Take an AK-47, give it a 75-round magazine then make it even more robust as to allow for long periods of full auto firing. What you would get might look like the RPK light machine gun and in a world where assault rifles are princes and the AK-47 is an aging king, the RPK is a god on the battlefield.
Machine guns were the deciding factor on modern battlefields ever since 1914. During World War One the US Army introduced the Browning M1918 BAR automatic rifle, a 16-pound select fire gun that spat 30.06 ammo out at 650-round per minute until its 20-round magazine ran out. These smaller, one-man machine guns could be issued down to the squad level to provide a huge increase in firepower. By World War II, the concept of a squad automatic weapon was widely spread and the Soviets wanted one.
Their first model, Vasily Degtyaryov’s RPD, came in at 16.31-pounds empty and brought a 100-round belt of 7.62x39mm ammo into the battlefield in 1945. While the RPD was a nice gun, it was heavy and used a milled receiver, which made production slow. In 1947 the Soviets went with the stamped receiver AK-47 and soon enough they were brainstorming about how to replace the RPD with a lighter and more AK-ish weapon.
This led to the RPK.
Read the rest in my column at GUNS.com
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?
The Cold War simmered for over 40 years and during this time the we saw the birth of many of the worlds most iconic arms, such as the AK47, FN FAL, and M16. However, the efficient and effective NATO caliber SMG of this era, the Sterling submachine gun, has been largely swept into the shop-bin of firearms history.
Submachine guns, essentially just compact, pistol-caliber select fire carbines, were born in the final months of the First World War as an answer to the madness of trench warfare. By the Second World War, these handy little guns were everywhere.
Submachine guns were used pervasively to equip tank crews, paratroopers, and squad leaders mostly due to their smaller profile and high rate of fire when compared to full size rifles. Great Britain had three sub machine guns during the War: the Lanchester, the Tommy gun, and the ubiquitous STEN. One of these designs was obsolete, the second was heavy and expensive, and the third was more of an emergency design, neither accurate nor desired. In 1944, with WWII raging, the British General Staff requested a replacement for these weapons that would address and correct all these flaws in one gun.
That design was the Sterling.
Read the rest at my column at GUNS.com
To give the lightly armed LCS, the remaining 179-foot Cyclone class coastal patrol craft, and the new 85-foot MK VI boats, the US Navy is testing the lightweight Griffin missile. This economical ($45,000 a pop, which is cheap as far as this type of stuff goes) little bottle rocket is just the thing for splashing a small boat (such as a Iranian Boghammer) or a quiet sea-side hut full of pirates. Small in profile, it can be used in an 8-pack launcher that is all above deck, fitting in any area that can accept a Mk38 sized mount.
Designed for small UAVs to be used in precision strikes against buildings and vehicles, the AGM-176 Griffin has a proven track record in air-to-ground use. The 45-pound missile uses components of the FGM-148 Javelin and the AIM-9X Sidewinder. It can send a 13-pound warhead guided by laser, GPS, or INS out to 12-miles. The Navy is at least using a proven missile for once. In its surfaced launched version it can reach out to 5500-meters (3.5-miles), which is still well past the range of heavy machine guns and RPGs which are the probable weapons of any small boats that the Griffin would defend against.
One has been mounted on the USS Monsoon (PC-4) for trials and seems to work just fine so far.
Bravo Zulu, HM3 Ramos….you are a total bad ass.
U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Redmond Ramos, a corpsman, displays a tattoo that reads “I’m with Stumpy” showing his sense of humor Nov. 14, 2012, during the first Wounded Warrior Pacific Trials at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Honolulu, Hawaii. Ramos deployed with 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, to Sangin, Afghanistan in 2011 where he stepped on an IED, resulting in the loss of his leg. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth)
DCNS, the French naval engineering firm, has come up with a spooky little midget sub. Dubbed the SMX-26 it is a short (40 meters/131-feet long) and squat (16 meters/52-feet wide) submarine is meant to operate in very shallow water. Less than twenty feet high, it can submerge in just over twice that. Capable of operating on the seabed it has employable wheels to creep around the littoral and harbor floor, or just sit and wait for targets to hit with its 8 short ASW or two full sized torpedoes. Alternatively it can carry mine-toting frogmen or raiders.
Up for sale…..
The USS Ponce, now over forty years old and officially Afloat Force Service Base (Interim) AFSB(I), still serves as a floating base for NSW, MCM, and other activities in the very warm standoff between the West and Iran in the Persian Gulf.
From a recent article about the old girl, ” Although it is under the command of a Navy captain, most of the Ponce‘s crew are civilians. It has more than 155 civilian crew members from the Military Sealift Command and 55 Navy sailors, according to the ship’s commanding officer, Capt. Jon Rodgers. The number of civilian crew can fluctuate depending on who is onboard.
The MSC is normally responsible for running about 110 supply ships and other non-combat vessels for the Navy, but the Ponce‘s hybrid crew is unusual.
Visitors arriving by helicopter are met on the flight deck by some crew in uniform and others in civilian coveralls. Civilian employees keep the floors and toilets clean, and dish out corned beef hash and French toast on the mess deck. Some of the MSC crew members have dreadlocks — a no-no for enlisted sailors — and many are in their 40s or beyond. A handful are older than 60.
It’s not just the civilian crew that’s showing its age. The Ponce is among the Navy’s oldest ships. Construction began in 1966, and it was commissioned during the Nixon administration in 1971.
Rust is prevalent throughout the ship, and many of the fittings retain a Cold War feel.”
Read more here
Officially, despite rising tensions with Tehran, the enemy in in the international naval wargames that kicked off in the Gulf this week is not, repeat not, Iran: It’s radical environmentalists. Very, very well-armed environmentalists.
Against this fictional Greenpeace gone rogue are set the ships, aircraft, and divers from more than 20 nations, including an unprecedented concentration of Navy minesweepers, eight of which are now in the Gulf — a surge the Navy told AOL Defense it cannot sustain long into 2013.
“The scenario is that it’s an environmentally focused group that has been known to employ violence,” said Rear Adm. Kenneth Perry, the vice-chief of the Naval Mine & Anti-Submarine Warfare Command (NMAWC), who’s come out to Bahrain to oversee the International Mine Counter-Measures Exercise (IMCMEX), “and they have the resourcing, the visibility, the access to procure either on the grey market or the black market ‘improvised underwater explosives,’ or mines.”
“It’s not about Iran,” said a somewhat weary Navy spokesman in a follow-up call.
The simulated mines will include not just home-made devices but some of the “more advanced types” on the global market, Perry explained, similar to the Italian MANTA mines featured, incidentally, in the Iranian arsenal. The goal is to test the participating forces to the fullest, rather than be limited by what a non-state organization might realistically be expected to acquire.
‘Greenpeace terrorists mining the Gulf’. Uh-huh. Somebody at the Pentagon has a sense of humor