guided munitions

cnn.com
US drops largest non-nuclear bomb in Afghanistan
The US military has dropped an enormous bomb in Afghanistan, according to four US military officials with direct knowledge of the mission.
By Barbara Starr and Ryan Browne, CNN

The US military has dropped an enormous bomb in Afghanistan, according to four US military officials with direct knowledge of the mission.

A GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb, nicknamed MOAB, was dropped at 7 p.m. local time Thursday, the sources said.

The MOAB is also known as the “mother of all bombs.” A MOAB is a 21,600-pound, GPS-guided munition that is America’s most powerful non-nuclear bomb.

The bomb was dropped by an MC-130 aircraft, operated by Air Force Special Operations Command, according to the military sources.

They said the target was ISIS tunnels and personnel in the Achin district of the Nangarhar province.

The military is currently assessing the damage. Gen. John Nicholson, commander of US forces in Afghanistan, signed off on the use of the bomb, according to the sources.

This is the first time a MOAB has been used in the battlefield, according to the US officials. This munition was developed during the Iraq War.

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While the Fencer is an aged design that can trace its inception to the 1960s, Russia’s remaining fleet of Su-24s has been heavily upgraded with modern systems. The current version of the Fencer is equipped with GLONASS satellite navigation systems, an upgraded glass cockpit, a modern head-up display and an upgraded air-to-air self-defense capability with the addition of R-73 high off-boresight missiles. The jet has also been provisioned to carry a wider range of precision-guided munitions. The Fencer can carry a maximum of 17,600lbs of ordnance. The aircraft, which was designed to penetrate enemy airspace at low altitude, can hit targets as far as 400 miles away without aerial refueling while carrying six 1,100lbs FAB-500M-62 bombs (the plane does has aerial refueling capability).

Since 1997, the U.S. Air Force and Lockheed Martin-led A-10 Prime Team have worked closely to significantly digitize the A-10A Thunderbolt II close air support fighter to its A-10C configuration, enabling employment of the new GPS and inertially-guided munitions.

Back in September, the Obama administration approved a more than $115 billion arms deal with the Saudis. But as the death toll and reports of human rights violations in the Saudi-led war on Yemen began to rise dramatically, the Obama administration nixed the sale of the precision-guided munitions it had originally agreed to put in the deal to try to coerce the Saudis into curbing those atrocities. Now those munitions are back in the Trump arms package — which speaks volumes about this administration.
cnn.com
US drops largest non-nuclear bomb in Afghanistan
The US military has dropped an enormous bomb in Afghanistan, according to four US military officials with direct knowledge of the mission.
By Barbara Starr and Ryan Browne, CNN

A GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb, nicknamed MOAB, was dropped at 7 p.m. local time Thursday, the sources said.

The MOAB is also known as the “mother of all bombs.” A MOAB is a 21,600-pound, GPS-guided munition that is America’s most powerful non-nuclear bomb.

(cont.)

Countdown to some Trump press conference or statement or – let’s be honest – Tweet where he says we’ve been sitting on this bomb for 15 years and he’s the first leader with the balls to use it or something. Anything he can do to paint himself as a strongman willing to do what no other President has done so he can bump up his approval ratings in a bloodthirsty republic.

A little bit of background on this bomb though.

It was first tested back in 2003 and it’s the most powerful non-nuclear weapon in the world, allegedly. Russia says they have a bomb that’s four times stronger, but its existence hasn’t been confirmed by anyone outside of Russia. Either way, the US had about 15 of these but they’d only been detonated in test sites. This is actually the first time we’ve tried to drop it on people in a war zone and we did it to knock out ISIS tunnels and caves in that area. We’ll see how effective that was once the details come out, but I suspect another ploy from this administration to make Trump look like a powerful commander in chief.

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120mm Mobile Mortar Complex MZ-204 “Gorez”. The maximum range of fire - more than seven kilometers. Guided munition “Gran” weighing 27 kilograms flies by nine kilometers. In a one minute time the mortar can fire up to 15 mines.

Since 1997, the U.S. Air Force and Lockheed Martin-led A-10 Prime Team have worked closely to significantly digitize the A-10A Thunderbolt II close air support fighter to its A-10C configuration, enabling employment of the new GPS and inertially-guided munitions.

anonymous asked:

Someone tried to explain to me that drone strikes are better than the m.o.a.b. because "drone strikes are controlled rather than just dropping a bomb out an airplane" I don't like the world we live in.

Oh my god they’re both guided munitions, also them.
Literally everything is a precision weapon these days. The US doesn’t drop bombs just anywhere. Targets are selected based on the intel and sensors available.

An F-35A Lightning II aircraft from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, takes off from the base, Aug. 7, 2017. The F-35 flew in Combat Hammer, an evaluation exercise which tests and validates the performance of crews, pilots, and their technology while deploying precision-guided munitions. (U.S. Air Force photo/Paul Holcomb)

anonymous asked:

On the subject of modern naval guns, would an all gun ship design be viable? With modern hypervelocity guided shells, it seems like such a vessel could be effective against aircraft and missiles at close range with lower cost and higher volume of fire than all missile ships. So a modern Atlanta, basically.

All gun, no - but ships like the Zumwalt are definitely the way of the future. How far into the future depends on who you ask, but it’s looking sooner than I’d expected, personally.  The Navy’s railgun is already at the testing range, which makes it an early prototype, not just a laboratory curiosity. Plus, the guided munitions for it (which require a level of EM and acceleration hardening orders of magnitude beyond the impressive stuff we already had) have already been demonstrated to work in testing - and proven so durable that their datalinks continued to transmit after hitting the ground downrange. Better yet, the technology is now being “back-ported” to conventional cannon shells, and testing with that is underway as we speak. The Hyper Velocity Projectile is a saboted, sub-caliber round that packs the sizable power of a 5-inch naval gun behind a much smaller and lighter projectile to achieve truly sanic velocities - and of course, its guided. This will bring the technology to the current generation of warships, which will be serving for many, many decades yet, even if future procurement begins buying more Zumwalt-style ships. 

Guided anti-air shells already exist for naval guns, such as the DART/STRALES 76mm round, which the Italian Navy has combined with the ubiquitous OTO 76mm Super Rapido to serve as their CIWS system of choice. (A guided 57mm shell is also available, which might contribute materially to the air defense of the LCS.) But hypersonic projectiles are a whole new ballgame, because their sheer speed makes them much more accurate against high-speed missiles… and allows them a much longer effective engagement range, instead of being a last-second Hail Mary attempt on incoming cruise missiles. 

This is incredibly promising because a cannon shell magazine can hold many more shots for the volume than VLS cells with missiles can - and cannon shells (assuming they’re actually mass-produced) will be a few orders of magnitude cheaper. In an era where Chinese strategy can be defined as “(Number of VLS cells x USN ships) +1 = Anti-ship missiles to buy,” this capability is very significant. Its the same reason laser defenses are in active development. 

They still have inherent weaknesses that missiles don’t - far less range and the inability to simultaneously launch being chief among them. Of course, a guided projectile is effectively a miniature gun-launched missile, which mitigates those issues somewhat. Still, they’re not going to replace outright for a long time (if ever,) but one can already see incredible potential for them - enough that shipboard guns will evolve from an important, but ultimately tertiary utility weapon to a secondary weapon, commanding more of the ship’s tonnage, volume, and effective firepower. 

The Zumwalts are amazing ships in many ways - they mount two big 6-inch guns, and still have most the VLS capacity of an Arleigh-Burke, spread around the ship in a way that both eliminates the catastrophic possibilities of a direct hit on the magazine and guarantees they won’t lose half their weapons to one unlucky hit. The reason they were looked down upon so much is because their guns - currently - only have real application as shore bombardment weapons. Even with guided rounds, they’re just really nice shore bombardment weapons, and with anti-ship capable guided LRLAP rounds, they can range similar to a Harpoon with a fraction of the warhead size. HVPs will make their guns capable of contributing materially to their defense, but that still won’t be enough to prompt a shift in naval design. A single 5-inch gun loaded with HVPs lets ships dunk small missile attacks, reserving valuable missiles for fending off saturation attacks - or conversely, gives them a reliable defense against small attacks launched from submarines or the like even if their cells are empty after the main exchange. (CIWS is never a reliable defense, even very good CIWS. It backs up reliable defenses.) So two guns as standard on DDGs will be a hard sell, because it will cost in VLS cells, which are almost infinitely flexible, for another fixed gun that can do land-attack and limited self-defense. VLS cells can quad-pack point-defense missiles, long-range AA missiles, ASAT weapons, and of course, long-range offensive weapons. 

An HVP is a terror as an offensive weapon - it’s so small, durable (kinetic-energy only round) and fast that it’s a quantum leap ahead of current missiles. They’d represent a return to the 1960s/1970s dynamic where your odds of spoofing or jamming a missile were far better than intercepting them. But conventional guns simply don’t have enough power to get ranges anywhere competitive with missiles. 

That’s where the railguns come in. 

I very much doubt that guns of any sort will completely, or even mostly, supplant missiles in our lifetime. But when railgun technology is mature, I think you can expect to see ships like the Zumwalt being built, ships that devote a significant chunk of their tonnage and cost to (rail)gun based systems, as they’ll be potent and flexible enough weapons to synergize well with VLS-based missiles. 

settleforsecnav  asked:

But, their advantage is they risk nothing close to what we risk by sending in carriers; they can lose cheap missile boats and cruise missile trucks all day and not give a shit. But that sword cuts both ways Distributed Lethality is a way of keeping the risk to our carriers low enough...|So why still build supercarriers rather than CVLs or WWII-sized fleet carriers, then? Instead of concentrating the vast majority of the aircraft in the CVBG into a central platform, disperse it among many?

This has been suggested by many already - building carriers like the America-class LHAs; omitting the well decks and making them pure aviation-focused ships; much like the small carriers operated by most foreign navies. Just a quick google search brings up a few such suggestions:

http://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/why-the-us-navy-should-build-smaller-aircraft-carriers-1600899834
http://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/americas-carrier-gap-crisis-highlights-a-need-for-sma-1740644946
http://nationalinterest.org/feature/should-america-embrace-smaller-aircraft-carriers-14001

As you might have surmised by the names in those URLs, the idea is fucking retarded.

For starters, economies of scale are still king when it comes to ships - big vessels are just more efficient, pound for pound, at everything they do. This is especially true for nuclear propulsion, which is a lot cheaper to operate on a day-to-day basis (midlife fueling nonwithstanding,) and scales up well, but not down. A big carrier will carry more munitions, aircraft, etc. for less cost than two smaller carriers equaling the same displacement. But there’s also operational efficiency. Carriers are very crowded; they’ve gotten bigger and bigger over the years primarily to accommodate bigger and bigger aircraft. The more space you have on deck and in the hangars, the more efficiently more people can work simultaneously to push aircraft and munitions around. And bigger carriers will have more equipment to support such operations. They’ll always generate sorties faster and more effectively, and that’s the effective measure of a carrier’s firepower. There’s also the matter of defense. Carriers are inherently lopsided weapons systems; incredible offensive standoff power countered by incredible vulnerability to damage. Thus a carrier’s best defense is offense. Since big carriers have superior offense, they also have superior defense.

That latter point is linked directly to the large carriers ability to operate much more effective aircraft than smaller carriers. Consider the F-14 Tomcat, the ultimate in offense-as-defense. A purpose-built high speed, long range fleet defense interceptor with a purpose-built long-range anti-bomber missile, meant to out-standoff anti-carrier standoff weapons. Such a large aircraft - with its heavy missile payload - could never operate from a small ski-ramp carrier with its intended payload, and even if you built a smaller CATOBAR carrier, it couldn’t carry enough big F-14s to defend itself without cutting deeply into the number of strike aircraft on board, forcing a hard tradeoff. Ski-ramps are hard on aircraft; and they’re nowhere near as effective as a catapult, limiting the payload/fuel (and hence the offensive ability) of carriers. VTOL fighters simply aren’t as effective as standard fixed-wing - the weight devoted to VTOL equipment subtracts from performance, payload and range. The Brits had the best go at this possible with the Sea Harrier, an attack jet souped up for the air-to-air role - and as good as it was, it still wasn’t the equal of a supersonic-capable air superiority fighter. The F-35B is certainly far superior, but the F-35C is even better.

In addition there’s the question of how many different kinds of aircraft you can operate. Not everything on a carrier is a hot-shot jet fighter. For instance, the E-2 Hawkeye is a carrier-borne AWACS plane; it’s big and heavy and can really only operate off a big CATOBAR ship. I needn’t remind you how huge a difference AWACS is! Such aircraft are force multipliers; they make a huge difference to the effectiveness of an air wing. (The fact that the F-35 includes so much ECM/OECM/sensor equipment into the airframe itself, as well as the stealth that lets it operate much more freely in threatened airspace without support, is necessary to make the idea of smaller carriers replacing bigger ones feasible at all.)

Big carriers are hands-down a superior offensive weapon. The big trade-off is, of course, that they can’t be in two places at the same time. Some people have suggested this is a major advantage for the kind of wars we’ve been fighting in the last few decades; where we park off the coast and bomb a bunch of terrorist fucks with nothing but their limp dick and non-functional Stinger missiles to oppose our strikes with. They might have a point, but not when they suggest we should swap fleet carriers for LHAs - we already operate a sizeable fleet of amphibious assault carriers. The sensible thing to do would be to replace the aging LHAs with aviation-focused ones (such as the LHA America class, which is doing precisely this.) The America is LHA-6; LHA-7 is being built, and the Navy plans to revert to normal amphib assault ships with a well deck with LHA-8. Changing that decision and building more aviation-focused ships is definitely worth discussing. The Americas can carry 20 fighters apiece right now, which means you need three to equal a carrier air wing, but F-35s can do a lot of things requiring twice their number in older aircraft, and some things older airframes can’t do at all (which is why they’re so damn expensive.) America already has her cake and eats it too, with these two separate fleets - changing the equipment focus of one can significantly lessen costs and burdens on the other.

Of course people were arguing that back in the 90s too, when the amphib carriers only had Harriers and people were sneering at the F-22 as A Waste Of Money because The Cold War Is Over and We Will Never Have A Symmetric War Again. The F-35B is a game-changer, however; it can make amphibs a potent threat in symmetric wars and we’ve got the possibilities of such on the horizon. Some people argue that this makes aviation-focused LHAs a double threat; cost-efficient in the constant asymmetric wars, and a nasty asset that punches above its weight in a full-out scrap. These people have a point. Others suggest that they can actually replace fleet carriers, and that they’d be more effective at that role.

These people do not have a point. They are fucking stupid.

The trade-off with distributing your lethality is that you also distribute your defenses. That’s precisely why Fanta said “we ran the simulations, and we lost a lot of small boats, but we killed the enemy.” That’s precisely why you distribute the small boats - the ones most cost-effective to lose. That’s why China has eighty or so of those itty bitty missile boats - they’re cheap as hell. “Cheap” is not a term you apply to an aircraft carrier, even a “small” carrier. Small ships are simply less capable of defending themselves - they have less space and tonnage for their own defensive weapon systems, have far less aircraft for offense-as-defense, and if they are hit they’re more vulnerable to damage; they have less manpower for damage control and less reserve buoyancy (it takes less damage to sink them.) Worse, you have to distribute your escort ships - which means any one task force will be much, much easier to overwhelm with missiles. There’s a god-damned reason that “concentration of force” has been a key tenet of military strategy, on land, air or sea, since the first two Neanderthals teamed up on the asshole two caves over.

It only makes sense to distribute lethality - and accept the losses inherent in it - if you know for a fact you cannot beat the enemy in a toe to toe scrap. The Chinese are in this situation with America. You’ll note in that prior post that every time I mentioned an inherent weakness or problem for a carrier task force, I also noted that America had overcome it. That’s because we have the vast technological/industrial base - and wealth - to win that kind of big conflict decisively. If you have the qualitative edge, concentrating your forces multiplies that advantage, to the point where you’re much more likely to take no serious losses in a scrap.

There’s also the issue of co-ordination. The Japanese at Midway operated all four of their carriers together - so they could launch their strikes together, in a co-ordinated fashion. The Americans operated their carriers in two task forces, in part to avoid having them all found at once (i.e. distributed lethality.) As a result their outgoing strikes were poorly co-ordinated and straggled in piecemeal. The idea behind modern distributed lethality is that with modern cruise missiles, you can spread out your forces, but still concentrate force by firing all the missiles at the same target from many scattered locations. You can apply the same to aircraft, benefiting from modern satellite-based command, control and communications…

… unless you can’t. Electronic warfare is something the Chinese and Russians have not been ignorant of, and attacks on satellite infrastructure are not out of the question - especially given how disproportionately US forces rely on them for a force-multiplier advantage. You don’t even have to shoot them down - soft-kill techniques like upload jamming work well too, and let’s not get started on the potential of a high-altitude EMP burst! You cannot take these command and control assets for granted. The US certainly doesn’t; our GPS-guided munitions that don’t already have backup inertial guidance are slated to receive it with future upgrades. This makes concentrating your scattered firepower quite difficult.

Additionally, the US has a massive inventory of equipment and weapon systems designed for an entirely different doctrine. People think that the retirement of the F-14 and the rise of the F-35B means we’ve shorn ourselves of that equipment, so we can shed the doctrines that go with it. They forget our vast fleet of missile destroyers and cruisers, which were built and optimized for the job of air defense, specifically of a carrier task force. Our potential enemies, the Chinese, certainly don’t think that role is obsolete - despite investing heavily in an attritional distributed lethality model, they’re still building modern air-defense destroyers as fast as they can and doing their best to catch up to us in those capabilities. The Aegis system is designed to co-ordinate the weapons and sensors of an entire fleet to function as more than the simple sum of its parts - scattering those ships about plays to their weaknesses, not their strengths.

That doesn’t mean distributed lethality doesn’t have its place. The thing that makes carriers such lopsided weapons isn’t that they’re easy to kill - between their gigantic bulk and modern damage control/construction techniques they’re damn hard to kill. But they’re very easy to mission-kill. One good whack and the ships too big a mess to even think about doing flight operations. They’re easily neutered. In such a situation having an LHA or two with 20 F-35Bs apiece hiding in the wings could make a big difference in the fight; dropping a nasty surprise on an overconfident enemy. Distributed vs. Concentrated force in shipbuilding is a trade off between “lose some of your firepower permanently, or lose all your firepower temporarily.” Distributed lethality in naval aviation assets helps you hedge your bets quite a bit. And for the cheaper, lower-value assets we do have (and are currently building,) it makes great sense to use those to draw heat off the “big stick” of the CBG; they’re liable to be sunk, but in terms of how beneficial their efforts are to the survival of the Big Stick, which is an all-or-nothing prospect, its well worth the cost.

The Navy is implementing Distributed Lethality in a way which makes small, cheap ships achieve results well above their cost by supporting the efforts of the expensive primary assets. This greatly increases the survivability of those assets without having to give up their many advantages.

America is fucking rich. We can have our cake, and eat it too - and we should. But if we absolutely had to choose, we should go with the fleet carrier. Fleet carriers are Hard - in sheer industrial might and monetary cost, and also in operational use. But we are the absolute, hands-down best in the fucking world at it, and if it came right down to it, I believe the carrier battle group would prevail in a straight-up slugfest between the Chinese “defense saturation missile spam” attack, no new strategies or weapons required.

I’ve never found the line of argument that Superman in “Man of Steel” doesn’t care enough about civilians particularly compelling. In part, that’s because making the case involves ignoring the first half of the film: We repeatedly see Clark Kent using his powers to save people, putting himself and his family at risk. He continues to aid people even after his father gives his own life to keep Clark’s true, alien identity secret. “The only way you could disappear for good is to stop helping people altogether,” Lois Lane (Amy Adams) tells Clark after tracking him down. “And I sense that’s not an option for you.”

Further, this argument suggests that Superman is responsible for the destruction of Metropolis, a notion I have a hard time fathoming. After all, most of the damage to Metropolis actually occurs during a 9/11-style attack by General Zod and his “world engine,” a terraforming device that uses gravity waves to demolish a solid 30 square blocks of the city. Sure, there’s a bit more ancillary damage as Zod and Superman fight in Metropolis after the device is destroyed, but most of that battle takes place long after any sane civilian has fled the city in terror. The action goes down in the hole the world engine has created, through an empty office building, and into an empty construction site. Could Superman have redirected the fight away from the city? Perhaps. But given the fact that Zod has explicitly stated his desire to murder as many folks as he can, I’m not sure it would have worked for long.

When Superman finally comes face to face with civilians during the final fight with Zod, we see his protective instincts kick in again: The mad general has turned his heat vision on a family cowering in a corner, pledging to kill as many humans as he possibly can to make Kal-El suffer for destroying his dream to rebuild Krypton. Superman begs him to stop. Pleads. Cajoles. And, when push comes to shove, he kills the murderous mad man in order to save the innocent civilians.

Erbland describes this as a “shocking crime.” Frankly, this seems a bit overwrought. After all, the Avengers can brutally dismember a thousand robots—essentially exterminating a new form of sentient life—and no one cares. But we are supposed to wring our hands if Superman uses lethal force to stop one mass murderer with superpowers who has repeatedly pledged to kill millions more solely for spite? It’s certainly a powerful moment, in large part because Pa Kent (Kevin Costner) taught Clark that good men must turn the other cheek when confronted by bullies. The anguished cry Superman lets out as Zod hits the pavement shows the emotional toll the action has taken on him: He now understands that sometimes doing “good” means taking a life.

I get the sense that what makes some people uncomfortable about “Man of Steel” is that it more closely reflects the way war is fought today than a movie like “Age of Ultron.” Ours is an age of terror and drones, of bombing campaigns and troops on the ground in urban settings and of the collateral damage that results. Joss Whedon’s flick, with its supposedly civilian-casualty-free assault on an Eastern European nation, calls to mind the conception of warfare from the mid-1990s, an era when smart bombs and precision-guided munitions were supposed to prevent war from affecting innocent people.

The idea that you can stop monsters with missiles, sparing civilians entirely, is a pleasant (if false) fantasy, one that might help explain why “Age of Ultron” surpassed “Man of Steel’s” box office take in just nine days. Some people prefer soothing falsehoods to harsh truths.

—  Sonny Bunch, “The Avengers vs Man of Steel.” 
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Handheld Laser Marker (HLM)
The Handheld Laser Marker (HLM) is a small, lightweight device that emits NATO Band I/II compatible coded laser energy to quickly mark and handoff targets for engagement with precision guided munitions. HLM’s coded laser energy is easily detected by spot-tracker equipped aircraft and reduces target handoff times from many minutes to only seconds.

Features:
• Pistol shaped form factor with Mini Red Dot Sight for intuitive aiming and operation 
• Simple user interface for quick entry of PRF code 
• Rechargeable battery (3 per kit)