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Navy zaps drone via laser

Just missed May the 4th, but this just happened last week.

“Amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland (LPD 27) successfully disabled an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with a Solid State Laser – Technology Maturation Laser Weapon System Demonstrator (LWSD) MK 2 MOD 0 on May 16. ”

As noted by U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs:

LWSD is a high-energy laser weapon system demonstrator developed by the Office of Naval Research and installed on Portland for an at-sea demonstration. LWSD’s operational employment on a Pacific Fleet ship is the first system-level implementation of a high-energy class solid-state laser. The laser system was developed by Northrup Grumman, with full System and Ship Integration and Testing led by NSWC Dahlgren and Port Hueneme.

“By conducting advanced at sea tests against UAVs and small crafts, we will gain valuable information on the capabilities of the Solid State Laser Weapons System Demonstrator against potential threats,” said Capt. Karrey Sanders, commanding officer of Portland.

Biloxi Blues

Back during WWII, the sight and sound of piston-engined aircraft and newly-minted Army Air Force airmen learning their paces became a fixture that has remained for over 75 years.

Keesler Field, founded in June 1941, was named after a Great War aerial observer from Mississippi who was killed over Verdun in 1918. It became both a basic training facility as well as an advanced school for gunners.

After the war, Keesler became an Air Force base and remained an advanced school for navaids and meteorology. A Biloxi institution, the base today is the home of the Air Force Reserve’s Hurricane Hunters and everyone knows people who work there. Hell, I turned down a DAF police job there once upon a time.

Fast forward to 2020, and the fresh recruits have returned.

From the USAF: 

For the first time since 1968, a flight of nearly 60 Airmen graduated USAF Basic Military Training outside of Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. Airmen from the 37th Training Wing Detachment 5 marched across the Levitow Training Support Facility drill pad at Keesler Air Force Base, May 15.

Due to safety concerns stemming from #COVID19, the Air Force sent new recruits to Keesler AFB to demonstrate a proof of concept to generate the force at multiple locations during contingencies.

“These changes are part of our operational mindset to fight through COVID-19 and mitigate force health risks.” -Maj. Gen. Andrea Tullos, Second Air Force commander

All graduating Airmen from this flight will continue their technical training at Keesler AFB.

Military training instructors lead graduating Airmen onto the drill pad during a graduation ceremony at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., May 15, 2020. Nearly 60 Airmen from the 37th Training Wing Detachment 5 completed the six-week basic military training course. Due to safety concerns stemming from COVID-19, the Air Force sent new recruits to Keesler AFB to demonstrate a proof of concept to generate the force at multiple locations during contingencies. The flight was the first to graduate BMT at Keesler since 1968. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

The forgotten 50 year insurgency in West Papua

Called the province of Papua Barat by Indonesia, who annexed the region from the Dutch in 1963 as a part of the New York Agreement that got Holland out of their East Indies colony for good, many locals in West Papua would rather just see their independence as a free state. Over the past 50 years, there have been a variety of efforts both by domestic groups and idealistic would-be freedom fighters from abroad to pry West Papua away from Jakarta, all with little success.

Today, a contentious highway project has reignited a smoldering conflict, reports Australian media, and clashes between Free Papuan groups and Indonesian security forces are mounting, while an internet blackout and media dead zone keep the war under wraps.

“We will kill, we will fight,” says Sebby Sambom, a Papua New Guinea-based spokesman for the armed independence movement. “We will continue to fight — no compromise.”

West Papuan separatists armed with a variety of weapons including M3 Grease Guns possibly left behind from the Dutch Indies War of the 1940s, an Italian BM59, an FN  Minimi light machine gun (with the jam-a-matic magazine installed) and several Pindad rifles, a clone of the FN FNC. The Minimi and Pindad are surely former Indonesian military weapons under new management. 

More here.

Dug relics, still potent

As a tie-in with the 50-year long West Papuan rebellion post today, the below image is of rag-tag Bougainville Revolutionary Army insurgents using some heavy hardware against local Papua New Guinea Defence Force units in 1995 during that country’s decade-long civil war.

Those with a sharp eye will notice the ordnance is a Japanese Type 96 AAA/AT 25mm cannon, a variant of the Hotchkiss 25mm GP gun that hasn’t had any spare parts or ammunition manufactured since 1945.

This thing, with a latter example shown still in use by the KMT in 1950s Taiwan

Leftover from WWII, the gun was reportedly scrounged from the remains of an old Japanese position and returned to working condition, fed with ammo that was in some cases dug from the jungles and beaches of yesteryear. While antiquated and no doubt cranky, it was still heavier than what the PNGDF had in terms of armored vehicles to oppose it, which amounted to some French AMX-10P APCs and French VABs.

HK & Howa team up to take on Godzilla, or China, whichever comes first

The Japanese military on Monday released the details of their first new small arms since the 1980s: a new Howa modular rifle and a variant of the Heckler Koch VP9.

The Japanese Ground Self Defense Force, the country’s army, debuted what will be termed the Type 20 5.56 rifle and the SPF 9mm pistol in future use.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Meanwhile, the 100th Posiedon has arrived

 

169347 Boeing P-8A Poseidon of USN VP-30 June 13 2019 Eger

BuNo 169347 Boeing P-8A Poseidon of USN VP-30, June 13, 2019, climbs over Biloxi Beach, Mississippi, outbound from Gulfport. Photo by Chris Eger

From NAVAIR:

The Navy’s 100th P-8A “Poseidon” was delivered to Patrol Squadron (VP) 30 at Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville, May 14.

In July 2004, the Navy placed its initial order of P-8A aircraft to replace the venerable Lockheed Martin P-3C Orion, which has been in service since 1962. The Maritime Patrol community began the transition to the P-8A in 2012. The delivery of the 100th P-8A coincides with VP-40’s successful completion of the 12th and final active component squadron transition to the Poseidon.

The final transition concluded amidst a global pandemic, which could have halted or delayed the schedule, however, VP-40 remained on track.

“We finished up VP-40’s transition this month, and it has been a challenge. Despite the travel restrictions, the additional required procedures, and the aircraft transfers, VP-30 answered the call. The VP-30.1 detachment at NAS Whidbey Island, Washington was grinding every day to keep the transition on schedule,“ said VP-30 Commanding Officer Capt. T. J. Grady.

More here.

Welcome back to Subic

In the latest installment in the on-again/off-again relationship between the PI and the U.S., it seems that the U.S. Navy could see more of Subic Bay as a result of a commercial deal for a U.S./Australian consortium to take over the bankrupt South Korean-run Hanjin shipyard (HHIC Phil) in Olongapo.

For those following along at home, HHIC Phil was built in 2004 and was considered by the company to be the fourth largest shipyard in the world.

As noted by the Philippines Star this week:

Vice Admiral Giovanni Bacordo said the two companies are in the final stages of negotiations with the Philippine government and several banks to take over the operations of Hanjin. The companies reportedly intend to invest about $2 billion and employ the shipyard’s over 30,000 skilled and experienced Filipino workforce.

Australian shipbuilder Austal Ltd has won a contract to deliver six offshore patrol vessels for the Philippines Navy while US private equity Cerberus will operate the other half of Hanjin’s facility for ship repair.

“I was told the companies were about to complete due diligence and final negotiations before the outbreak of the coronavirus, which could delay the process,” Bacordo said.

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