Monday, August 31, 2009

Stinger Missile-Weapons that Changed History

First fielded in 1981, the Stinger missile system is now in service with the US Armed Forces and 29 other Nations and has been responsible for an unprecedented 270 confirmed kills of helicopters and fixed wing aircraft.

Manufactured by Raytheon Systems, it was designed to replace the older generation Redeye missiles. Stinger is classified as a Man-Portable Air-Defense System (MANPADS). It uses a passive infrared seeker head to home in on the engines of enemy aircraft. The missiles also identify the UV "shadow" of the target and use that identification to distinguish the target from other heat-producing objects. Various vehicles can carry and fire the Stinger, including the HMMWV-based M1016 Avenger and the Bradley IFV -based M6 Linebacker.
  • Length - 5 feet (1.5 meters)
  • Diameter - 2.75 inches (7 cm)
  • Weight - 22 pounds (10 kg)
  • Weight with launcher - 34.5 pounds (15.2 kg)
  • Explosives - 2.2 pounds, impact fuze (explodes on contact with target)
  • Speed - 1,500 mph (2,400 kph, Mach 2)
  • Altitude Range - Approximately 11,000 feet (3 km)
  • Distance Range - Approximately 5 miles (8 km)
stinger missiles

In 1980's, the CIA supplied Afghan Mujahideen with 500 Stingers ( some say up to 2000) for use against the helicopters of the invading Soviet Army. The Stingers proved devastating to the Soviet war effort, all the much more due to the fact that Soviet air power had been more or less invulnerable up to that point. Soviet air bases used the same mountain passes day in, day out, and once the Mujahideen had a weapon capable of hitting and destroying the hated gunships, the tables were largely turned. The Soviet Army had much more difficulty with Close Air Support and Supply Missions from then on out. Stinger teams were a constant danger to Soviet pilots, hampering their ability to respond to attacks quickly. Overall, the loss of so many helicopters led to exposing more troops in convoys and further alienating the population with an intensification of massive artillery strikes.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Weird Guns -(part4)- Spetznaz Ballistic Knife

Well, it is not really a gun, but since it fires things that hurt, I figured I would include it to the list.

The Ballistic Knife was developed for Soviet Special Forces as a weapon for use when the report of a gunshot was undesirable, like when neutralizing a sentry. They were issued to the Spetznaz in large numbers in the 1980s.

The knife works by using a powerful spring to launch the blade about 20 feet. When combined with the standard, overhand knife throwing motion, the power behind the weapon is very great and would likely pierce soft body armor.

To fire, one would remove the pin (like on a grenade) and depress the firing button.

Another weird gun, another idea that didn't really make it.

Military Vision

One Morning...

Someone woke up and said,
"I feel like blowing up paradise!"

Operation Crossroads, Bikini Atoll, 25 July 1946.
Baker test, 23 Kiloton Bomb, detonated 90 feet underwater

Enlarge this pictures and see that those ships are Battleships, Cruisers, Destroyers, and an Aircraft Carrier. These tests were conducted to further understand the effects of nuclear weapons and radiation on Naval Vessels, harbors, and living creatures.

Bikini Atoll was used for later thermonuclear tests as well, Operation Castle detonating 7 weapons for a total of 75 megatons. The Bravo test of the "shrimp" device was projected to be 6 megatons and was actually 15mT , causing extensive radiological damage to the surrounding area. The intense thermal flash ignited a fire at a distance of 20 nautical miles on the island of Eneu (base island of Bikini Atoll). Then we made a bunch more of those bastards. (The Mk-21 Gravity Bomb, which we made at least 275 of)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Graphite Bomb/ Blackout Bomb

Here we have the BLU-114 Graphite Bomb (also known as the "Soft Bomb"). It is designed to decrease enemy reaction times and capabilities ( such as air defense) by destroying electrical power grids. Graphite bombs work by spreading a cloud of extremely fine, chemically-treated carbon filaments over electrical components, causing a short-circuit and a disruption of the electrical supply. The filaments are only a few hundredths of an inch thick and can float in the air like a dense cloud.
The graphite bomb was first used against Baathist Iraq in the Persian Gulf War (1990 - 1991), knocking out 85% of the electrical supply.

In May 1999 the much improved "BLU-114/B" graphite bomb was used by NATO forces in Serbia, disabling nearly 70% of their power grid. At the time, they had never been revealed to the public and they were delivered to target by F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighters. However, Serbian technicians were able to restore service in under 24 hours. The BLU-114/B was again used a few days later to counter Serbian efforts to restore damage caused by the initial attack. As the graphite filaments only work on power lines that are not insulated, NATO commanders expanded the attacks to include conventional munitions strikes on transformer stations and high voltage transmission lines later in the operation.

Most recently, it was used in the Iraq war to cut radio contact on an Al Qaeda outpost outside of Baghdad on December 15, 2007.

The sub munitions are released from a SUU-66/B Tactical Munitions Dispenser normally associated with the delivery of the terminally guided BLU-108/B submunitions carried on the CBU-97/CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapon. The unguided used in these systems is typically delivered with a circular error probable of a few hundred feet. Other more precise weapon delivery systems such as the Joint Direct Attack Munition do not appear readily adaptable to existing submunition dispenser systems, though such an application would not constitute an overly challenging engineering problem.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Kaiten Special Attack Submarine

The Kaiten class submarine ( or piloted torpedo) was an attempt to stem the tide of the American and Allied advance on the Japanese Empire in the last years of WWII. The Battle of Midway and the Battle of the Coral Sea had inflicted costly and overwhelming defeats of Japanese surface and air Naval power. The Japanese were desperate to stop or impede the advance of the powerful Carrier groups and amphibious assault groups of the USMC and US Army.

Much like the Kamikaze air attacks that began in the battles for the Philippines, the Kaiten (Turning of the Heavens) submarine was designed to use a small amount of resources and a fanatical, brainwashed young man about to die to inflict hopefully catastrophic damage to the enemy.

The Kaiten was piloted by a single sailor laying on a canvas chair. It was of crude construction, prone to mechanical failures and leaking. It did however, have more than 3,000 lbs of explosive in its nose. The propulsion unit was out of the excellent Type 93 24 "Long Lance" torpedo, probably the best torpedo of WWII.

The Kaitens were carried in groups of 4 to 6 on the backs of submarines and launched, as many as available at surface targets, often convoys of troopships. The Kaitens were launched from the mother submarine from beyond 5000 meters, ran underwater for awhile, then came up to periscope depth the re-target and make corrections to their course and dive. The only real advantage of the Kaiten is the unlike a regular torpedo, if they missed the target they could conceivably come around for another run and re-target themselves. The Kaiten were considered by US Navy personnel who evaluated them after the war to be difficult to control, and prone to uncontrollable dives, broaching, and other accidents.

submarines did make some kills in 1944 and '45 though, most notably the USS Underhill (DE-682), a
Buckley-class Destroyer escort. However, much like the Kamikaze, they were overall ineffective and mostly only served to futilely end the lives of more than a hundred pilots.

US Navy diagram of captured Kaiten Subs

Kaiten on display in the Washington Navy Yard

Kaiten torpedoes attached to the deck of Japanese sub in 1945

The Future of War?

This is from a 1959 copy of The Army Reservist magazine, I found it somewhere some months back. It is odd however to see how close to modern Army and Marine combat equipment this really is.
I would probably go without the helmet mounted antenna if I were you, though.

  • We are still using the M-14 rifle as it has superior range and penetration to any of the M16 variants,
  • "Infra-red binoculars" are all over today's military as I discussed earlier this week.
  • "Layered Nylon Armor" well, Kevlar is derived in many ways from Nylon and Kevlar is included in of many types of armor, even on tanks and helicopters.
  • I have no idea what an "Image Metascope" is, but we have issued thousands of red-dot sights to our troops, greatly increasing the accuracy of rifle fire.
  • Is it just me or do the fatigues look like they might be in ACU-type colors?
Of course, if you watch Aliens from 1986 ( awesome movie, I watched it night before last) you will also see a lot of our current gear and even things we are still developing.
Maybe I will do a post on that too.

Some of you might be saying, come on Mr. Kevlar, do you expect us to believe that?
And to you I would reply: Look at this soldier in Afganistan, 50 years after that article.

This Day in History- August 23

1939 Molotov and Von Ribbentrop signed Stalin and Hitler's Non-Aggression Pact
(also known as the Who gets What in Poland Pact)
It holds for a little while.
(While both sides were pummeling smaller, weaker neighbors)

Then it got all:
You get the picture.


in 1775 King George III declared the Colonists of America in open rebellion.

Screw him.


I found this pic a long time ago an Iowa-class Battleship firing its main 16" guns. Look at the shockwave in the ocean and then imagine this thing hurling something the heavier than a Volkswagen Beetle through your house from 20 miles away.

The 16 inch, Mark 7 Naval Gun
In service 1943–1992
Used by United States
Wars World War II
Korean War
Vietnam War
Gulf War
Production history
Designed 1939
Weight 267,904 lb (121,519 kg)
Length 816 in (20.73 m)
Barrel length 800 in/20.3 m (50 calibers)

Shell AP Mark 8: 2,700 lb. (1,225 kg)
HC Mark 13: 1,900 lb. (862 kg)
Nuclear Mark 23: 1,900 lb. (862 kg)
Caliber 16 in (406 mm)
Muzzle velocity AP: 2,500 ft/s (762 m/s)
HC & Nuclear: 2,690 ft/s (820 m/s)
Maximum range 41,622 yds (38 km)

Emergency Preparedness- Dynamo Radio

I did a bad thing to you, my loyal readers.
A few weeks ago, I made a recommendation that everyone have a multiple power source radio for emergencies and I did not have one myself.
Of course I would also recommend that you have an armored car and I don't have one of those either.

In any case, I feel I have redeemed myself because I bought the: Kaito KA888 radio!

It is a FM/AM/Shortwave radio. It can be operated from four different power sources:

Dynamo Power: The hand crank generator charges the internal NI-MH Batteries (5 minutes cranking for 1 hour of power)

Solar Cell: You can play it with the direct Sun or charge the NI-MH batteries. ( With 12 hours in the Sun, you will supposedly get 6-8 hours of play time)

Batteries: 3 AA batteries

Electric : With the AC adapter, you can play or charge with 110V electricity.

6 hours charging = 48 hours playing.

Radio Bands

AM -- 525 KHz------1710KHz,

FM -- 88MHz ------108 MHz

2 Continuous short wave bands:

SW1 :6.00 - 12.00 MHz

SW2: 12.00 - 18.50MHz

The KA888 also has:

  • LED flashlight ( you can never have too many lights )
  • Liquid filled compass
  • Siren (which might be nice if you drive off a ravine or a boulder lands on you or something. It happens.)
  • Internal storage compartment ( just enough for the headphones and shortwave antenna)
  • Thermometer
  • Clock
Some of the features may not be particularly useful or necessary, but to me they are just gravy. The radio is pretty small (9.5 X 10X 6CM), only weighs about a pound and works well, I even tested it in my tornado bathroom downstairs. It seems that it would be splashproof, at least, and has a fairly robust construction, especially the dynamo.

There are dozens of radios like this, some a lot more basic and some with a lot more features. I got this one because, at $20.00, it was an absolute steal and I couldn't afford to not have it. It does not have NOAA radio alerts or Air band radio, but for the price I don not believe you could do any better. Kaito has a deluxe radio that I liked more, but it was 3 times more expensive and I am cheap. But everyone should have something similar.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Hard Lesson

Click to enlarge

Historical Oddities- Pink Panther

OK, quick, what is the best color for camouflage at night?
Most people would think that black is the best. They would be wrong. (unlike the people who actually read the title of this entry)

The best color for camouflage is pink.
Here comes the science. Pink absorbs light, and light is how we see. If you see someone dressed in black at night, they are actually darker than everything around them, and can be easily seen, especially in silhouette. The pink camo scheme works best at night or paradoxically, in a very high light situation like the desert.
The British discovered this in WWII and used pink heavily armed Jeeps in the North Africa campaign to attack the air power and supply lines of Rommel's Afrika Corps. Those attacks made the reputation of some men we know today as the SAS. And they did it in pink.
Stranger than Fiction.

"Pinkie" long wheelbase Land Rover from post WWII era (thanks, Stephen)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Military Technology- Nightvision

Nightvision is really a catchall term for any kind of system that can extend the range or acuity of someones eyes in low light or no light conditions.
Historically, many armies would not fight at night because the confusion, lack of quality and on time intelligence, and increased communication difficulty made night fighting a very dangerous and very risky proposition. Only the highest trained soldiers with a well rehearsed plan could take to the field at night with any clear chance of success.

One of the first technologies to enhance vision at night goes all the way back to the end of WWII.
Active Infrared involves using a light source that only emits light in the infrared spectrum ( as opposed to visible light) and a scope or camera that is sensitive to light in the infrared spectrum.

Active infrared night vision combines infrared illumination of spectral range 700nm–1000nm – just below the visible spectrum of the human eye – with CCD cameras sensitive to this light. When viewed through the goggles or scope, the scene appears as a greenscale monochrome image. Green is used because it is the easiest color for the human eye to perceive. Because active infrared night vision systems can incorporate illuminators that produce high levels of infrared light, the resulting images are typically higher resolution than some other night vision technologies. Lower cost commercial generation1 nightvision binoculars and scopes commonly use an active infrared light source to boost the range and effectiveness of their devices. Since active infrared light can be detected by any nearby enemy night vision goggles, it is no longer widely used military operations.
Another advantage of active infrared is that it can allow for enhanced vision in even a zero light conditions, in a cave or tunnel for example, since you are really bringing your own light source with you even though it is normally invisible.

US M3 Carbine with Active Infrared System

The next major component of Nightvision technology is Image Intensification. What we commonly think of as nightvision goggles are image intensification devices. The way it works is that IR light is converted to visible light on the screen. A more in depth way to say it is: that the IR light present in nature strikes a photocathode plate inside the vacuum tube and electrons are emitted and impact a microchannel plate that then illuminate the eye piece screen with a picture in the same pattern as the IR light that enters the tube. The image is said to become "intensified" because the output visible light is brighter than the incoming IR light, and this effect directly relates to the difference in passive and active night vision devices.

The first operationally efficient image intensifiers came online during the Vietnam War and were known as "starlight scopes" as they could be used at night with the stars as the only ambient light. Resolution could be poor and range was fairly limited. They did allow for trained soldiers to increase their ability to detect and engage hostile forces in low light, without giving any of those advantages to the enemy. The scopes were also heavy, fragile, and used batteries very quickly, which could be extremely difficult to replace in the middle of a jungle. Something better was needed.

PVS2 "Starlight" scope

The next generation of nightvision devices developed in the 1980's were lighter, more efficient and had a longer range. These "Generation 2" devices were first widely used in the First Persian Gulf War and were found to be one of the most important factors in the extremely one-sided fighting. Nightvision goggles (NVGs) were also heavily used, allowing soldiers to move, drive, and fly with greater awareness and safety than ever before. Light amplification is around 20,000x.

AN/PVS-4 Scope

AN/PVS-5 Nightvision goggles

Thermal imaging was first used by US Forces in the Korean War and has become more and more ubiquitous every year. Thermal Imaging works by displaying an image representing the difference in temperature of the objects and is usually in black and white and can switch between black or white as the "hot" color. Thermals are very useful in military operations as they can easily detect hidden or camouflaged personnel, and metal objects are often very easy to make out against the background, especially at night. Thermal imaging can also see through light rain, fog, and smoke that are impenetrable to other scopes. From Spy planes to UAVs to helicopters to infantrymen all the way to spy satellites, thermal imaging is in every branch of the military and will only continue to increase its prevalence.

Generation 3 Nightvision devices became common after the turn of the century and are distinguishable from Gen. 2 devices by much greater image resolution and much longer battery life. During this period mounts were installed on the soldiers' or Marines' helmets for a decrease in neck strain and increased comfort and utility. The light amplification is also improved to around 30,000-50,000x. Another innovation that became common in this period was the weapon mounted infrared laser/illuminator. These are known as the AN/PEQ 2 and their function is to allow a soldier to aim his weapon without having the ability to get a good cheek weld and use the iron sights. It operates by projecting a beam of infrared light in much the same manner as a visible laser sight, allowing for the soldier and his teammates to home in on a target. They are also used to coordinate air-to-ground fire.

AN/PVS-7 goggles and AN/PEQ 2

One of the latest technologies to enter the fray is the AN/ PSQ-20 which is a combination Thermal Imaging and Image Intensification monocle for an image that combines the Thermal camera's abilities to see through rain, fog, and smoke as well as detect personnel and weapons with the image intensifier's ability for clear and detailed long range vision. Although it is not clearly visible in the photo, the newest military NVGs usually only cover one eye, usually on the weak side, leaving the other with regular vision, increasing peripheral
vision and enabling the soldier to perhaps use their weapon optics as well. Note as well the next generation infrared illuminator (AN/PEQ-15) mounted on this soldiers' M4. It is less than half the size of the AN/PEQ-2 and much lighter and easier to mount on a weapon without seriously affecting its balance.
AN/PSQ-20 Enhanced Night Vision Goggle

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Steyr AMR / IWS 2000

Steyr AMR prototype

A concept from WWI, the heavy anti-material rifle, which used to be called the anti-tank rifle , but following WWI, tank armor became thick enough where the only areas on most tanks that could be reliably damaged with a rifle were the tracks and the vision blocks or periscopes. With the change in tank design, the heavy ( and I mean heavy, like around 40 pounds) rifles evolved to slightly different purpose.

Anti material rifles are intended for long range destruction of light armored vehicles, soft skinned vehicles, missile launchers, aircraft (on the ground) and other high value targets. They are not intended for use against enemy personnel, however the lighter AMRs like the .50BMG have often been used as sniper rifles, especially in a counter-sniper role.

Steyr IWS 2000

The Steyr AMR/IWS 2000 (Infantry Weapon System) is chambered in a 15.2mm cartridge, which is fired from a smooth bore barrel, like a modern tank round. The rifle operates on a long recoil concept, in where the barrel recoils along with the bolt, allowing for the felt recoil to be reduced by spreading it out over a longer period of time. The barrel is also able to be quickly detached to allow the weapon to be broken down and carried by a two man team. The ammunition is an armor piercing, fin stabilized, discarding sabot, of tungsten alloy or depleted uranium. Notice the massive, multi baffled muzzle brake on the IWS version for reducing the recoil of the massive round. The recoil has been reported to be similar to a big game rifle. Tungsten and Depleted uranium are used because they have a density much greater than steel and can therefore be driven into armor in much the same way as a galvanized steel nail is driven into a soft pine board.

Discarding Sabot Cartridge

Right after the projectile leaves the barrel, the walls of the sabot break away as seen above, releasing the rod-shaped, sub-caliber penetrator. The fins at the rear of the penetrator spin to give it stabilization in flight. The small diameter of the projectile versus the cartridge and powder charge gives it truly astonishing velocity,somewhere around 4750 feet per second, combining with the super dense construction of the "bullet" to make the capable of penetrating 40mm of rolled homogeneous steel armor at a range of 1000m. Very few weapons can achieve that type of penetration and almost none at that range. Another advantage of a weapon system like this is that it would likely cost less than a Javelin missle system or other ATGMs that might be used to fill its role. A top quality AMR like the Steyr would be very useful for smaller armed forces that do not have the massive air wings and precision munitions that would be used for many anti- materiel missions in the US Armed Forces.

STEYR AMR/IWS 2000 Austria

CALIBER: 15.2mm Steyr APFSDS
Operation: long recoil,semi-automatic
Barrel: 1200mm
weight: 18kg
Length: 1800mm

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Land mines

What is it?
Well, it is a Giant Gambian Rat being used as an explosive sniffer in a de-mining mission.
Why a rat?
Because they have an extremely sensitive sense of smell, are easy to train and do not weigh enough to set off the mines. ( unlike dogs)
A rat can clear 100 metres square in 30 minutes, equivalent to two days of human work.

They have been used in several de-mining operations in Africa with good results. Scientists are even developing a wasp that will alert on explosives, but, I believe I would rather have a giant rat, thank you.

Hurricane Season

Okay folks, once again the tropical storms are rolling across the Atlantic.
No more can anyone in America be unprepared and unaware of the danger and be anything other than a vagrant, an idiot or both.
The North Atlantic basin receives, on average, 10.6 tropical storms and 7.9 Hurricanes a year.
Two of the hurricanes are Category 3 or higher, which are very dangerous storms.

Although the entire Southeast, the Mid Atlantic states and the Gulf Coast have known about them for years, a survey of the media shows that, apparently, many people ( their name rhymes with spankees) have only recently discovered them. The hit the Eastern, Southern, and Western Coast of the United States, oh, EVERY YEAR. Hurricanes are responsible for immense destruction, monetary loss and from time to time, massive casualties.

However, this does not need to be the case. Hurricanes are one of the only natural disasters that can be detected long before they pose serious threat and the only one moving slow enough to get out of the way.

So for EVERYONE living within 100 miles of salt water, listen up.
You really need:
  1. A plan
  2. Flood insurance (Home Owners Ins will not cover you)
  3. Gas in the car (and a car)
  4. Emergency food and water
  5. Emergency radio
  6. Simple tools
  7. Propane grill
  8. A goddamn clue
  9. Little to no expectation of Government help
Keep in mind that hurricanes are less likely to kill you than any other natural disaster.
As long as you are prepared and aren't one of those "I'm not gonna evacuate" idiots. You might not get to be rescued by FEMA.
For more info straight from the horse's ass:

Artillery Part 2

The Other Guns of Russia - OTs-14 Groza 9x39mm

Everyone knows the shape and look of the AK-47 and its family of weapons. They are familiar in every part of the world. But Russia, and the Soviet Union before that have designed, issued, and sold, many other small arms, many of them little known in the West to this day. The Russian and Soviet design philosophies are strange to some Westerners, but they have been able to produce an astonishing wealth and variety of weapons. The guns of Russia are almost always easier to produce, cheaper to produce, and more tolerant of neglect and bad environmental conditions than their Western counterparts. Many of these guns need more modification and refinement to truly realize their potential, but almost all are worthy of notice and study.

And then, just like that, I turn on you.
The first gun of the Other Guns of Russia IS a variant of the AK-47. Sort of.
OTs-14-4A-03 (Suppressed version)

The OTs-14 Groza is a bullpup variant of the AKS-74U action, developed for close quarters battle. The bullpup design allows for a much shorter overall length and addresses the balance issues of the AK series heavy bolt carrier moving back and forth by placing the bolt carrier behind the firing hand. The OTs-14 weighs from between about 7 lb and 9lb, making it heavier than other CQB weapons, but likely giving it added strength and some reduction of felt recoil. With a sub 20 inch overall length and a 7.5 inch barrel, the weapon is very compact, even concealable. Rate of fire is 700 rounds per minute and effective range of 200 meters. This makes it well suited to the high tempo, close in fighting that is more common in built up areas and by special operations forces.

It is usually chambered in the 9x39mm, firing from 20 round magazines, although some were made in 7.62x39mm and use standard AKM magazines. The 9x39mm round was also developed from the standard M43 7.62x39 cartridge, replacing the bullet with a larger and heavier 9mm bullet( 350 grain versus the M43 7.62 at 125 grain), giving it more stopping power at short range and while sacrificing some the range and ballistic properties of the M43 bullet. The 9x39 was developed principally as a sub sonic bullet to function well with a suppressor, as the 5.45mm bullet of the AKS-74U was unsatisfactory when suppressed. there are two main cartridge types, the SP-5 conventional lead core bullet and the SP-6 with an armor piercing core designed to penetrate 30 layers of Kevlar at 200 meters.

The Groza was designed by the team behind the G25/30 under barrel grenade launcher and was intended from the beginning to use it. The OTs-14 was developed by Valery Talesh and Yu Lebedev and manufactured at the great Tula Arms Plant in 1992 and actually has 75% parts commonality with the AKS-74U, making it easier to service and repair, also giving it a significant cost savings over a completely new design, something that the defence contractors of America have obviously never heard of.

It was initially used by the Russian Interior Ministry troops (MVD) but has also been adopted by the Spetznaz, Airborne, and Combat Engineers. It was widely used in the First and Second Chechen Wars and the South Ossetia War of Summer 2008, with good reviews from the troops.

OTs-14-4A-02 (short barreled version)

OTs-14-4a with the G30 grenade launcher


The Groza is issued with everything here: grenade launcher, short barrel, suppressor, PSO telescopic sight, vertical foregrip.