The US Navy is going to arm all of its destroyers with hypersonic missiles, a top Trump official says - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

The US Navy is going to arm all of its destroyers with hypersonic missiles, a top Trump official says

The US Navy is going to eventually arm all of its destroyers with hypersonic missiles that are still being developed, White House national security advisor Robert O’Brien said Wednesday, according to Defense News.

“The Navy’s Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS) program will provide hypersonic missile capability to hold targets at risk from longer ranges,” O’Brien said at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.


“This capability,” he continued, “will be deployed first on our newer Virginia-class submarines and the Zumwalt-class destroyers. Eventually, all three flights of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers will field this capability.”

Hypersonic missiles — high-speed weapons able to evade traditional missile-defense systems — are a key area of competition between the three great powers. Earlier this month, Russia test-fired its Tsirkon hypersonic anti-ship cruise missile from the frigate Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Gorshkov.

Given the ongoing hypersonic missile arms race, it is easy to see why the US Navy might want hypersonic missiles for its destroyers, something the Navy has previously discussed, but there are challenges.

The CPS missile is a combination of the developmental Common Hypersonic Glide Body (C-HGB) and a two-stage booster, according to the Navy’s fiscal year 2021 budget overview.

Newer Zumwalt-class destroyers have larger vertical launch system (VLS) cells that could accommodate a large diameter missile with a hypersonic warhead in a boost-glide vehicle configuration, but older Arleigh Burke-class destroyers have much smaller VLS cells that would need to be modified or replaced altogether.

“I think it’s a terrible idea to try to outfit these destroyers with hypersonic missiles,” Bryan Clark, a retired Navy officer and defense expert at the Hudson Institute told Insider. Retrofitting dozens of Navy Arleigh Burkes to carry new hypersonic missiles would be expensive, he said.

What the Russian military appears to be doing is developing a new hypersonic missile to fit existing warships. The US military would be going about this in reverse, refitting existing ships to suit a new missile, a weapon that could be quickly replaced by a smaller, cheaper alternative down the road given the rapid pace of technological development.

“If the Navy makes this massive investment in retrofitting only to find in five years that these smaller weapons are now emerging, that money will be largely wasted,” Clark said, adding that the plan “doesn’t make sense.”

In addition to the steep costs of retrofitting dozens of destroyers and arming them with expensive missiles, of which the Navy may only be able to afford limited numbers, other challenges include taking warships offline and tying up shipyards for extended periods of time, potentially hindering other repair work.

Changes risk making the 500-ship plan ‘unaffordable’

Defense News reported that O’Brien also pushed the Trump administration’s vision for a 500-ship Navy, a vision that Secretary of Defense Mark Esper unveiled earlier this month to counter China’s growing naval force.

The plan, known as “Battle Force 2045,” calls for a mixture of manned and unmanned vessels and is based on recommendations from the Hudson Institute, which presented what Clark said was an affordable path to a 500-ship Navy.

A major difference between the Pentagon’s plan and the Hudson Institute study is that the Pentagon wants to build a larger submarine force, which could drive up sustainment costs, making the vision impossible to realize from a cost perspective. Each Virginia-class attack submarine with a larger missile launcher is estimated to cost .2 billion.

Retrofitting destroyers to carry hypersonic missiles would pull away funding as well. “This missile launcher thing, the additional submarines, all the additional ornaments that the Navy is looking at hanging on this fleet are going to make it unaffordable,” Clark said.

He argued that the Navy should focus on arming Virginia-class submarines with hypersonic missiles and let the destroyers be. “You don’t have to rebuild the ship to do it,” Clark explained. “That makes more sense. The Navy should be pursuing that for its boost-glide weapons.”

“That would be sufficient to provide maritime launch capability to complement what the Air Force and the Army are doing,” he said. Both the Army and the Air Force have been pursuing hypersonic weapons for existing launch platforms, such as the AGM-183 ARRW for the B-52 Stratofortress bomber.

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

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This video shows how an Iraqi soldier saved his comrades from a suicide bomber

A video that reportedly captures the dramatic moment an Iraqi soldier saved his squad by driving his bulldozer into an incoming Islamic State group suicide bomber, has emerged this week.


The footage, which was shot from the dash cam installed inside the driver’s cabin, was taken in West Mosul where IS have been making their last stand against a massive operation to retake the Iraqi city.

It shows the driver deliberately ramming his bulldozer into an incoming IS car bomb in the narrow streets of the extremists’ final Iraqi bastion.

“Sir, I stopped it,” the driver, named in media reports as Mohammed Ali al-Shuwaili, can be heard saying as the smoke from the explosion fills his cabin.

“Thank God you’re alright,” his commander responds.

The New Arab could not independently verify the authenticity of the video.

Baghdad forces first took the eastern side of the city before crossing the Tigris and attacking the more densely packed western section of Mosul.Iraqi forces launched the massive operation to retake Mosul from IS nearly seven months ago, fighting their way into the jihadist-held city.

In the course of the fighting, security forces have faced a seemingly endless waves of IS car bombs, which when detonated erupt into towering fireballs.

Such attacks have featured heavily in the jihadi group’s latest propaganda films.

Iraqi officers said on Tuesday that Iraqi forces have recaptured nearly 90 percent of west Mosul from IS, which is on the “brink of total defeat”.

Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, spokesman for Iraq’s Joint Operations Command, told a news conference in Baghdad that IS now controls just over ten percent of west Mosul.

The drive to retake Mosul has been supported by a campaign of US-led coalition air raids in and around the city.

IS now controls just a handful of neighborhoods around the Old City, one of the country’s heritage jewels.

Half a million people are currently displaced as a result of the Battle for Mosul, and some 250,000 civilians are estimated to still be trapped inside the city’s west.

Click here to watch the dramatic video.

(Source: The New Arab)

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Marines print barracks in 40 hours with expeditionary setup

The Marine Corps is leading the way in employing advanced technologies and robotic construction.

In early August 2018, the Additive Manufacturing Team at Marine Corps Systems Command teamed up with Marines from I Marine Expeditionary Force to operate the world’s largest concrete 3D printer at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Champaign, Illinois. As a joint effort between the Marine Corps, Army and Navy Seabees, an expeditionary concrete 3D printer was used to print a 500-square-foot barracks hut in 40 hours.


The Marine Corps is currently staffing a deliberate urgent needs statement and concept of employment for this technology. The results of the field user evaluation will inform future requirements to give the Corps a concrete construction additive manufacturing program of record.

“This exercise had never been done before,” said Capt. Matthew Friedell, AM project officer in MCSC’s Operations and Programs/G-3. “People have printed buildings and large structures, but they haven’t done it onsite and all at once. This is the first-in-the-world, onsite continuous concrete print.”

Marines from I Marine Expeditionary Force learn how to operate the world’s largest concrete 3D printer as it constructs a 500-square-foot barracks hut at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Champaign, Illinois.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo)

The team started with a computer-aided design model on a 10-year old computer, concrete and a 3D printer. Once they hit print, the concrete was pushed through the print head and layered repeatedly to build the walls. In total, the job took 40 hours because Marines had to monitor progress and continually fill the printer with concrete. However, if there was a robot to do the mixing and pumping, the building could easily be created in one day, Friedell said.

“In 2016, the commandant said robots should be doing everything that is dull, dangerous and dirty, and a construction site on the battlefield is all of those things,” Friedell said.

The ability to build structures and bases while putting fewer Marines in danger would be a significant accomplishment, he said.

“In active or simulated combat environments, we don’t want Marines out there swinging hammers and holding plywood up,” said Friedell. “Having a concrete printer that can make buildings on demand is a huge advantage for Marines operating down range.”

It normally takes 10 Marines five days to construct a barracks hut out of wood. With this FUE, the Marine Corps proved four Marines with a concrete printer can build a strong structure in less than two days. Ideally, the Corps’ use of concrete printers will span the full range of military operations, from combat environments to humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions.

The world’s largest concrete 3D printer constructs a 500-square-foot barracks hut at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center in mid-August in Champaign, Illinois.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo)

As the first military services on site in natural disasters, the Navy and Marine Corps are great at providing food and water, but struggle to provide shelter, Friedell said. In many locations, cement is easier to acquire than wood. During humanitarian or disaster relief missions, Marines could safely and quickly print houses, schools and community buildings to replace those destroyed.

“This capability would enable a great partnership with the local community because it is low cost, easy to use, and robotics could print the buildings,” Friedell said. “We can bring forward better structures, houses and forward operating bases with less manpower and fewer Marines in harm’s way.”

The AM Team plans to conduct further testing and wants to get the capability into the hands of more Marines to inform future requirements for cutting-edge technology and autonomous systems.

“Our future operating environment is going to be very kinetic and dangerous because we don’t necessarily know what we’re going into,” said Friedell. “The more we can pull Marines out of those potentially dangerous situations — whether it’s active combat or natural disaster — and place robotics there instead, it helps us accomplish the mission more efficiently.”

This article originally appeared on the United States Marine Corps. Follow @USMC on Twitter.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

CNO sends a message to the Fleet to celebrate the 245th Navy Birthday

Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Mike Gilday sent a message to the fleet to celebrate the 245th Navy Birthday.


Below is the text of his message:

Shipmates, this year we are celebrating our 245th Birthday virtually, around the world, together.

Although this birthday is different than in past years, what has not changed is how proud we can be of two and a half centuries of tradition, as well as our Sailors and civilians who continue to build our legacy with family members and loved ones at their side.

Today, Sailors stand the watch from the Western Atlantic to the South China Sea, and from the High North to the South Pacific. Your Navy enables prosperity 24/7/365 – at home and abroad – by helping keep the maritime commons free and open. And I promise you that our allies and partners – as well as your fellow Americans – all sleep better because you are there.

Our birthday is an important occasion because we celebrate our rich past, recognize the accomplishments of our shipmates today, and look to our bright future ahead.

The Navy needs you to be the best that you can be. Serve others. Be courageous. And always remember that America has a great Navy.

Happy 245th Birthday Navy Family. See you in the Fleet, Shipmates.

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The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Back to standard two-day weekends. Oh well. At least Independence Day weekend was fun while it lasted.


1. Really, really fun (via Sh*t My LPO Says).

Hopefully, this guy wasn’t in your unit.

2. If you want logistics join the Army (via Terminal Lance)

If you want robots, join DARPA.

SEE ALSO: 5 insane military projects that almost happened

3. Your medicine will be ready when it’s ready … (via Sh*t My LPO Says)

… which will be sometime next Thursday.

4. Congratulations on your contract (via Sh*t My LPO Says).

It’s a bummer when your family celebrates that they’ll only see you half the time for the next few years.

5. Budget cuts are taking a toll (via Air Force Memes and Humor)

But at least everyone’s spirits are up.

6. Profiles, chits, doctors’ notes, it’s all shamming.

Not sure which service lets you spend your light duty drinking beer in a recliner though. Pretty good reenlistment incentive.

7. You know that even Unsolved Mysteries couldn’t answer that question, right? (via Team Non-Rec)

Warrant Officer’s are like reflective belts. The brass insist they work and everyone else just goes along with it.

8. I want to see these three guys shark attack some young private (via Sh*t My LPO Says).

It’s always great when lieutenants explain the military to senior enlisted.

9. It gets real out there (via Team Non-Rec)

I mean, they don’t even have napkins for their pizza.

10. Patriotic duty

Say your pledges, protect America, see peace in our time.

11. They specialize in anti-oxidation operations and haze grey proliferation.

That’s a fancy way of saying they scrape rust and spread paint.

12. Never forget (via Air Force Memes and Humor)

Clearly, this man behind the stick of an F/A-18 is a good idea.

13. You want their attention? Better have some Oakleys and cigarettes that “fell off a truck.”

This is also what the E4 promotion board looks like.

NOW: The 6 most shocking military impostors ever

WATCH: Vet On The Street

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6 things military veterans will love about History’s ‘Six’

The second season of History’s Six is underway and there are a few new faces. Olivia Munn joins the cast as CIA officer Gina Cline. Walton Goggins returns as Richard “Rip” Taggart, who was dramatically rescued in the last season. Led by Barry Sloans’ Joe “Bear” Graves, the team will hit Eastern Europe (even as far as Chechnya) this season to track down a terror network.

Veterans are hard to please when it comes to depicting military life and veterans onscreen. We demand accuracy. We demand realism. Most of the time, we find ourselves disappointed. History’s Six will not disappoint you.

Suspend your disbelief for a moment, fellow veterans. To be perfectly fair, there’s a lot to like and a lot to overlook when it comes to Six — just like any other show on television. Not everyone is going to be a fan. But there is so much more to like from Six. Even the most discerning veteran will find that Six is better than they expected.


1. The realism is relative — and that’s okay

This is something vets have a hard time getting over. Every veteran knows Hollywood gets a lot wrong about the military. There are some egregious examples out there. Some of those make it look like they don’t even try — looking at you, Basic. There are some in which the producers take a few too many liberties for dramatic license, like Jarhead. Despite solid source material, there were just a few things that would never happen in the Marine Corps.

If you’re an NCO who actually fired an M60-E3 in the air with your shirt off while surrounded by hundreds of Marines at a bonfire, I apologize.

A lot of the screen gems that veterans love are, in some way, dramatized or unrealistic. Full Metal Jacket is an anti-war movie, but vets embraced it as their own, whether they supported the Vietnam War or not. Heartbreak Ridge has little to do with the realistic Marine Corps, beyond the depiction of U.S. forces dialing in artillery support on Grenada using a credit card. So lighten up, Francis.

2. “Ripped from the headlines” stories

Last season, the show took on Boko Haram, the Sub-Saharan terror organization that was behind the Chibok School Girls Kidnapping (of “Bring Back Our Girls” infamy). The group continues its kidnapping and terror reign in the country to this day. One the show, the SEAL team’s leader was kidnapped by Boko Haram and they spent the season dealing with the aftermath and rescue of Walton Goggins’ character “Rip.”

You might learn something.

This season takes the team to Eastern Europe to track a clandestine jihadist cell led by a mysterious figure known as “Michael.” If you haven’t been paying attention to the news, Eastern Europe is the front line to a new Cold War, where Russian and American intelligence agencies work to take down terrorist organizations like ISIS and a resurgent al-Qaeda. Russian security services have been fighting this battle for years. It was only a matter of time before American special operators got involved.

3. Olivia Munn’s character is a great addition

Look, I actually heard someone say, “SEAL Teams don’t have women.” And they don’t. Not yet. History isn’t depicting a female SEAL — she’s a CIA operative and there are many, many female CIA operatives in the real world. History’s SEAL Team Six is getting their “Maya.”

That’s a Zero Dark Thirty reference, y’all. And If you didn’t know, the real-life ‘Maya’ is so hardcore she makes you look squeamish. All of you.

4. The cast were trained by SEALs

Remember that realism thing we were talking about? You are guaranteed to see some outstanding trigger discipline in the cast of Six. Actors Barry Sloane, Kyle Schmid, Edwin Hodge, Juan Pablo Raba, and the rest of the cast went through their own boot camp run by actual Navy SEALs.

In case you didn’t know, this is what a Navy SEAL looks like (but we don’t know if it was Jocko Willink who trained them).

The cast of Saving Private Ryan had to go through Capt. Dale Dye’s bootcamp just once, so you might think the cast of Six would only have to do it once, too. Nope. They’re going for every freaking season.

5. It’s about family

Most shows, at their cores, are about some kind of family. But what Six does well is that infuses the family drama that comes with being in a tight-knit family unit. Some media outlet somewhere said it was like a “soap opera,” but anyone who’s ever been in a large family — or a large military workcenterknows that routinely going to work with people you live with is a soap opera in itself.

Imagine all the stupid fights you had with a sibling. Now imagine deploying with them. See what I mean?

6. Action shows are awesome – when done well

I love a good action movie or TV show. I hate a bad one. There’s nothing worse than watching bad lines being read by some marginal actor only to be rewarded by thirty seconds of action maybe every twenty minutes (if you’re lucky). Go watch a recent Steven Seagal movie on Netflix and tell me I’m wrong.

The action in Six is really well-executed, the cast is pretty great, and the visuals are well-done, too.

Season two just started. You have plenty of time to catch up.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is what would happen if a Hind took on a Cobra

In the early 1980s, the Mil Mi-24 Hind and the Bell AH-1 Cobra were the major attack helicopters on either side of the Cold War. Had the Russians tried to storm the Fulda Gap, these two choppers would’ve butt heads — often — in between efforts to blast the other side’s tanks and troops to hell.


The Mi-24 Hind not only carried anti-tank missiles, rocket pods, and guns, it also could haul eight troops.

(USAF photo by MSGT David Turner)

Both these helicopters saw their fair share of action. The Hind proved itself in Afghanistan and elsewhere, while the Cobra saw extensive use in the Vietnam War. By the 80s, these were mature, proven designs — and both packed a lot of punch.

The Cobra’s biggest advantage: It presents a much smaller head-on target — and it packs a 20mm punch.

(US Army photo)

The Mi-24 Hind entered service in 1973. The definitive Hind D packed a 12.7mm Gatling gun in the nose and could carry a mix of rocket pods (usually 57mm rockets) and anti-tank missiles (usually AT-2 or AT-6) on six pylons. UH-1s, on the other hand, often carried some 7.62mm machine guns and had pylons enough for two rocket pods. In a sense, the Hind took some concepts from the UH-1 and put them on steroids. Like the UH-1, the Hind could also carry troops into battle — usually eight personnel.

Its likely opponent, the AH-1 Cobra, was somewhat different. In the middle of the Vietnam War, the United States Army wanted a dedicated gunship. Eventually, their search resulted in the HueyCobra. The Cobra was a much smaller target than its predecessor since, unlike the Huey, it didn’t haul infantry around. By the 1980s, the Cobra was armed with a M197 20mm cannon, a three-barrel Gatling gun, and could carry a mix of rocket pods and BGM-71 TOW missiles.

So, in a fictional fight, which of these helicopters would come out on top? As always, much depends on the mission. The Mi-24 Hind would have been very useful for air assault missions. A typical loadout was composed of four rocket pods, each carrying 32 57mm rockets, along with four anti-tank missiles. This would be devastating for rear-area troops, who not only would have to deal with being hit by rockets, but also with the infantry that would soon follow. The Cobra, on the other hand, packed a lot more of an anti-tank punch.

If it came down to a helicopter dogfight, though, the Cobra would have a clear edge. While the Hind does have the speed edge, the Cobra is much smaller and its 20mm cannon packs more of a punch. Were the two to go head-to-head, the Soviets would quickly find themselves down both a chopper and, potentially, an entire infantry section, too.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Now the Iraqi army is going after the Kurdish forces who helped beat ISIS

Iraqi federal and Kurdish forces exchanged fire at their shared border on Oct. 20, capping a dramatic week of maneuvers that saw the Kurds hand over territory across northern Iraq.


Iraqi forces shelled Kurdish military positions north and south of Altun Kupri, a town of about 9,000 people just outside the country’s autonomous Kurdish region, a day after Brig. Gen. Raad Baddai gave warning he was going to enter the town.

Organized Kurdish forces, known as the peshmerga, as well as irregular forces, responded with rocket fire.

Kurdish Peshmerga near the Syrian border (photo by Enno Lenze)

By mid-day, Iraq’s Defense Ministry said anti-terrorism forces, the federal police, and the country’s Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Front militias had taken the town.

But the peshmerga’s general command disputed that claim, saying Kurdish fighters fought off the advance and destroyed 10 humvees and an Abrams tank.

Ercuman Turkmen, a PMF commander, said from inside the town his forces were being targeted by sniper fire. Speaking to the AP by phone, he said he had no orders to enter the Kurdish autonomous region.

There were no casualty reports but AP reporters saw ambulances outside the town.

Logo of Popular Mobilization Forces. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

The boundaries of the country’s Kurdish region have long been disputed between Baghdad and Irbil, the Kurdish capital, but Kurdish forces this week withdrew in most areas to positions they last held in 2014, effectively restoring the contours of the map to the time before the rise of the Islamic State group.

They pulled out of nearby Kirkuk after brief clashes and handed over surrounding oil fields nearly without a fight, but they held on to Altun Kupri, making a symbolic last stand in front of the vastly more powerful Iraqi army.

“The Kurdistan Peshmerga Forces have resisted heroically in this confrontation and have recorded a great honor,” the peshmerga general command said in a statement released mid-day.

Altun Kupri is the last town on the federal side of the border on the road between Kirkuk and Irbil.

A checkpoint near Altun Kurpi, between Irbil and Kirkuk. Photo from NRT Images.

Kurdish forces entered Kirkuk in 2014 when Iraq’s army melted away ahead of the Islamic State group’s blitz across northern and western Iraq.

The city, home to over 1 million Arabs, Kurds, and Turkmen, emerged at the heart of the dispute over whether Kurdish authorities should return the territories it acquired during the war on IS. They have lost an important stream of oil revenues with the loss of the city, dealing a serious blow to aspirations for independence.

Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani championed a non-binding vote for Kurdish independence in September. Baghdad condemned it and instead demanded the return of the disputed territories, precipitating the crisis.

The peshmerga are vastly outmatched by Iraq’s federal armed forces and the Iranian-sponsored militias that fight alongside them. Both the Kurds and the federal forces are accustomed to calling and receiving coalition air support as part of their shared war on the Islamic State group.

A Peshmerga soldier loads his M16 rifle during a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense class. Army photo by Sgt. Lisa Soy

“There’s nothing we can do about it, honestly. I’m urging the coalition forces to come and help us.” said peshmerga fighter Ibrahim Mirza. “No doubt we have martyrs.”

Kurdish authorities sent reinforcements to the front lines. An Associated Press team saw a convoy of dozens armored vehicles arriving at the Kurdish side of the front, and fighters waiting in the town of Kustepe, on the Kurdish side of the border.

Thick black smoke rose from a checkpoint north of Altun Kupri after it was hit by a shell, and ambulances rushed from the front lines into Kurdish areas.

Altun Kupri is 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of Kirkuk.

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The future of warfare is coming, and it’s bringing lasers

This week, both the British Ministry of Defense and the US Navy have made strides towards directed energy weapons that could change the face of warfare as we know it.


The British, for their part, are eyeing a laser system that could compliment the Phalanx close-in anti-missile system, which detects, tracks, and can destroy approaching threats at closer ranges than other missile defense platforms.

Currently, the Phalanx is a computer-guided system that relies on a 20 mm Gatling gun. The British are looking to do away with the gun and substitute a laser.

“It’s better to spend money on the laser than on the mount,” Andy Rhodes, a business development executive at Raytheon UK told Defensenews.com.

Lasers offer a number of advantages over traditional guns. As they rely only on electricity, lasers can be fired for less than $1 a shot. Also, no round will ever travel anywhere near as fast as a laser, which obviously travels at the speed of light.

As military powers around the world race to create hypersonic weapons that can foil missile defenses through speed alone, the need for laser-aided missile defense becomes clear.

“The potential of laser-based weapons systems has been identified as an opportunity and offers significant advantages in terms of running costs as well as providing a more appropriate response to the threats currently faced by UK armed forces,” the British MoD stated.

Additionally, lasers on lower power settings can be used to overwhelm enemy sensors and instruments.

The Phalanx Close-In Weapons system.

The US Navy for their part has also taken a step towards directed energy weapons. On Monday, Raytheon delivered pulse power containers for the Navy to test out on a new railgun design.

Unlike lasers, railguns fire actual projectiles, however, they use directed energy to do it.

Raytheon says the pulse power containers, when incorporated into a completed railgun design, will be able to launch projectiles at speeds in excess of Mach 6, or about 4,600 mph. At those speeds, there is little need for an explosive round with a chemical charge.

“Directed energy has the potential to redefine military technology beyond missiles and our pulse power modules and containers will provide the tremendous amount of energy required to power applications like the Navy Railgun,” said Colin Whelan, vice president of Advanced Technology for Raytheon’s Integrated Defense Systems business.

The USS Zumwalt. | Raytheon

The Navy’s railgun could find itself aboard the Futuristic USS Zumwalt as soon as 2018,Reuters reports.

“The Navy is determined to increase the offensive punch of the surface warships,” said Loren Thompson, a defense analyst at the Lexington Institute. “To do that with a limited budget, it needs to look at everything from smart munitions to railguns to lasers.”

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Airmen will soon be able to 3D print entire weapons systems on the flightline

Ever since word got out that the Pentagon spent $436 on a hammer in the 1980s, citizen watchdogs have kept a close eye on how much the Defense Department spends on its maintenance and upkeep. To keep costs low on an aging fleet of airplanes, the USAF turned to 3D printing to cut the acquisition time and cost for spare parts. Its first 3D printed part was a toilet seat cover – instead of paying $10,000 for one.

Now the Air Force may be turning to 3D print for a lot more than spare parts and toilet seats. It may start printing entire weapons systems – directly from the flightline.


3D printing is also known as “additive construction,” as explained in the video above. The traditional method of creating objects is known as “subtractive construction,” where a solid mass of raw material is shaped to form various parts. 3D printing starts with nothing and layers on material to form a solid part. Right now, the Air Force uses 3D printing to create parts for aircraft on a small scale, but according to the thought leaders of these projects, there’s “no reason the technology couldn’t grow to create items weighing 50,000 pounds or more.”

Maintainers across the Air Force are already using 3D printing technology to save time and money by creating objects that would otherwise be costly and could take weeks to arrive – if they come at all. The aforementioned toilet seat cost ,000 because the original manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, doesn’t make the C-5 Galaxy anymore, and they don’t have a bunch of C-5 toilet seats lying around. It was a custom order. At places like RAF Mildenhall, the Air Force uses 3D printers to create individual parts not individually available. Instead of ordering an entirely new system for things like tow swivel legs, they can just replace the parts of individual tow swivel legs that break.

In 70 years, 3-D printing could build assets on the scale of 50,000 pounds, including manned-fighter class capability.

(Illustration by Chris Desrocher)

The video also mentions that universities have 3D printed entire aircraft and flown them successfully. The Air Force is bringing that technology in and moving it forward with its considerable resources.

“Maybe you need a new sensor package, maybe you need a new weapons truck,” says Ed Alyanak, an engineer with the Aerospace Systems Directorate at the Air Force Research Laboratory. “What we’re doing is we’re linking the operational analysis assessment and the computational design phase of a new asset, be it a weapons system or a new vehicle, some small scale UAV, maybe even a large-scale manned asset, with the phase of acquiring that asset.”

The process already saves the Air Force millions in developing small-scale design models, but the future of the process is the most exciting part. Within 70 years, the Air Force could go from printing parts and wings for A-10 aircraft (as it does today) to printing entire airframes right there on the flightline.

It’s a concept that Airman Magazine called going from “Global Reach” to “Global Already There.” For more about 3D printing weapons and aircraft, check out the story at Airman Magazine.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why these British soldiers never say ‘yes’

Much of the world knows the Grenadier Guards from their roles as formal guards in London and at Windsor Castle. Their distinctive ceremonial uniforms are a symbol of the British Crown. They are also one of the world’s best light infantry units who joined the British Army in the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But while they left their distinctive bearskin hats at home, they did bring many traditions to desert wars with them.


“Make way for the Queen’s Guard.”

One of those traditions surrounds saying the word “yes.” Apparently, members of the Grenadier Guards find the affirmative to be redundant. According to one guardsman in a 1989 BBC story called the “Weird and Wonderful Traditions of the Grenadier Guards,” saying yes is redundant as a guardsman always obeys his orders. The only alternative would be saying “no,” something a guardsman would never do.

So in the Grenadier Guards, they simply respond to direct orders with “sir.”

The Grenadiers’ unquestioned obedience doesn’t limit their ability to communicate. According to a ranking Guardsman of the time, they can still pass different meanings through the word using different tones and inflections. If you’re given a bad assignment, you just say “sir.” It doesn’t mean you’re happy about it, but you accept it. If you’re told something you simply just can’t believe, you might say “sirrrrrr?” Or maybe you disagree with it entirely and don’t like it one bit.

A monotone “sir” is an acceptable response. Tune in to the above video at around 6:15 to hear the Guards tell it.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Welcome to space, Air Force — the Marines have been here for years

President Trump’s Space Force came as a shock and surprise to many, even if the U.S. Air Force isn’t quite sure how to move forward with it. NASA’s chief executive wants it. America’s pop culture astrophysicist Neil deGrasse-Tyson says it isn’t a weird move. Even the Trump-critical Washington Post says now is the time.

The Marines thought it was time more than a dozen years ago.

Only back then the thinking was using space to bridge the time it took to get Marine boots on the ground. Earth’s ground. Writing for Popular Science, David Axe described this new way of getting troops to a fight as a delivery system of “breathtaking efficiency.”

Small Unit Space Transport and Insertion, or SUSTAIN (as the Corps’ idea wizards called it) was designed to be a suborbital transport vehicle that flew into the atmosphere at high speed 50 miles off the Earth’s surface, just short of orbiting the Earth. There, in the Mesosphere, gravity waves drive global circulation but gravity exerts a force just as strong as on the surface. It’s also the coldest part of the the atmosphere and there is little protection from the sun’s ultraviolet light. These are just a few considerations Marines would need to take.

The Space Shuttle Endeavor breaching the Mesosphere.
(NASA)

This is also much higher than the record for aircraft. Even balloons have only reached some 32 miles above the Earth, so this pocket of Earth’s sky is an under-researched area that not much is known about. What the Marine Corps knows for sure is that going that high up means it doesn’t have to worry about violating another country’s airspace, and it can drop Marines on the bad guys within two hours.

The SUSTAIN craft would need to be made of an advanced lightweight metal that could be used in the liftoff phase but also handle the heat of reentry into the atmosphere. Each lander pod would hold 13 Marines and be attached to a carrier laden with scramjet engines and rocket engines to get above the 50-mile airspace limit.

The layers of Earth’s atmosphere.

Objects moving in Low-Earth Orbit (admittedly at least twice as high as the SUSTAIN system was intended) move at speeds of eight meters per second, fast enough to circumnavigate the globe every 90 minutes. But the project had a number of hurdles, including the development of hypersonic missiles, a composite metal that fit the bill, and the size of a ship required to carry the armed troops and their equipment.

At the time the project wasn’t feasible unless ample time to develop the technology needed to overcome those hurdles was given to researchers. But if the SUSTAIN project was given the green light in 2008, maybe we’d have a Space Corps instead of a Space Force.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is why the ‘Fat Leonard’ scandal is a very serious problem

United States Seventh Fleet has new damning controversy worse than everything else the “Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club” has had to deal with this year. This time it isn’t about a Petty Officer 3rd Class hiding in an engine room, disastrously low morale among lower enlisted, or another collision.


At the time of writing this, 440 active-duty and retired sailors, to include 60 Admirals, are being investigated for ethics violations in connection to Leonard Glenn Francis and Glenn Defense Marine Asia. Formal criminal charges have been field against 34 personnel, 19 of whom have already stood in Federal court. All of them pleaded guilty.

To put this into context: the U.S. Navy has only 210 Admirals on active duty.

The Singaporean contractor, known as “Fat Leonard,” was arrested in September 2013 for bribery and defrauding the U.S. government through falsified service charges. He is serving 25 years and forfeited $35 million from his personal assets. $35 million is the amount of money he admits to swindling out of the Navy.

Francis managed to con the Navy for over ten years by bribing Navy officials to look the other way and worming his way into meetings with Admirals to gain insider knowledge. His bribes included alcohol-fueled parties, private vacations, pure cash, and many other luxuries. The bribery with the worst optics still remains the six figures worth of prostitutes he would bring to those officials.

Capt. Daniel Dusek, the former commander of the USS Bonhomme Richard, received a 46-month prison sentence and ordered to pay $100k in fines and restitution for connections to the scandal. Dusek admits to “succumbing to temptations before him” and gave classified information to “Fat Leonard.”

Capt. Dusek’s testimony has been invaluable thus far in weeding out the corruption.

Francis received a decommissioned British naval vessel, RFA Sir Lancelot, and converted it into a party boat, rechristened as the Glenn Braveheart, to entertain top U.S. Navy officials in 2003. Once there, he would entice the Naval officers with the bribes and prostitutes to gain unfettered access into the inner workings of the Navy, use the intimate knowledge and access to secure valuable contracts, and then overcharge the Navy for his fraudulent invoices.

The true scope of “Fat Leonard’s” corruption is still not known and the number of involved Naval officials isn’t known at this time as investigations continue.