This is the combat drone Japan has been building in secret - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is the combat drone Japan has been building in secret

Unmanned combat air vehicles, or UCAVs, are seen as a key part of the future of military aviation. A number of countries have openly been developing these vehicles, including the United States, Russia, and France.


But as We Are The Mighty has learned, Japan also was developing a UCAV, but didn’t tell anyone.

During a recent Air Force conference near Washington, We Are The Mighty witnessed a video at the Kawasaki booth that revealed a brief clip of the company’s research and development efforts into a UCAV. The UCAV appeared to be similar to the Boeing X-45 and Northrop Grumman X-47 test vehicles.

This is the combat drone Japan has been building in secret
This scene from a video shows Kawasaki’s UCAV prototype in flight. (Photo by Harold Hutchison)

An initial request for information was declined by a company representative, who told us that the Japanese government did not wish to discuss the program. The next day, another representative claimed to have no knowledge of the program.

Only after a third Kawasaki representative, Takumi Kobayashi, was forwarded a cell phone photo of the UCAV’s cameo did he state that it was “an experimental aircraft tested about 10 years ago” and that “it was a research project funded by Japan MOD.” Kobayashi later stated in an e-mail that the described the UCAV as “a project in 2008.” Japan does maintain a Self-Defense Force and established a Ministry of Defense in 2007.

This is the combat drone Japan has been building in secret
David Deptula during his service with the United States Air Force. (USAF photo)

When WATM asked Dave Deptula, a retired Air Force lieutenant general who was the Air Force’s first deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance who now serves as the dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, about whether he had any indication Japan was developing a UCAV, he had a one-word answer: “No.”

This points to Japan’s UCAV program being carried out behind a veil of secrecy comparable to those used with American black projects like the F-117 Nighthawk.

This is the combat drone Japan has been building in secret
A second image of the Kawasaki UCAV’s appearance in a video shown at the 2017 AirSpaceCyber expo held in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo by Harold Hutchison)

The likely reason for this veil of secrecy and the reluctance to discuss the Kawasaki UCAV lies in Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution. This provision states “the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes,” and that “land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained.”

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter destroyer JS Hyuga (DDH-181) underway in the Pacific Ocean as U.S. Navy Seahawk helicopters hover nearby. Japan calls this carrier-like vessel (Photo: U.S. Navy)

This provision explains why Japan considers its light carriers of the Hyuga and Izumo classes to be “helicopter destroyers.” The Italian carrier Giuseppe Garibaldi, displacing about 10,500 tons as compared to the roughly 19,000-ton displacement of the Hyuga, operated AV-8B+ Harriers during the 2011 NATO intervention in Libya.

This is the combat drone Japan has been building in secret
X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator (UCAS-D, a previous name for the MQ-25a) launches from the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt in 2013. Kawasaki’s UCAV appears similar to the X-47. (US Navy Photo)

How does Kawasaki’s UCAV fall within those restrictions? Its apparent similarity to the X-45 and X-47 opens the possibility that it may not. Deptula told WATM in a phone interview that UCAVs presently fit “much more in an offensive context as opposed to air defense” given the current state of technology.

According to specs available at GlobalSecurity.org, the baseline X-47 did not have a payload capability, but the larger X-47B had two weapons bays and was able to carry 4,500 pounds of ordnance. A planned X-47C was to increase the payload to 10,000 pounds.

This is the combat drone Japan has been building in secret
An X-47B demonstrator with folded wings on the aircraft elevator of USS George H.W. Bush. (US Navy photo by MC2 Timothy Walter)

Inquiries from WATM to Japan’s Ministry of Defense received no responses, but the Japanese embassy in the United States did respond to an inquiry, offering to have a defense attaché contact Kawasaki for more information. When asked about any plans the Japanese Self-Defense Force had involving UCAVs, they stated, “The Japanese self-defense force is currently not planning on acquiring or deploying UCAVs.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is the US Navy’s high-tech submarine hunter

The US Navy announced in May 2018, that it was restarting the 2nd Fleet to oversee the western Atlantic Ocean, including the North Atlantic and the US East Coast.

The decision comes after several years of tensions between NATO members and Russia — and several warnings from Western officials about growing Russian naval activity, including more sophisticated and more active submarines.


NATO has responded in kind, with a special focus on antisubmarine warfare — a capability that has waned among Western navies since the end of the Cold War.

For NATO members and other countries, augmenting antisubmarine abilities means not only adding ships but also advanced maritime-patrol aircraft to scour the sea. A number of aircraft on the market fill this role, but the US-made P-8A Poseidon is among the most sophisticated.

This is the combat drone Japan has been building in secret
A P-8A Poseidon

“What it can do from the air, and tracking submarines, is almost like Steven Spielberg,” Michael Fabey, author of the 2017 book “Crashback,” about China-US tensions in the Pacific, told Business Insider in early May 2018.

“I went up on a training flight,” he said, “and basically … they could read the insignia on a sailor’s hat from thousands of feet above.”

“It’s not the aircraft itself of course,” he added, but “all the goodies they put in there.”

‘The best ASW … platform in the fleet’

This is the combat drone Japan has been building in secret
Boeing and Raytheon employees complete installation of an APY-10 radar antenna on P-8A Poseidon test aircraft T2, November 2009.
(Boeing photo)

In 2004, the US Navy picked the P-8A Poseidon to succeed the P-3 Orion, which had been in operation since the 1960s. The first Poseidon entered service in 2013, and more than 60 are in service now.

The jet-powered P-8A is based on Boeing‘s 737 airliner, but it is specialized to withstand more strain, with aluminum skin that is 50% thicker than a commercial 737. Every surface is equipped for deicing.

A commercial 737 can be built in two weeks, but a P-8A takes roughly two months.

This is the combat drone Japan has been building in secret
Navy crew members on board a P-8A Poseidon.
(U.S. Navy photo)

It has a ceiling of 41,000 feet, and, unlike the P-3, is designed to do most of its work at high altitude, where it has better fuel efficiency and its sensors are more effective. The Poseidon’s top speed of 564 mph is also 200 mph faster than the older Orion, allowing it to get to its station faster and reposition more quickly.

Among its sensors is the APY-10 radar, which can detect and identify ships on the surface and even pick up submarine periscopes. It can also provide long-distance imagery of ports or cities and perform surveillance along coasts or on land.

An electro-optical/infrared turret on the bottom of the plane offers a shorter-range search option and can carry up to seven sensors, including an image intensifier, a laser rangefinder, and infrared, which can detect heat from subs or from fires.

This is the combat drone Japan has been building in secret
Naval Aircrewman (Operator) 2nd Class Karl Shinn unloads a sonobuoy on a P-8A Poseidon to prepare it for use, April 10, 2014.
(US Navy photo by Chief Mass Comm. Specialist Keith DeVinney)

The Poseidon’s ALQ-240 Electronic Support Measure acts as an electromagnetic sensor and can track radar emitters. Its Advanced Airborne Sensor can do 360-degree scans on land and water. Other electronic surveillance measures allow it to passively monitor a wide area without detection.

The original P-8A design did not include the Magnetic Anomaly Detector that the P-3 carried to detect the metal in sub’s hulls. The MAD’s exclusion was controversial, but the P-8A can deploy sonar buoys to track subs, and recent upgrades allow it to use new buoys that last longer and have a broader search range.

It also carries an acoustic sensor and a hydrocarbon sensor designed to pick up fuel vapor from subs. The P-8A’s cabin can have up to seven operator consoles, and onboard computers compile data for those operators and then distribute it to friendly forces.

This is the combat drone Japan has been building in secret
Crew members load an AGM-84K SLAM-ER missile on a P-8A Poseidon, April 4, 2014.
(US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jason Kofonow)

The P-8A carries its own armaments, including Harpoon antiship missiles, depth charges, MK-54 torpedoes, and naval mines. It can also deploy defensive countermeasures, including a laser and metallic chaff to confuse incoming missiles.

A dry-bay fire system uses sensors to detect fires on board and extinguish them, a P-8A pilot told The War Zone in early 2017.

“The P-8 is the best ASW localize/track platform in the fleet, one of the best maritime [Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance] assets in the world, with the ability to identify and track hundreds of contacts, and complete the kill chain for both surface and subsurface contacts if necessary,” the pilot said.

‘The next front-line, high-end maritime-patrol aircraft’

This is the combat drone Japan has been building in secret
US Navy aircrew members look out the windows of a P-8A Poseidon while flying over the Indian Ocean in support of efforts to locate Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, April 8, 2014.
(U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Keith DeVinney)

Russia’s submarine fleet is a fraction of its Cold War size, but its subs are more sophisticated and have been deployed as US and NATO attention has shifted away from antisubmarine efforts.

“We have found in the last two years we are very short of high-end antisubmarine-warfare hunters,” Royal Navy Vice Adm. Clive CC Johnstone, commander of NATO’s Allied Maritime Command, said in January 2018.

Along with interest in buying subs, “you see an increased focus on other types of antisubmarine, submarine-hunter platforms, so frigates and maritime-patrol aircraft and stuff like that,” Magnus Nordenman, director of the Transatlantic Security Initiative at the Atlantic Council, told Business Insider earlier this year.

In 2016, the UK announced it would buy nine P-8As. In 2017, Norway announced it was buying five.

This is the combat drone Japan has been building in secret
The Russian Yasen-class nuclear attack submarine Severodvinsk.

Those purchases are part of efforts by the US, UK, and Norway to reinvigorate the Cold War maritime-surveillance network covering the sea between Greenland, Iceland, and the UK, known as the GIUK gap, through which Russian subs are traveling more frequently between their Northern Fleet base and the Atlantic.

In June 2017, defense ministers from France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Turkey agreed to cooperate on “multinational maritime multimission aircraft capabilities.” The US Navy has increased its antisubmarine activities in Europe, leading with the P-8A.

The US’s 2018 defense budget included $14 million to refurbish hangers at Naval Air Station Keflavik in Iceland, where antisubmarine forces hunted German U-boats during World War II and patrols scoured northern latitudes during the Cold War.

The US Navy decided to leave Keflavik in 2006, but recent modifications would allow P-8As to be stationed there, though the Navy has said it doesn’t currently plan to reestablish a permanent presence.

This is the combat drone Japan has been building in secret
A P-8A Poseidon aircraft in Keflavik, Iceland, for antisubmarine-warfare training, April 28, 2017.
(U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Grade Matthew Skoglund)

Poseidons operate over the Black Sea to track the growing number of Russian subs there. P-8As based at Naval Air Station Sigonella in Italy have reportedly helped hunt Russian subs lurking near NATO warships and taken part in antisubmarine-warfare exercises around the Mediterranean.

These operations around Europe have also put Poseidons in closesometimes dangerous— proximity to Russian aircraft.

“The Poseidon is becoming the next front-line, high-end maritime-patrol aircraft,” Nordenman said. “Not only for the US, but increasingly for our allies in Europe, too.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more US rotations to Keflavik and deeper cooperation between the US, the UK, and Norway on maritime-patrol-aircraft operations in the Atlantic,” he added. “I would say this is just a first step.”

‘There is a requirement need out here’

This is the combat drone Japan has been building in secret
Malaysian Chief of Defense Forces Gen. Zulkifeli Mohd Zin watches crew members demonstrate advanced features of a P-8A Poseidon, April 21, 2016.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Comm. Specialist 1st Class Jay M. Chu)

Like Russia, China has been investing in submarines, and its neighbors have growing interest in submarines and antisubmarine-warfare assets — including the P-8A.

India made its first purchase of the P-8I Neptune variant in 2009, buying eight that deployed in 2013. New Delhi bought four additional planes in 2016, and India’s navy chief said in January that the service was looking to buy more.

In early 2014, Australia agreed to buy eight P-8As for $3.6 billion. They are expected to arrive by 2021, and Canberra has the option to buy four more.

India and Australia are the only buyers in Asia so far, but others, including Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam, are interested. South Korea said in February 2018, it would buy maritime-patrol aircraft from a foreign buyer — Boeing and Saab are reportedly competing for a contract worth $1.75 billion.

“There is a requirement need out here in the Asian region for P-8s,” Matt Carreon, Boeing’s head of sales for the P-8A, said in February 2018, pointing to the high volume of shipping, threat of piracy, and the “current political climate” as reasons for interest.

But overall sales have been underwhelming, likely in part because the Poseidon and its variants are relatively expensive, and their specialized features require a lengthy procurement process.

US Navy P-8As have also been more active around Asia, where their crews work with non-US military personnel, take part in search-and-rescue operations, and perform maritime surveillance over disputed areas, like the South China Sea, where they have monitored Chinese activity.

As in Europe, this can lead to dicey situations.

In August 2014, a P-8A operating 130 miles east of China’s Hainan Island had a close encounter with a Chinese J-11 fighter jet, which brought one of its wings within 20 feet of the P-8A and did a barrel roll over the patrol plane’s nose.

The jet also flew by the P-8A with its belly visible, “to make a point of showing its weapons,” the Pentagon said.

While naval competition is heating up in the waters around Europe, some believe the Asia-Pacific region — home to five of the world’s 10 most powerful militaries — will drive demand for assets like the Poseidon.

“I think the maritime mission is going to be as big as the land mission in the future, driven by Asian customers like Australia, India, Japan, Korea, and … other countries will certainly play a role,” Joseph Song, vice president for international strategic development at General Atomics Aeronautical, told Reuters.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This new mini rocket will make special operations 4-wheelers a lot more lethal

The 70mm Hydra rocket has long been a mainstay of American helicopter gunships and aircraft. Recently, a laser-guided version known as the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System was deployed and proved its lethality on the battlefield.


But now, these rockets can be fired from the ground.

According to a report by Defense News, Arnold Defense, which makes the launchers used for unguided Hydra rockets and the APKWS, has now designed one for ground vehicles, ranging from the Supacat LRV 600 used y special operations units to armored fighting vehicles.

The system is said to also have potential applications for maritime assets and dismounted infantry units. A release by Arnold Defense claims that the weapon will be able to reach about 6.5 kilometers, or roughly four miles.

This is the combat drone Japan has been building in secret
A look at Hydra rockets on an AH-1 Cobra. (US Army photos)

“The team has turned this concept on its head with the advancement of guided rocket technology to meet the modern demands of land-based, vehicle mounted and dismounted asymmetric warfare, for special and conventional forces,” the release said.

The unguided version of the Hydra rocket has long been used by helicopters like the AH-64 and AH-1 for area suppression. According to DesignationSystems.net, a wide variety of warheads are available, ranging from unitary high-explosive to white phosphorous to flechette rounds.

This is the combat drone Japan has been building in secret
An Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System rocket exploding in an armored personnel carrier. (BAE Systems photo)

“We’re already exceedingly well established in the air environment with our rocket systems being used on air platforms globally,”Arnold Defense CEO Jim Hager said in the release announcing Fletcher. “Moving that success into the land environment with our 2.75-inch rocket systems fitted to wheeled and tracked vehicles, as well as in a dismounted role, will provide ground forces with an entirely new capability.”

The system went on display at the Defence and Security Equipment International exhibition in London. Arnold Defense anticipates that the system will be ready for sale by the end of 2018.

MIGHTY TRENDING

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan

A U.S. service member has been killed in action in Afghanistan, the second American to die while supporting operations in the country in January 2019.

Officials with Operation Resolute Support announced Jan. 22, 2019, that the death of the service member, whose service branch was not identified, is under investigation.

It’s not clear where the service member was killed. Defense Department policy is not to release the names of those who died supporting combat operations until 24 hours after next-of-kin is notified.


This most recent death comes five days after Army Sgt. Sgt. Cameron Meddock, of the 75th Ranger Regiment, died from combat wounds at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany on Jan. 17, 2019. Meddock was shot during combat operations in Badghis province, Afghanistan, on Jan. 13, 2019.

This is the combat drone Japan has been building in secret

Sgt. Cameron A. Meddock, 26, of Spearman, Texas.

(U.S. Army Special Operations Command)

Earlier January 2019, Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jonathan R. Farmer and Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Shannon M. Kent were killed, along with an American DoD contractor and civilian worker, in a bombing in the northern Syrian town of Manbij. Three other American troops were wounded in the bombing.

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

Articles

North Korea tests missiles after South suspends anti-missile system

North Korea test fired another missile, just one day after South Korea suspended the deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system.


The early morning launch occurred June 8th from the coastal city of Wonsan.

“Multiple projectiles that appear to be short-range, land-to-ship cruise missiles” were fired and flew about 200 kilometers before landing in the Sea of Japan, or East Sea as it is called in Korea, according to South Korea’s Office of Joint Chiefs of Staff.

This is the combat drone Japan has been building in secret

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last month ordered his military to develop the missile capability to precisely target enemy vessels at sea, according to North Korean state media.

During the first week of June, two US aircraft carrier strike groups, the USS Carl Vinson and the USS Ronald Reagan, conducted military exercises in international waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

The South Korean JCS said the test on June 8th was a direct response to the recent US naval exercises.

“It was to show off the capability of various types of missiles and is an armed protest to show off its precise strike capability against enemy warships regarding the (recent) joint naval training of the U.S. carriers, or to secure an advantage in US and North Korea or inter-Korean relations,” said JCS Chief of Public Affairs Roh Jae-Cheon.

The JCS also noted that North Korea’s test of low-altitude cruise missiles is not a violation of United Nations Security Council sanctions, which specifically prohibit high-altitude ballistic missile and nuclear weapons development.

This is the combat drone Japan has been building in secret
USS Carl Vinson. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean M. Castellano

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga also said this cruise missile test did not warrant a response by the United Nations.

“The government has dealt with actions of North Korea based on responses of the international community, however, we don’t think this ( North Korea’s missile launch this time) is something we need to protest against,” he said.

He also confirmed that the North Korean missiles did not reach his country’s exclusive economic zone that extends 370 kilometers from the coast.

The June 8th launch is the fourth missile test by North Korea since South Korean President Moon Jae-in took office May 10, pledging to reduce tensions with Pyongyang through dialogue and engagement. His conservative predecessor, former President Park Geun-hye, was impeached for her alleged ties to a multi-million dollar corruption scandal.

President Moon convened his first meeting of the National Security Council, where he ordered heightened military readiness to respond to any North Korean provocation.

This is the combat drone Japan has been building in secret
President of South Korea, Moon Jae-in. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

” President Moon condemned [North Korea’s provocation by saying that] what North Korea will gain from this provocation is international isolation and economic difficulties and it will lose the opportunity for development,” said Park Soo-hyun, the spokesman of the presidential office after the NSC meeting.

On June 7th, the Moon administration suspended the further development of THAAD until an environmental survey, required by law, has been completed. A presidential aide was reported to have said that the survey could take up to two years.

THAAD uses six mobile launchers and 48 interceptor missiles to target long-range ballistic missiles using high-resolution radar and infrared seeking technology. Two of the launchers were installed in March.

This is the combat drone Japan has been building in secret
Photo courtesy of DoD.

During the campaign, Moon called for a full review of the THAAD agreement before authorizing deployment.

US President Donald Trump also raised concerns about the agreement when he demanded $1 billion for the American weapons system in April. Officials in both Washington and Seoul subsequently clarified the US would bear the cost of THAAD system’s deployment and South Korea would provide the land and supporting facilities.

Washington considers the advanced anti-missile battery critical for defense against North Korea’s growing nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities.

However China adamantly opposes the THAAD regional deployment that could potentially give the US the means to counter its missile capabilities as well.

And many residents living near the deployment site have raised concerns over the possible negative health effects of the system’s powerful radar, and over the increased danger of North Korea targeting their region if hostiles break out.

This is the combat drone Japan has been building in secret
South Korean Minister of Defense, Han Min-goo. DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith.

Last week, the South Korean Defense Ministry approved the delivery of four remaining launchers without informing the presidential office. The president suspended a deputy defense minster for his role in bypassing the executive oversight function. Kang Kyung-hwa, Moon’s Foreign Minister designate, also called for the National Assembly to debate this national security matter.

On Thursday, the Defense Ministry declined to comment on the status of THAAD because of an internal investigation under way.

In the National Assembly Thursday, conservative Rep. Lee Cheol-woo with the opposition Liberty Korea Party said delaying THAAD is “neglecting the country’s duty,” while fellow party member Rep. Chung Woo-taik accused the Moon government of undermining the US alliance, “while taking no measures whatsoever against North Korea’s missile launches.”

The South Korean presidential spokesman also said that Moon will reaffirm South Korea’s strong commitment to the US alliance when he meets with Trump in Washington later this month.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is Boeing’s new autonomous fighter

Boeing has a new plane that is sure to raise eyebrows around the world. The Boeing Airpower Teaming System is boringly named, but it’s also an autonomous fighter jet that could protect human pilots and assist on missions as early as 2020.

Yup. Robot fighter planes are in flight, and they’re about to come to market.


First, a quick look at the weapon’s missions. It’s supposed to fly in combat, perform early warning missions, and conduct reconnaissance. So, basically, it’s a jack of all trades. According to a Boeing press release, the plane will:

— Provide fighter-like performance, measuring 38 feet long (11.7 metres) and able to fly more than 2,000 nautical miles
— Integrate sensor packages onboard to support intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions and electronic warfare
— Use artificial intelligence to fly independently or in support of manned aircraft while maintaining safe distance between other aircraft.

Boeing hasn’t announced the plane’s exact capabilities which, since they want to eventually sell it around the world, is probably a good idea. No one who buys the plane is going to want all their adversaries to already know its limits, even if there is no pilot to kill.

But expect aviation media to keep a firm eye on the plane. One of the biggest selling points of autonomous fighters is that the planes won’t be limited to speeds, turning rates, and altitudes where humans can survive. See, the human meat sack in the middle of the plane is often the most fragile and valuable part of it. So everyone wants to know what the plane can do without a pilot.

“The Boeing Airpower Teaming System will provide a disruptive advantage for allied forces’ manned/unmanned missions,” said Kristin Robertson, vice president and general manager of Boeing Autonomous Systems. “With its ability to reconfigure quickly and perform different types of missions in tandem with other aircraft, our newest addition to Boeing’s portfolio will truly be a force multiplier as it protects and projects air power.”

This is the combat drone Japan has been building in secret

In the ALPHA AI program, developed with a team from University of Cincinnati an artificial intelligence running on a cheap computer defeated skilled fighter pilots in simulations.

(Journal of Defense Management)

While the announcement has made a lot of waves, it’s not a huge surprise for people keeping track. Robots began beating experienced human pilots reliably in simulators a few years ago, and they’ve only gotten better since.

And the Air Force already began packing the computers into older jets to test the concept, leading to a 2017 test where an empty F-16 flew in support of human pilots. The program, Have Raider II, was ran in conjunction with Lockheed Martin and their Skunk Works program, so it wouldn’t be too surprising if Lockheed unveiled its own proposal soon.

There are legal limits on autonomous fighting systems, but the key component is that they ascribe to at least “man-in-the-loop” protocol where a human makes the final decision for any lethal engagement. But Have Raider II and the BATS envision robot fighters flying next to human-crewed planes and under the direction of the human pilots, so both will likely be accepted on the international stage. And, Boeing hasn’t said that BATS will necessarily have lethal weapons.

This is the combat drone Japan has been building in secret

Weapons like Lockheed Martin’s F-35 are sold across national boundaries to American allies. Boeing has developed an unmanned fighter that it hopes to sell across the world as well.

(U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joely Santiago)

BATS was developed in Australia and, as mentioned above, Boeing hopes the final iterations will have a place in the air forces of U.S. partners around the world. But there is some downside to the new robot paradigm for the U.S. and its allies.

China’s military is improving at a great rate, growing larger and more technologically advanced by the week. One factor that’s holding them back is a shortage of pilots and good candidates for the training. So if China is able to develop a similar breakthrough, they can pump new planes into the air as fast as the factories can crank them out. And they’ve already made Dark Sword, an autonomous stealth drone with some fighter characteristics.

No matter how few pilots they can train.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Why grenades in movies look nothing like real life

Yeah, yeah, yeah… We know grenades in movies aren’t like the real thing. But that could make you wonder, “Why?”

Real grenades are puffs of smoke with a bit of high-moving metal. Why not give troops mobile fireballs that instill fear and awe in the hearts of all that see them? Why not arm our troops with something akin to Super Mario’s fire flower?


First, we should take a look at what, exactly is going on with a real grenade versus a movie grenade.

The grenades you’re probably thinking of when you hear the term “grenade” are likely fragmentation grenades, consisting of strong explosives wrapped up in a metal casing. When the explosives go off, either the case or a special wrapping is torn into lots of small bits of metal or ceramic. Those bits fly outwards at high speed, and the people they hit die.

The U.S. military uses the M67 Fragmentation Hand Grenade. 6.5 ounces of high explosive destroys a 2.5-inch diameter steel casing and sends the bits of steel out up to 230 meters. Deaths are commonly caused up to 5 meters away from the grenade.

This is the combat drone Japan has been building in secret

U.S. Army soldiers throw live grenades during training in Alaska.

(U.S. Army)

That’s because grenades are made to maximize the efficiency of their components. See, explosive power is determined by a number of factors. Time, pressure, and temperature all play a role. Maximum boom comes from maximizing the temperature and pressure increase in as little time as possible.

That’s actually a big part of why M67s have a steel casing. The user pulls the pin and throws the grenade, starting the chemical timer. When the explosion initiates, it’s contained for a fraction of a second inside that steel casing. The strength of the steel allows more of the explosive to burn — and for the temperature and pressure to rise further — before it bursts through the steel.

As the pressure breaks out, it picks up all the little bits of steel from the casing that was containing it, and it carries those pieces into the flesh and bones of its enemies.

Movie grenades, meanwhile, are either created digitally from scratch, cobbled together digitally from a few different fires and explosions, or created in the physical world with pyrotechnics. If engineers wanted to create movie-like grenades, they would need to do it the third way, obviously, with real materials.

The explosion is easy enough. The 6.5 ounces in a typical M67 would work just fine. Enough for a little boom, not so much that it would kill the thrower.

But to get that movie-like fire, you need a new material. To get fire, you need unburnt explosives or fuel to be carried on the pressure wave, mixing with the air, picking up the heat from the initial explosion, and then burning in flight.

And that’s where the problems lie for weapon designers. If they wanted to give infantrymen the chance to spit fire like a dragon, they would need to wrap something like the M67 in a new fuel that would burn after the initial explosion.

Makers of movie magic use liquid fuels, like gasoline, diesel, or oil, to get their effects (depending on what colors and amount of smoke they want). Alcohols, flammable gels, etc. all work great as well, but it takes quite a bit of fuel to get a relatively small fireball. The M1 flamethrower used half a gallon of fuel per second.

But liquid fuels are unwieldy, and even a quart of gasoline per grenade would add some serious weight to a soldier’s load.

So, yeah, there’s little chance of getting that sweet movie fireball onto a MOLLE vest. But there is another way. Instead of using liquids, you could use solid fuels, especially reactive metals and similar elements, such as aluminum, magnesium, or sodium.

The military went with phosphorous for incendiary weapons. It burns extremely hot and can melt its way through most metals. Still, the AN-M14 TH3 Incendiary Hand Grenade doesn’t exactly create a fireball and doesn’t even have a blast. Along with thermite, thermate, and similar munitions, it burns relatively slowly.

But if you combine the two grenades, the blast power of something like the M67 and the burning metals of something like the AN-M14 TH3, and you can create actual fireballs. That’s how thermobaric weapons work.

This is the combat drone Japan has been building in secret

U.S. Marines train with the SMAW, a weapon that can fire thermobaric warheads.

(U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Brian J. Slaght)

In thermobaric weapons, an initial blast distributes a cloud of small pieces of highly reactive metal or fuel. Then, a moment later, a secondary charge ignites the cloud. The fire races out from the center, consuming the oxygen from the air and the fuel mixed in with it, creating a huge fireball.

If the weapon was sent into a cave, a building, or some other enclosed space, this turns the secondary fire into a large explosion of its own. In other words, shoot these things into a room on the first floor of a building, and that room itself becomes a bomb, leveling the larger building.

But throwing one of these things would be risky. Remember, creating the big fireball can turn an entire enclosed space into a massive bomb. And if you throw one in the open, you run the risk of the still-burning fuel landing on your skin. If that’s something like phosphorous, magnesium, or aluminum, that metal has to be carved out of your flesh with a knife. It doesn’t stop burning.

So, troops should leave the flashy grenades to the movies. It’s better to get the quick, lethal pop of a fragmentation grenade than to carry the additional weight for a liquid-fueled fireball or a world-ending thermobaric weapon. Movie grenades aren’t impossible, but they aren’t worth the trouble.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Soldier posthumously receives high valor award for Battle of Kamdesh

A 4th Infantry Division soldier was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest Army award for extreme gallantry and risk of life in actual combat with an armed enemy force, in a ceremony on Dec. 15, 2018, for his actions during the battle of Kamdesh in Afghanistan Oct. 3, 2009.

Staff Sgt. Justin T. Gallegos, then 27, a team leader with Troop B, 3d Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th ID, was originally awarded a Silver Star for his part in the battle that saw approximately 300 Taliban fighters attack fewer than 60 U.S. soldiers.


Col. Dave Zinn, the commander of the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4 ID, presented the Distinguished Service Cross to Gallegos’ son MacAiden and Sen. Lisa Murkowski presented him a folded flag.

Although Gallegos never served with U.S. Army Alaska, USARAK hosted the ceremony because MacAiden and his mother, Amanda Marr are residents of Alaska.

This is the combat drone Japan has been building in secret

U.S. Army Col. Dave Zinn, Commander of the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division presents Staff. Sgt. Justin T. Gallegos’s son MacAiden with the Distinguished Service Cross during a ceremony at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska Dec. 15, 2018.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Joel F. Gibson)

“As the battle kicked off on the early morning of Oct. 3, 2009, this group of men were outmanned and out gunned by an enemy force that numbered up to 300,” said Lt. Col. Michael Meyer, commander of 1st Battalion (Airborne), 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division and master of ceremonies, “The enemy had better positioning and surprise, hiding in the micro terrain and scrub trees of the mountains of Nuristan.”

This is the combat drone Japan has been building in secret

U.S. Army Col. Dave Zinn, Commander of the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division presents Staff. Sgt. Justin T. Gallegos’s son MacAiden with the Distinguished Service Cross during a ceremony at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska Dec. 15, 2018.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Joel F. Gibson)

The commander of Troop B at the time of the battle, Maj. Stoney Portis, said, “When I heard the news that Justin’s Distinguished Service Cross had finally been approved, I knew that one of the discrepancies in the narrative of the Battle of COP Keating had finally been corrected.”

“Justin Gallegos risked his life to save Stephan Mace. It was that one event, which we were not able to articulate in the narrative of Justin’s Silver Star, that called for an upgrade to the Distinguished Service Cross,” said Portis.

Portis then read from the Distinguished Service Cross narrative describing the actions of the event, which neither Gallegos nor Mace survived.

This is the combat drone Japan has been building in secret

U.S. Army Col. Dave Zinn, Commander of the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division presents Staff. Sgt. Justin T. Gallegos’s son MacAiden with the Distinguished Service Cross during a ceremony at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska Dec. 15, 2018.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Joel F. Gibson)

Portis said,”We had always known that Justin is a hero, but within the context of his saving Stephan Mace, we are reminded that Justin is not only a great hero, but that he is also a good man.”

“Justin’s actions that day, as well the actions of Josh Hardt, Josh Kirk, Stephan Mace, Michael Scusa, Chris Griffin, Kevin Thomson, and Vernon Martin, preserved the lives of so many others,” said Portis.

The battle of Kamdesh claimed eight American lives and resulted in the awarding of 2 Medals of Honor, 27 Purple Heart Medals, 37 Army Commendation Medals with “V” device for valor, 18 Bronze Stars with “V” device and nine Silver Stars.

“Medal upgrades aren’t unheard of but in fairness they are rare, they are very rare,” Murkowski said, “It’s said they almost require an act of Congress, well in this case it did require an act of Congress.”

Medal of Honor recipients Staff Sgt. Clint Romesha and Staff Sgt. Ty Carter, veterans of the Battle of Kamdesh, attended the ceremony.

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

Articles

UPDATE: Navy hospital shooting ruled false alarm

This is the combat drone Japan has been building in secret
Google Maps


UPDATE: Navy hospital shooting ruled false alarm, according to Capt. Curt Jones, commanding officer of Naval Base San Diego.

An active shooter was reported Tuesday at the Naval Medical Center San Diego, according to the center’s Facebook page.

The message advises occupants to “run hide or fight.” Non-emergency response personnel were asked to avoid the compound at 34800 Bob Wilson Drive. The center posted that the shooter was believed to be in Building 26.

This is the combat drone Japan has been building in secret
Navy Medical Center San Diego | Facebook

According to intitial reports, three shots were heard in the basement of the building, which is a combination of a gym and barrack. There are no reports of injuries.

Fox 5 San Diego reports that three nearby schools are on lockdown.

The U.S. Navy could not immediately confirm the report.

The facility has a staff of more than 6,500 military and civilian personnel, and aims to provide medical care to military service members, their families, and those who served in the past, according to its website.

“We’re not taking any chances and are executing procedures we’ve been trained for in this kind of situation,” Naval Medical Center spokesman Mike Alvarez said.

MIGHTY TRENDING

How troops use a combat scythe in Afghanistan

Picture yourself on a foot patrol in Afghanistan, one of the most dangerous countries in the world where the majority of the population hates the fact that you’re there.


Now, imagine you’re the “lead” of that foot patrol (typically the combat engineer who is looking for IEDs buried in the ground) and you spot a suspicious device ahead with a command wire sticking out of the dirt.

For most of us, it’s not a good idea to approach, especially if that wire trails off toward a nearby compound — it’s a freaking trap. But for troops serving in Afghanistan, it’s just another day at the office.

This is the combat drone Japan has been building in secret
Counter-IED teams locate roadside bombs using Valon metal detectors. (Photo from Army.mil)

Although most IEDs are considered primitively built with limited resources, the grunts on the ground have a clever way of dealing with ’em: the combat scythe.

Related: This is what it was like fighting alongside Afghan troops

Famously known as an agricultural tool, ground pounders use them to conduct a “hands-on” inspection of a potential threat from up to 12-feet away. The operator will extend out the scythe and use its rounded tip to tug and drag out the device for an exam.

This is the combat drone Japan has been building in secret
A Marine and his trusty scythe will never run out of batteries. (USMC photo by Cpl. William J. Jackson)

By deploying his trusty scythe, a troop can safely determine if that bump in the ground is indeed an IED and call for a controlled detonation of the affected area. Of course, if it’s a false alarm, then that foot patrol proceeds onward without fear.

Not every IED can be figured out with a solid poking, though. If that IED is trickier than usual, the patrol will call upon the services of Explosive Ordnance Disposal to access and, typically, blow the sh*t out of the device.

On the bright side, controlled detonations are pretty epic to watch. They’re allied forces’ way of telling the bad guys ,”Not today, f*cker.”

That is all.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Sergeant Slaughter really was a sergeant of Marines

As if Robert Rudolph Remus wasn’t already a badass wrestling name on its own, upon becoming one of the now-WWE’s most beloved Superstars, Remus chose the stage name “Sergeant Slaughter.” It was appropriate at the time, even wearing his character’s trademark Smokey Bear-style campaign hat: Remus was not only a United States Marine, he was also a Drill Instructor.


Remus will now be known as “Sergeant Slaughter” until the end of time, his beloved character has transcended wrestling into areas even Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson hasn’t been able to invade. The WWE’s NCO is not only one of the Superstars that turned wrestling into mainstream entertainment worldwide, his definitive strong chin is also in the G.I. Joe universe, as well as the WWE Hall of Fame. Getting there was tough going, though.

The man we know as Sgt. Slaughter started his wrestling career way back in the early 1970s, when wrestling was little more than a regional patchwork of stunts and characters, far removed from the international spectacle we know of it today. That all changed when Vince McMahon consolidated wrestling and updated its stodgy image over the course of some thirty years or more. Sgt. Slaughter came to the then-WWF in 1980 as a villain – a “heel” in wrestling terms. But it wasn’t until just before 1984 that Remus’s character found the popularity we know of today.

He’s so popular, he still comes around the ring.

It was at this time a heel known as the “Iron Sheik” emerged as the World Champion. The Sheik is arguably one of wrestling’s greatest villains ever – and every great villain needs a hero. Or in the world of wrestling, a “face” – also known as a babyface, one of the good guys. Enter America’s Drill Instructor: Sgt. Slaughter. His feud with the Iron Sheik catapulted the two to mainstream stardom, making Slaughter the second most popular face, second only to Hulk Hogan. It was the pinnacle of his wrestling career. He would take a heel turn in the days of the 1991 Gulf War, sympathizing with the Iraqis and feuding with Hulk Hogan, even losing the World Championship as a result.

Still, it’s a long way from Parris Island to Madison Square Garden and Sgt. Slaughter packed both.

MIGHTY TRENDING

VA listed as top employer of veterans

Glassdoor, one of the world’s largest job and recruiting sites, recently singled out seven top employers of veterans and their families, and it’s no surprise that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) made the list, along with Booz Allen, Home Depot, Southwest Airlines, and others.

A total of 123,608 veterans — more than 30 percent of the workforce — work at VA, according to the latest federal government data. Glassdoor said veterans choose VA careers for its generous employee benefits, such as tuition assistance and loan repayment. A physician quoted in the article commended VA for its “great mission, incredible benefits (and) good work/life balance.”


Through the Transitioning Military Program, VA also has well-paying careers specifically for veterans with healthcare skills. Veterans of healthcare fields successfully work as health technicians, Intermediate Care Technicians (ICTs), mental health providers, nurses, physicians, and support staff in other healthcare occupations.

This is the combat drone Japan has been building in secret
(Department of Veterans Affairs)

ICTs, for instance, are former basic medical technicians, combat medic specialists, basic hospital corpsmen or basic health services technicians applying their skills to care for fellow veterans. (Meet ICTs Ryan White, Anthony Juarez, and other VA employees.)

Choose VA today 

Other benefits of a VA healthcare career include 36 to 49 days paid time off per year, depending on the leave tier, and the ability to apply military service time to a civil service pension, participate in a 401(k) with up to 5 percent in employer contributions and gain access to a range of exceptional health insurance plans for individuals and families.

Are you transitioning from the military? See if a career with VA is the right choice for you.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Scalpel missile was designed for a precision cut

Cluster bombs and napalm are two of the most underappreciated yet effective types of munition that a plane can drop on the bad guys, but they’re not suited for every purpose. Yes, cluster bombs can do thing JDAMs can’t and yes, napalm does provide the age-old “smell of victory,” but when the bad guys are using local civilians as human shields, precision is paramount.


Thankfully, there’s a bomb for exactly that. On display at SeaAirSpace Expo 2018 in National Harbor, Maryland, Lockheed’s newly developed bomb is appropriately called the “Scalpel.” The Scalpel is a “precise, small weapon system with low collateral damage” designed for use “particularly in urban close air support (CAS) environments.”

This is the combat drone Japan has been building in secret

(Lockheed-Martin)

The bomb weighs all of 100 pounds. That’s about the size of the AGM-114 Hellfire missile, a weapon that’s proven extremely effective against terrorists and tanks facing American troops. Like the Hellfire, the Scalpel is laser-guided, but there is one big difference: While the Hellfire has a relatively small, 20-pound, high-explosive warhead that detonates on impact, the Scalpel has options.

This new, laser-guided system has a “kinetic” option. What this means, simply, is that it can be set to not explode if not needed. This might sound like a waste of a bomb, but even without an explosion, a long (six feet, three inches), thin, 100-pound rod dropped from at least 15,000 feet doesn’t need to go off to put a world of hurt on some bad guys.

This is the combat drone Japan has been building in secret

The Scalpel weighs about as much as a Hellfire, and uses Paveway mountings and settings.

(U.S. Navy)

The Scalpel is also quite easy for pilots to employ. The guidance system is the same as that of the Paveway series of laser-guided bombs, and the Scalpel uses the same computer settings as the GBU-12 laser-guided bomb. It has been used on the F-16 Fighting Falcon, F/A-18 Hornet, Mirage 2000, Mirage F-1, and the Jaguar.

The Scalpel is capable of hitting within about six feet of its aim point. It’s a safe bet that, with more military operations taking place in urban environments, the Scalpel will be used to tactically cut apart enemy positions without making too much of a mess.

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