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The naval formations of the future will likely look nothing like they do today

I just watched this really informative and thought-provoking 1~hour long lecture from Capt. Jeff Kline, USN (Ret.), professor of practice, operations research, at the Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, Calif.

Then I watched it again.

The subject: Naval Warfare in the Robotics Age.

Check it out

Meet the USAF’s new bailout gun

The USAF Aircrew Self Defense Weapon shown together, top, and taken down, bottom:

USAF Aircrew Self Defense Weapon together and taken down hr

(Photos: USAF)

The ASDW must stow inside a 16 x 14 x 3.5-inch ejection seat compartment. The guns get that small due to the use of an M4 style collapsible stock, flip-up backup iron sights, an Israeli FAB Defense AGF-43S folding pistol grip, and a Cry Havoc Tactical Quick Release Barrel (QRB) kit. The barrel is reportedly the standard 14.5-inch M4 model, although I have my doubts and looks more like an 11.5-incher.

More in my column at Guns.com.

You failed to maintain your weapon, son

Public Service Announcement: This unidentifiable semi-auto handgun came into a shop in Michigan recently, unable to fire.

I wonder why?

After an overnight soak and full disassembly, it was returned to service. The baggie of debris is what had to be scraped away.

A little regular maintenance can work wonders. Also, be sure not to get too crazy with the lube, as it drags lint, dandruff, cat hair, et. al down from the surface into the inner regions of a gun’s action, and can leave you after a while with an unsat condition.

 

The country’s one-and-only polar icebreaker made it back home (barely)

Seattle saw the reappearance of “Building 10,” the common designation of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star (WAGB-10), as she returned this week to her homeport after an epic 105-day deployment to Antarctica in support of Operation Deep Freeze, the 63rd year for the annual mission to supply McMurdo Station in Antarctica.

This place:

Forget what you have heard about no more ice: Upon arrival in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, Polar Star still had to break through 16.5 nautical miles of ice, six to ten feet thick, in order to open a channel to the pier for supply ships to follow.

As the vessel is 43-years-young and has seen lots of hard service (she rams icebergs on purpose) things did not go as planned along the 11,200-mile sortie.

From the Coast Guard:

During the transit to Antarctica, one of the ship’s electrical systems began to smoke, causing damage to wiring in an electrical switchboard, and one of the ship’s two evaporators used to make drinkable water failed. The electrical switchboard was repaired by the crew, and the ship’s evaporator was repaired after parts were received during a port call in Wellington, New Zealand.

The impact from ice operations ruptured the cutter’s centerline shaft seal, allowing water to flood into the ship. Ice breaking operations ceased so embarked Coast Guard and Navy Divers could enter the water to apply a patch outside the hull so Polar Star’s engineers could repair the seal from inside the ship. The engineers donned dry suits and diver’s gloves to enter the 30-degree water of the still slowly flooding bilge to effect the vital repairs. They used special tools fabricated onboard to fix the leaking shaft seal and resume ice breaking operations.

The Polar Star also experienced ship-wide power outages while breaking ice in McMurdo Sound. Crew members spent nine hours shutting down the ship’s power plant and rebooting the electrical system in order to remedy the outages.

On Feb. 10, the crew spent nearly two hours extinguishing a fire in the ship’s incinerator room while the ship was approximately 650-nautical-miles north of McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. The fire damaged the incinerator and some electrical wiring in the room was damaged by fire fighting water. There were no personnel injuries or damage to equipment outside the space. Repairs to the incinerator are already scheduled for Polar Star’s upcoming inport maintenance period.

Sheesh.

And keep in mind that for at least one pay period while underway the crew went without the eagle flying due to the lapse in appropriations.

The good news is, the Coast Guard is seeking to pick up six new polar icebreakers and the FY19 budget actually appropriated $655 million to begin construction of a new “polar security cutter” this year, with another $20 million appropriated for long-lead-time materials to build a second. So they may actually get two out of the planned six when all is said and done.

Hopefully, Polar Star can hold out till then.

Also, did I mention the Russians have 50 icebreakers?

What is an SCW and how is it changing the new guns on the market?

Last June, the U.S. Army tapped first 10 and then a total of 13 companies for what it termed “Sub Compact Weapons.” These guns, “capable of engaging threat personnel with a high volume of lethal and accurate fires at close range with minimal collateral damage,” were to be used by the military’s Personal Security Details, special teams tasked with protecting high-value officers and dignitaries such as the SACEUR and the commander of U.S. Forces Korea– each likely an endangered species in the hours prior to the balloon going up in those regions.

The Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine gun of U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Samuel Caines, assigned to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe Security Detachment, ejects a bullet casing at the Training Support Center Benelux 25-meter indoor range in Chièvres, Belgium, Oct. 22, 2015. (U.S. Army photo by Visual Information Specialist Pierre-Etienne Courtejoie/Released)

Well, that didn’t work out and the Army trimmed the field a bit in September with a tough series of requirements (a weapon shorter than 15-inches overall when stowed but still ready to fire in such a position, weight less than 5-pounds, etc) and just six companies were able to get in on that. While a small contract, likely to run 350 to 1,000 guns, the bragging rights to replace the long-standard HK MP5 would be huge.

While little details about what models were ultimately submitted for review by the Army, several new SCW-ish guns were in the aisles of the 41st annual SHOT Show in Las Vegas last week, and they are pretty swag.

More in my column at Guns.com.

 

Micro Machines!

Below we see snaps from a recent test in which a single C-17A Globemaster was able to carry 5 combat-loaded Polaris MRZR-2 and 6 GD-OTS Flyer 72 lightweight tactical vehicles, along with a light company-sized unit to man them. In short, an airmail fast recon team.

The Pentagon has been trialing the Flyer 72 and MRZR-2 for the past couple years, as the robust light vehicles have a lot of potentials, especially when it comes to raids, SF/expeditionary type gigs and operations in off-road environments.

Green Berets from 3rd Special Forces Group ( Airborne) traverse the desert in Polaris Razors during a personnel recovery training exercise March 2, 2016, in Nevada. (U.S. Army photo by 3rd SFG (A) Combat Camera)

Air Force airmen driving a Polaris MRZR and a minibike wait to drive into the back of a C-130J Hercules aircraft in Djibouti

You know you want one of each…

Monsoor joins the fleet (if only she could shoot)

On the 75th anniversary of the January 1944 launch of USS Missouri (BB 63), the USN commissioned the second (of 3) Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyers on Saturday. Named for Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor, the second Navy SEAL to receive the Medal of Honor in the Global War on Terror, she carries a fine name and is a beautiful ship of some 16,000 tons and 610-feet in length– the same size as a the biggest pre-dreadnought-era battleship of the 1900s, since we are talking battleships.

Of note, she is larger than any American cruiser commissioned after USS Long Beach became active in 1961.

181207-N-LN093-1056 SAN DIEGO (Dec. 7, 2018) The guided-missile destroyer Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) transits the San Diego Bay. The future USS Michael Monsoor is the second ship in the Zumwalt-class of guided-missile destroyers and will undergo a combat availability and test period. The ship is scheduled to be commissioned into the Navy Jan. 26, 2019, in Coronado, Calif. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jasen Moreno-Garcia/Released)

Sadly, her showcase big guns, a pair of stealthy BAE 155 mm/62 (6.1″) Mark 51 Advanced Gun System (AGS) mounts, which were supposed to be capable of firing 10 rounds per minute at ranges of up to 83 nautical miles, are inoperable because the Navy does not have any ammo for them– and isn’t planning on buying any in the foreseeable future. The R&D cost of their unique shells, which was supposed to be amortized across a planned 32-ships, skyrocketed when the program was whittled down to just a trio of hulls (6 mounts), leaving the rounds too expensive to buy, and the AGS cannot fire standard 155mm rounds, which ironically is one of the most common in the world.

At around $1M per round, the 155mm shells for the AGS were too expensive and the Navy only bought 90 of them for testing. Each Zumwalt is supposed to carry a warload of 920

This leaves these giant ships armed with 80 deep Mk 54 VLS cells that are capable of fielding the Tomahawk, Standard 2s, and the Evolved SeaSparrow Missile, which is less punch than any other DDG in U.S. service, although with half the complement (147 souls) when compared to a much cheaper Arleigh Burke-class destroyer due to extensive automation.

A third Zumwalt, USS Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG-1002), is set to deliver to 2020.

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