It’s hard to imagine today but for over 150-years the UK firearms arsenal at Enfield armed the world. Their 3-band rifles were the go-to gun of the US Civil War and their Short Magazine Lee Enfield bolt guns kept London from having the street signs redone in German through two world wars. Then in 1985, everything went pear-shaped.
In 1954, RSAF Enfield and BSA began production of the 7.62x51mm NATO caliber L1A1 Self-Loading Rifle for the British military to replace their long-serving stocks of Short Magazine Lee Enfield Rifles, a design that had lasted the Brits for nearly 70 years. The L1A1 was a version of the Belgian FN FAL rifle, set up in semi-auto and using SAE or ‘inch-pattern’ templates rather than metric. It proved a hard serving rifle and saw use in the Suez, Malaysia, Aden, Northern Ireland and the Falklands as well as being adopted by close allies Canada, Australia, and New Zealand among others. However by the late 1970s, the L1A1 was a bit long in the tooth, and well, a bit long overall (45-inchs) as well. With most of NATO at the time already using smaller, 5.56mm-chambered rifles such as the M16, FAMAS, and HK33, the UK decided to get on the smaller caliber/smaller weapon bandwagon.
Read the rest in my column at GUNS.com
ATLANTIC OCEAN (May 14, 2013) An X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). George H.W. Bush is the first aircraft carrier to successfully catapult launch an unmanned aircraft from its flight deck. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Timothy Walter/Released)
Thought historically tight-lipped about all things military, one thing the Russians have never kept secret is existence of their robust special operations, or spetsnaz, community, which they have fostered for many generations. These operators fielded the finest hardware found East of Berlin and, going back to the 1980s, the Soviets had an itch for a long-range suppressed rifle and scratched it with a Shaft and a Thread Cutter, so to speak.
Formed in the 1950s from lessons learned fighting the Great Patriotic War against Nazi Germany, the spetsnaz (a Russian acronym for special purpose) units were bad hombres and by the later Soviet era, spetsnaz troops (roughly the commie version of the special forces/ranger type units) were a huge part of the Motherland’s military machine. At the height of the Cold War, the Soviets had no less than 14 army and 2 naval brigades of these troops compared to the sole US Army Ranger regiment and five Special Forces groups.
These groups in general, by the nature of their role on the battlefield, have long sought out suppressed weapons and on both sides of the curtain, most got by with regular issue guns with fitted external suppressors. By the early 1980s, they wanted something better and that is where the VSS and AS came in.
Read the Rest in my column at GUNS.com
This would have cut out the nuke-proof refrigerator and the um, aliens…..
Using the basic LPD 17 hull designed for the U.S. Navy’s San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ships — all of which are built by HII — the BMD ship incorporates an Aegis-type phased array radar atop the superstructure. The aft deck, devoid of much of the topside structure of the LPD 17, is ringed by 18 16-cell vertical launch system launchers, for a total of 288 missile cells.
Like the existing Mark 41 and Mark 57 VLS launchers in the fleet, the ship’s VLS would presumably be able to launch a variety of weapons, including SM-2, SM-3 and SM-6 Standard missiles, Tomahawk cruise missiles, and other weapons. Forward on the ship, HII placed a fairly large rail gun mount, a system now under development by the Navy. The model features 57mm guns in mounts similar to those on the Littoral Combat Ships and Coast Guard National Security Cutters, but not the Mk 46 30mm mounts fitted to LPD 17s.
Back in 2007, the US Navy started looking at high-energy lasers for use as an active weapon. The most promising of these, the Laser Weapons System (LaWS) has already downed target aircraft and is on the way to the fleet.
(The LaWS prototype aboard the USS Dewey in 2012)
The LaWS uses series of six commercially available 5.4-kW fiber lasers focused through a frequency doubling crystal. This active laser system can fire a very tight 32kW beam at line of sight ranges than can travel in excess of 10-miles on a clear day. The typical commercially availible red laser pointer is about 1 milliwatts and is advertised to be able to damage your retinas if you stare into it. This laser is 32-kW, which means that it is 32,000,000-times more powerful than the thing you chase your cat around the house with. It costs some $32-million to develop, which may seem like a lot but when compared to such high-tech weapons as the multi-billion dollar F-35, it’s a comparative bargain.
How effective is it?
In a recent test aboard the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Dewey last summer the LaWS prototype downed a BQM-147A target UAV drone. This weapon, when fielded will be able to shoot down slow moving aircraft, such as UAVs and helicopters, as well as be able to engage small boats and possibly even targets ashore. Its beam does not have to destroy the target if not required. It can simply damage it, blind its sensors, or in the place of a small boat, kill its engine and leave it dead in the water.
If just a small portion of the laser energy is used, rather than a full power blast, an intense and visible beam can be projected to significant ranges to provide a clear and unmistakable warning that a potential target is about to be zapped unless an immediate change in their behavior is observed. This feature could also be used as a laser dazzler, a sort of less-lethal weapon, to disorient and warn away the crew of an aircraft or ship. In short the LaWS could be used to ‘flash’ an approaching unidentified craft at long distances, in the hope that a little bit of eye irritation could result in saving lives on both sides. While the 1995 United Nations Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons bans weapons designed to cause permanent blindness, the use of the LaWS in this sense could be examined if it could be turned down enough to not cause permanent damage.
A test video of the LaWS in action, shooting down a remotely piloted UAV drone. Pretty dramatic footage. From the Navy’s website: “120804-N-ZZ999-001 SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Jul. 30, 2012) the Laser Weapon System (LaWS) temporarily installed aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey (DDG 105) (shown here conducting an operational test) in San Diego, Calif., is a technology demonstrator built by the Naval Sea Systems Command from commercial fiber solid state lasers, utilizing combination methods developed at the Naval Research Laboratory. LaWS can be directed onto targets from the radar track obtained from a MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon system or other targeting source. The Office of Naval Research’s Solid State Laser (SSL) portfolio includes LaWS development and upgrades providing a quick reaction capability for the fleet with an affordable SSL weapon prototype. This capability provides Navy ships a method for Sailors to easily defeat small boat threats and aerial targets without using bullets. (U.S. Navy video by Office of Naval Research/ Released)”
Smoke one UAV
Costs $1 per shot
According to the Navy, the LaWS can fire a full-power burst that costs less than $1 per session. By comparison a SM-2MR surface to air missile, the Navy’s standard plane and missile killer for the past thirty years, costs about $400,000 a pop. Even smaller close in point defense type missiles such as the RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) can run over $700K apiece. Further, whereas the number of missiles, shells, and bullets carried by a ship is always finite, as long as the ship’s engineering department can produce power, the LaWS can be fired.
This beast is the old 1989-era Sea Lite Beam Director, the Navy’s first active high-energy laser. Well, the USN has now figured out how to shrink this down to package that is more pallet-sized than supersized.
How will it look when it is adopted?
LaWS will deploy on the Persian Gulf next year on the USS Ponce. The Ponce is a nearly 50-year old former amphibious warfare ship that had been converted to an Afloat Forward Staging Base inthe Persian Gulf. An experimental Ord-Alt’ed CIWS on the Ponce is expected to carry the system sometime after October 2013.
The current US Navy’s Phalanx MK15 Close In Weapons System (CIWS) fires a high-speed computer controlled radar guided 20mm Gatling gun at over 4500-rounds per minute. It’s expected that the Navy will add the LaWS laser to this already cutting-edge gun after 2016.
(The red ‘can’ on the side of the CIWS is the LaWS laser…coming to the fleet at least in experimental form as early as this year)
The Navy is intending to add this system to the more than 250 CIWS Phalanx mounts found through the fleet. These devices are the familiar R2D2-looking systems that marry a small radar, fire-control system, and 20mm Vulcan cannon to track targets out to 10 miles away and destroy them once they are within 2.2-miles with accurate gunfire. The addition of the LaWS laser to this will allow the CIWS to engage threats first with the laser then with the 20mm Vulcan if needed.
This combined laser/gun mount, after testing and acceptance will be known as the CIWS Mk 15 Mod 41 with production and fielding in the fleet by 2017.
Times, it seems, they are a changing.
North Korea says what?
Great Vice Documentary on Defense Distributed,
There has always been an urban legend passed around internet message boards and wherever Glock enthusiasts meet– that of the gun being designed to fire underwater.
Can it be done?
The short answer to this question is: Yes*. The asterisk is in the all-important details of this. While the Glock itself was not specifically designed from the ground-up to be an underwater firearms (unlike the Soviet SPP-1 or the HKP11 ) it can be modified to do so with special internal parts and ammunition.
Is it safe to do? Is it advisable to do? Well, read the rest at my column at Glock Forum
(photo by Vuurwapen)
Back in the late 1950s the US military was enamored with using ‘atomics’ as much as possible. The Navy had nuclear depth charges, the air force had nuclear tipped air-to-air and surface to air missiles to obliterate swarms of Soviet bombers, and the Army even had nuclear artillery shells and recoil-less rifle rounds.
Speaking of which, at this time the W54 warhead was hatched. This was about the smallest US warhead ever used at just 10.75 inches diameter (270 mm), about 15.7 inches long (400 mm), and hefted slightly over 50 pounds (23 kg). It could be variable yielded due to its implosion type of design from anywhere ranging in 10 tons to one kilotons of TNT equivalent.
It was also very dirty–when fired it would produce an almost instantly lethal radiation dosage (in excess of 10,000 rem) within 500 feet (150 m), and a probably fatal dose (around 600 rem) within a quarter-mile (400 m). The W54 was designed by Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory and built by the United States Atomic Energy Commission. Around 400 units were manufactured from 1961 until early 1962. These were given to the USAF who used them as the warhead of a few AIM-26A Falcon AAM and the AGM-45 Walleye ASM’s. The Army used them on the 2-mile range (talk about your balls glowing in the dark!) M-29 Davy Crockett Weapon System, a tactical nuclear recoilless gun for firing the M388 nuclear projectile. Then there was a couple hundred left that were used in a distinctly more…simple..delivery system.
Called the MK54 Special Atomic Demolition Munition (SADM), the W54 was attached to a battery-powered code-decoder lock and firing unit, packed inside a waterproof/shockproof case and the whole affair crammed into a very well-padded OD rucksack (the H-912 transport container). This gave a 163-pound overall weight that could be toted by a beefy paratrooper or frogman where it needed to go.
(1965 Sandina Labs Film on its use)
The concept behind the SADM was that it could be paradropped or combat swam behind enemy lines by a 2-3 man team of Green Berets or Navy SEALs (both of which were founded by Kennedy in the early 1960s). Said commandos could plant the device at an enemy arsenal depot, a strategic crossroads or bridge, key stockpile, important factory (the Soviets loved to have everything made at one BIG factory), or in a harbor. Once planted the device could be set to go off on a delay while the troops were extracted by Skyhook, helicopter, small plane, or (in the case of the SEALs) by small boat or submarine offshore.
Besides this, more low-speed engineering units could use the SADM to destroy key points in West Germany should 10,000 Warsaw Pact tanks swarmed over the Fulda Gap. It wouldn’t be outside the vein of thought that at least a few (deniable) SADMs were prepositioned overseas in foreign capitals in time of crisis should they be needed.
They were withdrawn in 1988 and are not currently maintained (probably because they came up with a classified replacement that doesn’t weigh 160-pounds).
For the past three centuries, the primary fighting weapon of the American soldier has been the firearm and we at Guns.com highly anticipate that, despite any advances in military technology, this trend will continue for many more years to come. Why? Because no matter what high-tech remotely piloted drones, battle droids, smart bombs, or cruise missiles there comes to be, there will always be the need at some point in a conflict for a trained and properly equipped foot solider to step into harm’s way and engage the enemy, man to man. In the spirit of this, let’s take a look at what the average soldier may be carrying in 2063.
As Guns.com has featured these past few weeks, if you examine the history of military firearms in fifty-year blocks, you will see a steady and remarkable progression in development and sophistication that is carefully, self-referential.New ideas are often tried, found lacking, and then tested again, sometimes decades later, once the technology has matured to make them work. It was a series of these techniques that brought about the development of the M-55 rifle….the US military’s first styrofoam rifle
Read the rest at GUNS.com