around 200 feet and with their radios turned off, Cole and the Raiders avoided detection for as much of the distance as possible. In groups of two to four aircraft, the bombers targeted dry docks, armories, oil refineries and aircraft factories in Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka and Kobe as well as Tokyo itself. The Japanese air defense was so caught off guard by the Raiders that little anti-aircraft fire was volleyed and only one Japanese Zero followed in pursuit. With their bombs delivered, the Raiders flew towards safety in China.

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat

Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Dick Cole answers question about the raid during a luncheon in honor of the event at the Army Navy Club in Washington.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford)

Many airmen had to parachute out into the night, Cole himself jumping out at around 9,000 feet. All aircraft were considered lost with Cole’s own aircraft landing in a rice paddy full of night soil. Of the 80 airmen committed to the raid, eight were captured by Japanese forces with five executed and three sent to prison (where one died of malnutrition). All of the 72 other airmen found their way to safety with the help of Chinese farmers and guerrillas and continued to serve for the remainder of World War II.

The attack was a psychological blow for the Japanese, who moved four fighter groups and recalled top officers from the front lines of the Pacific to protect the cities in the event American bomber forces returned.

After the Doolittle Raid, Cole remained in the China-Burma-India Theater supporting the 5318th Provisional Air Unit as a C-47 pilot flying “The Hump,” a treacherous airway through the Himalayan Mountains. The USAAF created the 5318th PAU to support the Chindits, the long-range penetration groups that were special operations units of the British and Indian armies, with Cole as one of the first members of the U.S. special operations community. On March 25, 1944, the 5318th PAU was designated as the 1st Air Commando Group by USAAF commander Gen. Henry H. Arnold, who felt that an Air Force supporting a commando unit in the jungles of Burma should properly be called “air commandos.” Cole’s piloting skills blended well with the unconventional aerial tactics of Flying Tiger veterans as they provided fighter cover, bombing runs, airdrops and landing of troops, food and equipment as well as evacuation of casualties.

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat

Lt. Col. Dick Cole smiles while looking out of a B-25 aircraft April 20, 2013, on the Destin Airport, Fla. The B-25 is the aircraft he co-piloted during the Doolittle Raid.

(U.S. Air Force photo)

Cole retired from the Air Force on Dec. 31, 1966, as a command pilot with more than 5,000 flight hours in 30 different aircraft, more than 250 combat missions and more than 500 combat hours. His decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters; Air Medal with oak leaf cluster; Bronze Star Medal; Air Force Commendation Medal; and Chinese Army, Navy, Air Corps Medal, Class A, First Grade. All Doolittle Raiders were also awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in May 2014.

In his final years, he remained a familiar face at Air Force events in the San Antonio area and toured Air Force schoolhouses and installations to promote the spirit of service among new generations of airmen. On Sept. 19, 2016, Cole was present during the naming ceremony for the Northup Grumman B-21 Raider, named in honor of the Doolittle Raiders.

“We will miss Lt. Col. Cole, and offer our eternal thanks and condolences to his family,” Goldfein said. “The Legacy of the Doolittle Raiders — his legacy —will live forever in the hearts and minds of airmen, long after we’ve all departed. May we never forget the long blue line, because it’s who we are.”

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Are green laser sights or red laser sights better for US Special Operations?

The Special Operations Command (SOCOM) Family of Low Visibility and Concealable Pistols are a diverse array of pistol platforms that were quietly procured by SOCOM for US Special Operations units. Once procured, they were on the hunt for laser sights to attach to these low-vis firearms.

Designed to provide operators the ability to protect themselves in situations where they’re clothed in the local indigenous attire, street clothes or even a standard military uniform, but still needed a concealable weapon for personal defense. 

One of the low visibility platforms included in the procurement was the Glock 19. These pistols were bought in large numbers by various special operations units such as Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC), Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU) and Army Special Operations Command (USASOC). 

These concealable pistols needed to be effective in both broad daylight and in low light conditions for operations conducted during the night. To do that, they needed to equip these pistols with laser sights, but do they choose red laser sights, green laser sights, IR or a combination of visible and non-visible?

According to Crimson Trace, there’s a widely held misconception that special operations units use green laser sights when engaging threats during nighttime operations, a myth that’s been perpetuated by television and movies. Those laser sights that are clearly visible at night with night vision goggles (NVGs) are actually infrared laser sights and are not visible to the naked eye.

In broad daylight, especially in very bright conditions, the human eye is able to see green light better since the wavelengths emitted by green light trigger both the M-and L-cone receptor cells within the eye. Essentially, green light triggers a higher number of those 6 million cones inside the eye to react. In very bright conditions such as at the range on a clear, sunny day, green laser sights will be more visible on target than a red laser sight.

A team sweeps a room
Clandestine Media Group

A green laser sight, however, offers less of an advantage over a red laser sight in low light conditions. In low light conditions, the cones in the eye are able to pick up both red and green light almost equally well, so while green laser sights are significantly more visible than red light in bright sun, the two colors are both easily discernable in low light conditions. With that said, it almost makes sense for the military to go with green laser sights in order to cover both daytime and nighttime operations. 

There’s nothing wrong with mounting a red laser sight on firearms. They’re great if you want a laser on your pistol, shotgun or rifle. Red laser sights can be cheaper, their battery life lasts longer and they work great in low-light conditions and complete darkness. But they’re not green.

An operator uses a green laser sight
Clandestine Media Group
  1. Green lasers require more power and more power requires a higher electrical current to supply that power. Because of this, a green laser will drain your battery quicker than a red laser. 
  2. Our eyes perceive green laser sights to be brighter than red lasers because green is at the center of the wavelength spectrum of human eyesight. That being said, our eyes are just better at seeing a green laser over a red laser. Because of this, we are able to see a green laser sight in the sunlight much easier than a red laser sight. 

While the market for red laser sights has been a popular one for quite some time, the availability of green laser sights lights worthy of special operations units and the operations they undertake is a lot smaller of a market for the military. It really comes down to each mission set and what the requirements are. While many of these units operate primarily at night and use non-visible IR lasers, there are instances where they may need a laser sight for daytime operations. Mission dictates equipment.
Whether it’s red or green, having a laser sight for a pistol makes the firearm more versatile, accurate and deadly. Green laser sights will, however, enable the shooter to accurately engage threats in ALL light conditions. Shooters don’t have to align the iron sights with your eye to make an accurate shot, even at moderate ranges, enabling them to react quicker and more efficiently. No matter which color laser sight the military chooses, they really can’t go wrong with either in their inventory.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is how the Air Force plans to make its doomsday arsenal more deadly

The Air Force plans to fire off new prototype ICBMs in the early 2020s as part of a long-range plan to engineer and deploy next-generation, high-tech intercontinental ballistic missiles with improved range, durability, targeting technology and overall lethality, service officials said.


The service is already making initial technological progress on design work and “systems engineering” for a new arsenal of ICBMs to serve well into the 2070s – called Ground Based Strategic Deterrent, or GBSD.

Northrop Grumman and Boeing teams were recently awarded Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction deals from the Air Force as part of a longer-term developmental trajectory aimed at developing, testing, firing and ultimately deploying new ICBMs.

Overall, the Air Force plans to build as many as 400 new GBSD weapons to modernize the arsenal and replace the 1970s-era Boeing-built Minuteman IIIs.

The new weapons will be engineered with improved guidance technology, boosters, flight systems and command and control systems, compared to the existing Minuteman III missiles. The weapon will also have upgraded circuitry and be built with a mind to long-term maintenance and sustainability, developers said.

Initial subsystem prototypes are included within the scope of the current Boeing and Northrop deals, Col. Heath Collins, System Program Manager, GBSD, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

“Over the next three years, the GBSD prime contractors will develop and test those prototypes to demonstrate technical and integration design maturity. In the end, these prototypes will burn down risk early to ensure successful execution of the next acquisition phase,” Collins said.

Following this initial 3-year developmental phase, the Air Force plan an Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase and eventual deployment.

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat
An unarmed LGM-30G Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test Feb. 20, 2016, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Kyla Gifford)

Much attention has been focused on nuclear deterrence and the need for the US to modernize its arsenal, particularly in light of recent North Korean threats. Senior nuclear weapons developers have told Scout Warrior that upgraded guidance packages, durability and new targeting technology are all among areas of current developmental emphasis.

While, quite naturally, many of the details of the emerging new ICBMs are not available for discussion for security reasons, Collins did elaborate a bit on the systems engineering strategy being employed by Air Force developers.

Collins, an engineer himself, explained that the current acquisition strategy prioritizes model-based systems engineering designed to expedite technological development.

“Our approach to systems engineering leverages the power of 21st century technology to allow the program office to better “Own the Technical Baseline” through a spectrum of tools, models and simulations in a collaborative and interactive data environment,” Collins said.

The strategy, Collins explained, is intended the Air Force to better manage program and technical complexity through digital traceability and aggregation.

“This provides a single source of truth across the weapon system design, and allows a more comprehensive and deeper understanding of the architecture and design,” he said.

The new ICBMs will be deployed roughly within the same geographical expanse in which the current weapons are stationed. In total, dispersed areas across three different sites span 33,600 miles, including missiles in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Minot, North Dakota and Great Falls, Montana.

The Air Force plans to award the single EMD contract in late fiscal year 2020.

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat
ICBM. Date Unknown (U.S. Air Force Photo)

Excerpts from the previous report HERE:

If one were to passively reflect upon the seemingly limitless explosive power to instantly destroy, vaporize or incinerate cities, countries and massive swaths of territory or people — images of quiet, flowing green meadows, peaceful celebratory gatherings or melodious sounds of chirping birds might not immediately come to mind.

After all, lethal destructive weaponry does not, by any means, appear to be synonymous with peace, tranquility and collective happiness. However, it is precisely the prospect of massive violence which engenders the possibility of peace. Nuclear weapons therefore, in some unambiguous sense, can be interpreted as being the antithesis of themselves; simply put – potential for mass violence creates peace – thus the conceptual thrust of nuclear deterrence.

It is within this conceptual framework, designed to save millions of lives, prevent major great-power war and ensure the safety of entire populations, that the U.S. Air Force is now vigorously pursuing a new arsenal of land-fired, Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles, or ICBMs.

Nuclear Deterrence

Earlier this year, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten, said the United States has about the right numbers of nuclear weapons, but they need to be modernized.

A Pentagon statement said the General asked reporters to imagine what the world was like in the six years preceding the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. “In those six years, the world in conflict killed somewhere between 60 million and 80 million people,” he said. “That’s about 33,000 people a day, a million people a month.”

The world has seen bloody conflicts — Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom were awful, but nowhere near the level of carnage the world had experienced, he said.

“The submarines are the most survivable element of it; the ICBMs are the most ready; the bombers are the most flexible,” he said. “When you put those pieces together, it gives our nation the ability to withstand any attack and respond if we are attacked, which means we won’t be attacked.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

The USS Intrepid will muster its old crew for its 75th anniversary

The USS Intrepid is now permanently moored in New York City, where she’s been a museum ship since 1982. But her career stretches way back to World War II, where she was one of 24 Essex-class carriers built to fight the Japanese.


How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat
USS Intrepid burning after taking two Japanese kamikaze strikes.

Since then, she’s supported operations in the Atlantic Ocean, the Vietnam War, the Mercury and Gemini Space Programs, the U.S. Bicentennial Celebration, NATO operations, and — as a museum ship — an FBI operations center for responding to the September 11th attacks on New York City.

A lot of men and women have graced the decks of the “Fighting I.” Now, the Intrepid is calling them all back. Below is an announcement video of former crew members, calling their fellow shipmates back to the ship.

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Aug. 16, 2018 will mark the 75th anniversary of the commissioning of the Intrepid, now home to the Intrepid Sea, Air, Space Museum in New York City.  To mark the occasion, the Intrepid Museum is putting out a coast-to-coast “all call” for former crew members to reunite for its 75th Commissioning Anniversary Celebration Weekend from Thursday, Aug. 16 to Sunday, Aug.19, 2018 aboard the vessel.

For some, this will be the first time they’ve been aboard their ship since they left the service.

Intrepid was actually scheduled to be scrapped after its decommissioning in the 1970s, but a campaign, led by wealthy NYC real estate developers (and devotees of the U.S. Armed Forces) Larry and Zachary Fisher (who also founded the Fisher House Foundation), raised millions to refurbish the ship and establish the Intrepid Sea, Air, Space Museum.

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat
The Intrepid moving to New York City.

The museum is a non-profit, educational institution that also features the space shuttle Enterprise, the world’s fastest jets, and a guided missile submarine. Through exhibitions, educational programming, and the foremost collection of technologically groundbreaking aircraft and vessels, visitors are taken on a journey through history to learn about American innovation and bravery.

To learn more about this weekend and for registration information, former crew members and their family members can visit www.intrepidmuseum.org/75 or email fcm@intrepidmuseum.org.

Articles

Meet the first black woman to lead West Point cadets

Simone Askew. Remember her name.


She is the leader of the pack, so to speak, of the Class of 2021 at the US Military Academy at West Point, and the first black woman to hold the position.

That Cadet Askew shattered West Point’s glass ceiling is no small measure — no small measure in the armed forces, for sure, and no small measure of 21st century America.

The military, like the world of business, has long been considered a man’s world.

And the telltale signs of war, peace and tribalism reflect where we’ve been, where we are and where we’re headed. Cadet Askew and her teammates are leading America across a new threshold.

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat
West Point Academy. Photo courtesy of US Army.

For one, West Point is the oldest of our military academies. It was founded after President Thomas Jefferson, who had not served in the military but became commander in chief when he was sworn into office, signed the Military Peace Establishment Act in 1802. The act specified that the academy be established along the Hudson River in New York.

One of the largest footprints Cadet Askew is stepping into belongs to Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, West Point’s first black cadet captain and now commander of US Forces Korea.

“We are role models to a lot of young people, not just African-Americans and soldiers,” the now 58-year-old Gen. Brooks once said.

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat
Lt. Gen. Vincent K. Brooks. Photo by Staff Sgt. Nicholas Salcido.

Indeed, America’s current state of affairs proves that America’s future leaders will have much with which to contend. Geneneral Brooks, who, like Cadet Askew, attended high school in Fairfax County, Virginia, is staring down the barrel of the North Korea nuclear threat.

On the home front, civil unrest and tensions among various cultural factions make the rounds of daily news and undistilled social media every day.

Remember Shoshana Johnson and Jessica Lynch, the two soldiers who were captured in Iraq in 2003 during the “global war on terror”? The Marines rescued both, and both wrote successful biographies.

They, too, became role models even though their capture spawned anew the debate over whether women should even serve in combat areas.

Cadet Askew, 20, had barely entered grade school at the time.

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat
Simone Askew. (Photo from Ken Kraetzer via YouTube)

Cadet Askew not only is making history, she is studying it as well. In fact, her major is international history, an ever-changing subject in this ever-changing world of ours.

She also loves volleyball and is on the West Point crew team — understanding, as too many of America’s political leaders and wannabe political leaders do not, that team sports give you a different perspective on leadership.

The media gave anyone interested a glimpse of Cadet Simone Askew in her new role as first captain of cadets at West Point, leading the Long Grey Line of cadets on a 12-mile basic training trek — smiling all the way.

Cadet Askew already sounds like she’s preparing the Army Class of 2021 for the history books.

“It’s humbling,” she said, “but also exciting as I step into this new opportunity to lead the corps to greatness with my teammates with me.”

As I said, remember the name Simone Askew.

Articles

Can Russia make its missiles invisible?

С-400_«Триумф»


Russia wants to hide its most sophisticated air defense missiles from U.S. spy satellites and spy planes by using containers that block the emission of electromagnetic pulses caused when operating electronic equipment, a Russian newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Citing an anonymous Ministry of Defense source, the Russian newspaper Izvestia said the S-400 Triumf (NATO designation: SA-21 Growler) and the newly developed S-500 Promethey will receive special containers designed to the block side electromagnetic interference (EMI). The missiles, their launchers, radar units, command vehicles, and other vehicles essential to the weapons systems will be placed in the containers.

The article also described “booths” that could house personnel. All of the containers would be in different lengths and weights sufficient to hold vehicles and men.

They could be installed on the launcher’s chassis or transported by trucks and trains. Some of the containers have already entered mass production, while other types are currently being tested, according to the article.

“This year we plan to obtain containers intended particularly for the latest anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems including the S-500,” the anonymous source said. Izvestia described him as a Ministry of Defense specialist involved in creating electronic warfare systems.

Russian officials say that once deployed, the S-500 will be capable destroying aerial targets including hypersonic cruise missiles as well as intercontinental ballistic missiles and near-space targets such as nuclear warheads.

The S-400 is currently one of the most sophisticated surface-to-air missiles in the world, capable of targeting multiple threats hundreds of miles away. The Russian military first deployed S-400 in 2007; last year in November, the Russian government sent S-400 batteries to Khmeimim Air Base in Syria in response to the shoot-down of a Su-24M bomber by a Turkish F-16 fighter.

Russian propaganda sources such as the on-line magazine Sputnik and the Kremlin’s Instagram newsfeed tout the news as a way for the missiles to become “invisible.”

The article is vague about the technical details behind the containers. It says the containers have special coatings and sophisticated equipment that prevents the escape of EMI.

If it works, the containers could thwart the five super-secret Orion spy satellites which are designed to collect signals intelligence for the U.S. government from geosynchronous orbits above the Earth. Also, the U-2 spy plane is known to carry highly sensitive SIGINT gear capable of detecting EMI.

But “invisible”? That’s a stretch.

Both missile systems are big and they require support vehicles and personnel. Even in containers, it might still be possible for drones, spy planes, and satellites to photograph them –  even if the containers are disguised in some way – because they’ll stand out like a sore thumb because of sheer size alone.

Heat from the containers might also give their presence and contents away to the right equipment.

That said, there is historical precedent for concern about this development at Pentagon and in the intelligence community.

In 1962, the Soviets deployed intermediate-range ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and approximately 80 nuclear warheads to Cuba during Operation Anadyr. The discovery of the launch sites for some of those weapons led to the Cuban Missile Crisis, the closest the Cold War superpowers ever came to actual nuclear war.

One of the methods employed by the Soviets was the use of shipping containers and metal sheeting to mask the weapons transfer from the Soviet Union to Cuba while on board cargo vessels. The containers blocked the missiles from view; the metal sheets blocked infra-red surveillance that could have revealed the missiles.

Articles

Looks like the A-10 will battle the F-35 for CAS dominance after all

Despite Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh’s assertion that a head-to-head competition between the A-10 Warthog and the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter would be “silly,” Department of Defense officials tell the Washington Times there are now exercises in the planning stages to test the F-35’s close air support (CAS) capabilities.


Now that the Air Force has figured out why some F-35 jet engines ignite on takeoff, it’s ready to retire its A-10 fleet. Over it’s 30-plus years of service, the A-10 has become a beloved platform and a welcome sight and sound to troops on the ground who love to hear the distinctive sound of it’s nose cannon projecting freedom and 30 mm rounds on America’s enemies.

The Air Force wants to retire the Warthog for what it calls “budget cuts” — but most suspect this is to help pay for the development of the F-35. With a total price tag of $1.5 trillion, the F-35 is set to be the most expensive weapons program ever developed by any country ever. And for that price you get stealth and other high-tech gee-wizzary, but no BRRRRRRRRRRRRRT.

Retiring the A-10 is controversial to some members of Congress and the military who accuse the Air Force of planning to mothball the Warthog without providing a CAS replacement. Gen. Welsh claims the F-35 was never intended to replace the A-10’s CAS capability but that the F-35 was designed “with the whole battle space in mind.”

The tests are currently set to be held in 2018, which doesn’t really make sense because the software for the F-35’s guns isn’t scheduled to be delivered until 2019.

In the meantime the heated discussions will rage.

What do you think? Do we need to keep the A-10 or go all-in with the Joint Strike Fighter? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

 

NOW: The Air Force’s Trillion-Dollar Jet Lost a Dogfight to An Aircraft From the 70s

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