Why Army artillery is about to get much more accurate - We Are The Mighty
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Why Army artillery is about to get much more accurate

The US Army is developing precision-guided 155mm rounds that are longer range than existing shells and able to conduct combat missions in a GPS-denied war environment.


The Precision Guidance Kit Modernization (PGK-M) is now being developed to replace the standard PGK rounds, which consist of a unguided 155 round with a GPS-fuze built into it; the concept with the original PGK, which first emerged roughly 10 years ago, was to bring a greater amount of precision to historically unguided artillery fire.

Now, Army developers with the Army’s Program Executive Office Ammunition at Picatinny Arsenal are taking the technology to a new level by improving upon the range, accuracy, and functionality of the weapon. Perhaps of greatest importance, the emerging PGK-M shell is engineered such that it can still fire with range and accuracy in a war environment where GPS guidance and navigation technology is compromised or destroyed.

The emerging ammunition will be able to fire from standard 155mm capable weapons such as an Army M777 lightweight towed howitzer and M109 howitzer.

Why Army artillery is about to get much more accurate
Spc. Avery Lebron Johnson Jr. (R), a cannon crewmember in 1st Platoon, Archer Battery, Field Artillery Squadron, 2d Cavalry Regiment guides a m155 round into a M777 howitzer Aug. 5, 2017 while training in the Vaziani Training Area, Republic of Georgia during Noble Partner 17. Noble Partner is a multinational training exercise in support of Georgia’s second light infantry company contribution to the NATO Response Force. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Jennifer Bunn, 2d Cavalry Regiment)

“PGK-M will provide enhanced performance against a broad spectrum of threats. In addition, PGK-M will be interoperable with the Army’s new long-range artillery projectiles, which are currently in parallel development,” Audra Calloway, spokeswoman for the Army’s Picatinny Arsenal, told Warrior Maven.

BAE Systems is among several vendors currently developing PGK-M with the Army’s Defense Ordnance Technology Consortium. BAE developers say the kits enable munitions to make in-flight course corrections even in GPS-jammed environments.

“Our experience with munitions handling, gun launch shock, interior ballistics, and guidance and fire control uniquely positions us to integrate precision technology into the Army’s artillery platforms,” David Richards, Program Manager, Strategic Growth Initiatives for our Precision Guidance and Sensing Solutions group, BAE Systems, told Warrior Maven in a statement.

This technological step forward is quite significant for the Army, as it refines its attack technologies in a newly-emerging threat environment. The advent of vastly improved land-fired precision weaponry began about 10 years ago during the height of counterinsurgency warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan. GPS-guided 155m Excalibur rounds and the Army’s GPS and inertial measurement unit weapon, the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System, burst onto the war scene as a way to give commanders more attack options.

Also Read: This is why the US military gave GPS away for free

Traditional suppressive fire, or “area weapons” as they have been historically thought of, were not particularly useful in combat against insurgents. Instead, since enemies were, by design, blended among civilians, Army attack options had little alternative but to place the highest possible premium upon precision guidance.

GMLRS, for example, was used to destroy Taliban leaders in Afghanistan, and Excalibur had its combat debut in the 2007, 2008 timeframe. With a CEP of roughly 1-meter, Excalibur proved to be an invaluable attack mechanism against insurgents. Small groups of enemy fighters, when spotted by human intel or overhead ISR, could effectively be attacked without hurting innocents or causing what military officials like to call “collateral damage.” PGK was initially envisioned as a less expensive, and also less precise, alternative to Excalibur.

The rise of near-peer threats, and newer technologies commensurate with larger budgets and fortified military modernization ambitions, have created an entirely new war environment confronting the Army of today and tomorrow. Principle among these circumstances is, for example, China’s rapid development of Anti-Satellite, or ASAT weapons.

Why Army artillery is about to get much more accurate
Marines with Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, fire an M982 Excalibur round from an M777 howitzer during a recent fire support mission. (US Marine Corps photo)

This ongoing development, which has both the watchful eye and concern of US military strategists and war planners, underscores a larger and much-discussed phenomenon – that of the United States military being entirely too reliant upon GPS for combat ops. GPS, used in a ubiquitous way across the Army and other military services, spans small force-tracking devices to JDAMs dropped from the air and much more, of course including the aforementioned land weapons.

Advanced jamming techniques, electronic warfare and sophisticated cyberattacks have radically altered the combat equation – making GPS signals vulnerable to enemy disruption. Accordingly, there is a broad consensus among military developers and industry innovators that far too many necessary combat technologies are reliant upon GPS systems. Weapons targeting, ship navigation and even small handheld solider force-tracking systems all rely upon GPS signals to operate.

Accordingly, the Army and other services are now accelerating a number of technical measures and emerging technologies designed to create what’s called Position, Navigation and Timing (PNT), or GPS-like guidance, navigation, and targeting, without actually needing satellites. This includes ad-hoc software programmable radio networks, various kinds of wave-relay connectivity technologies and navigational technology able to help soldiers operate without GPS-enabled force tracking systems.

At the same time, the Army is working with the Air Force on an integrated strategy to protect satellite coms, harden networks and also better facilitate joint-interoperability in a GPS-denied environment.

The Air Force Space strategy, for instance, is currently pursuing a multi-fold satellite strategy to include “dispersion,” “disaggregation” and “redundancy.” At the same time, the service has also identified the need to successfully network the force in an environment without GPS. Naturally, this is massively interwoven with air-ground coordination. Fighters, bombers and even drones want to use a wide range of secure sensors to both go after targets and operate with ground forces.

Why Army artillery is about to get much more accurate
Today, the Air Force operates the largest GPS constellation in history with more than 30 satellites.  (U.S. Air Force Graphic by Maureen Stewart)

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is working with industry to test and refine an emerging radio frequency force-tracking technology able to identify ground forces’ location without needing to rely upon GPS.

Given all this, it is by no means insignificant that the Army seeks guided rounds able to function without GPS. Should they engage in near-peer, force-on-force mechanized ground combat against a major, technologically advanced adversary, they may indeed need to launch precision attacks across wide swaths of terrain – without GPS.

Finally, by all expectations, modern warfare is expected to increasingly become more and more dispersed across wider swaths of terrain, while also more readily crossing domains, given rapid emergence of longer-range weapons and sensors.

This circumstance inevitably creates the need for both precision and long-range strike. As one senior Army weapons developer with PEO Missiles and Space told Warrior Maven in an interview last Fall — Brig. Gen. Robert Rasch — … “it is about out-ranging the enemy.”

Articles

Navy fleet commanders warn of potential fight in North Korea

Two top Navy fleet commanders said Tuesday that the next potential conflict hotspot would likely be in Korea.


“If there’s a fight tonight, it’s probably going to happen on the Korean peninsula,” said Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, commander of 7th Fleet, in a panel discussion at the AFCEA West 2017 conference.

Also read: US sends carrier strike group to mix it up in the South China Sea

Vice Adm. Nora Tyson, commander of 3rd Fleet, agreed with that assessment, saying that hostilities with the North Korean regime would be the “number one probability.”

The fleet commanders made their comments on a panel discussion titled, “Are we ready to fight — today and in the future?”

Why Army artillery is about to get much more accurate
In addition to its long-range missiles and nuclear programme, North Korea has a line of shorter-range Hwasong missiles capable of hitting Japan.

“Are we ready to fight? You bet we are,” said Vice Adm. Jamie Foggo, a former 6th Fleet commander who now serves as director of the Navy’s joint staff.

Foggo pointed to recent provocations out of Pyongyang as worrisome. Earlier this month, North Korea launched a land-based nuclear-capable ballistic missile that traveled 300 miles before splashing into the Sea of Japan.

“Frankly, it was pretty impressive,” Foggo said. “It was like a submarine missile launched from a tank. Solid fuel. Pretty impressive.”

Still, Aucoin pointed to the US’ strong relationship with South Korea and Japan as helping to counter aggression out of Pyongyang, along with a number of moves of sophisticated weaponry and early-warning assets to the region, including E2D Hawkeye aircraft, F/A-18 Super Hornets, and F-35B fighters being placed in Okinawa.

Why Army artillery is about to get much more accurate
The Republic of Korea Navy amphibious landing ship ROKS Dokdo (LPH 6111) and the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) transit the Sea of Japan. | U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Adam K. Thomas

The US also has Patriot missile batteries and is moving forward with placing the more-advanced THAAD interceptor on the ground in South Korea. There are more than 28,000 US soldiers stationed there.

Aucoin said those assets provide a “pretty good umbrella.”

On Sunday, the Washington Post reported that preparations were underway to bring North Korean officials to the United States for diplomatic talks between former US officials.

7th Fleet, Aucoin said, is well-resourced and well-manned. “We’re ready to deliver decisive combat power on, above, and below the surface if necessary,” he said.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Here’s what you actually need in a nuclear survival kit

Hopefully it won’t be the tweet that launched 1,000 ships — or nuclear weapons.


“North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times,'” President Donald Trump tweeted on Jan. 2. “Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

 

 

Many people are concerned that statement was belligerent enough to back the U.S. into war.

Shortly after Trump posted the statement, which received about 700,000 interactions, store managers across the country noticed a spike in sales of potassium iodide (or KI) pills, which are often advertised as able to block radiation from nuclear fallout.

Why Army artillery is about to get much more accurate
Dangerous radioactive fallout zones shrink rapidly after a nuclear explosion. (Image from Bruce Buddemeier/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)

For example, Troy Jones — who runs the website www.nukepills.com — told NPR that he saw demand for the pills soar.

“On Jan. 2, I basically got in a month’s supply of potassium iodide and I sold out in 48 hours,” he said.

In two days, Jones said he sent out about 140,000 doses of the drug, whereas he normally would have shipped about 8,400. Some local pharmacies have seen a similar rise in sales.

But the pill is far from a protect-all against a nuclear attack. In fact, radiation health experts say it’s pretty much the last thing people need in a nuclear-blast survival kit — especially with the type of strike North Korea might be capable of.

Why potassium iodide pills are probably a waste of money

North Korea is working feverishly to miniaturize the nuclear devices it has detonated and perfect an intercontinental ballistic missile to deliver them thousands of miles away.

ICBM-launched warheads are likely to explode high above a city, leading to relatively little radioactive fallout.

Why Army artillery is about to get much more accurate
Tech. Sgt. Greg Murray inspects packs of potassium iodide tablets at the medical logistics flight warehouse, Yokota Air Base, Japan, April 4, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael J. Veloz)

Instead, the U.S. government says fallout is a greater concern in the event of a terrorist’s nuclear detonation, which would be close to the ground. That’s because fallout is formed and spread when dirt and debris get sucked up by a nuclear blast, irradiated to dangerous levels, pushed into the atmosphere, and sprinkled over great distances.

One of the products in fallout is radioactive iodine. Iodine is absorbed and used by the thyroid gland in the neck, so radioactive forms can concentrate there and promote cancer. KI pills — which cost anywhere from a few cents to more than a dollar per pill online — can block that absorption, though not without risk of side effects.

However, radioactive iodine represents a tiny percentage of the elements that the human body would be exposed to in the event of a nuclear disaster.

“Most people seem to think of the potassium iodide, or KI, pills as some type of anti-radiation drug. They are not,” Brooke Buddemeier, a health physicist and expert on radiation at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, previously told Business Insider. “They are for preventing the uptake of radioiodine, which is one radionuclide out of thousands of radionuclides that are out there.”

Buddemeier estimated that radioiodine is just 0.2% of the overall exposure you may face outdoors, and said the pills are more helpful for addressing longer-term concerns about food-supply contamination. In the case of a nuclear blast, he said, “the most important thing is sheltering in place.”

The best thing you can do is stay put

Why Army artillery is about to get much more accurate
The protection factor that various buildings, and locations within them, offer from the radioactive fallout of a nuclear blast. The higher the number, the greater the protection. (Image from Bruce Buddemeier/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)

If you’re lucky enough to survive the searing flash of light, crushing shockwaves, and incendiary fireball that is a nuclear explosion, your next item of concern is fallout.

Sheltering inside a robust structure for at least 12 to 24 hours is a key way to survive that threat, Buddemeier said, since fallout can easily out-speed vehicles as it gets blown around by high-speed winds in the upper atmosphere.

Buddemeier is a fan of the mantra “go in, stay in, tune in.”

“Get inside … and get to the center of that building,” he said. “If you happen to have access to below-ground areas, getting below ground is great.”

Soil is a great shield from radiation, Buddemeier says, so ducking into a home with a basement would be better than going into a place without.

Besides cars, the poorest shelters are made of wood, plaster, and other materials that don’t shield against much radiation — about 20% of houses fall into this category. Better shelters, such as schools and offices, are made of bricks or concrete and have few or no windows.

Prepare an emergency kit with these items instead

Buddemeier recommends visiting Ready.gov to see a complete list of what to do in various emergency scenarios, including a nuclear blast, and what to include in a full emergency kit.

It’s smart to prepare a family plan and assemble a few smaller, basic emergency kits that you can stash at home, work, and in vehicles.

“This isn’t just for the nuclear holocaust event,” Buddemeier said. “This is for general emergency preparedness and making sure that you and your family can be safe in an emergency.”

The first item to include is a radio, he said — ideally a hand-cranked type with a USB charging port that can power other devices.

Also Read: 12 important things that need to be in your bug-out bag yesterday

A radio is important for receiving emergency broadcasts and instructions. It’s one of the simplest ways to figure out where dangerous fallout has landed, when you can leave your shelter, and where the safest routes to exit a fallout zone are.

“If you have a cellphone, that’ll work too,” Buddemeier said, though he prefers a radio because “sometimes the cell towers may be affected,” by power outages, crushing demand, or an invisible yet powerful effect of nuclear weapons called electromagnetic pulse. (The effect can disable electronics, though a ground detonation would mostly confine EMP to the blast damage zone, where you’d have much bigger problems.)

Second, Buddemeier says, you’ll want water — ideally 1 gallon per person per day, according to Ready.gov. In addition to drinking it, you may need it to rinse off radioactive fallout after removing your clothes, since this can drastically reduce your radiation exposure.

Third, Buddemeier said, “I would probably grab a breakfast bar or two to stave off the hunger a little bit.” Fourth, he says, is any essential medications or treatments you might need.

If one of your kits isn’t handy in the event of an explosion, Buddemeier recommends trying to grab a few of these items — as long as that process doesn’t delay taking shelter by more than a couple of minutes. The first minutes and hours after a blast are when radioactive fallout exposure risk is the greatest, especially outdoors.

Why Army artillery is about to get much more accurate

FEMA recommends each of your emergency kits have these essential items in a portable bag:

  1. Water: 1 gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation.
  2. Food: at least a three-day supply of nonperishable food.
  3. Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both.
  4. Flashlight and extra batteries.
  5. First-aid kit.
  6. Whistle to signal for help.
  7. Dust mask to help filter contaminated air, and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter in place.
  8. Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation.
  9. Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities.
  10. Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food).
  11. Local maps.

If you have the space, the need, and the foresight, FEMA also recommends beefing up your basic kits with these items:

  1. Prescription medications and glasses.
  2. Infant formula and diapers.
  3. Pet food and extra water for your pet.
  4. Important family documents, such as copies of insurance policies, identification, and bank-account records in a waterproof, portable container.
  5. Cash or traveler’s checks and change.
  6. Emergency reference material such as a first-aid book or information from Ready.gov.
  7. Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.
  8. Complete change of clothing, including a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.
  9. Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper: When diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented or color-safe bleaches, or those with added cleaners.
  10. Fire extinguisher.
  11. Matches in a waterproof container.
  12. Feminine supplies and personal-hygiene items.
  13. Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, and paper towels.
  14. Paper and pencil.
  15. Books, games, puzzles, or other activities for children.

You can access more information about how to prepare for a variety of emergency scenarios at FEMA.

MIGHTY TRENDING

China and Russia want to push the US out of the Asia-Pacific

Four Chinese Navy ships have departed for joint drills with Russia in the latest sign of growing cooperation between the two militaries that could challenge the US armed forces’ role in the Asia-Pacific.


A destroyer, missile frigate, supply ship, and submarine rescue ship departed Sept. 13 from the port of Qingdao, home to China’s North Sea fleet, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The drills are being held in the Sea of Japan near the Korean Peninsula and the Sea of Okhotsk off the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, Xinhua said.

Why Army artillery is about to get much more accurate
Opening ceremony of the Russia-China Naval Interaction 2014 joint exercises. Photo from Moscow Kremlin.

The exercises are the second stage of an annual joint drill, the first part of which was held July 22-27 in the Baltic Sea — the first time the countries had exercised together in the northern European waterbody.

Russia and China are closely aligned on many diplomatic and security issues, with both countries calling for a negotiated settlement of tensions on the Korean Peninsula, preceded by North Korea suspending its nuclear and missile activities in return for the US and South Korea halting their regular large-scale wargames.

July’s joint drills in the Baltic stirred concern among countries in the region, where tensions are already high over increased displays of military force by both Moscow and NATO.

Both Russia and China say the exercises are not directed at any third parties.

Why Army artillery is about to get much more accurate
Russian President Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the opening ceremony of the Russia-China Naval Interaction 2014 joint exercises. Photo from Moscow Kremlin.

The Chinese ships taking part in the exercises are among the country’s most advanced, components of a growing fleet that poses a significant challenge to the US Navy’s traditional dominance in the Asia-Pacific. Beijing has long chafed at the American presence and is a strong critic of its alliances with Japan, Australia, and other countries in the region.

China already has the world’s largest navy, with slightly over 300 vessels, compared to the US Navy’s 277 “deployable battle force ships,” according to the US Naval War College’s China Maritime Studies Institute. The US Office of Naval Intelligence forecasts it will have 313-342 warships by 2020.

While China’s ships are technologically inferior to those of the US Navy, their sheer numbers allow China a significant presence on the open sea, institute professor Andrew S. Erickson wrote in a recent study.

Articles

The Air Force will no longer fire three volley salutes at veteran funerals

When a veteran or member of the armed forces dies, he or she is entitled to a ceremony that includes the presentation of a U.S. flag to a family member and a bugler blowing Taps. Most of the time, there is a three-volley rifle salute if requested by family members. But now, if the deceased served in the Air Force, the three-volley salute is not an option because the Air Force can no longer support riflemen for funeral services for veteran retirees.


Why Army artillery is about to get much more accurate
Staff Sgt. Sean Edmondson and other new honor guard members exit the field after the funeral ceremony at the honor guard graduation at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.)

Seven member services for retirees included six members to serve as pall-bearers, a six member flag-folding detail, and a three riflemen to fire the salute. Veteran’s funerals now only receive the services of two-member teams, who provide a flag-folding ceremony, the playing of taps, and the presentation of the flag to the next of kin.

Why Army artillery is about to get much more accurate
(U.S. Air Force Photo)

“To me, without the 21-gun salute, it just does not make it complete a proper military burial,” veteran Wayne Wakeman told Honolulu’s KHON 2 News. “I think because of sequestration or the lack of funds or whatever excuse they’re giving, that they had to hit the veterans.”

Wakeman is correct in supposing the cut is due to sequestration, the 2013 automatic federal spending cuts required by the Budget Control Act of 2011.

Why Army artillery is about to get much more accurate
The RAF Mildenhall Honor Guard performs a three-volley salute during the Madingley American Cemetery Memorial Service in Cambridge. (U.S. Air Force Photo)

Rose Richeson, from the Secretary of the Air Force’s Public Affairs Press Desk, told We Are The Mighty the policy of restricting the funeral honor is an Air Force-wide requirement.

“The requirement is consistent with  DoD policy which require a minimum of two personnel,” Richeson said. “Any number of personnel above two that is provided in support of military funeral honors is based on local resources available.”

A three-volley salute is the correct term for what is commonly (though mistakenly) referred to as a 21-gun salute. There are often seven riflemen, totaling 21. The origin of the three-volley funeral honor lies elsewhere, according to the Tom Sherlock, an Arlington National Cemetery Historian. A 21-gun salute is reserved for Presidents of the United States or visiting heads of state.

 

 

MIGHTY TRENDING

North Korea says Trump is ‘begging for war’

Tensions escalated along the Korean Peninsula early in December as U.S. stealth fighters prepared for a joint military drill with South Korea, with North Korea accusing the U.S. of having “nuclear war mania.”


North Korea made several statements about actions taken by the U.S. over the weekend.

North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement, read on state TV, that President Donald Trump and his administration were “begging for nuclear war” by engaging in what the statement referred to as an “extremely dangerous nuclear gamble,” CNN reported.

The statement also said that if the Korean Peninsula and the world were to be pushed to nuclear war, the U.S. would be “fully responsible” because of its “reckless nuclear war mania.”

Read Also: F-35 fighters promise a powerful show of force for North Korea

Then, on Dec. 3rd, commentary run by state TV called the U.S.-South Korea joint air exercises a “dangerous provocation,” pushing the region “to the brink of a nuclear war,” according to CNN. North Korean media regularly threatens the U.S. and its allies and blames the U.S. for tensions on the peninsula.

The U.S. and its ally South Korea began their largest cooperative air exercise in history, dubbed Vigilant Ace, Dec. 4.

The U.S. Air Force said in a statement that F-22 and F-35 stealth jets had moved into South Korea over the weekend in preparation for the joint drill. About 230 aircraft and 12,000 U.S. personnel are expected to participate in the week-long exercise, which will include more stealth jets than ever before.

Why Army artillery is about to get much more accurate
Four U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II’s from the 34th Fighter Squadron, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, taxi down the runway at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Dec. 3, 2017, during exercise VIGILANT ACE 18. The annual exercise featured 12,000 U.S. personnel working alongside members of the Republic of Korea Air Force at eight U.S. and ROK military installations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Joshua Rosales)

According to the U.S. Air Force, the move is designed to boost the “combat effectiveness” of the alliance.

The White House national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said Dec. 2 the chances for nuclear war on the peninsula were growing, CNN reported.

“I think it’s increasing every day, which means that we are in a race, really, we are in a race to be able to solve this problem,” McMaster said in a conference in California, when asked whether North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile launch last week had increased the chance of war.

McMaster also said North Korea represented the “the greatest immediate threat to the United States.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Combat vet rushes to provide first aid to shooting victims

It started out as an average Sunday. He was at the gym in his North Kansas City apartment building working out with his girlfriend. His headphones were in, he had just finished lifting weights and was getting ready to start his cardio workout on the treadmill next to her. The music was playing and the sweat was running.

He looked up as he heard somebody yell something and saw his girlfriend and the three people working out suddenly stop in their tracks and look at the man who just ran into the gym. Pulling out his headphones, he looked around curiously as nervous apprehension filled the room. Everyone stood rooted to the spot, listening intently as the man told them that somebody out front had just been shot.


The first thing that went through his mind was “he’s probably overreacting.” Somebody probably got hurt out in the parking lot or in the grocery store nearby.

“There’s probably nobody in the area who can immediately help someone who’s hurt,” he thought to himself. “Even though I’m not an EMT or a combat medic I can evaluate a casualty and provide immediate care.”

He decided to check it out.

Why Army artillery is about to get much more accurate

Maj. Karl D. Buckingham, a Command and General Staff Officer’s Course student.

(Photo by Dan Neal)

“I immediately left the gym, with my girlfriend following close behind me, and when I turned the corner into the lobby I noticed the broken glass and the obvious bullet holes in the glass entrance,” he said.

“I realized then that this was a bad situation.”

He turned around and urged his girlfriend to go upstairs to the apartment.

Time seemed to slow down and as he made his way closer he saw a man outside near the entrance at the top of the stairs holding a small compact pistol kneeling over a second man lying face down in a spreading pool of blood. A third man, the alleged shooter, lay on the ground at the bottom of the stairs with his hands spread and a pistol nearby.

The situation was tense.

At that time, a fourth individual with a weapon joined the scene. An older man with a holstered pistol. He had been waiting in his car in the parking lot while his wife shopped in the grocery store and had decided to step in to help. He urged everyone to stay calm and was instrumental in defusing the tense situation.

“I thought at this point that there were way too many people out here with guns,” he said.

The bleeding man was probably dead but when he saw the man’s back rise and fall he knew he was still alive and trying to breathe.

He saw the older man kick the pistol away from near the alleged shooter’s hand and decided to run to his truck for his Individual First Aid Kit, which had a tourniquet, an Israeli bandage (a first-aid device used to stop blood flow from traumatic wounds), chest seals, gauze and plastic gloves.

He had put the kit together and kept it in his truck just in case something happened … and something just had.

On that cold and overcast Sunday afternoon on Feb. 24, 2019, Maj. Karl D. Buckingham, 35, a Command and General Staff Officer’s Course student, found himself in an unusual situation. A stressful situation that was not completely unfamiliar to a veteran of five combat deployments to the Middle East. He found himself providing first aid to a gunshot victim.

Buckingham, a Civil Affairs officer, rushed back to the wounded man and made every effort to keep the airway open and stop the bleeding.

According to Buckingham, a native of Camdenton, Missouri, the basics of evaluating a casualty kicked in. Check the airway. Is he bleeding and where from? What can be done to treat the problems as they’re found? The training was there. After 18 years in the Army it was almost instinctual, he knew what to grab, what to look for, and how to react to what he was seeing.

“I went to roll the individual over and noticed an exit wound in his back but it looked like a lot of the bleeding was coming from the front,” he said. “When I pulled his shirt up I realized he had three bullet wounds, two in the abdomen and one in the upper chest.”

In an attempt to stop the bleeding, he bandaged the wounds with gauze and used the Israeli bandage.

Once the police decided the scene was safe, an officer helped Buckingham determine the man also had a sucking chest wound, a hole in the chest that makes a pathway for air to travel into the chest cavity.

Buckingham continued to provide first aid, making every attempt to treat the wounded man until an emergency medical team arrived on scene and took over life-saving efforts.

Buckingham, who graduated from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science in 2007 and is currently working on a Master of Science degree in Administration from Central Michigan University, said his father is a retired soldier and there’s one thing he always told him “never skimp out on first aid training because there’s always something more to learn.”

Why Army artillery is about to get much more accurate

Central Michigan University.

Though he did not speak of a specific situation, Buckingham said he had experience with gunshot wounds in the course of his five combat deployments. It was not something new, he had dealt with wounded soldiers before.

However, he admitted that this situation was different.

“When you’re deployed, whether on patrol or at the [Forward Operating Base], there’s always a sense that something can happen, you’re in a hyper vigilant state, everything seems like it’s dangerous to you and you’re ready to respond at a moment’s notice,” Buckingham explained. “What was different here is that I didn’t wake up that Sunday morning expecting to be treating gunshot wounds in the afternoon right outside my apartment building.”

He said that at one point the switch did flip and then it was time to act.

“I’ve been here before. I’ve seen this. I’ve trained on this. Let me get after this,” he said.

His training as a soldier helped him act confidently and decisively in an unusually tense circumstance.

“In a situation like this, I don’t think being an officer or enlisted makes any difference, it was my first aid training as a soldier that counted,” Buckingham said. “I would hope that anyone who comes into a similar situation can keep a cool level head, evaluate the situation, make appropriate decisions and act on them.”

Buckingham said he went through an emotional rollercoaster after it was all over. He experienced what he called an “adrenaline dump” and did not sleep at all that night. He kept thinking about what he could have done differently.

“Knowing the individual didn’t survive, a lot of things went through my mind. Should I have moved faster? Should I have sealed the front wound instead of the back wound?” he said. “At the end of the day I can honestly say that I did the best that I could. I like to hope that I gave him a better chance of survival.”

Buckingham has words of advice for fellow soldiers.

“The number one point I have for my fellow soldiers is to be prepared. Something as little as having a first aid kit in your car can make a difference,” he said.

Pay attention to TCCC, tactical combat casualty care, the Army’s name for first aid. You’ll never know when you’ll need it, he continued.

“I never once thought that I would ever be treating gunshot wounds on the front steps to my apartment complex but I did pack my [Individual First Aid Kit] in my truck just in case I came up on an accident, at least I would have something to help out with first aid,” Buckingham said.

Buckingham also said that it is not a sign of weakness to admit that a difficult situation shook you up or that you need someone to talk to about your experience.

“We tell ourselves, ‘I’m okay.’ ‘I can tough this out,'” he said. “There’s really no need for that. It’s okay to ask for help. Let’s not turn a blind eye, there are a lot of veteran suicides, there’s no reason you can’t come up and admit that you’re shook up or having a bad time because you think you’re tough and can handle it. As soldiers we tend to put a stigma on ourselves.”

Buckingham was recommended for a soldier’s Medal for his actions on that cold Sunday afternoon.

It may have started out as an average Sunday, but it didn’t end that way.

Articles

The GI Bill just got its biggest funding boost in nearly 10 years

Congress sent President Donald Trump legislation to provide the biggest expansion of college aid for military veterans in a decade.


The Senate cleared the bill by voice vote on August 2, passing the second piece of legislation aimed at addressing urgent problems at the beleaguered Department of Veterans Affairs in as many days. The House passed the bipartisan college aid legislation last week.

The measure is a broad effort to better prepare veterans for life after active-duty service amid a rapidly changing job market.

Building on major legislation passed in 2008 that guaranteed a full-ride scholarship to any in-state public university — or a similar cash amount for private college students — the bill removes a 15-year time limit to tap into GI benefits and increases money for thousands in the National Guard and Reserve.

Why Army artillery is about to get much more accurate
USMC photo by Sgt. Melissa Marnell

Veterans would get additional payments if they complete science, technology, and engineering courses. The bill also would restore benefits if a college closed in the middle of the semester, a protection added when thousands of veterans were hurt by the collapse of for-profit college giant ITT Technical Institute and Corinthian Colleges. Purple Heart recipients, meanwhile, would be fully eligible for benefits, regardless of length of time in service.

“This bill invests in the proven success of our veterans,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson, R- Ga., chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee. “When our veterans return home, they should have every opportunity available to them to pursue their desired profession and career.”

The panel’s top Democrat, Jon Tester of Montana, says the bill “also does right by Guardsmen and Reservists by getting them the education, housing, and health care that they have earned. I look forward to working with President Trump to quickly sign our bill into law.”

Tester is one of the more vulnerable Democrats up for re-election next year, seeking another term in a state Trump won last year.

Why Army artillery is about to get much more accurate
Sens. Johnny Isakson, R- Ga., (left) and Jon Tester, D-Mont (right)

The Senate, on August 2, backed a measure that authorizes $3.9 billion in emergency spending to avert imminent bankruptcy in the VA’s Veterans Choice Program of private-sector care. About $1.8 million of that money would bolster core VA programs, including 28 leases for new VA medical facilities.

The education benefits would take effect for enlistees who begin using their GI Bill money next year.

For a student attending a private university, the additional benefits to members of the Guard and Reserve could mean $2,300 a year more in tuition than they are receiving now, plus a bigger housing allowance.

Why Army artillery is about to get much more accurate
Army Photo by Sgt. Alexander Snyder

A wide range of veterans’ groups had supported the expanded GI Bill benefits. The American Legion, the nation’s largest veterans group, hailed the proposal as launching a “new era” for those who served in uniform.

According to Student Veterans of America, only about half of the 200,000 service members who leave the military each year go on to enroll in a college, while surveys indicate that veterans often outperform peers in the classroom.

Veterans of Foreign Wars estimates that hundreds of thousands of veterans stand to gain from the new benefits.

The expanded educational benefits would be paid for by bringing living stipend payments under the GI Bill down to a similar level as that received by an active-duty member, whose payments were reduced in 2014 by 1 percent a year for five years. Total government spending on the GI Bill is expected to be more than $100 billion over 10 years.

MIGHTY TRENDING

How ISIS is trying to make a comeback with assassinations

Roughly four years ago, ISIS shocked the world when it took over a large swath of territory across Iraq and Syria, declaring the establishment of a new Islamic caliphate in the process.

Fast forward to 2018 and the terrorist group is a shadow of what it was even a year ago. It has lost the vast majority of the territory it previously held and the number of fighters it counted among its ranks has dwindled exponentially to below 3,000.

Nevertheless, ISIS remains a threat in the Middle East, and a new report from the Soufan Center warns it’s attempting to make a comeback by resorting to a tactic it employed back in 2013 when it was still known as Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) — the targeted assassinations of Iraqi security personnel.


“To get back to its heyday of 2014, the Islamic State first needs to get back to 2013, a year in which the terrorist group concluded one very successful campaign to free thousands of its detained members from Iraqi jails and started another campaign to assassinate and intimidate Iraqi security personnel, particularly local police officers,” the report stated.

In late June 2018, Iraq executed 12 ISIS members, which the Soufan Center says was in response to the “high-profile assassination” of eight Iraqi security personnel.

‘A weakened Islamic State is now trying to recreate that past’

With fewer numbers, ISIS will be less inclined to focus on regaining territory and more likely to ramp up attacks on Iraqi police to sow the same brand of chaos it did back in 2013, according to the Soufan Center.

Why Army artillery is about to get much more accurate

A masked man in a video that Islamic State militants released in September 2014.

(FBI)

“A weakened Islamic State is now trying to recreate that past,” the report noted.”Targeted attacks on police and government officials have risen in several provinces as the group has stopped its military collapse and refocused on what is possible for the group now.”

The report added, “Assassinations require few people and are perfectly suited as a force multiplier for a group that has seen its forces decimated.”

‘The social fabric of Iraq remains severely frayed’

Peter Mandaville, a professor of international affairs at George Mason University who previously served as a top adviser to the State Department on ISIS, backed up the Soufan Center report.

“I think it would be difficult for ISIS to retake significant territory given the ongoing presence and vigilance of [US-led] coalition forces,” Mandaville told Business Insider, adding, “They certainly have the capacity to engage in an extended insurgency campaign using the kinds of tactics highlighted in the Soufan Center report.”

Mandaville said the situation on the ground in Iraq — that led to the rise of ISIS in the first place — has not changed significantly even though ISIS has more or less been defeated militarily.

“The social fabric of Iraq remains severely frayed, with high levels of political polarization,” Mandaville said. “Until the central government succeeds in advancing key political and security reforms, many areas of Iraq will continue to provide a permissive environment for low intensity ISIS operations.”

David Sterman of the New America Foundation, an expert on terrorism and violent extremism, expressed similar sentiments.

Why Army artillery is about to get much more accurate

David Sterman, Senior Policy Analyst, New America International Security Program; Co-Author, All Jihad is Local, Volume II: ISIS in North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula

Sterman told Business Insider that the threat of ISIS returning to the strategy of breeding chaos on the local level by targeting Iraq security personal is “very serious.”

“ISIS continues to show capability to conduct attacks in liberated areas, an issue seen also during the surge,” Sterman added. “Bombings in Baghdad in January 2018 illustrate this as well as the assassinations and smaller attacks discussed” in the Soufan Center report.

In short, ISIS is still in a position to create havoc, albeit in a more limited capacity, in an already troubled country that really hasn’t even begun to recover from years of conflict.

ISIS continues to operate underground across the world

From a broader standpoint, this does not necessarily mean ISIS poses a significant threat to the US.

“Even at its height, ISIS did not demonstrate a capability to direct a strike on the US homeland (as opposed to Europe),” Sterman said. “So the threat [in the US] predominantly remains homegrown and inspired. Of course that doesn’t mean the US should take its eye off of what is happening in Iraq and Syria. ISIS’s bursting onto the global scene is proof of that.”

ISIS continues to wage an effective propaganda campaign online, which helps it maintain a global footprint even as its presence in Iraq and Syria has become more faint.

Moreover, ISIS is also turning to Bitcoin and encrypted communications as a means of rallying its followers worldwide.

“If you look across the globe, the cohesive nature of the enterprise for ISIS has been maintained,” Russell Travers, the acting head of the National Counterterrorism Center, recently told The New York Times. “The message continues to resonate with way too many people.”

The Trump administration says there’s ‘still hard fighting ahead’ against ISIS

Speaking with reporters in late June 2018, Defense Secretary James Mattis lauded the success the US-led coalition has had against ISIS in Iraq and Syria but added that “there’s still hard fighting ahead.”

“Bear with us; there’s still hard fighting ahead,” Mattis said. “It’s been hard fighting, and again, we win every time our forces go up against them. We’ve lost no terrain to them once it’s been taken.”

Meanwhile, US troops stationed near the Iraq-Syria border have been hammering ISIS in Syria with artillery in recent weeks.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

US Navy exploring artificial intelligence for warfare network

The Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship may soon be armed with an artificial intelligence-enabled maritime warfare network able to seamlessly connect ships, submarines, shore locations, and other tactical nodes.


The Navy is taking technical steps to expand and cyber-harden its growing ship-based ocean combat network, called Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES).

CANES is being installed on carriers, amphibious assault ships, destroyers, and submarines, and the service has completed at least 50 CANES systems and has more in production, Navy developers said.

Upgraded CANES, which relies upon hardened cyber and IT connectivity along with radio and other communications technologies, is being specifically configured to increase automation – and perform more and more analytical functions without needing human intervention. It is one of many emerging technologies now being heavily fortified by new algorithms enabling artificial intelligence, senior Navy leaders explain.

Why Army artillery is about to get much more accurate
Littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4) patrols the Pacific Ocean during flight operations in the 7th Fleet area of operation. Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) engineers successfully completed the restrained firing test of the Longbow Hellfire missile for the Littoral Combat Ship Surface-to-Surface Missile Module, the Navy announced on Oct. 6, 2016. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer Second Class Michaela Garrison)

“Using AI with CANES is part of a series of normal upgrades we could leverage. Anytime we have an upgrade on a ship, we need the latest and greatest. Navy developers (Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command) have a keen eye of what we can build in — not just technology sprinkled on later but what we can build right into automation on a platform. This is why we use open standards that are compliant and upgradeable,” Rear Adm. Danelle Barrett, Navy Cybersecurity Director, told Warrior in an interview. “It can seem like a disconnected environment when we are afloat.”

Among many other things, fast-evolving AI technology relies upon new methods of collecting, organizing, and analyzing vast amounts of combat-relevant data.

“We consider the whole network, just like any system on an aircraft, ship, or submarine. These things allow the Navy to protect a platform, ID anomalous behavior and then restore. We have to be able to fight through the hurt,” Barrett said.

Also Read: Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship destroys swarming boat attack in test

Surface ships such as the Littoral Combat Ship, rely upon a host of interwoven technologies intended to share key data in real time – such as threat and targeting information, radar signal processing, and fire control systems. CANES connectivity, and AI-informed analysis, can be fundamental to the operation of these systems, which often rely upon fast interpretation of sensor, targeting or ISR data to inform potentially lethal decisions.

The LCS, in particular, draws upon interconnected surface and anti-submarine “mission packages” engineered to use a host of ship systems in coordination with one another. These include ship-mounted guns and missiles along with helicopters, drones such as the Fire Scout and various sonar systems – the kinds of things potentially enhanced by AI analysis.

Navy developers say increasing cybersecurity, mission scope and overall resiliency on the CANES networks depends on using a common engineering approach with routers, satcom networks, servers and computing functions.

Why Army artillery is about to get much more accurate
Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) Airman Jeremy Seltzer monitors the installation of a Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Service cables on board the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). Carl Vinson is currently pierside in its home port in San Diego. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class D’Andre L. Roden/Released)

“We are very interested in artificial intelligence being able to help us better than it is today. Industry is using it well and we want to leverage those same capabilities. We want to use it not only for defensive sensing of our networks but also for suggesting countermeasures. We want to trust a machine and also look at AI in terms of how we use it against adversaries,” Barrett said.

Nodes on CANES communicate use an automated digital networking system, or ADNS, which allows the system to flex, prioritize traffic and connect with satcom assets using multiband terminals.

CANES is able to gather and securely transmit data from various domains and enclaves, including secret and unclassified networks.

Carriers equipped with increased computer automation are now able to reduce crew sizes by virtue of the ability for computers to independently perform a wide range of functions. The Navy’s new Ford Class carriers, for instance, drop carrier crew size by nearly 1,000 sailors as part of an effort to increase onboard automation and save billions over the service life of a ship.

Along these lines, Navy engineers recently completed technical upgrades on board the Nimitz-class USS Truman carrier by integrating CANES, officials with Navy SPAWAR said in a statement.

Why Army artillery is about to get much more accurate
Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific (SPAWAR) Pre-Installation Test and Check Out (PITCO) technicians Diana Burnside and Arnel Franswells perform acceptance testing on Consolidated Afloat Ships Network Enterprise Services (CANES) racks in SPAWAR’s Network Integration and Engineering Facility. As the Navy’s information warfare acquisition systems command SPAWAR develops, delivers, and sustains communications and information capabilities for warfighters. (U.S. Navy photo by Rick Naystatt)

“The Truman received a full upgrade of the Consolidated Afloat Network Enterprise Services network to include more than 3,400 local area network (LAN) drops, impacting more than 2,700 ship spaces,” a SPAWAR article said.

The current thinking, pertinent to LCS and other surface vessels, is to allow ship networks to optimize functions in a high-risk or contested combat scenario by configuring them to quickly integrate new patches and changes necessary to quickly defend on-board networks. Computer automation, fortified by AI-oriented algorithms able to autonomously find, track and — in some cases — destroy cyber-attacks or malicious intrusions without needing extensive and time-consuming human interpretation.

“We see that the more we can automate our networks, the more we can use machines to do the heavy lifting. Our brains do not have the capacity from a time or intellectual capacity to process all of that information. It is imperative to how we will be able to maneuver and defend networks in the future. We can have more automated defenses so that, when things happen, responses can be machine-driven. It won’t necessarily require a human,” Barrett said.

MIGHTY TRENDING

How the Navy will enforce North Korean sanctions

The US is reportedly talking about expanding crackdowns on North Korean ships, along with allies such as Australia, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea.


North Korea currently uses ship-to-ship transfers of sanctioned materials — sometimes in ports and sometimes in international waters — to evade sanctions from the international community. The UN Security Council has passed at least nine resolutions that imposed sanctions on North Korea, and Australia, the EU, Japan, South Korea, and the US have all placed additional sanctions on the country.

Also read: The US is seeking wide authority to hunt down North Korean ships and board them

Russian and Chinese ships have recently been caught exchanging goods and resources in ship-to-ship transfers, as has a ship registered in the Maldives.

The new efforts would expand the scope of the interceptions to possibly include searching and seizing North Korean ships in international waters. Currently, nations only have the authority to conduct these operations within their own waters, where North Korean ships that break sanctions rarely travel through.

Why Army artillery is about to get much more accurate
North Korean cargo vessel Dai Hong Dan. (Photo from US Navy)

“There is no doubt we all have to do more, short of direct military action, to show (North Korean leader) Kim Jong Un we mean business,” a senior American official recently told Reuters.

But the effectiveness of such operations is likely to be limited, Richard Weitz, the Director of the Center for Political-Military Analysis and the Hudson Institute, told Business Insider.

Related: Beijing lambastes US warship patrol in South China Sea as tensions rise over waterway, North Korea

“The problem is the legal complexity,” Weitz said. “Just stopping every ship that leaves North Korea is too far for countries like Russia and China.”

If any maritime operation were to succeed, Russia and China would likely need to be physically involved, conducting joint patrols and interdictions on the Korean Peninsula with US and other regional navies.

Limited effectiveness of maritime interdictions

China’s cooperation would be particularly important, as Donald Rauch, a US Navy Surface Warfare Officer and former Commanding Officer of USS Independence, recently argued in Foreign Policy.

“Such a move would convince North Korea that its sole ally and biggest trading partner had reached the end of its strategic patience,” Rauch writes.

However, the likelihood that China would be part of this kind of operation is low, given that China sees North Korea as a buffer between it and the West.

Why Army artillery is about to get much more accurate
The North Korean vessel Kum Un San 3 conducts a ship-to-ship transfer, possibly of oil, with the Panama-flagged Koti in an effort to evade sanctions, December 9, 2017. (US Department of the Treasury)

Still, more aggressive maritime interdictions, conducted in cooperation with partners in the region, could help with sanctions enforcement and could possibly slow down North Korea’s nuclear and ICBM ambitions.

“I’d imagine that you could supplement it with good satellite intelligence, good espionage in the countries that are receiving the materials, and intercepted communications,” Weitz said.

More: North Korea now has 7 missiles that can strike the US

“It will be useful and it will certainly adapt and its an area that needs to grow, but unless China and Russia were really going all the way in, it’s going to be imperfect.”

Weitz also pointed out that North Korea will likely find another way to continue to get the materials and money it needs.

“Insofar as the maritime interdiction becomes more effective, the more North Korea will then turn to other means of smuggling material in and out,” he said. “Whether it be by air, through China, or other methods.”

MIGHTY MONEY

FEMA says counties near military bases eligible for disaster assistance

Widespread devastation from Hurricane Matthew has prompted the Federal Emergency Management Agency to designate residents from a total of 55 counties as eligible for individual disaster assistance. States like Florida; South Carolina; Georgia; and North Carolina were hit hard by the storm — both in coastal communities and further inland past Fort Bragg.


Why Army artillery is about to get much more accurate
Specialist Jerimyha Pectol, 689th Rapid Port Opening Element, stages humanitarian aid intended for victims of Hurricane Matthew at Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, October 17th.

As the damage is assessed, FEMA has added counties from all four states where individual residents may apply for disaster relief funding.

Hurricane Matthew made its first landfall by slamming into Haiti on Oct. 4, resulting in over 800 casualties in that island nation. Matthew tore over Cuba and the Bahamas, before impacting the southern Atlantic states. By the time Matthew made its way back out to sea, the death toll had reached nearly 1,400.

The United States Southern Command released a statement Oct. 18 that the command had deployed more than 2,000 personnel and 11 helicopters aboard the USS Iwo Jima to deliver over 223 metric tons of aid and supplies to Haiti. SOUTHCOM expects that the military involvement will recede once “more experienced experts arrive” on the ground in Haiti.

President Obama declared a state of emergency in the four states Oct. 7, opening up federal financial aid. Each of the states’ governors declared states of emergency, and the National Guard was activated to several locations.

According to Newsy, Moody’s Analytics reported that the financial damage from Hurricane Matthew could surpass the $70 billion price tag of Superstorm Sandy.

As a direct result of the damage and the expected cost, FEMA has been quick to update its systems to open up aid to individuals in the stricken areas. There are several ways to request disaster relief funding. Individuals may visit the FEMA website, or call FEMA directly at 800-621-3362.

FEMA also recommends that those affected by the storm call their insurance company to make claims, document the damage with photographs, and complete a proof of loss. Insurance companies can help individuals with this process.

Currently, the list of counties that FEMA has approved for individual disaster relief includes:

  • Flagler County, Putnam County, St. Johns County, and Volusia County in Florida
  • Bryan County; Bulloch County; Chatham County; Effingham County; Glynn County; McIntosh County; and Wayne County in Georgia
  • Beaufort County; Bertie County; Bladen County; Columbus County; Craven County; Cumberland County; Dare County; Duplin County; Edgecombe County; Gates County; Greene County; Harnett County, Hoke County; Hyde County; Johnston County; Jones County; Lenoir County; Martin County; Nash County; Pender County; Pitt County; Robeson County; Sampson County; Tyrrell County; Washington County; Wayne County and Wilson County in North Carolina
  • Allendale County; Bamberg County; Barnwell County; Beaufort County; Colleton County; Darlington County; Dillon County; Dorchester County; Florence County; Georgetown County; Hampton County; Jasper County; Lee County; Marion County; Orangeburg County; Sumter County and Williamsburg County in South Carolina
MIGHTY TRENDING

Everything to know about the Navy’s carrier-launched drone

The Navy will choose a new carrier-launched drone at the end of 2018 as part of a plan to massively expand fighter jet attack range and power projection ability for aircraft carriers.


The emerging Navy MQ-25 Stingray program, to enter service in the mid-2020s, will bring a new generation of technology by engineering a first-of-its-kind unmanned re-fueler for the carrier air wing.

Also read: The Navy will use drones to seek and destroy underwater mines

A central key question informs the core of this technology effort: What if the attack capability of carrier fighters, such as an F-18 or F-35C, could double the range at which they hold enemy targets at risk? Could such a prospect substantially extend the envelope of offensive attack operations, while allowing carriers themselves to operate at safer distances?

Why Army artillery is about to get much more accurate
F/A-18 Super Hornet.

The Navy believes so — and is currently evaluating industry proposals from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and General Atomics to build the new MQ-25 drone.

The service plans to award a next-phase deal to a “single air system vendor in late 2018,” Naval Air Systems Command spokeswoman Jamie Cosgrove told Warrior Maven. “The source selection process is currently ongoing for the air system manufacturing and development contract.”

Related: The Navy named its newest destroyer after a heroic Marine

Perhaps enemy targets 1,000 miles away, at sea or deep inland, could successfully be destroyed by carrier-launched fighters operating with a vastly expanded combat radius. Wouldn’t this be of crucial importance in a world of quickly evolving, high-tech missile and aircraft threats from potential adversaries, such as near-peer rivals? Perhaps of equal or greater relevance, what if the re-fueler were a drone, able to operate in forward, high-risk locations to support fighter jets — all while not placing a large, manned tanker aircraft within range of enemy fire?

Why Army artillery is about to get much more accurate
Boeing gave a sneak peak of the MQ-25 Stingray. (Photo by Boeing/Twitter)

The emergence of a drone of this kind bears prominently upon ongoing questions about the future of aircraft carriers in light of today’s fast-changing threat environment. Chinese DF-21D anti-ship guided missiles, for instance, are said to be able to destroy targets as far away as 900 nautical miles. While there is some question about this weapon’s ability to strike moving targets, and carriers, of course, are armed with a wide range of layered defenses, the Chinese weapon does bring a substantial risk potentially great enough to require carriers to operate much further from shore.

In this scenario, these Chinese so-called “carrier-killer” missiles could, quite possibly, push a carrier back to a point where its fighters no longer have the range to strike inland enemy targets from the air. The new drone is being engineered, at least in large measure, as a specific way to address this problem. If the attack distance of an F-18, which might have a combat radius of 500 miles or so, can double – then carrier-based fighters can strike targets as far as 1000 miles away if they are refueled from the air.

More: Watch this crazy video of a Navy F-18 intercepting a UFO

Also, despite the emergence of weapons such as the DF-21D, senior Navy leaders and some analysts have questioned the ability of precision-guided, long-range missiles to actually hit and destroy carriers on the move at 30-knots from 1,000 miles away. Targeting, guidance on the move fire control, ISR, and other assets are necessary for these kinds of weapons to function as advertised. GPS, inertial measurement units, advanced sensors, and dual-mode seekers are part of a handful of fast-developing technologies able to address some of these challenges, yet it does not seem clear that long-range anti-ship missiles such as the DF-21D will actually be able to destroy carriers on the move at the described distances.

Why Army artillery is about to get much more accurate

Furthermore, the Navy is rapidly advancing ship-based defensive weapons, electronic warfare applications, lasers, and technologies able to identify and destroy approaching anti-ship cruise missile from ranges beyond the horizon. Carriers often travel in Carrier Strike Groups where they are surrounded by destroyers and cruisers able to provide additional protection. One such example of this includes the now-deployed Naval Integrated Fire Control – Counter Air system, or NIFC-CA. This technology combines ship-based radar and fire control systems with an aerial sensor and dual-mode SM-6 missile to track and destroy approaching threats from beyond-the-horizon. Ship-based laser weapons and rail guns, in addition, could be among lower-cost ship defense weapons as well.

Also read: Why the Navy’s Super Hornets need an extended range

The MQ-25A Stingray is evolving out of a now-canceled carrier-launched ISR and attack drone program called Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike system, or UCLASS.

A Northrop demonstrator aircraft, called the X-47B, has already performed successful carrier drone take-offs and landings. Accordingly, the ability of the Navy to operate a drone on an aircraft carrier is already progressing and has been demonstrated.

Why Army artillery is about to get much more accurate
Northrop Grumman X-47B Demonstrator.

An existing large fuselage tanker, such as the emerging Air Force KC-46A, might have too large a radar signature and therefore be far too vulnerable to enemy attack. This, quite naturally, then creates the need for a drone able to better elude enemy radar and refuel attack aircraft on its way to a mission.

More: Mattis warns he will not accept the USAF’s flawed new tankers

The current source selection follows a previously released Request For Proposal asking industry for design ideas, technologies and a full range of potential offerings or solutions which might meet the desired criteria.

The service previously awarded four development deals for the MQ-25 to prior to its current proposal to the industry. Deals went to Boeing, Lockheed Martin, General Atomics, and Northrop Grumman.

The early engineering process thus far has been geared toward MQ-25A Stingray technical and task analysis efforts spanning air vehicle capabilities, carrier suitability and integration, missions systems and software — including cybersecurity.

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