This robot Army working dog may one day accompany soldiers into combat - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

This robot Army working dog may one day accompany soldiers into combat

Army scientists have been working on a canine-like robot that’s designed to take commands from soldiers, much like real military working dogs.

The Legged Locomotion and Movement Adaptation (LLAMA) robot is an Army Research Laboratory effort to design and demonstrate a near-fully autonomous robot capable of going anywhere a soldier can go.

The program is distinctly different from an effort the Marine Corps jointly undertook with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, in 2010 to develop a four-legged mule robot to take equipment off the backs of Marines in field, officials from the Army Research Laboratory said.


It’s much more similar to Marine Corps research efforts around Spot, a four-legged hydraulic prototype designed for infantry teaming.

“We wanted to get something closer to a working dog for the soldier; we wanted it to be able to go into places where a soldier would go, like inside buildings,” Jason Pusey, a mechanical engineer at ARL, told Military.com.

This robot Army working dog may one day accompany soldiers into combat

(CCDC Army Research Laboratory)

“It’s supposed to be a soldier’s teammate, so we wanted to have a platform, so the soldier could tell the robot to go into the next building and get me the book bag and bring it back to me. That building might be across the battlefield, or it might have complex terrain that it has to cover because we want the robot to do it completely autonomously.”

The LLAMA effort began more than two years ago through the Robotics Collaborative Technology Alliance Program, a research effort intended to study concepts for highly intelligent unmanned robots.

“In the beginning we had a lot of wheeled and tracked systems, but we were looking at some unique mobility capabilities … and toward the end we decided we wanted something that we could incorporate a lot of this intelligence on a [robot] that had increased mobility beyond wheels and tracks,” Pusey said.

Army modernization officials have been working to develop autonomous platforms, but one of the major challenges has been teaching them how to negotiate obstacles on complex terrain.

“We picked … the legged platform, because when we get to an area where the soldier actually has to dismount from the vehicle and continue on through its mission that is the point where the legs become more relevant,” Pusey said.

Working with organizations such as NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Institute for Human Machine Cognition, ARL has developed a LLAMA prototype that’s able to take verbal commands and move independently across terrain to accomplish tasks, Pusey said.

This robot Army working dog may one day accompany soldiers into combat

The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Command Army Research Laboratory developed the Legged Locomotion and Movement Adaptation, or LLAMA, as part of the lab’s Robotics Collaborative Technology Alliance.

(U.S. Army photo by Jim Nelson)

“We wanted it to be very intelligent, so the soldier’s head doesn’t have to be down and looking at a screen,” Pusey said. “Similar to a working dog, we wanted it to be able to go across the way, get into the building, grab the bag and bring it back.”

“Right now, when we tell it to go across the rubble pile and to traverse the path, we are not joy-sticking it. It does it by itself.”

Program officials have been working to input automatic thinking into the LLAMA. With that capability, it wouldn’t have to think about the mechanics of running or avoiding an obstacle in its path any more than a human does.

Digital maps of the terrain the robot will operate on, along with specially identified objects, are stored in internal controllers that guide the dog’s thinking, said Geoffrey Slipher, chief of the Autonomous Systems Division.

“You can say, ‘go to the third barrel on the left,’ and it would know what you mean,” Slipher said.

If the map doesn’t have objects identified, operators could tell LLAMA to go to a specific map position.

“It would go there and it would use its sensors as it goes a long to map the environment and classify objects as it goes, so then you would have that information later on to refer to,” Slipher said.

“As a research platform, we are not looking at it maximizing range and endurance or any of these parameters; the objective of the design of this vehicle was to allow it to perform the functions as a research platform for long enough so we could answer questions, like how this or other autonomous systems would perform in the field.”

This robot Army working dog may one day accompany soldiers into combat

The Legged Locomotion and Movement Adaptation, or LLAMA, is the embodiment of the program’s research efforts in the area of advancements in autonomous off-road mobility.

(U.S. Army photo by Jim Nelson)

Pusey tried to relate the effort to trying to teach instinctive human reactions.

“If you slip on a step, what do you do? You normally will flail out your arms and try to grab for railings to save yourself, so you don’t damage a limb,” he said. “With a robot, we have to teach it that it’s slippery; you have to quickly step again or grab something. How do you kind of instill these inherent fundamental ideas into the robot is what we are trying to research.”

The LLAMA is also battery-powered, making it much quieter than Marine Corps’ Legged Squad Support System, Pusey said.

“One of the problems with the LS3 in the past was it … had a gas-powered engine, so it was loud and it had a huge thermal signature, which the Marines didn’t like,” he said, describing how the LLAMA has a very small thermal signature.

Despite the progress, it’s still uncertain if the LLAMA, in its current form, will one day work with soldiers since the research effort is scheduled to end in December.

“We are in the mode of this program is ending and what are we going to do next,” Pusey said. “There are multiple directions we can go but we haven’t quite finalized that plan yet.”

Currently, the Army has no requirement for a legged robot like LLAMA, Slipher said.

“One of the objectives of the follow-on research will be to study concepts of operation for these types of vehicles to help the senior leadership understand intuitively how a platform like this might or might not be useful,” he said.

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

Articles

Pentagon lifts ban on transgender troops serving openly in military

This robot Army working dog may one day accompany soldiers into combat
The Pentagon celebrates Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, and Transgender Pride Month. | US Navy photo by Chad J. McNeeley


In another historic change for the military, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on Thursday lifted the ban on transgender persons serving openly in the ranks, calling the move “the right thing to do” both practically and as a matter of principle.

Starting immediately, “Otherwise qualified service members can no longer be involuntarily separated, discharged, or denied re-enlistment or continuation of service just for being transgender,” he said at a Pentagon news conference. “Our military, and the nation it defends, will be stronger” as a result, he said.

The secretary said he was acting to ensure that the military of the future had access to the widest talent pool. “We don’t want barriers unrelated to a person’s qualification to serve preventing us from recruiting or retaining the soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine who can best accomplish the mission,” he said.

Another reason for lifting the ban was to end discrimination against those who are transgender and currently serving, Carter said.

He cited Rand Corp. statistics estimating that about 2,500 people out of approximately 1.3 million active-duty service members and about 1,500 out of about 825,000 reserve service members are transgender. The upper range estimates put the number of transgender persons on active duty at 7,000 and at 4,000 in the reserves, he said.

Most importantly, allowing transgender persons to serve openly was a matter of fairness and living up to the American principles of equal treatment and opportunity under the law, Carter said.

“Americans who want to serve and can meet our standards should be afforded the opportunity to compete to do so,” he said.

Carter quoted Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, who said, “The United States Army is open to all Americans who meet the standard, regardless of who they are. Embedded within our Constitution is that very principle, that all Americans are free and equal.”

The lifting of the transgender ban was the latest in a series of rapid and wide-reaching social and cultural changes in the military going back to the 2011 action to end the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy against gays serving openly in the military and continuing through Carter’s move last January to lift restrictions on women serving in combat.

Critics have scorned the changes as “social engineering” that would impact readiness and the ability to fight, and the transitions have been adopted reluctantly by many in the upper ranks.

Significantly, Carter was standing alone at the podium when he made the transgender announcement. In matters of major policy statements, the defense secretary is usually joined by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but Gen. Joseph Dunford was absent.

Dunford was also absent when Carter announced that he was opening combat military occupational specialties to women. As commandant, Dunford had urged closing some combat positions in the Marine Corps to women.

When asked about Dunford’s absence, Carter did not respond directly.

“This is my decision,” he said.

Carter said the decision was supported by the “senior leadership,” but did not say whether Dunford was included in the senior leadership.

Criticism of Carter’s action from Capitol Hill was immediate. Rep. Mac Thornberry, a Texas Republican and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, called the announcement as “the latest example of the Pentagon and the President prioritizing politics over policy.”

“Our military readiness — and hence, our national security — is dependent on our troops being medically ready and deployable,” Thornberry said. “The administration seems unwilling or unable to assure the Congress and the American people that transgender individuals will meet these individual readiness requirements at a time when our armed forces are deployed around the world.”

However, Carter had the authority to change the policy on his own, and it appeared that Congress could do little to block him. Thornberry was vague on whether Congress might seek to act. His statement said that “Congress would examine legislative options to address any readiness issues that might be associated with the new policy.”

OutServe-Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, or SLDN, a group supporting the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender military community, praised the lifting of the ban. “Transgender service members have been awaiting this announcement for months and years. It has been long overdue,” said Matt Thorn, executing director of the group.

Thorn said Carter “has given a breath of relief and overdue respect to transgender service members who have been and are currently serving our country with undeniable professionalism, the utmost respect and illustrious courage, with the caveat to do so silently. Today, we mark history, once again, by ending the need to serve in silence.”

Carter had made his position on the transgender ban clear last July, when he called the ban “outdated” and ordered a study on lifting it.

“I directed the working group to start with the presumption that transgender persons can serve openly without adverse impact on military effectiveness and readiness, unless and except where objective, practical impediments are identified,” he said.

The study looked at other militaries that already allow transgender service members to serve openly. Currently, about 18 militaries allow transgender service, including those of Britain, Israel, Australia, Brazil and Chile.

Based on the analysis of other militaries, Rand concluded that there would be “minimal readiness impacts from allowing transgender service members to serve openly,” Carter said. Rand also estimated that health care costs would represent “an exceedingly small proportion” of the department’s overall health care expenditures, he said.

The Pentagon signaled it plans to pay for costs associated with transgender health care.

“Medically necessary” gender reassignment surgery and medications will also be covered beginning in about 90 days, Carter said.

“Our doctors will give them medically necessary procedures as determined by the medical professions,” he said. “In no later than 90 days, the DoD will issue a commanders’ guidebook for leading transgender troops, as well as medical guidance to military doctors for transgender-related care.”

The success of changing the policy on transgender service will be determined by how the changes are put in place, said Carter, who set out a year-long course of gradual implementation.

Within three months, the department will issue a commanders’ guidebook on how to deal with currently-serving transgender service members, along with guidance to doctors for providing transition-related care if required to currently-serving transgender service members, Carter said. Also within that time period, service members will be able to initiate the process for officially changing their gender in personnel management systems, he said.

Following the guidance period, the focus will turn to training the entire force on the new rules — “from commanders, to medical personnel, to the operating force and recruiters,” Carter said.

By the one-year mark, all service branches will begin allowing transgender individuals to join the armed forces, assuming they meet accession standards. Also, an otherwise-qualified individual’s gender identity will not be considered a bar to admission to a military service academy, or participation in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps or any other accession program if the individual meets the new criteria.

Immediately, however, transgender soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen will no longer have to live with the possibility of being booted from the service or denied re-enlistment solely because they are transgender, Carter said. “Service members currently on duty will be able to serve openly,” he said.

On the subject of “gender re-assignment” surgery, Carter said the Pentagon will not pay for recruits to have it. “Our initial accession policy will require an individual to have completed any medical treatment that their doctor has determined is necessary in connection with their gender transition and to have been stable in their identified gender for 18 months, as certified by their doctor, before they can enter the military,” said.

The decision on whether to allow those already in the ranks to have gender re-assignment surgery paid for by DoD would be up to the individual’s military doctor, Carter said. “The medical standards don’t change,” Carter said, and all service members will be entitled to “all the medical care that doctors deem necessary.”

— Amy Bushatz contributed to this report.

— Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Afghanistan and the Taliban hold talks amid a wave of violence

Afghan officials are carrying out at least two tracks of talks with the Taliban, The Associated Press has learned, even after a month of brutal bombings and attacks by the militants that killed nearly 200 and despite President Donald Trump’s angry rejection of any negotiations for now.


The persistence of the back-channel contacts reflects the desire to keep a door open for reconciliation even as the Afghan government and its top ally, the United States, fumble for a strategy to end the protracted war, now entering its 17th year. Rifts within the Afghan government have grown vast, even as the Taliban gain territory and wage increasingly ruthless tactics.

The United States has unleashed heavier air power against the Taliban and other militants. After the string of Taliban attacks in recent weeks, Trump angrily condemned the group. “We don’t want to talk with the Taliban,” he said. “There may be a time but it’s going to be a long time.”

Continued reading: President Trump rejects negotiations with the Taliban

Still, Afghanistan’s intelligence chief Masoom Stanikzai and its National Security Chief Mohammed Hanif Atmar continue to each talk separately to the Taliban, say those familiar with the backdoor negotiations. The problem, however, is that neither is talking to the other or to the High Peace Council, which was created by the government to talk peace with the Taliban, they said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the contacts.

Hakim Mujahid, a member of the High Peace Council, confirmed that Stanikzai still has regular contacts with the Taliban’s point man for peace talks, Mullah Abbas Stanikzai. The two are not related.

Mujahid — who was the Taliban’s representative to the United Nations during the group’s five-year rule of Afghanistan that ended in 2001 — said the group would not respond well to Trump’s tough talk. “The language of power, the language of threat will not convince Afghans to surrender,” he said.

This robot Army working dog may one day accompany soldiers into combat
President Donald Trump.(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Andrew Wilder, vice president of the Asia Program at the U.S. Institute of Peace, said multiple players in Kabul have contacts with the Taliban. “But this isn’t being done in a coordinated manner to achieve clearly defined objectives,” he said.

Late February 2018, representatives from dozens of countries are to meet for a second time in the Afghan capital for the so-called Kabul process aimed at forging a path to peace. The first round was held in June 2017.

Also read: A new animated film details Afghan life under the Taliban

Still, the latest spate of violence has limited options for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who is also fending off a mini-revolt within his own government, feuding with the vice president as well as a powerful northern governor.

Meanwhile, the former No. 2 of the Taliban, Aga Jan Motasim, who still counts the radical religious movement’s leader Mullah Habaitullah Akhunzada among his friends, warned that Trump’s strategy of using the military to force a more compliant Taliban to the negotiation table could lead to more suicide attacks.

From within his fortress style house in Kabul, protected by steel gates and gunmen, Motasim said he wants to be a bridge between the government and Taliban.

Motasim was a senior member of the Taliban leadership shura, or council, until 2010 when he was shot 12 times after advocating peace negotiations with the Afghan government. Blame for the shooting has been directed at both elements within the Taliban who opposed peace talks and Pakistan’s powerful spy agency, often seen as the force behind the Taliban.

Motasim now travels in a bullet-proof car and even his friends have to be announced by men with weapons before they are allowed to enter. He spends his time between Kabul, where he talks to the government, and in Turkey, from where he can contact his former Taliban colleagues.

The 2010 shooting of Motasim in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi reflects the deadly conundrum that confounds efforts to find a peaceful end to Afghanistan’s war.

Related: This is how much of Afghanistan the Taliban reportedly control

Pakistan is accused of giving sanctuary to the Taliban to assert influence in Afghanistan and to counter what it sees as growing influence of India in Afghanistan. Pakistan flatly denies the allegation, but Taliban who have advocated peace talks that threaten to sideline Pakistan have often ended up arrested, dead or forced to live elsewhere.

Pakistan has its own complaints about Afghanistan, saying it allows its territory to be used by anti-Pakistan militants who have staged horrific attacks in Pakistan. It also charges that Afghanistan is being used by hostile India to destabilize its troubled border regions.

The United States has suspended military aid to Pakistan to press it into kicking out Taliban. But Washington also says it sees Pakistan as key to bringing a peaceful end to the Afghan war.

Increasingly, the Taliban have gained control of areas inside Afghanistan. Even Washington’s own Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, or SIGAR, says more than half of Afghanistan is either under direct Taliban control or under their influence. Other estimates put the figure as high as 70 percent.

More reading: Taliban target covert US base in Afghanistan

Washington’s reaction to the news of Taliban territorial gains has been to prevent SIGAR from releasing estimates of territory gained or lost by the government, the special inspector general’s office reported last month. Washington has also classified information regarding the strength and performance of Afghanistan’s security forces.

In a report SIGAR said $72 billion of the $120 billion spent in Afghanistan since the war began went to the country’s security.

“Clearly, the time is ripe to ask why an undertaking begun in 2002 and costing $70 billion has — so far — not yielded bigger dividends,” the report said.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Now there are NSA cyberweapons for sale on the black market

The National Security Agency, the US’s largest and most secretive intelligence agency, has been deeply infiltrated by anonymous hackers, as detailed in a New York Times exposé published Nov. 12.


The NSA, which compiles massive troves of data on American citizens and organizes cyber-offensives against the U.S.’s enemies, was deeply compromised by a group known as the Shadow Brokers, which has made headlines in the past year in connection to the breach, whose source remains unclear.

Read Also: These special Army cyber teams are hacking ISIS comms

The group now posts cryptic, mocking messages pointed toward the NSA as it sells the cyber-weapons, created at huge cost to US taxpayers, to any and all buyers, including US adversaries like North Korea and Russia.

This robot Army working dog may one day accompany soldiers into combat
Kim Jong Un (left) and Vladimir Putin are all too happy to buy up that juicy NSA info. (Kim Jong Un photo from Driver Photography, Putin from Moscow Kremlin)

“It’s a disaster on multiple levels,” Jake Williams, a cybersecurity expert who formerly worked on the NSA’s hacking group, told The Times. “It’s embarrassing that the people responsible for this have not been brought to justice.”

“These leaks have been incredibly damaging to our intelligence and cyber-capabilities,” Leon Panetta, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, told The Times. “The fundamental purpose of intelligence is to be able to effectively penetrate our adversaries in order to gather vital intelligence. By its very nature, that only works if secrecy is maintained and our codes are protected.”

Read More: Former NSA contractor allegedly stole docs seemingly far more sensitive than Snowden’s

Furthermore, a wave of cyber-crime has been linked to the release of the NSA’s leaked cyber-weapons.

Another NSA source who spoke with The Times described the attack as being at least, in part, the NSA’s fault. The NSA has long prioritized cyber-offense over securing its own systems, the source said. As a result, the US now essentially has to start over on cyber-initiatives, Panetta said.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Why 5th generation ‘minus’ fighters are the future

Last month, the U.S. Air Force made headlines around the world by suggesting that a new “5th generation minus” fighter might be the answer to the branch’s operational cost woes. After years of touting the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter as the future of military aviation, this announcement led to a flurry of headlines characterizing the F-35 as a failed program. Although that may be an unfair characterization of the aircraft itself (as we’ve discussed before), there’s no denying that the Joint Strike Fighter has proven to be both less capable and far more expensive than originally intended.

In truth, the Air Force didn’t write off the F-35 last month and more than it has in the past–like in 2018 when the branch threatened to reduce its order of F-35s in order to offset the aircraft’s high operating costs. Now, as then, the argument hasn’t been about whether or not the F-35 is a highly capable jet. In fact, among aviators who have spent time at the stick of the stealthy fighter, there’s little question as to how handy it is in a fight. The problem is, as is so often the case, really about money.

The F-35 is capable, but it’s also expensive.

This robot Army working dog may one day accompany soldiers into combat
(Lockheed Martin photo/Tom Reynolds)

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s procurement price has lowered consistently over the past decade to the point where its per-unit price is now actually lower than that of the 4th generation powerhouse F-15EX being purchased as replacements for the force’s aging F-15s. That price is awfully misleading, however, for a number of important reasons.

A new F-35A will set the Air Force back a cool $77.9 million. For that price, the Air Force gets the stealthiest fighter on the planet with the best data fusion capabilities a fighter has ever seen… but only for 8,000 flight hours or so. Each of those hours, it’s important to note, cost the Air Force around $44,000.

The F-15EX, on the other hand, rings in at slightly more: about $80 million per jet–and while it may not be stealthy, the new F-15s are expected to have a whopping 20,000-hour operational lifespan, with each of those hours costing the branch about $29,000. Of course, it’s important to remember that the F-15EX isn’t a suitable replacement for the F-35… they really do fill very different roles.

This robot Army working dog may one day accompany soldiers into combat
Two F-35A Lightning IIs from the 388th Fighter Squadron, Hill AFB, Utah, and three F-15C Eagles from the 493rd Fighter Squadron, RAF Lakenheath, England, fly in formation during a training sortie over the United Kingdom. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Tech. Sgt. Roidan Carlson)

The F-35 is a multi-role aircraft that isn’t the fastest or most nimble, nor does it carry a ton of firepower… but it is incredibly difficult to target, and perhaps most important of all, its onboard computers can manage disparate data from near and far sensors in a way no aircraft before it ever could. Having an F-35 in the neighborhood can actually make 4th generation jets nearby more lethal, thanks to fused data stream F-35 pilots have access to from inside their $400,000 helmets.

“There has never been an aircraft that provides as much situational awareness as the F-35,” explained Major Justin “Hasard” Lee, an F-35 pilot in the Air Force Reserves.

“In combat, situational awareness is worth its weight in gold.”

This is really what Air Force Chief of Staff General Charles Q. Brown, Jr was getting at in his recent comments that took the world by storm.

“You don’t drive your Ferrari to work every day, you only drive it on Sundays,” Brown said.

“This is our ‘high end’ [fighter], we want to make sure we don’t use it all for the low-end fight.”

This robot Army working dog may one day accompany soldiers into combat
An F-35 Lightning II flies alongside an F-16 Fighting Falcon (U.S. Air Force photo)

If money were no object, the Air Force would probably be happy to replace every F-16 in the force with a shiny new F-35, but ongoing issues with the aircraft have stalled full-rate production for years, and truthfully, the Air Force couldn’t afford to fly a fleet of F-35s that large. It’s probably also important to note that if money were really no object, the Air Force would probably kickstart production of the F-22 for air superiority roles again. Though, it’s important to note that restarting the F-22 would likely cost far more than developing a new and better fighter. Much of the supply chain and facilities used for the F-22 have since been cannibalized by the F-35 here in the money-is-an-object dimension we’re all trapped in.

6th Generation fighters won’t be any better

This robot Army working dog may one day accompany soldiers into combat
Artist’s rendering of a 6th generation fighter (U.S. Air Force)

So, with the understanding that the F-35 isn’t a cost-effective solution to tactical operations in uncontested or lightly contested environments, some may be apt to suggest we go all-in on the development of a “6th generation” fighter like the one the Air Force claims to have already tested. That approach, however, isn’t going to solve the F-35’s budgetary woes. Chances are, a more advanced fighter would exacerbate them.

The reason the F-35 has proven so expensive is really a combination of its unprecedented nature and poor acquisition policies within the Defense Department. When the Joint Strike Fighter program began. Lockheed Martin’s X-35 and Boeing’s X-32 were asked to build something with a broader capability set and greater technological requirements than any fighter that had come before them. In a very real way, many within the aviation industry weren’t even sure an aircraft could do all the things the Pentagon wanted from this new fighter.

This robot Army working dog may one day accompany soldiers into combat
The Boeing X-32, left, and the Lockheed X-35, right. (Boeing)

“If you were to go back to the year 2000 and somebody said, ‘I can build an airplane that is stealthy and has vertical takeoff and landing capabilities and can go supersonic,’ most people in the industry would have said that’s impossible,” Tom Burbage, Lockheed’s general manager for the program from 2000 to 2013 told The New York Times.

“The technology to bring all of that together into a single platform was beyond the reach of industry at that time.”

It was the F-35’s forward reaching goals, combined with a policy of concurrent production wherein Lockheed Martin would start delivering F-35s before they had been fully tested, that would eventually turn the program into a cautionary tale for defense budgeteers. And while some elements of the acquisition process have improved as a result… a “6th generation” fighter would struggle under some of the same challenges.

This robot Army working dog may one day accompany soldiers into combat
Lockheed Martin’s X-35C during testing. (WikiMedia Commons)

Fighter generational designations are not based on military standards or government policy–they’re really nothing more than industry terms used to lump fighters of similar capabilities together. Currently, there are no established requirements for what makes a “6th generation” fighter, but by its very definition, it would have to represent a significant jump in capability over fighters like the F-35 or F-22. New technology is always more expensive than the stuff you have on your shelf.

As such, a next-generation fighter would indeed offer useful new capabilities, but likely in a package that’s not much easier to pay for than our current stable of stealth jets. America needs to field such a fighter, but in the short term, putting all of our eggs in that basket likely would result in more fiscal woes, rather than fewer.

4th Generation fighters are part of the answer

This robot Army working dog may one day accompany soldiers into combat
The first U.S. Air Force F-15EX fighter aircraft took its maiden flight February 2, 2021 in St. Louis. The 173rd Fighter Wing is scheduled to become the F-15EX Fighter Training Unit in 2024. (Photo Courtesy of Boeing/Eric Shindelbower)

Any time you mention funneling money into new 4th generation fighter programs like the F-15EX or the Block III F/A-18 Super Hornet, the response is the same: “Why buy old, non-stealthy fighters in this era of F-35s, F-22s, Su-57s, and J-20s?”

The answer is actually pretty simple. These stealth jets are unnecessarily expensive for combat sorties over places like Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, or most of Africa–all of which currently see U.S. troops embedded with local militaries for varying sorts of combat and anti-terror operations. Why pay $44,000 an hour for close air support when the better suited A-10 can do it for a measly $19,000 per hour?

This robot Army working dog may one day accompany soldiers into combat
It’s pretty spectacular that firing 1,800 depleted uranium rounds at your target per minute is considered a “cost saver.” (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jonathan Snyder)

And therein lies the importance of America’s legacy aircraft. In order to balance current combat operations with mitigating threats posed by near-peer nations like China, the U.S. needs jets that can handle today’s fight without draining the budget, so it can afford to build the right aircraft for the threats looming on the horizon.

Regardless of what sensational headlines may have told you in recent weeks, the F-35 isn’t seen as a failure among most of the Pentagon’s decision-makers. And thanks to the political insulation F-35 production has as a result of Lockheed spreading its facilities across most of America’s 50 states, few lawmakers are apt to vote against it either. The F-35 is here to stay. Now America needs to find ways to support it with other highly capable aircraft.

“The F-35 is the cornerstone of what we’re pursuing. Now we’re going to have the F-35, we’re getting it out, and we’re going to have it for the future,” Brown explained.

“The reason I’m looking at this fighter study is to have a better understanding of not only the F-35s we’re going to get but the other aspects of what complements the F-35.”

5th Generation “Minus” fighters may be just what the budget doctor ordered

This robot Army working dog may one day accompany soldiers into combat
South Korea and Indonesia’s KAI KF-X design is stealthier than an F-16, but less capable than an F-35, potentially making it the world’s first 5th generation “minus” fighter. (WikiMedia Commons)

This brings us to General Brown’s recent statements about developing a “clean sheet” fighter that couples some of the technological leaps found in 5th generation computing powerhouses like the F-35 with some of the cost savings found in 4th generation workhorses like the F-15EX. The result would be an aircraft that isn’t as advanced as the F-35, but more capable than non-stealthy 4th generation jets. This concept can already be found in the joint South Korean and Indonesian fighter program dubbed KAI KF-X.

This robot Army working dog may one day accompany soldiers into combat
The KAI KF-X prototype shown here may become the world’s first operational 5th generation “minus” fighter. (Korea Aerospace Industries)

The truth is, nothing in war stays the same, least of all technology. As new air defense systems are developed, older systems become more affordable. In time, America may well find itself operating in airspace that is more contested than we currently find in the Middle East, but not quite as heavily defended as Moscow or Beijing.

In much the same way the F-117 was tasked with flying ahead of the non-stealth aircraft participating in Desert Storm so they could bomb Baghdad as the fighting kicked off, F-35s and B-21 Raiders will likely fill that role in the future. It would be the job of America’s stealthiest platforms to soften up target areas for the rest of the force, engaging anti-ship platforms with the long-range B-21 to move carriers in, and then anti-air platforms with carrier-launched F-35s–as one example.

This robot Army working dog may one day accompany soldiers into combat
A U.S. B-2A Spirit bomber assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing and a Royal Netherlands air force F-35A conduct aerial operations in support of Bomber Task Force Europe 20-2 over the North Sea.(U.S. Air Force photo/ Master Sgt. Matthew Plew)

Once those two objectives have been met, less stealthy aircraft can move in. Once air dominance has been established, so can the non-stealthy missile and bomb trucks like the F/A-18 Super Hornets.

By fielding an aircraft that adopts a stealth design but perhaps doesn’t rely as much on costly-to-maintain radar-absorbent coating, you get a plane that’s more survivable than an F-16 and cheaper than an F-35. If these aircraft are cheap enough, they can even replace 4th generation fighters in lightly contested airspace, making them more able to respond to a surprise development than older jets. Likewise, data fusion capabilities, while not as powerful as the F-35s, would give pilots more situational awareness, also increasing their survivability, as well as offensive capability.

This robot Army working dog may one day accompany soldiers into combat
(U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Brett Clashman)

“When I think about that capability, I’m also thinking about the threat that we see today but the threat we’re projecting for the future,” Brown said.

“I want to have an understanding, which is why the study to me is important so we don’t just build something without thinking about the threat but also thinking about the complete fighter force. Not just the F-35 or NGAD.”

In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need fighters. In a slightly less perfect world, they’d all be as stealthy as the F-35 and as dominant as the F-22. We live in neither, so in order to win America’s next war while supporting the ones we’re in, some budgetary compromise is required. A 5th generation “minus” fighter may be just that compromise.

Feature image courtesy of Korea Aerospace Industries

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.

Articles

Army Reserve captain killed in mass shooting at Orlando nightclub

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Antonio Davon Brown, a 29-year-old captain in the U.S. Army Reserve, was one of 49 people who was killed in the shooting. | Photo courtesy Texas AM University


A U.S. Army Reserve officer was among those killed in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Antonio Davon Brown, 29, was a captain in the Army Reserve and slain in the attack Sunday at an Orlando nightclub, Cynthia Smith, a spokeswoman at the Defense Department, confirmed in an interview with Military.com.

The Pentagon plans to release more details about Brown’s service record on Tuesday, according to Smith.

Brown was a member of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) while a student at Florida AM University.

“We are especially saddened by the news that one of the victims was part of the FAMU family,” the university said in a statement.

“29-year-old Antonio Davon Brown was a criminal justice major from Cocoa Beach, Florida and a member of ROTC during his time on the Hill. He graduated from FAMU in 2008 and is being remembered fondly by classmates and fellow alumni on social media. We will continue to update you about plans for a memorial or service of remembrance for alumnus Brown,” it said.

“In the meantime, the Florida AM University community stands with the entire Orlando community in the wake of tragedy,” the university said. “Our thoughts, and prayers for peace, are with everyone in central Florida and across this nation.”

The gunman was identified as Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, a 29-year-old U.S. citizen and Muslim who lived in Fort Pierce, Florida, and whose parents were of Afghan origin. While he was apparently acting alone, he had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.

The incident was the deadliest mass shooting in American history, with at least 50 individuals confirmed dead, including the gunman, who was killed in a shootout with police, and another 53 injured. Several remain critically injured.

The shooting began around 2 a.m. Sunday morning at a packed Orlando nightclub called Pulse, which caters to the lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender, or LBGT, community and lasted until around 5 a.m., when a SWAT team raided the building.

The shooting is also the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001, when al-Qaeda militants crashed airliners into the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon near Washington, D.C., and a field in Pennsylvania, killing nearly 3,000 people.

One Twitter user said she and Brown served in the same ROTC class and that he served tours of duty in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I can hardly breathe,” she tweeted. “I never thought any one of us from Class of 08 would die young. We all came back from war safely.

“He killed my friend, my battle buddy,” she said of the shooter. “CPT Antonio Brown survived Iraq and Afghanistan to die like this.”

She went on to describe an incident during her senior year. After she was unsuspectingly dropped from her parents’ health insurance, she got sick with the flu and passed out during class. Brown and his roommate carried her to his car and drove her four hours from Tallahassee to Fort Stewart, Georgia, so she could receive treatment from the Army.

“Antonio saved my life when no one else could be bothered to care,” she said.

Articles

This could be the Air Force’s next jet trainer (and aggressor aircraft too)

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Lockheed Martin


The Northrop T-38 Talon is one of the oldest aircraft still serving in the United States Air Force, functioning as an advanced jet trainer for future fighter pilots who’ll eventually make their way to the cockpit of an F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-15 Eagle, or F-22 Raptor. The Talon gives trainee pilots a feel for what it’s like to fly and fight in a supersonic aircraft that can mimic the handling characteristics of current 4th generation fighters to a fair degree. But with the impending advent of the Air Force’s brand new F-35A Lightning II, and the upcoming F-X Next Generation Tactical Air fighter, which will supersede the F-22 and F-15, it’s time for a new lead-in trainer. One that’s better suited to adapting future fighter pilots to the ultra-modern cockpits of the next level of fighter aviation.

Well, that, and the Talon is just plain old. Having taken to the skies for the first time in early 1959, and with full-rate production ceasing in 1972, the T-38 is due to be retired and replaced in the coming years with an aircraft that’ll be able to serve the needs of the Air Force going into 2020 and beyond. Though the formal program to replace the aging T-38 hasn’t yet started, Lockheed Martin has already taken the initiative to showcase its proposal for a prospective T-X trainer.

This robot Army working dog may one day accompany soldiers into combat
Lockheed Martin

Working closely with Korea Aerospace Industries to redevelop their FA-50 Golden Eagle (which Lockheed Martin helped fund back in the 1990s), they came up with the T-50A. The Golden Eagle was actually built from the ground up as a supersonic light fighter, similar to the T-38’s fighter variant, the F-5 Freedom Fighter/Tiger II. Modifications that’ll meet T-X specifications include a new dorsal refueling receptacle, designed to mate with the typical boom/probe setup used by Air Force fighters, and a state-of-the-art glass cockpit similar to the one found in the F-35 Lightning II, featuring a large area display (LAD). The T-50A will also be equipped with the FA-50’s integrated EW (electronic warfare) suite, but will likely lack the 20mm .

The aircraft that eventually wins the T-X contract could also very well be used for the Air Force’s unique F-22 Raptor air combat training program as adversary “Red Air” fighters.

This robot Army working dog may one day accompany soldiers into combat
Korea Airspace Industries

 

MIGHTY CULTURE

Navy prepares for healthy Thanksgiving feast

As Thanksgiving approaches, Navy Culinary Specialists (CS) around the world are preparing to serve sailors a healthy variety of traditional fare.

This year, the Navy plans to serve an estimated 105,000 pounds of roast turkey, 24,000 pounds of stuffing, 54,000 pounds of mashed potatoes, 20,000 pounds of sweet potatoes, 5,000 pounds of cranberry sauce, and 4,500 gallons of gravy.


In support of the Navy’s ongoing Go for Green nutrition awareness program, the food offered in shore and ship galleys during Thanksgiving will be labeled to encourage healthy food choices; green (eat often), yellow (eat occasionally), and red (eat rarely), along with a salt shaker graphic to measure sodium content. The food classification is based on calories, total fat, cholesterol, and sodium content. Go for Green encourages healthier food and beverage selections to support peak physical and cognitive performance of sailors. The Navy food service team takes professional pride in their quality service and important contributions to fleet health and readiness.

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The combined leadership of Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, and U.S. Embassy Djibouti staff, serve a Thanksgiving meal to forward-deployed service members, civilians, and contractors, Nov. 22, 2018.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Shannon D. Barnwell)

About 7,000 Culinary Specialists serve in our Navy today. They receive extensive training in culinary arts, hotel management and other hospitality industry areas. Culinary Specialists provide food service, catering and hospitality services for sailors, senior government executives, and within the White House Mess for the President of the United States.

They are responsible for all aspects of the shipboard mess decks and shore duty living areas, and are vital to maintaining high crew morale on ships, construction battalions and shore bases.

This article originally appeared on United States Navy. Follow @USNavy on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Air Force is finally designing female-specific flight equipment

The Air Force is working to redesign the gear used by female pilots across the force after facing challenges with current flight equipment.

“We have women performing in every combat mission, and we owe it to them to have gear that fits, is suited for a woman’s frame and (one) can be in for hours on end,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein at a Defense Writers Group breakfast, March 2018 in Washington, D.C.

The majority of the equipment currently worn by pilots was built off anthropometric data from the 1960s, a time when only men were in aviator roles.

The lack of variety and representation in the current designs have caused multiple issues for women, said Col. Samantha Weeks, the 14th Flying Training Wing commander, assigned to Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi.


Many of the uniform issues circulate around G-suits, flight suits, urinary devices and survival vests.

“The challenges other female aviators and I face are the fit and availability of our flight equipment,” said Capt. Lauren Ellis, 57th Adversary Tactics Group executive officer.

Limited sizes and accessibility often force aircrew to order the wrong size and have it extensively altered to fit properly, taking time and money away from the mission, Ellis said.

This robot Army working dog may one day accompany soldiers into combat

A participant of the Female Flight Equipment Workshop writes down issues women experience with current urinary devices at AFWERX Vegas, Las Vegas, Jan. 30, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bailee A. Darbasie)

“All of the bladders on my G-suit need to be modified,” Ellis said. “It’s a lot of work for the Aircrew Flight Equipment, or AFE, Airmen. Even after they’re modified, the proportions don’t fit.”

G-suits are vital anti-gravity gear for aviators. The bladders in the suit fill with air and apply pressure to the pilot’s body to prevent a loss of consciousness during high levels of acceleration. Not having a properly fitted G-suit could lead to hypoxia followed by unconsciousness.

Ellis said ill-fitting flight suits are a common problem for men and women. Aircrew who are significantly above or below average height have a hard time finding suits that fit their body type.

Even if a woman found a flight suit close to her size, the flight-suit zipper is designed for men—not women. Female aircrew struggle with relieving themselves during flights because the flight-suit zipper isn’t designed low enough for them to properly use their urinary devices.

“There are flight suits that were designed with longer zippers for women, but they’re almost never available,” Ellis said. “It’s common for females to have to wait months to receive the flight suit they’ve ordered which causes them to have to wear the male one.”

This robot Army working dog may one day accompany soldiers into combat

Participants of the Female Flight Equipment Workshop review various flight-suits designs at AFWERX Vegas, Las Vegas, Jan. 30, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bailee A. Darbasie)

Along with the possibility of injury and discomfort associated with G-suits and flight suits, women struggle to get their life-saving gear to fit accordingly. The process of ejecting is so powerful, even pilots with well-fitting gear are at a serious risk of injury. It’s important for aviators to be heard and the modernization of equipment for everyone continues, Ellis said.

“In certain situations, having ill-fitting gear, such as harnesses and survival vests, can result in a loss of life,” Ellis said. “If an aircrew member ejects from the aircraft with equipment that doesn’t fit, they can be severely injured or lose their life.”

The Air Force and Air Combat Command are working to find a feasible solution for aircrew members.

Part of the strategy to correct the uniform problem was to take part in several collaborative Female Flight Equipment Workshops at AFWERX Vegas. Female Airmen stationed across the globe traveled to the innovation hub and attended the workshops to explore areas of opportunity and come up with proposed solutions.

“The purpose of the workshops is to bring together female aviators, Aircrew Flight Equipment, Human Systems Program Office personnel and subject matter experts to understand the current products, the acquisition process and the actual needs from the field,” Weeks said.

Throughout the workshops, aviators participated in briefings, as well as discussions and exercises with the agencies involved in the design and distribution of their gear.

“The Human Systems Program Office acquires and sustains all equipment for male and female Airmen,” said Lt. Col. Elaine Bryant Human Systems Program Office deputy chief, assigned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. “We are committed to hearing our consumers’ voices, and we will make the changes necessary to our current process to meet their needs.”

This robot Army working dog may one day accompany soldiers into combat

Participants of the Female Flight Equipment Workshop discuss the advantages and disadvantages of multiple- piece body armor at AFWERX Vegas, Las Vegas, Jan. 30, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bailee A. Darbasie)

The workshops established the communication needed between the consumer, designers and suppliers to reach a mutual goal of understanding and development.

“We now have some pretty clear actions coming out of the Female Flight Equipment Workshops,” Bryant said. “We’ve heard the feedback, and we want to make sure we have actionable things we’re accomplishing within specific time frames for our consumers.”

The Human Systems Program Office will strive to make progressive changes within their operations and better their acquisition process, explained Bryant.

“We will take the field up on their offers of coming out to the units and meeting the aircrew for whom we supply,” Bryant said. “We’ll ensure we maintain the lines of communication needed to better our program.”

Another major improvement for female aviators is the adoption of the Battlefield Airmen Rapid Resource Replenishment System, a centrally managed equipment facility. BARS is capable of shipping needed resources directly to female aircrew. Using this system will allow women to acquire the proper fitting equipment they need within an acceptable timeline.

“BARS is a step in the right direction,” Ellis said. “Everyone deserves to have equipment that fits them. There are certain things we have to adapt to, but as long as we’re trying to improve and modernize our gear, we can be a more ready and lethal force.”

“The Air Force has evolved over the years and continues to evolve,” Weeks echoed. “Female aviators entering the Air Force now will not have the same issues I had over the last 21 years.”

Information from an ACC news feature was used in this story.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why Arlington National Cemetery needs to become more exclusive

Arlington National Cemetery will reach full capacity by the early 2040s if changes aren’t implemented soon, according to the Army National Military Cemeteries executive director.


“Arlington National Cemetery is an iconic place devoted to honoring the memory of individuals in the armed services who made a significant commitment of service to the defense of our nation,” said Karen Durham-Aguilera, during a House Armed Services Committee briefing about Arlington’s current and future plans, March 8, 2018.

Also read: Who is buried in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier?

“The Army recognizes that the cemetery is at a critical point in its history … changes to eligibility combined with expansion will ensure Arlington continues to be an active cemetery well into the future,” Durham-Aguilera said.

In February 2017, Army officials engaged with Congress to explain how the current space constraints limit the amount of time Arlington National Cemetery will be able to continue to serve veterans.

Current eligibility requirements for in-ground burial at ANC are the most stringent of all U.S. national cemeteries. Nevertheless, most veterans who have at least one day of active service other than training, and who have been honorably discharged, are eligible for above-ground inurnment at the cemetery, officials say.

This robot Army working dog may one day accompany soldiers into combat

“It’s a tough reality. The current veteran population is over 20 million. The retiree population is over two million. The total force, both active and reserve, is over 2 million right now. Today we have around 100,000 available burial spaces. We cannot serve that population,” Durham-Aguilera said.

During that 2017 meeting with Congress, Army officials outlined considerations for additional expansion opportunities beyond current boundaries, and evaluated alternative ideas for maximizing the space within the cemetery’s geographic footprint, Durham-Aguilera said.

“With no changes, we would be out of space in the early 2040s. If (Arlington) were to get a southern expansion, that can push us for another ten years,” said Katharine Kelley, Arlington National Cemetery superintendent. Still, she characterized the value of that possible expansion as not providing a significant gain for the cemetery.

Related: Could a wreath shortage leave Arlington Cemetery graves bare this Christmas?

In addition to the physical expansion, Arlington officials have considered increasing the amount of niche wall inurnment sites. However, that option would only serve as a temporary solution and could change Arlington’s “iconic look and feel,” Kelly said.

Moving forward, Army officials have determined a need to redefine Arlington’s eligibility criteria for interment and inurnment. The last significant change to Arlington’s eligibility criteria was in the late 1960s, Durham-Aguilera added. Another, more recent change occurred in 2016 when active duty designees were added to the above-ground eligible population at ANC. These groups consist of about 200,000 active duty designees, or nearly double the current capacity at the cemetery.

This robot Army working dog may one day accompany soldiers into combat
(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Timothy Tamargo)

To help make a better-informed decision about the cemetery’s future, officials conducted an initial public survey about burial options in November 2017.

Out of the 28,000 people polled, 94 percent agreed that the cemetery should remain active well into the future. Additionally, over 50 percent of those who were in favor of expansion also recognized the need to modify eligibility policy. Further, if no expansion is possible, a full 70 percent were in support of restricting eligibility in some manner to extend the life of the cemetery.

Based off the survey results, officials are now considering restricting Arlington’s eligibility requirement to service members killed in action, Medal of Honor and high award recipients, former prisoners of war, and military members that were killed while on active duty during operations or training, Kelley said.

More: Mattis spent Veterans Day with fallen warriors in Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington officials are slated to conduct another survey in the coming weeks. At the conclusion of the study, results and recommendations will be compiled by cemetery officials and released to the secretary of the Army. From there, information from the study will be shared with the other armed forces secretaries and the secretary of defense, and eventually released to Congress, Durham-Aguilera said.

Finding ways to keep Arlington National Cemetery open well into the future, while at the same time honoring all who served, will be a challenge, Durham-Aguilera said. “These hard choices are on our minds every single day, as we go out and lay our veterans and patriots to rest.”

Articles

The Marine Corps has ordered Leathernecks to use PMAGs for their rifles

After testing revealed problems with how standard-issued magazines load certain ammunition into Marine rifles, the Corps has ordered Leathernecks to use the wildly popular polymer-made Magpul PMAG.


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The Marine Corps has just authorized Marine units to purchase the Magpul PMAG GenM3 magazine saying government-issued ones don’t work as well with all Marine weapons.(Photo by WATM)

“The Magpul GenM3 PMag was the only magazine to perform to acceptable levels across all combinations of Marine Corps 5.56mm rifles and ammunition during testing,” the Marine Corps’ top gear buying office told WATM.

In a Corpswide message released in mid December, Marine Corps Systems Command issued guidance ordering Marines to use the Magpul Industries-made PMAG Gen. M3 with M-16, M-4 and M-27 rifles, as well as the M-249 machine gun.

Industry sources say the issue stems from how the Army’s new M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round feeds from government issued magazines, causing damage to the internal components of the Marine Corps’ M27 — a version of the Heckler Koch 416 rifle.

“It was damaging the feed ramps and the chamber face of the 416,” an industry source told WATM. “It was presenting the M855A1 round at a lower angle and damaging the upper barrel extension.”

This robot Army working dog may one day accompany soldiers into combat
A soldier packs the popular Magpul PMAG into combat. The Marine Corps has just issued guidance saying all units must use the PMAG since government-issued ones don’t perform well on certain Marine rifles. (Photo by U.S. Army)

In fact, the Army was having its own problems with the standard magazine and the M855A1 round, so it developed a new magazine, dubbed the “Enhanced Performance Magazine” to deal with the issue.

But that one didn’t work for the Corps either.

“The legacy metal 30-round magazines are no longer manufactured and their replacement, the Enhanced Performance Magazine (EPM), does not perform to acceptable levels with all combinations of the Marine Corps’ 5.56mm rifle platforms and ammunition,” the Corps told WATM.

The Corps — along with the Army — had reportedly banned use of after-market magazines, including the PMAG, in 2012 after troops were having problems with poorly-made knockoffs.

Magpul was one of the first companies to introduce polymer-built magazines for M-16s, and M-4s and the PMAG became increasingly popular among soldiers and Marines fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The new PMAG GenM3 takes advantage of 10 years of experience building magazines for a variety of rifles and calibers, incorporating enhanced geometry, better followers and an optimized round-count window, Magpul officials said.

“We haven’t had a single stoppage in any testing of the PMAG GenM3,” a Magpul official told WATM. “We’re happy to help the Marine Corps in a way that enhances the warfighter.”

The Corps is not buying PMAGs to replace all its current magazines, but is instead giving units the option to buy their own.

“There are currently no procurements for any of the 5.56 rifle platforms and as we normally only issue magazines with a new weapon fielding, there are no plans to issue Magpul magazines at the service-level,” the Corps said. “Unit procurement through Defense Logistics Agency is expected to be comparable to current commercial cost on the open market.”

MIGHTY MOVIES

The ‘Space Force’ series trailer is here… and it’s outta this world

“This is a great adventure we are embarking on today,” so says the official Space Force trailer that dropped on May 5 for Netflix’s new series featuring Steve Carrell and an all-star cast. How else is everyone’s favorite sixth branch of the military, Space Force, referred to in the trailer? “It’s a complete shitshow.”


Launching May 29, the made-for-Netflix series pairs an already awesome cast with sarcasm, hilarity and the best topic ever: the Space Force.

The show centers around four star general Mark R. Naird (Carell), whose ambitions included running the Air Force, not so much the newly created Space Force. With wife (Lisa Kudrow) by his side and a star-studded comedic-gold line up (John Malkovich, Ben Schwartz, Jimmy O. Yang, Noah Emmerich, Fred Willard, Tawny Newsome, Diana Silvers, Alex Sparrow and Don Lake to name a few), the acting promises to be as equally entertaining as the writing – as Space Force marks the first time long-time friends Carrell and creator Greg Daniels have worked together since they parted ways on, you guessed it, The Office.

In an interview with Deadline, Carrell and Daniels chatted about how the show came to be and where it’s heading.

Carell said that the show came around in a rather “atypical way.'””Netflix had this premise that they thought might make a funny show — the idea made everybody laugh in a meeting, an idea of a show about the origins of a fictitious Space Force. I heard about the idea through my agent, and Netflix pitched the show to me, and then I pitched the show to Greg, and we all had the same reaction to it. There was no show, there was no idea aside from the title. Netflix asked, ‘Do you want to do a show called Space Force?’ And I pretty much immediately said, ‘Well yeah, sure. That sounds great.’ And then I called Greg, and I said, “Hey, you want to do a show called Space Force?” And he said, “Yeah, that sounds good. Let’s do it.” And it was really based on nothing, except this name that made everybody laugh. So we were off and running.”
Daniels added after this call, he and Carell created the character and figured out what they wanted to say about the notion of making space more military. “We realized that the story had beautiful visuals and a mythic quality, and it echoed some of America’s best moments. It had a lot of heroism and yet it also had a strong satirical element. Suddenly everybody has realized that there are riches to be had on the moon, and we’ve got to stake our claim. It feels like there’s now a scramble to colonize space. The contrast between that and the super hopeful early days of NASA, when it was just such an achievement for all of mankind to get a person on the moon, is a good subject for satire,” said Daniels.
SPACE FORCE Official Trailer (HD) Steve Carrell

www.youtube.com

SPACE FORCE Official Trailer (HD) Steve Carrell

SPACE FORCE – 2020 – COMEDY – STEVE CARRELL Steve Carell, welcome to Space Force. From the crew that brought you The Office, Space Force is coming soon to Netflix.

We can’t wait. In fact, we’re over the moon.

Articles

This is what makes the sabot round so deadly

One of “Murphy’s Laws of Combat” is that “The best tank killer is another tank. Therefore tanks are always fighting each other … and have no time to help the infantry.”


One of the reasons this rings true is because the rounds used by tanks to kill tanks are so darn effective.

The round that became known as the “Silver Bullet” from American tanks is the M829A1 for the M256 main gun on the M1A1/M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks used by the Army and Marine Corps (plus the Saudis, Egyptians, Moroccans, Australians, Kuwaitis, and Iraqis). This round uses a hardened dart dubbed a “sabot” to punch through an enemy tank.

And the M829A1 did a lot of that in Desert Storm.

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A view of an Iraqi T-72 main battle tank destroyed in a Coalition attack during Operation Desert Storm near the Ali Al Salem Air Base (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Joe Coleman)

The M829A1 is an armor-piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot – APFSDS – round. The long-rod penetrator is usually no more than 1.25 inches wide and is held in a “shoe” that enables it to be fired in a gun whose bore is a little under five inches long. When the round is fired and exits the barrel, the shoe flies off, and the round is on its way.

The long-rod penetrator then flies downrange towards the target. Once it hits, the round just punches through the armor. The result is the enemy tank tends to blow up in what tankers call a “Jack in the box.”

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Troops hold M829 sabot rounds. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Eric Taylor, 1BCT PAO, 1st Cav. Div)

How well does it work? Well, in Tom Clancy’s “Armored Cav,” the stories abound. One “silver bullet” killed two T-72s with one shot. Another, fired from an Abrams tank that was stuck in the mud, penetrated a sand berm before it blew up a T-72.

That was the M829A1. Since 1991, the United States has switched to the M829A2, which made improvements to the depleted uranium penetrator. Globalsecurity.org notes that the M829A2 round was late replaced by the M829A4, which has even further improvements to the penetrator and adds changes to the sabot.

This robot Army working dog may one day accompany soldiers into combat
(Youtube screenshot)

Check out the video below to see what the sabot does so lethally well.

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