Below is a 5-minute primer posted last week by Rosoboronexport on Russia’s current crop of choppers for sale to international buyers with cash to spare. While many are new versions of old classics, such as the Mi-17V5 Hip and Mi-35 Hind, there are some other offerings covered as well.
The more you know…
UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson this week announced a concept and development phase for two new vessels – called Littoral Strike Ship.
These are defined in a presser as:
Littoral Strike Ship are vessels which can command an assault force from anywhere in the world – carrying everything from helicopters and fast boats to underwater automated vehicles and huge numbers of troops. They are designed to be able to get in close to land – with ‘littoral’ literally meaning the part of the sea which is closest to the shore.
And could look like this converted container ship concept:
Why are they needed?
The RN’s “Gator” assets currently number just a pair of 21,000-ton Albion-class landing platform docks (LPDs)– HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark— as well trio of relatively new 16,160-ton Bay-class dock landing ships (LSD)– the latter used to be four but they sold one, Largs Bay, to Australia in 2011. The Bays are manned by civil mariners of the RFA, which is basically the British version of the MSC. Each of the five aforementioned British LPD/LSDs can comfortably carry about one half of a Commando battalion (of which the RMs have two, 40 Commando and 45 Commando) as well as a smattering of Chinooks, LCUs, and LCVPs.
Only one vessel on the RN’s list in recent years could carry a full Commando unit, HMS Ocean, and she was just sold to Brazil with a lot of life left in her.
So, on the outset, it looks like between the five current ‘phibs available to the RN, they could land the two 700-man Commandos available to them without much of an issue. With that, why the new vessels?
Under plans being looked at by the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, these assault ships would be forward deployed permanently away from the UK.
Said Williamson, “Our vision is for these ships to form part of 2 Littoral Strike Groups complete with escorts, support vessels, and helicopters. One would be based East of Suez in the Indo-Pacific and one based West of Suez in the Mediterranean, Atlantic, and Baltic. And, if we ever need them to, our two Littoral Strike Ships, our two aircraft carriers, our two amphibious assault ships Albion and Bulwark, and our three Bay Class landing ships can come together in one amphibious task force. This will give us sovereign, lethal, amphibious force. This will be one of the largest and best such forces anywhere in the world.”
Ahhhh, so basically Littoral Strike Ship = Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) platform but with a British jack.
Which makes sense.
So back in the early 2000s, TsNIITochMash in Klimovsk near Moscow– the same storied R&D bureau that has crafted dozens of specialist weapons since WWII such as the VSS Vintorez subsonic sniper carbine, the APS underwater rifle, and the PSS suppressed pistol —came up with the SR-1 Vektor, or SPS pistol.
The SPS, chambered in 9x21mm Gyurza (a very spicy SMG round that runs like 1,300fps in a 110-grain AP loading) uses an 18 round mag and has been in service with security and police tactical units since about 2004.
Fast forward 15 years and TsNIITochMash’s new Udav (Russian= boa constrictor) is a ramped up development of it which is more of a full-sized offering that includes features that are common for “combat handguns” in the West (front slide serrations, accessory rail, threaded barrel) while still keeping that really curious Gyurza chambering and an 18+1 capacity.
It just won a trial to replace the old-school Makarov PM in the Russian military, and Rostec (who exports all of the country’s weapons from submarines to MiGs and AKs) plans on selling it far and wide.
More in my column at Guns.com
Long considered essential beachwear for Russian frogman-types, production is ramping up for the special 4.5mm and 5.66 mm dart-projectile ammo used in the country’s underwater-capable guns. The 4.5mm round fires a mild-steel flechette dart loaded atop a 39.5mm bottlenecked case and is used in the 4-shot SPP-1 pistol while the larger 5.66mm cartridge was designed for the APS rifle system.
Due to automation, the factory can now produce 10,000 of these specialty rounds per day.
More in my column at Guns.com
The Blue Blasters of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 34 hosted a sundown service for the Charlie series F/A-18 last week. The Blasters were the last tactical squadron in the Navy flying the bird, most recently wrapping up a final deployment on USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) in the South China Sea in 2018.
“Today our VFA-34 family and the operational farewells an old friend,” said Cmdr. William Mathis, commanding officer of VFA-34. “Born more than 40 years ago, the Hornet entered operational service for the U.S. Navy in 1984 and for the next 35 years, she proudly served the nation from the flight deck of aircraft carriers in all the seas across the globe.”
Now the only guys left operating the F-18C model are aggressor units such as the Fighter Squadron Composite (VFC) 12 and the River Rattlers of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 204.
Oh yeah, and the Blues, who are set to transition to the Super Hornet in coming months.
And totally neglected air units such as the USMC guys, who will keep the F-18C around until 2030 (ish).
Flying Yesterday’s Hornet, Tomorrow!
The M18, the smaller of the two variants of the Sig Sauer P320 adopted as part of the military’s 2017 MHS contract award to replace a host of legacy pistols, reportedly sailed through the recent Lot Acceptance Test conducted by the U.S. Army, according to the New Hampshire-based gun maker. While LAT tests allow for 12 stoppages in the course of 5000 rounds fired, three M18 used went to 12,000 rounds each, with no stoppages. The guns then went on to pass required interchangeability, material and accuracy tests.
You have to admit, they look pretty nice when compared to old beat-up M9s.
More in my column at Guns.com