The folks at Popular Mechanics just published a fascinating discussion on The Evolution of the American Tank. From the fields of France in World War I to the mountains of Afghanistan, the tank has had to endure all sorts of obstacles to their success, from anti-tank weapons and mines to ever more powerful enemies on the ground and in the air. We strongly recommend you check out the article here.
Anatomy of War
Reuters reports that Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has amped up the rhetoric while convening a summit in Vancouver, Canada, that basically tells the North Korean regime, “give up your nuclear weapons and ambitions or face the wrath of the western democracies.” According to analysts, the US is weighing an option to initiate a “Bloody Nose” first strike, which would, in effect, attempt to decapitate the North Korean leadership and lay to waste the country’s nuclear arsenal before the North Koreans could take action. The US seems to be taking a bolder stance since Trump took office, suggesting that its own nuclear deterrence capabilities were tested and now deemed up to the task of eliminating, paralyzing or defeating inbound nuclear missile threats aimed at the US mainland and/or its far flung territories in the Pacific Ocean. While high-level discussions are still underway in a last minute effort to defuse the situation, the President, in league with advice offered by the National Security Council, are examining ways that will best bring about an end to the sabre-rattling, while simultaneously working with other nations to tighten the sanctions imposed on North Korea.
Right before the New Year, we received Hobby Master’s second version of its 1:72 scale Su-35S Super Flanker multirole fighter – a dual form release that models Russian warbirds sent to Libya to aid the Assad government in Syria. Turns out, the actual aircraft may have been either damaged or completely destroyed earlier this week, hit by mortars fired by anti-government forces that had deployed along the outskirts of the Khmeimim Air Base near Latakia. In total, seven aircraft succumbed to enemy fire, costing the Russians, operating the parked aircraft, several hundred million dollars and a bit of prestige to boot. For more information on the strike, visit this web site: Unian Information Agency
According to War History Online, the only remaining derelict section of a German Horten Ho 229 flying wing has been completely refurbished at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, a part of the US Air & Space Museum, and will likely go on display for the world to see in the not-too-distant future. The Ho 229 was an advanced secret aircraft developed by the Horten Brothers for the Luftwaffe that wedded jet technology with the world’s first stealthy design. It was largely intended to be used against rampaging allied bombers in an effort to defend the Reich from further bombing raids.
For more information on the restoration, click on the following link: https://www.warhistoryonline.com/military-vehicle-news/the-horten-229-v3-flying-wing-amazing-image-collection.html
With the rhetoric between North Korea and the US heating up, and US generals, at the behest of Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis, now told to begin playing nice with the media as a potential prelude to war, the Air Force has taken the unprecedented step of shedding light on the successor to the retired SR-71 spy plane, the SR-72. We’ve touched upon the hypersonic aircraft in previous blog posts earlier this year, largely wedding what we’ve gleaned from the Internet with analysis and a bit of conjecture, but now the Air Force is starting to confirm reports about the existence of the aircraft and its ultra-secretive capabilities. Designed to fly twice as fast as the SR-71 spy plane, the all-new SR-72 will reportedly reach speeds of at least Mach 6, or roughly 4567.2 mph at sea level and under optimal conditions.Moreover, the SR-72 is unmanned, and is likely controlled remotely by ground controllers much like a drone.
Roughly the size of an F-22, the SR-72 would differ markedly from the SR-71, since it is designed to engage ground targets in real-time as opposed to simply gathering intelligence. Its not clear what types of weapons will be stored internally, but a likely scenario would include decapitation missions whereby the aircraft would penetrate heavily defended air space then employ a single GPU-guided bomb to be used to eliminate the heads of government hunkered down within a reinforced or underground bunker. Interestingly, South Korea said this morning in Seoul, Financial Times reports. “Lee Cheol-hee, a member of the ruling Democratic party, on Tuesday said hackers had broken into a defence data centre in September last year. He said stolen documents included Operational Plan 5015 — the most recent allied blueprint for war with North Korea. The plans reportedly includes detailed procedures for a decapitation strike against the North Korean regime — a proposal that has infuriated Kim Jong Un, the country’s supreme leader.”
Last week, US piloted B-1B bombers from Guam along with F-15 escorts taking off from Japan, flew near but not into North Korea’s air space to its northernmost point in decades, likely locating and testing North Korean air defense measures should an incursion take place at a later date. In response, North Korea media reportedly told its populace that they had shot down both bombers, backing up the claim with a poorly animated video, while declaring that the two nations were now at a state of war, something the US unequivocally denied.
For more information on the SR-72, please visit this web site: http://www.avgeekery.com/air-force-highlights-sr-72-blackbird-successor-on-new-poster/
Much has been made of Russia’s so-called fifth generation fighter, the Su-57 (formerly the Pak FA), although, according to recent reports, it may be a stealth aircraft in name only. Jane’s, the holy grail of weapons analysis and performance, has gone on record to indicate that the Su-57 is already a dismal failure, an aircraft that was supposed to turn the military aviation world on its ear and serve as a viable contender to go toe-to-toe with both the USAF F-22 and F-35 entrants.
According to Jane’s, there are a number of critical areas in which the Su-57 fails to live up to its billing. For one, the aircraft’s internal weapons compartment is incapable of storing some of the latest weapons in the Russian arsenal, forcing the designers to hang the ordnance as external stores, thus all but undermining the aircraft’s stealth profile. Meanwhile, the aircraft’s power plant borrows from older fourth generation weapons platforms, and from a cursory observation, doesn’t seem to be shrouded in any type of heat dampening mechanism, again defeating the aircraft’s radar cross section return. Interestingly, NATO has yet to assign a reporting name to the Su-57, something they typically do for all potential adversarial aircraft produced by Russian aircraft makers. Perhaps they will go with “Failure”.
More information on Jane’s critical analysis can be found here: http://www.businessinsider.com/russia-su-57-stealth-fighter-disappointment-2017-8
Not content to watch a grizzled old warrior die on the vine, Boeing has put together a slick new video showcasing what they call the Advanced F-15 2040C Stealth Fighter. Based upon a standard F-15 Eagle airframe, “the F-15 2040C series of upgrades would extend the life of the fourth-generation F-15C air superiority fighter to complement the fifth-generation F-22 Raptor. The 2040 version would double to 16 the number of air-to-air missiles the fighter carries, extend its range and improve its lethality and survivability with upgraded electronics,” according to AIN Online.
“An F-15 2040C would also extend the fighter’s production line in St. Louis, which with 84 F-15SAs destined for Saudi Arabia has firm orders through 2019. Boeing previously offered a stealthy “Silent Eagle” version for South Korea’s F-X III fighter competition, but that country last year settled on the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II for the requirement.
The package would incorporate the programmed radar upgrade of F-15C/Ds with the Raytheon APG-63(v)3 active electronically scanned radar and a new electronic warfare suite called EPAWSS, for the Eagle Passive/Active Warning and Survivability System. A proposed long-range infrared search and track sensor pod would complement the AESA radar. Boeing supplies conformal fuel tanks on the multi-role F-15E Strike Eagle; the 2040C upgrade would add them on the F-15C. The proposed weapons load increase would be accomplished by adding a Boeing-developed “quad pack” carriage system on two weapons stations. A communications and networking pod with advanced datalinks, now being demonstrated under the Air Force’s Talon HATE program, would enable the older F-15 to interact with the Raptor and other platforms.”
With other planes in the US military’s arsenal already being re-purposed to extend their life at a fraction of the cost of obtaining newer aircraft, there’s a good chance the F-15 2040C will survive any proposed budget cuts and remain a staple of the USAF well into the 21st century. Interestingly, Boeing is billing the F-15 2040C as a stealth fighter, so it will be curious to see how they plan to achieve this lofty aim considering all of the plane’s ordnance are slung externally thereby increasing the aircraft’s radar return signature.
Lately, it seems as if everyone is getting into the armored game. Not exactly known for a vast military-industrial complex following its disastrous showing in the Falklands War, it appears as if Argentina is flexing its muscles with a brand new main battle tank dubbed the TAM 2C.
The Tanque Argentino Mediano (TAM; English: Argentine Medium Tank) is the main battle tank in service with the Argentine Army. Lacking the experience and resources to design a tank, the Argentine Ministry of Defense contracted German company Thyssen-Henschel. The vehicle was developed by a German and Argentine team of engineers, and was based on the German Marder infantry fighting vehicle.
The TAM met the Argentine Army’s requirement for a modern, lightweight and fast tank with a low silhouette and sufficient firepower to defeat contemporary armored threats. Development began in 1974 and resulted in the construction of three prototypes by early 1977 and full-scale production by 1979. Assembly took place at the local 9,600-square-meter (103,000 sq ft) TAMSE plant, founded for the purpose by the Argentine government. Economic difficulties halted production in 1983, but manufacturing began anew in 1994 until the army’s order of 200 tanks was fulfilled.
The TAM series includes seven different variants, such as a 155 mm (6.1-inch) self-propelled howitzer and a self-propelled mortar vehicle. In total, over 280 such vehicles were built, including armored personnel carriers, artillery and mortar pieces. The TAM and VCTP (Infantry Fighting Vehicles based on the TAM chassis) were manufactured for the Peruvian Army, only to be integrated into the Argentine Army when Peru canceled the contract. The TAM also competed for other export orders, but the TAM was ultimately not exported.
The TAM has never seen combat, although 17 VCTP were deployed to Croatia for the United Nations UNPROFOR peacekeeping mission.
The US Navy can’t be faulted for resting on their laurels. Planners are currently mulling over ways to bring their active duty warships up to Trump’s 350-ship goal, which include dusting off several mothballed Oliver Hazard Perry class destroyers to active service. Meanwhile, as a means of closing the fighter gap that exists until more F-35Cs can be brought online, they have also given Boeing the green light to produce what has been coined as the Advanced Super Hornet, also known as the as the “F/A-18XT” or “Block 3 Super Hornet.” According to Fox Business, “Boeing’s Advanced Super Hornet is an upgrade of the company’s current F/A-18E/F fighter jets. Among other improvements, the new design features “advanced network architecture” and “advanced cockpit displays” on the inside, and conformal fuel tanks — adding 100 to 120 nautical miles to the plane’s range, and providing a stealthier radar profile — on the outside. The new design is not as stealthy as a Lockheed Martin F-35C. But at a mooted price of $79 million, the Advanced Super Hornet is also a heckuvalot cheaper than the $122 million price tag that Lockheed hangs on an F-35C.”
More information on the proposal can be found here: http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2017/07/09/boeing-wins-navy-will-buy-its-advanced-super-hornet.html
If you thought tanks were nothing more than hulking slabs of armor, barely able to get out of their own way much less other friendly vehicles, well, then you better think again. The Israeli Defense Forces are fielding a brand new helmet-mounted display dubbed IronVision which gives buttoned up tankers the ability to see through their vehicle thereby offering 360 degree situational awareness. The system works much like the helmet-mounted displays F-35 pilots are using to see through the floor, sides and nose of their plane’s fuselage to better gauge where the enemy is in a knife fight. Under development by Elbit Systems for several years, “the Helmet Mounted System (HMS) provides “protective glass walls” for tank or armored fighting vehicle crews who may need to operate in so-called closed-hatch mode when maneuvering in high-threat areas, according to Boaz Cohen, director of Elbit’s land systems division,” says Defense News.
Further information on the system and what it can do can be found here: http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/land/2016/06/08/elbit-helmet-ironvision/85592560/