As far back as 2016, the U.S. Army Special Operations Command identified a need for 11,894 “low vis” optics-ready Glock 19 handguns with the slide cut to accept a red dot sight, a separate requirement from the MHS program.
At the same time, the service identified a need for at least 12,592 handgun RMR sights for use across Army, Marine, Navy and Air Force special operations units.
This led to a solicitation last year that saw submissions from a number of red dot makers and, last week, a $7.62 million contract to Trijicon for an “indefinite” number of RMRs.
More in my column at Guns.com.
Developed by Orbital ATK, Heckler & Koch and L-3, the XM25 CDTE was a man-portable “smart” weapon system designed to fire 25mm high-explosive airburst round set to explode in mid-air at or near the target through the help of a laser rangefinder. It was planned to buy 10,876 launchers, and eventually arm one soldier in every fireteam, phasing out the various 40mm grenade platforms.
But not everything goes according to plan.
Although fielded in limited numbers for a 14-month period in Afghanistan that ended in 2012 but earned the super blooper a nickname (The Punisher), the Army ultimately pumped the brakes on the project in 2016 after a toxic cocktail of cost overruns (the estimated cost per unit more than tripled), failed testing, and malfunctions, which resulted in a lawsuit and finger-pointing between two of the contractors. Now, almost two years later, the Army has closed the door for good but will keep the technology as well as the prototype weapons, Stars and Stripes reports.
“After canceling the program last year, the Army has since received rights to the program’s research and development,” said Army spokesman Lt. Col. Isaac Taylor. “This is in addition to the 20 existing XM25 systems — to include high explosive air-burst and target practice rounds — that the Army garnered as part of the negotiated settlement.”
You would be surprised by how much the U.S. military still uses horses these days. In the past few weeks, all of these pieces came out over the PAO wire for the Pentagon.
“Marines located in Barstow, California are part of the only mounted color guard in the Corps. They travel the country participating in ceremonies, continuing one of the oldest traditions of Marine Corps.”
The 30th Space Wing, Vandenberg AFB, has the only working horse patrol in the U.S. Air Force, used for law enforcement work across the huge base.
And, “Marines and soldiers attend a 15-day special operational forces horsemanship course from June 06, 2018 to June 21, 2018, at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, Bridgeport, California. This course teaches its students the benefits of navigating through rough terrain with the aid of animals.”
Pulaski, Sheridan, Grierson, and Patton would surely be tickled.
And the U.S. aren’t the only ones. Behold, the Auftrag für den Reitzug der Bundeswehr.
ICYMI, get ready to sign up as Space Shuttle Door Gunners:
Centered around 140 current military satellites and the hardware to support them, the U.S. Space Force is set to become 6th branch of Armed Forces, pending Congressional approval of course.
The Pentagon says about 80 percent of “space-qualified personnel” would come from the Air Force, who are sure to love the proposal, but all services have personnel with space expertise. There are roughly 18,000 people in the services with a space qualifier badge, in addition to civilian personnel “and thousands of contractors” who could be drawn into the new command.
You have to wonder how much of NASA and the Army’s Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) program would be absorbed into the mix. Then there are SM-3 Aegis ships with a BMD tasking, would they become part of USSF? Further, would Project Blue Book be reborn and SETI get pulled in as a contractor for good measure, just in case “They” arrive?
Anyway, the Presser from DOD as follows:
WASHINGTON, Aug. 9, 2018 — The Defense Department will establish a sixth branch of the armed forces, the U.S. Department of the Space Force, by 2020, Vice President Mike Pence announced today.
In a speech at the Pentagon, the vice president also announced plans to establish a new combatant command — U.S. Space Command — as well as a Space Operations Force and a new joint organization called the Space Development Agency.
The announcement follows a seven-week review by DoD, directed by President Donald J. Trump, of “the process necessary to establish a space force as the sixth branch of the armed forces.”
A report outlining the results of the study will be released later today.
“In his inaugural address to the nation, President Trump declared that the United States stands ‘at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space,’” Pence said.
Just as advances in aviation technology drove the emergence of air as a new battlefield in the 20th century, advances in space technology have made it clear that space is the new battlefield for the 21st century, the vice president said. The U.S. will meet the emerging threats on this new battlefield, he said, and carry on the cause of liberty and peace into the next great frontier.
“The time has come to establish the United States Space Force,” Pence said.
The new branch will be separate from, but equal to, the five other branches, he said.
“To be clear: the Space Force will not be built from scratch, because the men and women who run and protect our nation’s space programs today are already the best in the world,” the vice president said.
“Across this department and our intelligence agencies, there are literally tens of thousands of military personnel, civilians and contractors operating and supporting our space systems — and together, they are the eyes and ears of America’s warfighters around the globe,” Pence said.
Peace Through Strength
Actions by U.S. adversaries make it clear that space is already a warfighting domain, the vice president said.
“For many years, nations from Russia and China to North Korea and Iran have pursued weapons to jam, blind and disable our navigation and communications satellites via electronic attacks from the ground,” Pence said. “But recently, our adversaries have been working to bring new weapons of war into space itself.”
In 2007, China launched a missile that tracked and destroyed one of its own satellites, the vice president said. And Russia is working on an airborne laser to disrupt space-based systems, he added.
“Both nations are also investing heavily in what are known as hypersonic missiles designed to fly up to 5 miles per second at such low altitudes that they could potentially evade detection by our missile defense radars,” Pence said. “In fact, China claimed to have made its first successful test of a hypersonic vehicle just last week.”
In every domain, America will always seek peace, the vice president said. “But history proves that peace only comes through strength,” he added. “And in the realm of outer space, the United States Space Force will be that strength.”
The report to be released today represents a critical step toward establishing the Space Force, he said. It identifies several actions that DoD will take as the nation evolves its space capabilities, “and they are built on the lessons of the past,” Pence said.
First, the report calls for the creation of the U.S. Space Command, a new unified combatant command for space. “This new command … will establish unified command and control for our Space Force operations, ensure integration across the military, and develop the space warfighting doctrine, tactics, techniques, and procedures of the future,” he said.
Second, the report calls for the establishment of a Space Operations Force — an elite group of joint warfighters, specializing in the domain of space, who will form the backbone of the nation’s newest armed service. This force will draw from across the military to provide space expertise in times of crisis and conflict, Pence said.
“Third, the report calls for a new joint organization — the Space Development Agency — that will ensure the men and women of the Space Force have the cutting-edge warfighting capabilities that they need and deserve,” he said.
Finally, the report calls for clear lines of responsibility and accountability to manage the process of establishing and growing the Space Force, including the appointment of an assistant secretary of defense for space, the vice president said.
“Creating a new branch of the military is not a simple process,” Pence noted. “It will require collaboration, diligence and, above all, leadership. As challenges arise and deadlines approach, there must be someone in charge who can execute, hold others accountable, and be responsible for the results.”
Ultimately, Congress must establish the new department, the vice president said. “Next February, in the president’s budget, we will call on the Congress to marshal the resources we need to stand up the Space Force, and before the end of next year, our administration will work with the congress to enact the statutory authority for the space force in the National Defense Authorization Act,” he said.
I have to confess, when I first heard of the concept, I thought of this
Dig the CBW equipment and the 105mm.
Members of the 101st Field Artillery, 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain), Massachusetts National Guard, conduct live-fire artillery training with an M119A3 towed 105mm howitzer at Fort Drum, N.Y., June 12, during the unit’s annual training.
Of course, the cannon cocker without the gloves is running a blister risk in an actual NBC situation, but it is still a great pic
Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger
Warship Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018: Giuseppe, how many seaplanes you packing?
Here we see the Regia Marina’s very proud seaplane carrier, Giuseppe Miraglia, at anchor in the 1930s. A true-life example of what today would be seen as a dieselpunk aesthetic, the Italian navy views her as an important predecessor of their modern pocket carriers– Cavour and Giuseppe Garibaldi— today.
Italy got into the seaplane tender biz in February 1915 when they bought the aging 392-ft./7,100-ton Spanish-built freighter Quarto and, as Europa, converted the vessel to operate a half-dozen or so FBA flying boats. Taking part in the Battle of the Strait of Otranto against the bottled-up Austro-Hungarian fleet in 1917, she was discarded after the war.
Fast forward to the mid-1920s, and Italian rivals Britain and France had newer and more modern seaplane carriers (such as HMAS/HMS Albatross and Commandant Teste, the latter carrying 26 aircraft) on the drawing board. This left the Italian Navy with a need for a warship that could pack a lot of (sea)planes once again.
In 1925, Rome bought the incomplete passenger/mail steamer Citta di Messina and, sending her to the Regio arsenale della Spezia for completion, produced Giuseppe Miraglia.
The vessel was renamed in honor of Tenente di vascello Giuseppe Miraglia, an early Italian naval aviator killed in an accident in 1915 at age 27.
Early in the war, he made headlines in the country by leading his seaplane squadron over Austrian-held Trieste in a raid that was widely celebrated.
She wasn’t a giant ship, just under 400-feet long with a light draft of 4,500-tons. But Miraglia was fast enough for naval use (21 knots) and with enough room for as many as 20 seaplanes of assorted sizes.
For this, she was well-equipped with two below-deck hangars in what was to be the steamship’s holds, each equipped with catapults and cranes for launching and recovery, respectively. Inside the hangars were room for spare parts including fresh engines, a few spare aircraft in “knocked down” crated condition, tools and handling equipment.
Many of the planned staterooms which originally were meant for 1st and 2nd class passengers were completed for aircrew instead. A central ordnance magazine and avfuel storage were accessible from each hangar.
The twin hangars could each hold 5-6 Macchi M.18AR seaplanes with their wings folded while additional aircraft “parking” was available topside for a couple extra boats.
A pusher-style biplane flying boat, the M.18AR was one of the more successful “combat” seaplanes of the 1920s and 30s, serving not only with the Italians but with the Spanish Navy‘s early seaplane carrier Dédalo (Dedalus) during the Civil War in that country as well as against Moroccan rebels, but also with the Paraguayan Navy during the Chaco War.
The open cockpit three-seat scout bombers were the staple of the Aviazione per la Regina Marina for much of the interwar period, capable of toting a few small bombs and a 7.7mm machine gun aloft with a 300~ mile combat radius.
By 1930, the Macchi aircraft were replaced largely with Cantoni 25 AR seaplanes and, after 1937, with the smaller but more modern IMAM Ro.43, which at least had a closed cockpit and two machine guns rather than just one– although carried no bombs.
Miraglia’s topside deck was protected by 50mm of armor to stave off air attacks not scared off by her AAA suite of a dozen Breda machine guns while a quartet of 4-inch guns could take shots at closing destroyers or torpedo boats. She had a side belt of between 70 and 80mm (sources vary).
Miraglia entered service 1 November 1927 and was used in the disgrace that was the Italo-Ethiopian War in the late 1930s to transport aircraft to the theatre.
When WWII came, she somehow managed to not catch a British torpedo or American bomb while serving in the Mediterranean although she was present in the harbor for the raid on Taranto in 1940. She spent most of the war as a transport and test bed, rather than in operations.
Later in the conflict, the zippy little Reggiane Re.2000 Falco I “Catapultabile” monoplane, which could be catapulted off by not recovered by the vessel, made an appearance on the ship.
Following the shit-canning of Mussolini, Miraglia sailed to Malta in 1943 to be interned under British guns and served the rest of the war as a receiving ship for Italian sailors from smaller vessels.
Meanwhile, Italy’s first planned aircraft carrier– a respectable 772-foot leviathan by the name of L’Aquila (Eagle) converted from an unfinished ocean liner– was left under construction at Genoa. Although it was envisioned she would carry up to 56 aircraft, the Italian eagle was never completed and finally scrapped at La Spezia in 1952. A sistership, Sparviero, never even got that far, making Miraglia the sole Italian aviation ship fielded in WWII.
Following the end of the war, with the general disfavor of seaplanes and seaplane carriers of the time, Miraglia was retained at Taranto as a PT boat tender until 1950 when she was disposed of.
Italian Naval Aviation languished for a full decade following VE-Day, only restarting on a limited scale when a few Bell-Augusta AB-47G helicopters were handed over to the Navy for shipboard service in 1956.
By 1969, Vittorio Veneto, a so-called “helicopter cruiser,” was in service, capable of carrying six SH-3D Sea Kings or larger numbers of smaller whirlybirds.
Finally, in 1990 the Italian government placed an order for several AV-8B Harriers for use on the newly completed light aircraft carrier Garibaldi, returning the country’s fleet to a fixed-wing capability that it hadn’t seen since Miraglia steamed for exile in Malta in 1943.
Today, it is thought that the carrier Cavour will carry a squadron of operational Italian F-35Bs by 2023, almost a century after Miraglia was conceived.
Displacement, full load: 5.913 t
Length: 397.72 ft.
Beam: 49.18 ft.
Draft: 19 ft.
Propulsion: 8 Yarrow water tube boilers, 2 groups of steam turbines with Parsons type reducer, 2 propellers with three blades, 16,700 HP, 430 tons oil.
Speed: 21 knots
Crew: (196) not counting airwing, as follows:
4 x 102/35 Schneider-Armstrong naval rifles
12 x 13.2 mm Breda machine guns
2 Gagnotto steam catapults in bow and stern
2 aircraft hangars for 5-6 planes with folded wings (total of 11 seaplanes)
2 depots for 3 dismantled aircraft, each
17 Macchi M.18AR seaplanes (1927-30), 20 Cantoni 25 AR seaplanes (1931-36) up to 20 IMAM Ro.43s (1937-43)
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Rock Island has this great Israeli M606A2 Jeep up for auction. A militarized version of the Willys CJ-5, it served in an anti-tank role through the 1960s and 70s using its Willys Hurricane I-4 engine along with an M70 106 mm recoilless rifle to zip around the desert Rat Patrol style and take pot-shots at T-55s.
The concept is similar in concept to U.S. Army and Marine light anti-tank vehicles common from WWII through the 1970s that basically amounted to a Jeep with a recoilless rifle.
The final version of this was the M-825 Weapons Platform, which used the 1/4 ton Ford M-151A2 MUTT with an M40 106mm Recoilless Rifle on an M79 mount. Carrying a two-man crew and six rounds of ammunition for the M40, the RR was later swapped out for a TOW launcher, although overseas allies and some National Guard units kept the M-825 on inventory through the 1980s.
However, the Iranian Safir jeep equipped with their own locally-produced version of the M40-type is still going strong around the world, such as this one seen recently in Kirkuk in the hands of insurgents.