Not Sci-fi: 103 Perdix self-healing drones launched from 3 F-18s

So have you seen this yet?

“In one of the most significant tests of autonomous systems under development by the Department of Defense, the Strategic Capabilities Office, partnering with Naval Air Systems Command, successfully demonstrated one of the world’s largest micro-drone swarms at China Lake, California. The test, conducted Oct. 26, 2016 consisted of 103 Perdix drones launched from three F/A-18 Super Hornets. The micro-drones demonstrated advanced swarm behaviors such as collective decision-making, adaptive formation flying, and self-healing.”

Self-healing?

No shit, this is from the DOD itself.

“Due to the complex nature of combat, Perdix are not pre-programmed synchronized individuals, they are a collective organism, sharing one distributed brain for decision-making and adapting to each other like swarms in nature,” said SCO Director William Roper in a statement. “Because every Perdix communicates and collaborates with every other Perdix, the swarm has no leader and can gracefully adapt to drones entering or exiting the team.”

The 6-inch long drone, developed by MIT in 2013, can fly for about 20 minutes at 60kts.

Controlling 100 drones individually would be overwhelming, so much like a sport coach, operators call “plays” (e.g., surveilling a field) and Perdix decides how best to run them. Because Perdix cannot change their plays, operators can predict the swarm’s behavior without having to micromanage it.

More here

Now that is a Scorpion with a subtle sting

The classic Skorpion machine pistol dates back to the Cold War and CZ redefined that .32ACP room broom into a polymer framed 9mm a couple years back with the semi-auto blowback-operated CZ-USA Scorpion EVO.

Last year, the Czech Republic-based company added to the line with the Scorpion EVO 3 S1 carbine, which sports a 16.2-inch barrel and is offered with a faux suppressor built specifically for CZ-USA by SilencerCo.

However, 16.2-inches can seem so long on an otherwise handy pistol caliber carbine so SilencerCo has come to the rescue and converted a limited run of 35 Scorpions to short barreled rifles, complete with side-folding stocks and an  Omega 9K suppressor (delivers 131.5 dB reduction on 9mm) with a direct thread 18×1 mount.

How sweet it is.

cz-skorp

More in my column at Guns.com

Welcome back, Commander

The Colt Commander was introduced in 9mm for an Army pistol contract in 1949 aimed at providing a more effective replacement to the .32 ACP Model 1903 “General Officer’s Pistol.” It soon became popular on the civilian market and in 1971 a steel-framed (to differentiate it from the Lightweight Commander) Combat Commander went into production. That 70 Series Colt remained in the stable until 1980 and, after a brief hiatus, was replaced by the 80 Series variant that remained in production in one form or another until 1998 but has sadly been missing from the lineup since then.

Now, to borrow a phrase from John Wick, it looks like the Combat Commander is back, at an MSRP of $949.

colt-revamps-combat-commander-1911-for-2017

More in my column at Guns.com.

Pakistan pops off their first submarine launched nuclear-capable missile

PNS/M Hamza (S139) – built in Pakistan, commissioned 14 August 2006. She is a a modernized and long–range air-independent powered Agosta–90B class submarine designed and developed through a joint venture between the French DCNS and Pakistan's KSEW Ltd

PNS/M Hamza (S139) – built in Pakistan, commissioned 14 August 2006. She is a a modernized and long–range air-independent powered Agosta–90B class submarine designed and developed through a joint venture between the French DCNS and Pakistan’s KSEW Ltd

In the latest case of keeping up with the Indians– who launched their first nuclear-capable, submarine-launched missile in 2008, Pakistan did the same last week by launching a home-grown SLCM roughly comparable to the early variants of the Tomahawk.

Reuters 

The Pakistani military said the Babur-3 missile was “capable of delivering various types of payloads and will provide Pakistan with a Credible Second Strike Capability, augmenting deterrence”.

An army spokesman later confirmed the language meant the missile was equipped to carry nuclear warheads.

The Babur-3 is a sea-based variant of the ground-launched Babur-2 missile, which was tested in December. The military said the missile had features such as “underwater controlled propulsion and advanced guidance and navigation”

The Submarine Command of the Pakistani Navy have five French Agosta-class diesel submarines, including three built locally to an AIP design. Further, they have eight 2,300-ton Hangor-class boats they are building in conjunction with China.

It is believed one of the AIP Agostas, PNS/M Khalid (S137), fired the Babur-3, which is thought to have a 200~ mile range.

Museum ships don’t age well

Constructed of steel by the lowest bidder, warships have a finite lifespan, especially when semi-preserved as museum ships.

In Florida, Palm Beach County Commissioners voted to use $1 million in funds to jump-start a project to sink the Balao-class submarine USS Clamagore (SS-343) about a mile off the coast of Juno Beach. She is the only known surviving example of a GUPPY type submarine

According to the Sun Sentinel, the WWII submarine has been at Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum near Charleston, S.C. since 1981 and needs a $6 million refirb to keep her there, and annual upkeep of $250,000. Turning her into a reef is cheaper.

In South Korea, the Gearing-class destroyer ex-USS William R. Rush (DD-714), transferred in 1978 under the terms of the Security Assistance Program as ROKS Kang Won (DD-922), arrived at Busan Dadaepo port for dismantling last month after 16 years as a pier-side museum ship.

Rush

Rush, soon to be recycled.

This leaves Eversole, Everett Larson, Sarsfield, Rogers, Orleck, and J. P. Kennedy of that class still afloat.

Meanwhile, in Bremerton, the museum ship USS Turner Joy (DD-951) is set to get an $800,000 spruce up in dry dock. A Forrest Sherman-class destroyer decommissioned in 1982, Turner Joy gave a lot of hard service in Vietnam and can use the TLC. (Photo: Meegan M. Reid / Kitsap Sun)

(Photo: Meegan M. Reid / Kitsap Sun)

Combat Gallery Sunday: The Martial Art of Franz Schmidt

Much as once a week I like to take time off to cover warships (Wednesdays), on Sundays (when I feel like working), I like to cover military art and the painters, illustrators, sculptors, photographers and the like that produced them.

Combat Gallery Sunday: The Martial Art of Franz Schmidt

Franz Schmidt was a German postcard artist probably best known for his series of city cards published from 1910-14 showing buildings and sites around his hometown of Nuremberg.

Nassauer Haus Nurnberg Germany, Franz Schmidt 1910.

Nassauer Haus Nurnberg Germany, Franz Schmidt 1910.

However, when the Great War popped off, Schmidt was commissioned to produce a series of “fighting man” style postcards for Trautmann & von Seggern of Hamburg (T&S) showing German troops in action in 1914-15.

While I cannot find much information on Schmidt’s background or how he obtained the study for the martial series (i.e. whether he used models, traveled to the front, relied on newspaper imagery) they are very well done and mostly correct, even if they are clearly propaganda. Each shows a good example of early war uniforms including piping, brass buttons and covered Pickelhaube and Czapka.

The below come from The Rare Book Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Wilson Library has a massive collection of WWI postcards (nearly 10,000!)

Battle of St. Quentin. German soldiers on horseback, carrying swords, are riding toward English and Scottish infantry.

Battle of St. Quentin. German soldiers on horseback, carrying swords, are riding toward English and Scottish infantry.

Color image on a postcard showing a German infantryman holding his rifle, standing in the woods.

Color image on a postcard showing a German infantryman holding his rifle, standing in the woods.

Color image on a postcard showing a German Marine on a beach, carrying a rifle over his shoulder.

Color image on a postcard showing a German Marine on a beach, carrying a rifle over his shoulder.

German 77mm field artillery defend from French cavalry in battle near the Aisne

German 77mm field artillery defend from French cavalry in battle near the Aisne

German gunner at a gun park. He is standing in front of cannons, holding an artillery short sword

German gunner at a gun park. He is standing in front of cannons, holding an artillery short sword

German troops attacking Indian troops at Ypres, in West Flanders. Througout the war the Germans made a big deal of the fact that both France and Britain utilized colonial troops who the German media characterized as savages-- while they played up their own native Askari troops in Africa.

German troops attacking Indian troops at Ypres, in West Flanders. Throughout the war the Germans made a big deal of the fact that both France and Britain utilized colonial troops who the German media often characterized as savages– while they played up their own native Askari troops in Africa.

German soldiers fighting French soldiers at Neufchâteau

German soldiers fighting French soldiers at Neufchâteau

Hussar standing with his horse in a city that has been bombed. In his hand is a lit cigar

Hussar standing with his horse in a city that has been bombed. In his hand is a lit cigar.

Landstrum soldier at a railway station. There is snow on the ground, and a train sits on a track in the background.

Landstrum soldier at a railway station. There is snow on the ground, and a train sits on a track in the background.

Postcard showing a member of the German uhlan cavalry on horseback with lance.

Postcard showing a member of the German uhlan cavalry on horseback with lance.

Schmidt’s cards from time to time pop up online on eBay and others, typically at low ($5-$10) prices.

Thank you for your work, sir.

The American FAL that could have been

Isn't it beautiful? The FN T48 rifle in (limited) U.S. Army service, May 1955. (Photo: National Archives)

Isn’t it beautiful? The FN T48 rifle in (limited) U.S. Army service, May 1955. Dig the strapped-down M1 helmet and olive drab fatigues(Photo: National Archives)

Springfield Armory was the nation’s clearing house for rifle designs dating from approving the contracted Model 1795 muskets, through the famous Trapdoor Springfield breechloader to the M1903 (which was more or less an unlicensed copy of the Mauser bolt gun) to the M1 Garand of the 1930s and dozens of prototypes and other rifles in between.

Their last design project to be adopted, the T44 rifle, became the M14, but the route that it took to get there was very complicated.

Competing against theT25/47 design of Earle Harvey (of Springfield Armory), was Garand’s own T20 design tweaked by Springfield’s Lloyd Corbett into the T44.

Soon, the T25/47 was dropped by the wayside and the T65 .30 light rifle cartridge (7.62x51mm) became the choice of the Army moving forward and the T44 would be the gun to use it.

The thing is, the European part of NATO had fallen in love with the Belgian-made FN FAL rifle and it looked like just about everyone except the French and Italians were going to adopt it. In short, a gentleman’s agreement was made in which Europe would adopt the U.S. Army’s T65 7.62x51mm round as the NATO standard, and the U.S. would pick the FN FAL to replace the M1 Garand, M3 Grease gun and M1918 BAR light machine gun.

With that, the Army duly ordered 3,103 7.62x51mm-chambered FAL rifles from Fabrique Nationale d’Armes de Guerre in 1952 and they were imported into the U.S. from Herstal over the next two years.

These rifles, classified as “Rifle, Cal.30 T48 FN” by the Army, were 21-inch four-groove, right-hand twist barrels that taped out to 47.25-inches overall. In addition, a small quantity (200) of FAL Heavy Barrel Rifles (HBAR) with bipods were ordered– which were classified as the T48E1.

All were the standard lightweight, air-cooled, gas-operated, magazine-fed (20-round detachable) design. Though primarily intended for semiautomatic fire, they were select-fire and could stitch it up at a 600rpm cyclic for as long as the ammo held out.

Weight of the standard rifle was 9.43 lbs. empty and 10.2 lbs. with an attached muzzle-mounted rifle grenade launcher for NATO standard M29 (T42) grenades. The heavier T48E1/HBAR, with its hinged butt plate, went 12.43 lbs unloaded, and was intended to be used as a SAW or sorts.

In Jan. 1954, Harrington & Richardson Arms Company, Worcester, Ma, was awarded a contract “for the production of 500 T48 F.N. (Fabrique Nationale) Infantry Rifles required the expansion of activities in the Hand Arms & Equipment Unit. This action was necessary to prepare Ordnance drawings and provide manufacturing information and technical data to the Boston Ordnance District for use in administering the contract.”

H&R company officials visited the Canadian FAL works to observe their operations before they made their limited run.

High Standard Mfg. Co., Hamden, Ct. at the same time made 12 guns, serialed #HS1-#HS12.

This means a total of about 3,815 U.S. and Belgian-made T48s were delivered to the Army between 1952-55.

These guns were evaluated in field tests at Fort Benning, in the Arctic, and the desert.

Caption: Quabbin Pictures Taken of T48. Rifle, Caliber .30, T48 - with Gunner (Majewski) - Firing M29 (T42) Grenade, via National Archives

Caption: Quabbin Pictures Taken of T48. Rifle, Caliber .30, T48 – with Gunner (Majewski) – Firing M29 (T42) Grenade from a “mortared” position, May 1955, via National Archives

T48, Rifle, Caliber .30, T48 - with Gunner - Off-Hand Firing May 1955

Caption: T48, Rifle, Caliber .30, T48 – with Gunner – Off-Hand Firing May 1955. Photo via National Archives

One of the problems was that the original FAL was crap in the desert (which the Israelis found out in their campaign in 1967, leading to the local design and production of the AK/Valmet-based Galil), and another was that it had suffered “early and violent extraction, violent ejection, and broken parts” during testing in the frozen north– though in the end the rifle was determined to be fit for arctic use.

Besides this, the T44 was a tad lighter, had fewer components, and was all-American rather than Belgian, which in the end (IMHO) was the chief reason it was adopted in 1957 as the M14.

This left the American FAL’s out in the cold and they have largely been scrapped over the years.

Springfield Armory has no less than 58 T48 rifles listed in their collection including 28 made by H&R, 5 of the extremely rare High Standard models and 25 assorted Belgian rifles from FN itself, all transferred to the museum between 1959-65 at a value of $150-250 each (the Springfield Armory price for M14s was $155.98 at the time).

Their lot includes FN-made T48E1 SN#1 complete with grenade launcher, at least two different rifles modified to run on .22LR ammo, High Standard SN#1 HS1 and FN T48 SN#2.

Early FN-made T48 SN#2. Photo: Springfield Armory

Early FN-made T48 SN#2. Photo: Springfield Armory, SPAR3673

T48E1 FN FAL HBAR SN#1 in Springfield Armory. Some 200 of these guns were acquired for testing. Note the forearm and bipod

T48E1 FN FAL HBAR SN#1 in Springfield Armory. Some 200 of these guns were acquired for testing. Note the forearm and bipod as well as the “32” rack number. Photo: Springfield Armory, SPAR 3652

FN-made T48 SN#1816 in .22LR caliber-- note thin barrel. Photo: Springfield Armory

FN-made T48 SN#1816 in .22LR caliber– note thin barrel. Photo: Springfield Armory, SPAR 3663

High Standard's first T48 FAL rifle, SN#HS1. Photo: Springfield Armory

High Standard’s first T48 FAL rifle, SN#HS1. Note the different style handguard from the FN guns above. Photo: Springfield Armory, SPAR3683

A great representation of Harrington and Richardson's (H&R's) T48 FAL, this one SN#4538. Note the grenade launcher attachment

A great representation of Harrington and Richardson’s (H&R’s) T48 FAL, this one SN#4538. Note the grenade launcher attachment. It is also one of the few T48s in the SPAR collection to retain a magazine and all of its small parts (sights, sling swivels, etc.– most are missing something) Photo: Springfield Armory, SPAR 3687.

Lucky FN-made T48 SN#13 is on public display with alongside the M14 and T44 (T65E3) SN# 1 with the following exhibit label:

“T48 – Despite American problems with the FN the British adopted the weapon over their own design increasing the pressure in the United States to conform. The Army contracted the High Standard Company of New Haven to produce an American version of the FN, designated the T48.”

Lucky FN T48 SN#13 represents the breed to the public

Lucky FN T48 SN#13, third down, represents the breed to the public. Photo: Springfield Armory.

Other guns are in private collections, public museums and the like, with at least one, H&R SN#4142, in the National Firearms Museum.

H&R SN4142 T48. Dig the beauty of those handguards

H&R SN#4142 T48. Dig the beauty of those handguards

Also, the Marine depot at Quantico as of 2008 had some 70 remaining H&R T48s, as noted in an extensive post here at FAL Files.com

After all, if anyone can appreciate a really nice select-fire 7.62x51mm battle rifle, it’s the USMC.

Captian Ben Grant with one of 70 H&R T48s via FAL Files, 2008

Captian Ben Grant, USMC with one of 70 H&R T48s in Marine Corps storage, photo via FAL Files, 2008

Western Rifle Shooters Association

Good luck, Mr. President.

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