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If you follow the pew-pew life, but don’t carry a blowout kit, there is something wrong with your love story

One thing often tragically neglected by people who think they are prepared is the ability to respond to a serious causality incident, where a trauma kit and some knowledge of how to use it can save lives– even your own.

If the terrible events of the past several days have proven anything is that you can expect the unexpected to rear its horrible head when and where you least anticipate. In a world of domestic and international terrorism, if you live, work or play near a large city you can quickly find yourself in the middle of a nightmare where overtaxed first responders may not be available or are stretched too thin to control the situation until additional resources appear. On the opposite side of the coin, in a rural or suburban area where a small-scale accident or incident pops off, you could find yourself isolated with the nearest support vital minutes or even hours away. It’s these moments, where conventional civilian emergency medicine protocols fail, that are the most dangerous.

Thus, the need to be ready for trauma.

More in my column at Tac.44.com.

New FRCs are already giving hard service and proving useful

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Joesph Tazanos, a fast response cutter, escorts the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) into San Juan, Puerto Rico, Oct. 3, 2017. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Meredith Manning

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Joesph Tazanos, a fast response cutter, escorts the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) into San Juan, Puerto Rico, Oct. 3, 2017. The ship is providing escort and security for the Comfort’s relief misson post-Hurricane Maria. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Meredith Manning

The big 154-foot Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutters, built to replace the 110-foot Island-class patrol boats of the 1980s and 90s, (which in turn replaced the 1950s era 95-foot Cape-class cutters, et.al) are fast becoming a backbone asset for the Coast Guard. Designed for five-day patrols, these 28-knot vessels have a stern boat ramp like the smaller 87-foot WPBs but carry a stabilized 25mm Mk38 and four M2s as well as much more ISR equipment. The first entered service in 2012, just five years ago.

In a hat tip to the fact they are so much more capable, the USCG uses the WPC hull designation, used last by the old “buck and a quarter” 125-foot cutters of the Prohibition-era with these craft, rather than the WPB patrol boat designation of the ships they are replacing.

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry staging out of San Diego headed to Oahu, 2,600-nm West on a solo trip. Not bad for a yacht-sized patrol boat

You can bet these cutters are being looked at for littoral work such as in the Persian Gulf where the Navy has a whole squadron of 170-foot Cyclone-class (PCs) that are showing their age. However, they are already proving themselves domestically.

With over 24 of the planned-on 58 of these vessels in service and hulls 25-44 in building stages, they have been very useful in the Coast Guard’s recent response to Hurricane Irma and Maria, with the latter in particular.

The smallest service has deployed 13 vessels in what they term a “Surface Asset Group” (like the Navy’s surface action group concept, only with cutters), and many of those 13 are FRCs.

With a draft of just over 9-feet, they can get to a lot of places that small tin-can style vessels cannot (FFG-7s draw over 22 while the LCS, depending on type and load, run 13-15). This has enabled them to appear in places where the larger craft would be off-limits.

USCGC Joseph Napier (WPC-1115), homeported in San Juan and commissioned last year, has been poking around small harbors in the USVI dropping off water and diesel fuel. Another FRC of 2016-vintage based in San Juan, USCGC Donald Horsley (WPC-1117), brought 750 liters of bottled water and 1,440 meals to Vieques. Yet another year-old San Juan-based 154-footer, USCGC Winslow W. Griesser (WPC-1116), brought Department of Homeland Security special agents and disaster relief supplies to St. Croix as well as critical prescription medication. Meanwhile, USCGC Joseph Tezanos (WPC-1118), as shown in the first image in this post, is providing escort and security for the 70,000-ton Mercy-class hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH-20), operating out of San Juan.

In another sign of the type’s flexibility, USCCGC Oliver Berry (WPC-1124) last week completed a 7,300-mile self-deployment from her builder’s in New Orleans to Key West where she did shake up work, to Pearl Harbor where she is the first WPC stationed there. Her last leg, from San Diego to Oahu was over 2,600 miles with no pit stops, a trip that showed the craft is capable of extended missions. Further, the class has deployed to the coast of South America in joint Operations Tradewinds exercises for the past two years.

It should be pointed out that typically patrol craft of that size are transported as deck cargo or on a heavy lift vessel for forward deployments.  This could prove useful in transfers to the Persian Gulf.

Current contracts for FRCs are running at about $48 million per completed vessel, plus Navy-supplied ordnance, and it looks like a good investment.

A look at a half-dozen fixed blade carry knives ‘in the rotation’

That’s pretty stabby

On the cutting board, I give you six sub-$125 (most sub-$50 if you shop around) light fixed blade knives that are small enough to carry every day (depending on clothing options) while still being able to along with you almost everywhere in an urban or suburban environment if needed while remaining nominally concealable. Besides typical chores in daily life, they should also be strong enough to fill a foray into the woods or camp, capable of light bushcraft.

From left to right: A Kershaw 4007, CRKT Mossback, Cold Steel Spike, CRKT Obake, Tops Mountain Spike, and a Benchmade SOCP 176. All in current production

More detail on each, with plusses and minuses, noted in my column at Tac44.com.

What the deuce? Black powder in an AR…

As someone who has written a number of zombie books (shameless plug), I found the above attempt to run black powder hand loads through an AR-15 very interesting.

Using normal primers and powder-coated lead bullets, he runs them through a Ruger Blackout in .300BLK with the gas system opened up all the way and gets some decent accuracy, though the smoky loads only hit about 900fps. Of course, they jam on every shot, but even taking time to clear the action it is a faster follow-up shot than a Civil War-era muzzleloader any day.

Wave glider runs tiny towed array in search for subs, mines

Meet KraitArray, a miniaturized towed array for use on drones and opvs from the UK.

It is aimed at smaller platforms such as patrol craft and OPVs that are unable to accommodate a full-sized towed array sonar.

That tail is a towed sonar array small enough to fit in a backpack

Steve Hill, Managing Director clarified:

“It is often physically and operationally impractical for smaller ships to carry a larger diameter towed line array system. KraitArray’s smaller diameter provides effective ASW capability and can be operated from a
conventional ship or unmanned assets. By integrating the sonar capability with SEA’s decoy and torpedo launchers, using common configurable software, ships can be fitted with a complete ASW solution”

The concept, shown in conjunction with a Boeing/Liquid Robotics Wave Glider, can turn a long range, low-cost UUV into a valid ASW tool.

The best smart gun on the market is easily hacked

The German Armatix iP1 pistol, a personalized handgun design (smart gun), has gotten a lot of flack since it was introduced. While I bumped into the inventor (a guy who came up with a bunch of innovations while working for HK over the years) at a range a couple years ago, and have called, written and emailed Armatix at both their California office and in Germany for months, they won’t talk to me. Also, even though I have tried my best, I have never been able to handle one.

I did talk to a guy who had one in his possession for a long time in 2015 and he wasn’t impressed– telling me with an RF detector he could find the signal, turn it on and off, replicate it and do it all remotely as well as straight up hot wire it by taking the rear portion of the grip off and bypassing the electronic lock altogether, so that if someone who steals the firearm can simply take the back strap off, splice two wires, and the entire “smart” mechanism is disabled.

Well, low and behold, fast forward two years and a security researcher told Wired he was able to jam the radio frequency band (916.5Mhz) and prevent the gun from firing when it should, extend the authentication radius of its RFID puddle, and even defeat the electromagnetic locking system altogether with a simple $15 magnet placed near the breechblock. (More on that here).

So I sent that to the trade organization for the firearms industry to find out what they thought of it.

Their response in my column at Guns.com

Remember, blue does not mean inert…

So a guy in Massachusetts got to looking at his grandpa’s old military souvenir, which everyone just took to be a keepsake.

Then he noted the bomblet had a charge inside.

From the video, the device looks to be a WWII-era AN-MK23 Mod 1 Practice Bomblet of the type used by the Army Air Force and the Navy and are made to hold replaceable spotting charges, a special 10-gauge shell with about the explosive power of a blasting cap. The light blue color, officially “Deep Saxe Blue” denotes practice use and not totally inert devices.

While inert models surface for sale here and there, live examples are recovered in the wild from time to time.

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