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Swedish Leopards at Play & Gripen Road Tour

Check out this neat unit photo, almost in a TO&E diagram layout format, of a Swedish brigade element. Taken at Skövde practice field last week, shortly after the exercise ended, and shows Södra Skånska Regimentets P7‘s contribution to exercise Våreld 22, which looks to be about half of the unit.

Photo: Felix Sundbäck / Swedish Armed Forces.

Note the Stridsfordon 90 IFVs, Stridsvagn 122 (Leopard 2S) main battle tanks, and assorted support vehicles.

Stridsvagn 122 tank, Sweden’s Leopard 2A5 variant. An excellent tank, the Swedes only have 120 Strv 122s

The Stridsfordon 90 is one serious IFV. Developed by Hägglunds/Bofors, it mounts a 40mm gun, outclassing most vehicles in its class

Pansarterrängbil 360 is a Patria AMV 8×8 variant

Based at Revingehed and with a lineage that dates to 1811, P7 has two battalions– the 71st Motorised Infantry which carries the traditions of the Southern Skåne Infantry Regiment, and the 72nd Armored which carries the traditions of the old Skåne Dragon Regiment– tasked primarily with training. Swelled by 300 new conscripts on 12-month national service stints, the regiment has a cadre of about 270 professional contract soldiers, 600 reservists, and 60 civilian employees. In the event of full mobilization, the regiment will swell to approximately 6,000 soldiers and officers within 48 hours including four battalions of the Skånska Gruppen (SSK) home guard group. 

P7 has sent troops to Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, and Liberia, among others, and most recently to Mali within the framework of the UN-led operation MINUSMA.

Gripen Road Tour

Speaking of summers in Sweden, it is also the time of year that the country’s air force hits the road. 

Literally. 

Check out these images of Norrbottens Flygflottilj F 21 at work, running their JAS 39 Gripens from highways. 

‘I thought, how can I get the ship working again?’

Some 40 years ago this week, the Royal Navy Type 21 frigate HMS Ardent (F184) was a very new ship, having just been completed by Yarrow just over four years prior.

On 21 May 1982, while in Falkland Sound and supporting Operation Sutton by bombarding the Argentine airstrip at Goose Green with her 4.5-inch Mark 8 mount, Ardent was attacked by at least three incoming waves of Argentine Skyhawks and IAI Daggers inside of an hour.

The airstrikes caused Ardent to sink the next day, with one in eight of the ship’s company lost.

Now a retired commander, Ken Enticknap was a 28-year-old Chief Petty Officer on Ardent, and tells his story, below.

 

60 Years Ago: That time a Bear Bailed out of a Bomber– at Mach 1

The Convair B-58 Hustler was one of the sexiest bombers ever constructed and I’ll fight you on that.

I mean just look at it!

Some 96 feet long from tip-to-tip, it was powered by a quartet of GE J79 engines– the same used on the twin-engine F-4 Phantom. With some 60,000 lbf of thrust with afterburners lit, the Hustler could touch Mach 2 for short periods and could carry four B43 or B61 nuclear bombs to a combat radius of 1,740nm, with a ceiling approaching 70,000 feet.

In a fix to the problem of having its crew bail out at such high speeds and altitude, the Hustler used clamshell ejection capsules, thus: 

To make sure the capsules worked, they were tested with live chimps and bears, with the latter, a 108-pound female black bear named Yogi, being shot out of a B-58 at 35,000 feet while going Mach 1.3, some 60 years ago this week.

Yogi landed eight minutes later with relatively minor injuries, i.e. a nose bleed and some bruising.

Keep in mind the only previous supersonic ejection on file at the time was that of an F-100 Super Saber pilot, test pilot George Smith, who left his aircraft in 1955 while it was going Mach 1.05 and spent the next five days in a coma.

The 411 on the new FN High Power (not the Browning Hi-Power)

I dropped by FN’s booth at SHOT Show in Las Vegas this week to get the scoop on the new FN High Power pistol line.

Not just a restart of the old FN/Browning Hi-Power, the new 9mm guns have a 21st-century flair to them, with a 17+1 magazine capacity, ambi controls, texturing on the frame, better ergonomics, and FN 509-pattern dovetail sights. They will be available in three variants including the standard black model, one in FDE– sure to be a hit with modern FN owners who collect that genre– and a true stainless steel model. 

Each will ship with two sets of grips.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Tall Ship Getting it Done

The buque escuela BAE Guayas (BE-21) is a 1,300-ton Class A Tall Ship operated by the Ecuadorian Navy. Built in Spain in the 1970s to a design similar to the circa 1930s Blohm & Voss segelschulschiffs (like Gorch Fock, USCGC Eagle, and the NRP Sagres) she is a direct sistership to the training ships Gloria (Colombia), Simón Bolívar (Venezuela), and Cuauhtémoc (Mexico).

A steel-hulled three-masted barque capable of hoisting 15,200 sq. ft. of canvas with a 700hp Detroit diesel “steel topsail” for when the wind is calm, she is beautiful, akin to a flying cloud on the water.

With a crew of some 155, she can carry 80 naval cadets and is frequently used in trips overseas to show the country’s flag and has visited over 60 countries in the past 40 years, cruising in excess of 500,000 miles on 30 training cruises from Vladivostok to Boston.

However, she is still a naval vessel, with a small arms locker, and capable of conducting real-world missions in required. Case in point, she just popped a narco sub roaming in the Eastern Pacific.

The tall ship’s crew boarded the vessel, impounded a cargo of moody blow, and arrested four including three Ecuadorians and a Colombian.

All in a day’s work.

Bravo Zulu, Guayas.

Happy 80th Electric Acorn

The U.S. Army’s 25th Infantry “Tropic Lightning” Division was activated 10 October 1941 at Schofield Barracks, Wahiawa, Hawaii, where it is still in garrison.

Entering combat against the Japanese at Pearl Harbor, where members cracked open armories and used their rifles and small arms against IJN aircraft hitting the barracks, the division went on to a very tough war, suffering 5,432 casualties in its rapid advance from Guadalcanal– where they were the Thin Red Line– through the Solomons and Luzon.

25th Infantry Division Troops Burn Out A Japanese Pill Box At Baguio In The Philippines On 23 March 1945.

Then came the Korean War (10 campaign streamers, 14 MOH recipients), Vietnam (12 campaign streamers, 23 MOH recipients), and Cold War service. They have also been heavily involved in Iraq and Afghanistan (five Meritorious Unit Commendations).

M60 machine gunner of the 25th Infantry Division, 1968

Exercise Team Spirit 83 South Korea, 25th Infantry 

US Army (USA) Specialist Fourth Class (SFC) Theodore Amell, 2nd Platoon (PLT), Bravo (B) Company (CO), 1st Battalion (BN), 5th Infantry (INF), 25th Infantry Division (ID) (Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT)), scans the horizon with an M21 sniper weapon system for threats while on patrol near Mosul, Iraq. The SBCT is assigned to Task Force Freedom supporting Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. The M21 system is made up of a 7.62 mm M14 rifle with specially selected and hand-fitted parts and a scope.

1-21 infantry 25th ID Gimlet battalion continue training at PTA on Hawaii Island, April 2019

I Dig Oddball European Semi-Autos

As you know, I go all giggly for curious European autoloaders. For example, I give you this fine spaghetti pistola of Mr. Giuseppe Nicola Galesi that I recently came across at GDC:

Based in Brescia, Italy, Galesi was in operation from about the mid-1920s to about the mid-1960s, where the GCA of 1968 likely cut off their exports to the U.S. and forced it out of the market.

The above specimen is a Model 9, a little 8/7/6+1 shot pocket gun based on Browning’s Model 1910 that was made in .22 LR, .32 ACP, and .380 ACP cal. Using synthetic grips, they were offered in blued and chromed models with a 3.25-inch barrel, a frame-mounted manual safety, and basic fixed sights.

More on the Galesi firm, here.

Remember the Reason Today

Keep in mind today the real reason why the mail doesn’t run, public employees have a three-day weekend, and why your mailbox is full of tasteless fliers.

USS Indianapolis (CA-35) commissioning pennant, used 15 November 1932, currently enshrined at the Indiana War Memorial. (Photo: Chris Eger)

Happy Tea Day, care for a brew up?

National Tea Day is observed in the United Kingdom every year on 21 April to celebrate the drinking of tea. With that in mind, check out Wargaming’s Richard Cutland and The Tank Museum’s historian James Holland on how British armored vehicle crews managed to carry on with the national pastime while in the field.

Navy to consign Bonnie Dick to the scrappers

200716-N-WD349-1423 SAN DIEGO (July 16, 2020) Sailors depart the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) after combating a fire on board. On the morning of July 12, a fire was called away aboard the ship while it was moored pier side at Naval Base San Diego. Base and shipboard firefighters responded to the fire. Bonhomme Richard is going through a maintenance availability, which began in 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jeffrey F. Yale/Released)

After an epic four-day fire that captured headlines around the world and scorched or flooded 11 of 14 decks, the Navy has decided that USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) will not be going back to her Pascagoula birthplace for a $3B/5-year rebuild, or get a cheaper $1B conversion to a non-combatant hospital ship, command ship, or submarine tender, and will instead be decommissioned, stripped of all useable components and materials to keep her sisters in service, then sent to the breakers.

“We did not come to this decision lightly,” said Secretary of the Navy Kenneth J. Braithwaite. “Following an extensive material assessment in which various courses of action were considered and evaluated, we came to the conclusion that it is not fiscally responsible to restore her.

“Although it saddens me that it is not cost-effective to bring her back, I know this ship’s legacy will continue to live on through the brave men and women who fought so hard to save her, as well as the Sailors and Marines who served aboard her during her 22-year history,” Braithwaite said.

As noted by USNI News, “Decommissioning the ship – and the inactivation, harvesting of parts, towing and scrapping the hull – will cost about $30 million and take just nine to 12 months.”

Of ominous note, the loss of BHR will go in the books as the worst U.S. Navy casualty in terms of tonnage, even eclipsing the destruction of the battleships USS Arizona (BB-39) and USS Oklahoma (BB-37) at Pearl Harbor.

As for a replacement? The well-used Tarawa-class gators USS Nassau (LHA-4) and USS Peleliu (LHA-5), whose keels were laid in the 1970s, have spent much of the past decade growing rust and greenery in the backwater of Pearl Harbor’s lochs. Bringing either one back– Peleliu has only been sidelined since 2015– would surely be a headache, especially for their crews as their huge CE boilers by all accounts didn’t age well, but may prove a useful stopgap until the current America-class LHA pipeline can take BHR’s place in the Western Pacific.

“Harry Greene flies his Boeing Stearman Kaydet Primary Trainer airplane over the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility at Pearl Harbor, Oahu, May 30, 2016. Greene is a helicopter pilot at Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point and an aircraft enthusiast in his off-duty time.” Note Peleliu and Nassau in the foreground. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Tara Molle/Released)

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