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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.

French gun trucks are making it ran across Iraq

Below we see a series of three really great shots of what the French label as TF Wagram, shown showing ISIS/ISIL/Daesh west of Mosul in support of the Iraqi troops engaged on the ground there. The force consists of just 150 gunners, security and supply troops and four truck-mounted 155mm guns. They arrived in Iraq last September and have been proving fire missions directed by forward observers embedded with Kurd and Iraqi troops.


The GIAT CAESAR (CAmion Equipé d’un Système d’ARtillerie; French: Truck equipped with an artillery system) is a self-propelled 155 mm/52-calibre howitzer, installed on a Renault Sherpa 10 6×6 chassis. Adopted by the French in 2000 for rapidly deployable troops, the set up is pretty light (17~ tons) when compared with the U.S. M109A6 Paladin which weighs 28 tons and monstrous German Panzerhaubitze 2000 which tips the scales at 55-tons.

Caesar was just adopted by the Danish Army last week and is in service with Indonesia, Lebanon (via French military aid) and Thailand who used them against the Cambodian army in a 2011 border dispute to good effect against 190-era Soviet-supplied Grad rocket trucks which they outranged.

Drone boat suspected in attack on Saudi frigate

As noted by Defense News:

The Houthi boat that attacked and hit a Saudi frigate Jan. 30 in the Red Sea, reported earlier as a suicide boat, was instead carried out by an unmanned, remote-controlled craft filled with explosives, the US Navy’s top officer in the Mideast said.

“Our assessment is that it was an unmanned, remote-controlled boat of some kind,” Vice Adm. Kevin Donegan, commander of the Bahrain-based US Fifth Fleet and head of US Naval Forces Central Command, told Defense News in an interview here Saturday.

The attack on the frigate Al Madinah appears to be the first confirmed use of the weapon which, Donegan said, represents a wider threat than that posed by suicide boats and shows foreign interests are aiding the Houthis.

Donegin is concerned “first that it is in the hands of someone like the Houthis. That’s not an easy thing to develop. There have been many terrorist groups that have tried to develop that, it’s not something that was just invented by the Houthis. There’s clearly support there coming from others, so that’s problematic.

“The second is the explosive boat piece — you don’t need suicide attackers to do a suicide-like attack. There are certain terrorists that do things and they get martyrs to go and do it. But there are many others that don’t want to martyr themselves in making attacks like that and that’s pretty much where the Houthis are. So it makes that kind of weaponry, which would normally take someone suicidal to use, now able to be used by someone who’s not going to martyr themselves.”

The unmanned boat was likely supplied by Iran, Donegan said.

More here.

Mattis, arriving

Douda, Djibouti (Dec. 5, 2006) - U.S. Marine Corps Forces Central Commander, Lt. Gen. James Mattis visits with local officials from Douda, Djibouti, home base for the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa command. U.S Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Eric A. Clement (RELEASED)

Douda, Djibouti (Dec. 5, 2006) – U.S. Marine Corps Forces Central Commander, Lt. Gen. James Mattis visits with local officials from Douda, Djibouti, home base for the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa command. U.S Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Eric A. Clement (RELEASED)

By a 98-1 vote, the 115th U.S. Senate confirmed retired Marine Corps Gen. James Norman “Mad Dog” Mattis to be the 26th secretary of defense Jan. 20, and Vice President Michael R. Pence administered his oath of office shortly afterward.

Mattis is the first retired general officer to hold the position since General of the Army George C. Marshall in the early 1950s. Congress passed a waiver for the retired four-star general to serve in the position because law requires former service members to have been out of uniform for at least seven years to serve as defense secretary.

Mattis retired from the Marine Corps in 2013. The former CENTCOM commander previously led I MEF, United States Marine Forces Central Command, and 1st Marine Division during the Iraq War as well as 1/7 Marines in the Persian Gulf War. He reportedly carried a worn copy of the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius throughout his deployments while his extensive library has earned him a reputation as something of a warrior monk.

His first message:

Message to the Department of Defense from Secretary of Defense James Mattis

Press Operations
Release No: NR-020-17
Jan. 20, 2017
***

It’s good to be back and I’m grateful to serve alongside you as Secretary of Defense.

Together with the Intelligence Community we are the sentinels and guardians of our nation. We need only look to you, the uniformed and civilian members of the Department and your families, to see the fundamental unity of our country. You represent an America committed to the common good; an America that is never complacent about defending its freedoms; and an America that remains a steady beacon of hope for all mankind.

Every action we take will be designed to ensure our military is ready to fight today and in the future. Recognizing that no nation is secure without friends, we will work with the State Department to strengthen our alliances. Further, we are devoted to gaining full value from every taxpayer dollar spent on defense, thereby earning the trust of Congress and the American people.

I am confident you will do your part. I pledge to you I’ll do my best as your Secretary.

MATTIS SENDS

Milestone for British Forces, sadly not to be repeated in 2017

In 2016, the British Armed Forces experienced something they haven’t seen since 1968– a year without a single soldier, sailor or airman being killed on operations.

As noted by The Telegraph, “British forces have found themselves almost constantly deployed to dangerous conflict zones for more than 70 years since the end of the Second World War,” but “Ministry of Defence figures show that 2016 was the first year without the death of a serviceman on operations since 1968.”

Tragically, the following was released by MoD this week:

It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death of Lance Corporal Scott Hetherington, of 2nd Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, who died in Iraq on Monday 2 January 2017, following an incident at Camp Taji, north of Baghdad, in Iraq. He was a member of Blenheim Company and a Vehicle Commander in the Force Protection Platoon.

Lieutenant Colonel Rob Singleton, Commanding Officer, 2nd Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, said:

Lance Corporal Scott Hetherington was a superb soldier and a first class leader. Utterly professional and talented, he was full of character, fun and his enthusiasm was infectious. The Battalion has lost a huge talent and a real character. He will be missed dearly and we will never forget him. Our hearts go out to his parents, his siblings, his girlfriend and his young daughter. They are in all of our thoughts.

Vale, LCPL Hetherington.

lance-corporal-scott-hetherington

A beautiful Naval image that is sure to be a classic

You could imagine this in a sepia tone and easily see an old Connecticut-class predreadnought here rather than a modern DDG.

VILLEFRANCHE, France (Dec. 19, 2016) The guided-missile destroyer USS Nitze (DDG 94) is moored in the bay of Villefranche during a port call to France. Nitze, currently deployed as part of the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, is conducting naval operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe. (U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Joshua Murray/Released)161219-N-WC455-158 Join the conversation: http://www.navy.mil/viewGallery.asp http://www.facebook.com/USNavy http://www.twitter.com/USNavy http://navylive.dodlive.mil http://pinterest.com https://plus.google.com

VILLEFRANCHE, France (Dec. 19, 2016) The guided-missile destroyer USS Nitze (DDG 94) is moored in the bay of Villefranche during a port call to France. Nitze, currently deployed as part of the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, is conducting naval operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe. (U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Joshua Murray/Released)

Nitze is named for Paul Henry Nitze, who served first as LBJs SECNAV and later as his SECDEF, replacing Cyrus Vance. Before that he was on James Forrestal’s staff in the big one, served Truman in NSC  positions, and had been appointed by JFK to be an Assistant Secretary of Defense. He would later be one of the main players behind the scenes in the SALT talks and Reagan’s chief negotiator of the INF Treaty in 1988.

As for the vessel, she was commissioned 5 March 2005 as the 43rd Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. A Flight IIA Burke with the super-length 5″/62 forward, she has been very active in the Gulf region in recent years to include hammering some Houthi radar sites involved in the recent missile launches threatening USS Mason and other vessels operating in international waters in the Red Sea and the Bab al-Mandeb via TLCMs.

Sometimes copper is your best friend

Marine Special Operations Team (MSOT) 8222 was deployed to Bala Murghab in 2009-10. The team was tasked with partnering with national Afghan forces to train them to stabilize a remote valley in northwestern Afghanistan.

This specialized beryllium copper knife was used by the team breacher to cut plastic explosives.

beryllium-copper-knife-was-used-by-the-team-breacher-to-cut-plastic-explosives

Currently on exhibit at the National Museum of the Marine Corps

This knife cut every charge used by MSOT-8222 during this deployment.

It’s a Strider BD Beryllium Copper (CuBe). These knives, made in St. Paul, MN, have a 6.5-inch blade, paracord wrapped handle, and go an impressive 0.25-inches wide. They run four-figures but are guaranteed non-sparking & non-magnetic.

They are extremely corrosion resistant and doesn’t spark like a steel blade would. Precisely the type of knife you’d want if your job involved cutting through hundreds of blocks of high explosives.

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