To Hear the Media Tell It….


This murderer is representative of all white people, and white people should feel responsible for his actions, because we all secretly want to murder black people.


This murderer’s motive were unclear, but they are certain he is not representative whatsoever of Islam, and anyone thinking otherwise is Islamophobic, and should be ashamed of themselves for thinking so.

Got it?  Easy enough.

Would you like to play a game? A map of predicted nuclear targets in the US

There’s two scenarios mapped out, a 500 warhead target list, and a 2000 warhead target list.

Click the link to see the full sized map.

You’ll notice the targeting varies significantly between the two. That’s because there are two basic types of nuclear wars. Let’s address the 2000 warhead scenario first. You’ll notice three really big clusters of weapons in Montana, North Dakota and intersection of Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska. That just happens to be where the vast majority of our Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles are. Such a targeting scheme is known as a Counter-Force scheme. The idea is to destroy our ability to use our ICBMs against the USSR.

In the 500 warhead scenario, while there are a goodly number of purely military targets, most predicted impacts are on civilian targets, such as state capitols and industrial and population centers. This scheme is known as Counter-Value. The idea is to hold at risk the truly most important resource of the nation, its people.


Take a look at these three ships sunk as targets for torpedoes.


None of the ships was actually struck by a torpedo. Rather, the torpedo passes beneath the target, exploding under the keel of the ship. The first blast wave does significant damage. But an effect known as the bubble jet is the true shipkiller.  The explosion causes a bubble in the water. As the bubble collapses, it pushes water upward, in effect shooting a massive water hammer into the hull of the ship. This effect has long been known, since the early days of naval mines.

You’re probably familiar with the troubles US submariners (and to a lesser extent, destroyermen and torpedo bomber pilots) had with torpedoes in the first year and a half of World War II in the Pacific. One of the major problems was that the US torpedoes were designed to operate just like those in the video, that is, explode under the target’s keel. First, the magnetic exploder was tested in unrealistic conditions before being fielded, and turned out to be wholly unreliable. Further, the depth control mechanism of US torpedoes also consistently sent torpedoes about 10 feet deeper than set, further exacerbating the unreliability of the magnetic exploder.

The remedies for those problems were relatively simple; the depth would be set with the inaccuracy in mind, and the magnetic exploder was removed, relying instead on a contact exploder to detonate the warhead along the side of the ship. This method would not produce the same terminal effects, but an explosion alongside was better than no explosion at all.

That, however, turned out not to be the answer after all. It turned out, the contact exploder was itself flawed. Sub skippers would patiently, and with great skill, stalk their targets to achieve the perfect shot into the enemy flank, only to hear a thud, or worse, a series of thuds, as torpedoes slammed into the side of Japanese ships… and failed to explode. The faulty contact exploder relied on a firing striker that was too thin, too flimsy to withstand a solid hit. A glancing blow would usually yield an explosion. It would be late in 1943 before an improved contact exploder would be fielded.

Mini-14 a la Francais

In the comments on our post of the French police shooting at the Kosher store, Chrispy mentioned in the comments that some French police forces are armed with the Ruger Mini-14. Indeed they are. And Ian at Forgotten Weapons, of course has the details.

When French national police and security forces decided to replace the MAT-49 submachine gun as a standard weapon, they decided to look for a light carbine. Something less obviously military than the FAMAS was desired, and the natural choice was the Ruger Mini-14, whose slightly civilian appearance is often considered to be one of its primary strengths. Ruger licensed the design to the French, who have assembled them in-country with a few changes from the normal production model we are used to seeing here in the US.

French police officer with a Mousqueton AMD (Mini-14)

One of our very first purchases was a Ruger Mini-14 5R Ranch Rifle. Basically it was a Mini-14 with the receiver pre-milled to accept scope rings, and with a very primitive flip up sight, instead of the more robust aperture sights seen here. It came standard with a 5 round magazine, but we also had four 30 round magazines, because we like shooting lots of bullets.

It was a nice rifle, quite handy and comfortable, and back then (1987) very reasonably priced. It wasn’t quite as accurate as our M16, but it was, in general, more accurate than we were.

The comments at Forgotten Weapons have an interesting discussion on how the Mini-14 used to be a weapon of choice for many police agencies, and how and why that seems to have changed.

Is the Bradley due for upgunning?

Developed in the 1960s and 1970s, and entering service in the 1980s, the M2/M3 Bradley series of fighting vehicles was designed to counter first generation Soviet BMP and BTR series vehicles. As such, the Army equipped it with the 25mm M242 Bushmaster chain gun. The M242 performed very well against Russian and Chinese built armored vehicles in Desert Storm, and later in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

But the threat is not static. More and more, infantry carriers and other armored vehicles are getting bigger and bigger, and carrying more and more armor. And small anti-tank missile teams are employing longer ranged missiles. The armor piercing ammunition for the M242 has been improved, but there is little room for growth. To achieve more armor penetration, the Bradley will simply need a larger gun. And to that end, the Army is experimenting with a 30mm autocannon.

The 30mm Mk44 Bushmaster II gun isn’t new. It’s been around in various forms for almost as long as its little 25mm brother. It was intended to be the main armament of the cancelled Marine Corps Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. And it is mounted as secondary armament on the Navy’s LCS and LPD-17 ships. Various foreign powers have evaluated or adopted it. So adapting it to the Bradley would seem to be a simple matter.


But it isn’t quite that simple.

The Bradley was designed with the smaller 25mm in mind. The size of the gun here wasn’t so important. The gun and its mount are in the gunhouse portion of the turret, above the hull of the vehicle proper. The size of the gunhouse itself wasn’t critical.

But the ammunition cans for the gun are stored inside the turret basket. That’s the part of the turret, the ammo system, turret drives, and support that extends down inside the vehicle, and rotates on a roller path on the bottom of the hull.  And the turret basket size, essentially its diameter, went far to fixing the exact size of the Bradley.

You can simply put a new turret on the Bradley, with the same size turret basket. The 30mm round isn’t that much larger than the 25mm. 25mm ammo is 13.7 centimeters long. The Bushmaster II 30mm ammo is 17.3cm long.

But that extra inch or so of length cuts into the crew space of the Bradley. Already fairly cramped when designed, the turret crew space has further been crowded by installation of additional electronics, fire control, and networking equipment. An inch doesn’t seem much, but even my relatively small 5’10” frame, when seated in the commanders seat, had my knees in uncomfortable contact with the ammunition cans.

We’ll see if the Army decides to pay to upgrade the Bradley, search instead for a whole new vehicle, or just continue to move along with what we have and hope for the best.

The M40 106mm Recoilless Rifle in Syria

Craig wrote a couple posts on mounts for one of my favorite weapons, the M40 106mm Recoilless Rifle.  One post on The Thing, and one of a Japanese vehicle of similar provenance.

Entering service in the mid-1950s, the M40 was an infantry weapon, not an artillery piece. It was replaced in the 1970s by the TOW missile system. But while it was in service, it was in the anti-tank platoon of the infantry battalion, giving the infantry at least a fighting chance against enemy armor. In addition to US service, the M40 was used by quite a few foreign nations, and even produced by a few. In fact, it’s still in production by Iran.

As it happens, historically, the anti-tank platoons of infantry battalions have tended to engage a lot of non-tank targets, primarily bunkers and machine gun positions.  And as it turns out, it still does that job pretty well. Early on in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it occurred to me that digging some M40s out of storage would be a nice idea, saving the cost of shooting TOW missiles into those type targets. Of course, the US has such a supply of TOW missiles, there was no real need to.


But a curious thing has happened.  Somehow, the FSA, that is, the rebel forces against Sryian Assad loyalists, have come into possession of at least some M40s, and according to this report from Wired magazine, it’s quickly becoming the direct fire support weapon of choice.


Watch enough YouTube videos of the fighting in Syria, and you’ll start to notice it: a long-tubed gun, mounted on the back of either a jeep or large, fast pickup. Usually it’s blasting bunkers, blockhouses, fortified positions, or places where snipers are hiding. It even goes after tanks. And whenever it fires, the gun seems to kick up way more hell behind it than what it sends out the barrel’s front end. It’s the M40 106mm recoilless rifle, an American-made, Vietnam-vintage weapon that got dropped from the Army and Marine inventory back during the early 1970s. Until recently, the 106mm hadn’t seen much action in the irregular wars that have swept the globe. Then M40s somehow came into the hands of rebels in Libya and Syria. Suddenly, the 106mm – light, cheap, easily transportable, simple to operate, and packing a punch all out of proportion to its modest size — has emerged as a possible Great Asymmetric Weapon of the Day.

Although the U.S. military no longer officially uses the M40, they still keep some around. A few found their way to Afghanistan where they were put to use by certain Special Forces units. The Danish and Australian armies, which acquired them from the U.S. decades ago under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program, used them extensively during their ground operations there.

In Libya, the M40 was used primarily in urban warfare, killing tanks and fortified positions. How exactly it found its way into the hands of the rebels there is a bit of a mystery. The M40s showed up in Libya along with thousands of brand new Belgian FN rifles, apparently from Western arsenals. That lead many to suspect they were supplied by Western intelligence. The M40s currently being seen in Syria might be coming either from the same sources that supplied the Libyan rebels or even from the Libyans themselves.


When it comes to the rebellion in Syria, our personal view is “can’t they both lose?” 

But we admit to having a wee bit of pleasure of seeing a classic warhorse like the M40 still in the fight.


Strike operations in the face of an integrated air defense system  IADS)are neither simple nor easy. Even for our Air Force and Navy/Marine Corps strike assets, with their liberal support from systems such as AWACS, dedicated Electronic Attack platforms, and (relatively) robust Electronic Intelligence assets to map out an enemy IADS, successful penetration of defended airspace is hazardous.

Stealth, the buzzword in strike aviation for the last 2 decades, is an aid, but not a complete answer. Further, only a small percentage of our strike assets have any stealth characteristics at all. Stealth doesn’t make an attacking airplane invisible to a defender’s radar. Rather, it reduces the effective range at which it can detect the attacker. By flying “between the seams” of defending radar platforms, a stealthy attacker can avoid most enemy defenses. Generally, we’ve seen US forces use this capability to degrade the enemy IADS as a first order of business to allow non-stealth platforms to contribute their weight to the battle.

Rolling back an enemy IADS has long been the first priority of an aerial campaign, almost from the beginning of strategic air warfare.  “Kinetic” methods of rollback, that is, directly attacking air defenses, either through conventional bombs, Wild Weasel tactics and planes, or Anti-Radiation missiles such as the HARM  are all parts of this technique.  “Soft kill” methods such as radar confusing chaff, jamming and other methods to disrupt an enemy communications also reduce IADS effectiveness.

Another way of degrading IADS is to simply overwhelm an enemy with too many targets to effectively counter. This simple saturation method has a couple drawbacks, though. First, it takes a lot of airplanes to do that. Second, it can be pretty rough on those attacking aircrews. So, in  concert with kinetic and soft kill methods, liberal use of decoys can complicate the enemy’s air defense problem. For instance, if each attacking aircraft can deploy two decoys, the enemy suddenly has three times the volumes of targets to service. The negative effect this has on air defenders isn’t merely linear, either. The sudden tripling of possible targets and the confusion that causes can generate “friction” where the responses of the defense to any single target are less effective than would normally be the case.  

Air launched decoys aren’t a new tactic in air warfare. At the height of the Cold War arms race in the late 1950s, as the B-52 fleet began to realize the challenges the Soviet air defense system’s network of radars, interceptors, and guided missiles posed, the Air Force began a program to deploy a decoy to support any World War III missions into the Russian Rodina.  The GAM-72 Quail  (later ADM-20) was a small,  jet powered drone small enough to be carried in the bomb bay of the B-52. With a range of up to 400 or so miles, it could be launched outside the detection range of most air defenses, and still penetrate alongside the real bombers for most of their penetration. While up to 8 Quails could be carried, a more typical load would be two Quails, taking up a quarter of the bomb bay, leaving three quarters of the space available for offensive weapons.

Given that it had to fit inside the bomb bay, the Quail was necessarily quite small.  How do you make a small target look like a gigantic B-52, historically one of the largest radar signatures ever to take to the air? Careful shaping of the wings and fuselage of the drone, as well as placing radar reflectors inside covered by radar transparent fiberglass, gave the Quail almost the same reflectivity as a real B-52. It would be another generation before aircraft designers paid as much attention to using shaping to reduce radar returns as they had on enhancing them.


While the Quail was quite small by B-52 standards, it was still far to large to be carried by tactical fighter bombers.  In the early 1980s, as Soviet designed air defenses improved and were exported widely to potentially hostile nations, our services began to look at the possibility of decoys for tactical use. In cooperation with the Israelis, who had their own challenges with IADS to be defeated, the ADM-141 Tactical Air Launched Decoy was designed. A simple glider with folding wings, the TALD was small enough that a tactical jet could carry several. Swarms of TALDs were loosed upon the Iraqi air defense network at the opening of the bombing campaign of Desert Storm. TALD was popular because it was lightweight, very simple to operate, and very inexpensive.

But because TALD was a simple glider, it was limited in range. Further, being unpowered, it moved much slower than attacking aircraft typically would. Given a bit of time, a savvy air defender could sort the decoys from the real targets. Refined versions of the ADM-141 included the ability to deploy chaff, and later, by adding a very small jet engine (little more than what a turbine R/C plane uses) giving the TALD both better range, and a speed more comparable to the jets it is simulating.  


Around the turn of the century, the Air Force, via DARPA, started to look at developing a more capable decoy to replace the TALD.  The program, Miniature Air Launched Decoy, stalled out after a couple years, but the Air Force resurrected it and eventually fielded the MALD as the ADM-160B. There’s the vanilla, turbine powered MALD with a range of about 500 miles, and the performance to imitate tactical jets. Currently, there is a program to upgrade the design with and on-board jamming capability, launch from C-130s (saving pylon space on strike fighters for weapons), and even possibly using the platform as a UAV or arming it as an attack weapon. Given a functional airframe, the possibilities for developing new uses and versions at low cost are limited primarily by the imagination of the acquisition corps.

The widespread use of decoys in the early phases of an air campaign, especially supporting stealthy strike aircraft dedicated to dis-integrating an integrated air defense system, will reduce losses and increase effectiveness of our aerial forces significantly.