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Supertechincals. Paging your supertechnicals

The improvised gun-truck, where you bolt on a crew served machine gun or light artillery piece and run around taking shots at stuff, has been around since the Great War at least. In more recent times, this blend of civilian or commercial truck and a heavy weapon has been called “the technical” since the Toyota Wars of Libya in the 1980s.

The Armor Journal Magazine has this great sample of some Mad Max tank action from (where else?) Syria/Western Iraq:

The Syrian civil war gave birth to a wide array of makeshift vehicles, often cobbled together by the many factions fighting there, using whatever is at hand. Here we have something really special, a T55 turret mounted on an improvised pedestal on the back of a 8 wheeled civilian truck and another turret mounted on a trailer, both obviously used as artillery pieces. (~ Marcus, The Armor Journal)

The below video, from June 2016, which may or may not be the same vehicle shows the turret of a T-55 tank (Chinese Type 67?) used as Mobile Artillery by Iraqi Badr Forces near Jabal Makhoul (Salah Ad-Din province).

Some things never go out of style

Exotic Swiss arms maker Brügger & Thomet is probably best known for their MP9 series firearms, but have you “heard” of their VP9?

The manually-operated VP9 (veterinary pistol, 9mm) is meant for humane euthanasia by large animal vets in the field and has an integrated suppressor that they bill as the “most quiet pistol in this calibre on the market.”

With a five-shot magazine, it only has two moving parts and at 11.25-inches overall length with its largest can, is about the size of an M1911, though is much quieter. Like classic Welrod (a British WWII design it favors that also used internal wipes) quiet. It sucks that rubber wipes are considered by ATF to be “silencer parts” over here, which makes it rough for U.S. suppressor makers to come up with comparable designs as its impractical to repack these old-school cans on a regular basis.

In the above video by 5.11, they visit B&T AG and talk with Reto Flutsch (that name, tho) and go loud quiet with a VP9.

For more on it’s grandpa, check out the video from Ian with Forgotten Weapons, below.

That’s some funny looking bugspray

As reported by Defense Web:

The US government is yet to approve the sale of 12 armed Air Tractor aircraft to Kenya as IOMAX and a US congressman continue to dispute the proposed sale.

The contract, submitted to the US Congress for approval in January, seeks to provide the Kenyan air force with weapons to fight al Shabaab in neighbouring Somalia. However, the contracting of L-3 Technologies has been vehemently opposed by US Congressman Ted Budd who said the contract was awarded secretively and without going through open tender processes.

Further, he said at $418 million, the L-3 package for up to 12 Air Tractor AT-802L and two AT-504 trainer aircraft, weapons and technical support was hugely inflated and awarded to a contractor with no manufacture or conversion experience on the type of aircraft.

Budd said IOMAX, which never submitted a bid although it has previously supplied armed AT-802 aircraft to the UAE, could supply the same package at a much lower cost. Budd’s congressional district falls in the same area as IOMAX’s headquarters.

On Wednesday last week, L-3 Technologies apparently reduced the price of the package and added some new components to the bid.

On Friday, IOMAX said it could provide Kenya with ‘superior’ aircraft, weapons, technical support and program management at a cost of $237 million, which is $181 million lower than the contract ceiling of L-3 Technologies.

What is the “superior aircraft” to the Air Tractor AT-802L, a up-armored crop duster? Who is Iomax?

Glad you asked.

Based on the Thrush S2R-660, another crop-duster, Ionmax’s Archangel runs on a P&W PT61 and can stay aloft for 10 hours in an ISR mode– that’s almost drone endurance without having to have a satlink. When used in a strike mode, the former pestiside pusher has 6 underwing hardpoints and a centerline point for COIN ops and, using EO/IR/LRF/LD sensors, can carry either:

-12 AGM-114 Hellfires or UMTAS AGMs
-10 GBU-58 laser-guided Mk-81 bombs (a 250-pound Paveway II)
-6 GBU-12 laser-guided Mk-82 500-pounders
-48 Roketsan CIRIT 2.75in laser-guided missiles

Or a combination of the above.

Note the CIRIT 4-packs and targeting pods

Those LGBs and Hellfires…

Pretty neat stuff overall.

A Brazilian Ocean?

The Marinha do Brasil has been continually in the flattop business since they bought the WWII vintage 19,980-ton light carrier HMS Vengeance (R71) from the British in 1956. Following a four-year reconstruction in Holland, that ship joined the Brazilian fleet as NAeL Minas Gerais and was the first aircraft carrier purchased by a Latin American nation. Gerais gave 40 years of hard service to the Brazilians flying A-4 Skyhawks and S-2 Trackers until she was replaced by the French Clemenceau-class aircraft carrier Foch, which was commissioned as NAeL São Paulo in 2000. However, the 32,000-ton French flattop, now some 54-years young, has been a maintenance nightmare and the Brazilians announced two months ago they were moving to condemn her.

Enter the British helicopter carrier HMS Ocean (L12), current Royal Navy fleet flagship. Commissioned 30 September 1998, since the paying off of the Invincible-class harrier carriers a few years ago, Ocean has been the largest warship and most important surface asset in the Royal Navy.

Ocean is a multi-mission ship and has been used as such by the Brits for the past 19 years.

Capable of carrying an 830-man Royal Marine Commando battalion and 20~ assorted helicopters as well as assorted cargo and fleet staff, she has been very busy in recent years including operations in Sierra Leone, the Persian Gulf, plastering Libya while equipped with Army-owned AH-64 Apaches in 2011 and a myriad of non-combatant evacuations and humanitarian relief missions. Now, nearing 20 years on her hull and in need of a life extension to remain in service, she is expected to be decommissioned and placed in reserve next year when the new fleet carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth comes online.

However, it seems like the Brazilians want to pick her up for a song, offering a reported $100 million (£80.3 million pounds, 312 million of Brazilian Reais) for her.

Commander of the Brazilian Navy, Admiral Eduardo Leal Ferreira, claimed that the price of Ocean seemed “convenient”.

The Brazilians have met Ocean before and worked closely with her in recent years, so they know what they are getting. From a 2010 RN presser:

HMS Ocean, an amphibious helicopter carrier and the Royal Navy’s largest warship, departed Rio de Janeiro earlier this week after a very successful visit which included amphibious exercises with the Brazilian Navy and Marines, and support for UK Trade & Investment and Diplomatic missions culminating in the Minister for International Security and Strategy, Gerald Howarth, signing an important Defence Cooperation Agreement. This visit also served to reinforce the United Kingdom’s long-standing relationship with Brazil.

Over 100 Brazilian Marines from the 3rd Infantry Battalion, 1st Amphibious Division, joined forces with HMS Ocean’s embarked Royal Marines of 539 Assault Squadron to undertake joint amphibious training exercises sharing knowledge and experience gained from recent operations. The centrepiece was an amphibious landing demonstration using landing craft, hovercraft and helicopters supported by offshore raiding craft providing covering fire.

Royal Marines officer, Captain ‘Olly’ Gray of 539 ASRM had this to say about the joint exercise:

“This was an invaluable opportunity for the Royal Marines to demonstrate our core amphibious skills, and broaden our experience of working alongside Brazilian Marines.”

Perhaps, the Ocean will get a chance to work with Royal Marines again in the future if they ever make it to Brazil…

CIWS gets updated

Defense contractor Raytheon is testing a modified version of their Phalanx Close-In Weapon System that will let soldiers and sailors fire at varying rates, using less ammunition.

Designed in the 1970s and with some 890 mounts currently in circulation the CIWS (“sea whiz”) couples an M61A1 20 mm Gatling gun capable of firing 4,500 rounds per minute with onboard target acquisition and fire control in one unit. While the system has been continually updated, it remains hamstrung by the fact that it only holds about 20 seconds worth of ammunition on the mount and reloading, as any Gunners Mate will tell you, is not done in a snap.

Raytheon, however, announced last week that an upgrade now underway can allow users to select different rates of fire while also increasing reliability and lowering maintenance. Also, due to the fact the upgrade replaces a pneumatic motor, compressor and storage tanks, it trims the mount’s weight by 180 pounds.

USAF to keep Vipers into 2048?

F16 undergoing Full-Scale Durability structural testing with hydraulic rams

Lockheed Martin announced yesterday that the U.S. Air Force authorized extending the service life of the F-16 airframe from 8,000 Equivalent Flight Hours to 12,000. This means that, following F-16 Service Life Extension Program structural modifications, the typical late model F-16 in big blue’s inventory could operate for another 30 years (putting some distance between the need and the want in fielding combat ready F-35 units).

I mean, between them Japan, ROK, Greece, and Turkey are still flying hundreds of F-4 Phantoms in a combat role and the last of those left the assembly line in 1981– so it’s possible.

From LM: (bold mine) 🙂

Following F-16 Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) structural modifications, the U.S. Air Force could safely operate Block 40-52 aircraft to 2048 and beyond. The Air Force and Lockheed Martin also reduced projected service life costs for the Block 40-52 fleet, paving the way for safe, cost-effective F-16 flight operations decades into the future.

“This accomplishment is the result of more than seven years of test, development, design, analysis and partnership between the U.S. Air Force and Lockheed Martin,” said Susan Ouzts, vice president of Lockheed Martin’s F-16 program. “Combined with F-16 avionics modernization programs like the F-16V, SLEP modifications demonstrate that the Fighting Falcon remains a highly capable and affordable 4th Generation option for the U.S. Air Force and international F-16 customers.”

Validation of the extended flight hour limit directly supports the SLEP goal of extending the service life of up to 300 F-16C/D Block 40-52 aircraft. SLEP and related avionics upgrades to the Air Force’s F-16C/D fleet can safely and effectively augment the current fighter force structure as U.S. and allied combat air fleets recapitalize with F-35 Lightning IIs.

A second phase, or Part II, of the F-16 SLEP airworthiness process continues with the request for Military Type Certificate (MTC), which will be submitted to the Air Force’s Technical Airworthiness Authority in the coming months. Part II seeks to validate further extending the F-16’s operational life based on final service life analysis from extended durability testing.

More Barracudas systems across Scandinavia

Norway and Denmark have contracted Saab to provide both governments with more Barracuda static and mobile camouflage systems. After all, if you have limited numbers of vital military assets, the best way to avoid having them whacked by an aggressor is to hide them as much as possible. The Danes have used Barracuda for years but it will be a new acquisition for Norway, bringing to 60 the number of countries that use these.

Barracuda isn’t your grandpa’s camo net, as besides visual camouflage they offer to mitigate a post or vehicles near infrared, thermal and radar signature.

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