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Monday, March 20, 2017

The Tactical Blog from Cactus Tactical

Weapons of the War in Afghanistan: Individual Night Observation Devices (NODs), Part I

Weapons of the War in Afghanistan

In the world of war, weapons and technology are ever changing, each war is characterized by the weapons and tactics used to fight it. As new environments and enemies are encountered, the parties to those wars develop new - more effective tactics, technologies, and weapons to counter and defeat their adversaries. The ingenuity seen in war has existed since (and most certainly before) the first wars of recorded history and continue to this very day. 


Keeping with that theory, let’s take a look at the weapons that have characterized the wars and conflicts that the United States has been a party to over the course of it’s history. During the course of this series, I aim to breakdown the weapons used in each conflict by their classification, and to which party they were employed by. Having served in combat operations in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley, I would like to start our series with the War in Afghanistan. 


For our eighteenth installment let's take a look the most common individual Night Observation Devices (NODs) used in the War in Afghanistan. 




Part I - The United States

AN/PVS-7

The AN/PVS-7 is a single tube night vision device. Third generation image intensifiers are standard for military night vision. The PVS-7 is auto-gated to prevent image intensifier damage if exposed to intense light. The goggles have active night vision using a built-in infrared LED for low light situations. They are waterproof and charged with nitrogen to prevent internal condensation while moving between extreme temperatures.

They were designed to replace the older AN/PVS-5 from the Vietnam era. Though being phased out by the AN/PVS-14, the AN/PVS-7 is still being used by the United States Armed Forces in service.

The designation AN/PVS translates to Army/Navy Portable Visual Search, according to Joint Electronics Type Designation System guidelines.




AN/PVS-14

Photo by: PEO Soldier

The AN/PVS-14 Monocular Night Vision Device (MNVD) is in widespread use by the United States Armed Forces as well as NATO allies around the world. It uses a third generation image intensifier tube, and is primarily manufactured by Litton Industries (Now L-3 Warrior Systems) as well as the ITT Corporation (Now Harris Inc. formerly Exelis ). It is often used 'hands free' using a head harness or attached to a combat helmet such as the PASGT, Advanced Combat Helmet, or Marine Lightweight Helmet. It can also be used as a weapons night sight. In addition, it was part of the equipment fielded in the U.S. Army's Land Warrior program. Nord Atlantic USA is the Military and Law Enforcement distributor of the AN/PVS-14 Gen 3 Autogated. Morovision Night Vision was the Law Enforcement distributor of the NEPVS-14 for ITT Exelis.

Resolution: 64 lp/mm (Typ)
Film: Thin-Film
Gate: Auto-Gated
Brightness Gain: Adjustable from 25 to more than 3000 fL/fc
Magnification: 1×
Field of View: 40°
Objective Lens: f/1.2
Eyepiece Lens: EFL 26 mm
Diopter Adjustment: +4 to −6
Range of Focus: 25 cm to infinity
Voltage Required: 1.5 Volts
Battery Type: TwoAA battery
Battery Life: Approx. 50 hrs at room temp
Weight: 12.4 oz (351.53 grams)
Dimensions: 4.5″ (L) × 2″ (W) × 2.25″ (H)
Operating Temperature: −51°C to +49°C
Storage Temperature: −51°C to +49°C




AN/PSQ-20
Photo by: PEO Soldier
The AN/PSQ-20 Enhanced Night Vision Goggle (ENVG) is a monocular passive night vision device developed for the United States military by ITT Exelis. It fuses image-intensifying and thermal-imaging technologies, enabling vision in conditions with very little light. The two methods can be used simultaneously or individually. Selected by the U.S. Army's Program Executive Office Soldier (http://vimeo.com/4532787) as a supporting device for the Future Force Warrior program in 2004, it is intended to replace AN/PVS-7 and AN/PVS-14 systems currently in use. Although more expensive and heavier than these devices, special forces units and the 10th Mountain Division were fielding the AN/PSQ-20 by mid-2009. Improvements to the product have been attempted to make it lighter, as well as to enable transmission of digital images to and from the battlefield.

In August 2003, The Program Executive Office Soldier (PEO Soldier), the acquisition agency of the United States Army, started evaluating designs from ITT Industries and Northrop Grumman for an advanced night vision device that could support the planned Future Force Warrior program. Of the two competing designs, the ITT design which was developed in association with Raytheon, was chosen for development in July 2004 with an initial order for 75 systems. Development testing of the ENVG with the army, designated AN/PSQ-20, began by mid-2006, which was completed in March 2007. Operational testing started in June 2007, with low-rate initial production of the device beginning around the same time. ITT were given a five-year contract in April 2005 with a potential value of $560 million, with the view of replacing the existing AN/PVS-7 and AN/PVS-14.

The AN/PSQ-20 Enhanced Night Vision Goggle combines image intensifier (I2 or II) and infra-red (IR, also called thermal imaging) technologies, and is the first night vision device to do so. Before this "fusing", these two technologies could only be used separately. The AN/PSQ-20 allows both methods to be used together or individually, and can be helmet-mounted or hand held. It is roughly the same size as the AN/PVS-14 with similar controls, and is powered by four AA type batteries allowing continuous combined use of II and IR for 7.5 hours. The device can be used for a further 7.5 hours in II mode.

Classified as a third-generation passive night vision device, the AN/PSQ-20 can provide vision through thermal imaging even in situations where there isn't enough ambient light for the image intensifiers, thus eliminating the need for infra-red illumination (active night vision). It can also see through battlefield obscurants such as smoke and fog. The combined technologies allow better target identification and recognition, thereby improving the soldier's mobility and situational awareness. The center of gravity of the device is close to the face of the wearer, making the helmet-mounted use more comfortable, as well as increasing stability. Aiming lasers can also be integrated with it. However, at a unit cost of $18,000 and with a weight of almost 2 pounds (0.91 kg), the AN/PSQ-20 is more expensive and heavier than the devices it is intended to replace.

In 2019, the Army plans to begin fielding the Family of Weapon Sights-Individual (FWS-I), an optic that can be mounted on various weapons like the M4 carbine, M16A4 rifle, M249 SAW, M136 rocket, and M141 Bunker Defeat Munition. The FWS-I is designed to work with the ENVG-III by transmitting data from the scope to the goggles, so the soldier can aim the weapon without needing to raise it to their eye. Both systems were brought together under the Rapid Target Acquisition (RTA) capability that combined two separate programs of record with separate devices together to make them interoperable. The goggles are connected through fiber optic wires to a processor on the back of the helmet that wirelessly communicates with the weapon-mounted FWS-I; because of the systems' short range and low power, jamming the wireless connection is not a concern. Connecting with the ENVG-III also expands field of vision from a scope's 18-26 degrees to the goggle's 40 degrees. By seeing what the scope sees through the goggles, soldiers can point their weapons out of defilade positions like over walls and around corners and fire accurately without exposing their head or torso to enemy fire. The Army first experimented with aiming and shooting weapons behind cover during the Land Warrior program, but it relied on connecting wires between the helmet-mounted display and weapon-mounted thermal sight that could get caught, and early sights were too heavy and bulky.

The AN/PSQ-20 ENVG was first issued to the US Army in April 2008. The 10th Mountain Division received about 300 units in February 2009, making it the first non-special forces unit to use the device.

PM Soldier Sensors and Lasers, which is part of PEO Soldier, has been working on making the AN/PSQ-20 more rugged by using tougher housing material. Efforts have also been made to make the device lighter, as well as to produce and transmit digital images of the view provided. As a result, a prototype named Digital Enhanced Night Vision Goggle or ENVG (D) was provided to the army for evaluation in June 2009, which enables digitally fused images to be exported and imported.

As of July 2015, the Army had bought about 9,000 ENVG-I and 16,000 ENVG-II units. Beginning in FY 2017, the ENVG-III is expected to begin fielding, with a total of 41,000 to be produced by BAE Systems and DRS Technologies. Like previous versions, the ENVG-III allows soldiers to choose between night vision, thermal, hybrid, and a hybrid where thermal images show up with an outline, but extends the thermal capacity out to the entire 40-degree field of view rather than just a circle in the middle, and has a sleeker design for the device and battery pack, improved resolution, is lighter at less than two pounds, and is designed to work with the FWS-I. Plans are to equip 24 ENVGs per platoon, with each costing an estimated $10,000, cheaper than previous versions due to competition and improved technology.














Shawn in the Korengal Valley, Kunar Province, Afghanistan.








For more info on these and other weapons
Technical specs compiled from:
http://armypubs.army.mil/doctrine/Active_FM.html
http://world.guns.ru/index-e.html
https://en.wikipedia.org
http://www.militaryfactory.com/
http://www.olive-drab.com/
http://www.army.mil/
http://dok-ing.hr/products/demining/mv_4?productPage=general





For Use of Photos by Shawn
Contact: garlow.co@gmail.com

"The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement."

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Nordic Components by Cactus Tactical

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Tactical Blog from Cactus Tactical

Weapons of the War in Afghanistan: Military Robots, Part II

Weapons of the War in Afghanistan

In the world of war, weapons and technology are ever changing, each war is characterized by the weapons and tactics used to fight it. As new environments and enemies are encountered, the parties to those wars develop new - more effective tactics, technologies, and weapons to counter and defeat their adversaries. The ingenuity seen in war has existed since (and most certainly before) the first wars of recorded history and continue to this very day. 


Keeping with that theory, let’s take a look at the weapons that have characterized the wars and conflicts that the United States has been a party to over the course of it’s history. During the course of this series, I aim to breakdown the weapons used in each conflict by their classification, and to which party they were employed by. Having served in combat operations in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley, I would like to start our series with the War in Afghanistan. 


For our seventeenth installment let's take a look the most common military robots used in the War in Afghanistan. 




Part II

DOK-ING MV-4
DOK-ING d.o.o is a large Croatian producer of electric vehicles, specializing in unmanned multi-purpose vehicles established in 1992.

The MV-4 Mine Clearance System is a tracked, remote-controlled machine designed to clear all types of Anti-Personnel (AP) mines and UXO-s, and is survivable to all types of Anti-Tank (AT) mines. Due to its small dimensions and maneuverability, it is suitable for demining of house yards, orchards, forest paths, river banks, and other types of terrain that is inaccessible to larger machines. The various operating tools for mine clearance and soil processing destroy even the smallest Anti-Personnel blast pressure mines and the most dangerous types of bouncing fragmentation mines. The machine is remotely controlled from an armored vehicle or from a safe distance. The engine and vital components of the machine are protected by steel plates.

Designed to withstand mine detonations - Being originally designed for one task only – humanitarian demining, MV-4 system is primarily designed for clearance of Anti-Personnel mines, but there is always a possibility of encountering Anti-Tank mines during its operation. The MV-4 strongest ability to withstand Anti-Tank mine detonations has been proved at the Swedish EOD and Demining Center (SWEDEC) in July 2004.

Safety - Being remotely controlled by an operator from a distance of up to 2000 m, MV-4 system has approved record of safety of demining personnel and third parties - no mine accident in more than 15 years of operation
Productivity - Small dimensions, very good maneuverability, high engine power, and low track-ground pressure, allows the MV-4 system to work year round in almost all conditions. The clearing productivity goes up to 2200 m² per hour.

Protection - Due to the Hardox steel plates, the MV-4 is highly resistant to the fragmentation of landmines, and it's low profile reduces its susceptibility to shrapnel damage.

Mobility & maneuverability - Small dimensions and low track-ground pressure and the working tool that can be raised, lowered, extended and retracted enable the MV-4 system to navigate over difficult terrain such as ditches, obstacles, canals, etc.  It is able to pass over a ditch 19.69 inches wide and 11.81 inches deep, and vertical obstacles of about 11.81 inches in height. Additionaly, it is also able to perform self-recovery from a ditch/channel by using its hydraulic arms (extend/retract positions).

MV-4 can drive and work on highly inclined terrain both transversely and longitudinally:clearing of transverse slopes of 35° up and down, driving on transversal slopes of 45° up and down, clearing longitudinal slopes of 20°driving on longitudinal slopes of 35°.

MV-4 can drive through water to a depth of 17.72 inches without any special actions taken by the operator and can turn 360° on a single point.

Maintenance - Since its low profile reduces the exposure to shrapnel damage, the majority of repairs can be carried out by the operator and mechanic in the field.  Any sections that are damaged by blasts can be easily replaced.



MARCbot
Photo by Army.mil
The Multi-function Agile Remote-Controlled Robot (MARCbot) is a military robot created by Exponent Inc. for the United States Army Rapid Equipping Force.

The MARCbot was designed as a low cost robotic platform used in Iraq for the inspection of suspicious objects. Until its creation when US Army patrols encountered a potential improvised explosive device, they had to either wait for a specialist explosive ordnance disposal team with its specialist / expensive robots, or investigate the suspicious package themselves. Exponent worked with the Rapid Equipping Force to create a low cost robot for patrol units. Over 1000 MARCbots were eventually created for the US Army for the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan (2001–14). The MARCbot reputedly costs $19,000 - however this is less than other contemporary military robots.

The MARCbot is one of smallest and most commonly used robots in Iraq and looks like a small toy truck with an elevated mast on which a camera is mounted. This camera is used to look, for example, behind doors or through windows without placing human soldiers in danger. It is capable of running for 6 hours on a set of fully charged batteries and was developed with the input of soldiers in Iraq to meet their needs.

Use as an offensive weapon:
The MARCbot was the first ground robot to draw blood in Iraq. One unit jury-rigged a Claymore antipersonnel mine on their units. If they suspected an ambush they would send the robot ahead. If an insurgent was seen the Claymore would be detonated.
















Shawn in the Korengal Valley, Kunar Province, Afghanistan.








For more info on these and other weapons
Technical specs compiled from:
http://armypubs.army.mil/doctrine/Active_FM.html
http://world.guns.ru/index-e.html
https://en.wikipedia.org
http://www.militaryfactory.com/
http://www.olive-drab.com/
http://www.army.mil/
http://dok-ing.hr/products/demining/mv_4?productPage=general





For Use of Photos by Shawn
Contact: garlow.co@gmail.com

"The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement."

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Nordic Components by Cactus Tactical

Monday, March 06, 2017

The Tactical Blog from Cactus Tactical

Weapons of the War in Afghanistan: Military Robots, Part I

Weapons of the War in Afghanistan

In the world of war, weapons and technology are ever changing, each war is characterized by the weapons and tactics used to fight it. As new environments and enemies are encountered, the parties to those wars develop new - more effective tactics, technologies, and weapons to counter and defeat their adversaries. The ingenuity seen in war has existed since (and most certainly before) the first wars of recorded history and continue to this very day. 


Keeping with that theory, let’s take a look at the weapons that have characterized the wars and conflicts that the United States has been a party to over the course of it’s history. During the course of this series, I aim to breakdown the weapons used in each conflict by their classification, and to which party they were employed by. Having served in combat operations in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley, I would like to start our series with the War in Afghanistan. 


For our seventeenth installment let's take a look the most common military robots used in the War in Afghanistan. 



GG&G MOSSBERG 590 SHOTGUN MAGAZINE FOLLOWER


Part I: The United States

PackBot
PackBot is a series of military robots by iRobot, an international robotics company founded in 1990. More than 2000 were used in Iraq and Afghanistan.They were then used again to aid searching through the debris of the World Trade Center after 9/11 in 2001. Another instance of the PackBot technology being implemented was to the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami where they were the first to assess the site. As of November 2014, the U.S. Army is refurbishing 224 iRobot 510 robots. The PackBot technology is also used in collaboration with NASA for their rovers and probes.

The National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) has a partnership with the company, iRobot. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a facility responsible for the development of robotic space-crafts as well as the Deep Space Network. Among these space-crafts are the rovers sent to the planet Mars. The rovers Spirit and Opportunity sent to Mars in 2003 are just two of the rovers managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Mars is not the only place employing iRobot technology. In 2011, Japan was rocked by a strong earthquake causing a meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear reactor. Two PackBot rovers were deployed into the ruins of the nuclear power plant to assess damage where the radioactivity was at high enough levels prohibiting humans from exploring.

The projects involving the cooperation of iRobot and NASA allowed the creation of high-tech machines. The much needed physical structure of the robots was designed by iRobot while the instruments and science equipment onboard was provided by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

PackBot 510 is the current base model. It uses a videogame-style hand controller to make it more familiar to young operators. Configurations include:

  • PackBot 510 with EOD Bomb Disposal Kit designed for improvised explosive device identification and disposal.
  • PackBot 510 with Fast Tactical Maneuvering Kit designed for infantry troops tasked with improvised explosive device inspection. This is a lighter weight robot.
  • PackBot 510 with First Responder Kit designed to help SWAT teams and other first responders with situational awareness.
  • PackBot 510 with HazMat Detection Kit collects air samples to detect chemical and radiological agents.
  • PackBot 510 with Fido utilizes the Fido Explosives Detector from ICx Technologies as a payload in order to "sniff" out explosive materials. With the Fido, the PackBot now has the capability of locating explosive devices and subsequently disarming them using on-board robotic capabilities.
  • PackBot 510 with REDOWL Sniper Detection Kit utilizes the Acoustic Direction Finder from BioMimetic Systems to localize gunshots with azimuth, elevation, and range.
  • RC2 – U.S. Marine Corps version of the 510 PackBot with a longer and stronger arm, more cameras, communications variations, and better track propulsion.


PackBot 510 has a maximum speed of 5.8 mph, and weighs 31.6 lbs. The robot can traverse mud, rocks, stairs, and other surfaces due to its caterpillar track. The robot also has zero radius turn capability, and can climb up to a 60 degree incline. The dual BB-2590/U Li-ion rechargeable batteries allow for the robot to have a run time of 4 to 8 hours. Adaptive Materials Inc. (AMI) has created a power pod battery capable of extending the life of the PackBot. The power pod weighs 13 lbs and allows for extension of battery life to reach 12 hours. It can maneuver in up to 3 feet of water. PackBot has more than 40 accessories which are illustrated in PackBot 510 variants. Additionally, the robot can communicate up to 1000 meters (3281 feet), and captures information through four cameras with night vision, zoom, and illumination capabilities that allow for real time image processing.

The main use of the Packbot in the field is IED detection and diffusion. The Packbot Scout was the first deployment of the Packbot and sent to Afghanistan in 2002 to explore caves and bunkers. This model was the simplest Packbot which contained just a robotic arm and camera. As of 2007 Packbots have been deployed to aid in the detection of sniper fire in the middle east. Acoustic signatures detected by the robot allow ground troops to pin point sniper fire in battle. Packbot has also been used to explore buildings and other possibly dangerous areas with the modified light Packbot Explorer which only weighs 30 pounds and is faster than the Packbot 510. In addition, iRobot sent two Packbot 510 robots to Japan after the Tsunami and Earthquake destroyed Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The robot was used on several reconnaissance missions at the power plant to remove debris and measure radiation readings.




TALON
The Foster-Miller TALON remotely operated vehicle is a small, tracked military robot designed for missions ranging from reconnaissance to combat.

Foster-Miller claims the TALON is one of the fastest robots in production, one that can travel through sand, water, and snow as well as climb stairs. The TALON transmits in color, black and white, infrared, and/or night vision to its operator, who may be up to 1,000 m away. It can run off lithium-ion batteries for a maximum of 7 days on standby independently before needing recharging. It has an 8.5 hour battery life at normal operating speeds, 2 standard lead batteries providing 2 hours each and 1 optional Lithium Ion providing an additional 4.5 hours. It can also withstand repeated decontamination allowing it to work for long periods of time in contaminated areas. It was used in Ground Zero after the September 11 attacks working for 45 days with many decontaminations without electronic failure. This led to the further development of the HAZMAT TALON.

It weighs less than 100 lb or 60 lb for the Reconnaissance version. Its cargo bay accommodates a variety of sensor payloads. The robot is controlled through a two-way radio or a Fiber-optic link from a portable or wearable Operator Control Unit (OCU) that provides continuous data and video feedback for precise vehicle positioning.

  • Regular (IED/EOD) TALON: Carries sensors and a robotic manipulator, which is used by the U.S. Military for explosive ordnance disposal and disarming improvised explosive devices.
  • Special Operations TALON (SOTAL): Does not have the robotic arm manipulator but carries day/night color cameras and listening devices; lighter due to the absence of the arm, for reconnaissance missions.
  • SWORDS TALON: For small arms combat and guard roles. Tested in December 2003 in Kuwait prior to deployment in Iraq.
  • HAZMAT TALON: Uses chemical, gas, temperature, and radiation sensors that are displayed in real time to the user on a hand-held display unit. It is now being tested by the US Armament Research Development and Engineering Center ARDEC.


The robot costs approximately $60,000 in its standard form. Foster-Miller was subsequently bought out by QinetiQ, a United Kingdom military developer.

SWORDS or the Special Weapons Observation Reconnaissance Detection System, is a weaponized version being developed by Foster-Miller for the US Army. The robot is composed of a weapons system mounted on the standard TALON chassis. The current price of one unit is $230,000; however, Foster-Miller claims that when it enters mass production the price may drop to between $150,000 and $180,000.

There are a variety of different weapons that can be placed on the SWORDS; M16 rifle, 5.56 mm SAW M249, 7.62 mm M240 machine gun, .50 cal M82 Barrett rifle, a six barreled 40 mm grenade launcher or quad 66 mm M202A1 FLASH incendiary weapon.

SWORDS units have demonstrated the ability to shoot precisely. It is not autonomous, but instead has to be controlled by a soldier using a small console to remotely direct the device and fire its weapons. Foster-Miller are currently at work on a "Game Boy" style controller with virtual-reality goggles for future operators.

In 2007, three SWORDS units were deployed to Iraq. Each unit is armed with a M249 machine gun. This deployment marks the first time that robots are carrying guns into battle; however, their weapons have remained unused as the Army has never given the go-ahead for using them. The Army stopped funding the SWORDS robots after deploying the initial three robots. Foster-Miller is working on a successor: the Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System (MAARS)

By August 2013, the Smithsonian Institution had acquired a SWORDS robot for its collection. One is also on display at the National Infantry Museum in Fort Benning, Georgia.

The Talon has been deployed in military service since 2000 - for example, in Bosnia for the movement of munitions and EOD (explosive ordnance disposal) to get rid of grenades. It was also used in Ground Zero after the September 11th attacks in search and recovery. It is the only robot used in this effort that did not require any major repair. Foster-Miller claims the Talon was used for a classified mission by US Special Forces in the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan as well as in an EOD role. In Iraq its standard role has been performing EOD and IED destruction missions. Its combat SWORDS version is now being used there in a guard role protecting front line buildings from attack. According to Foster-Miller, the robot has performed around 20,000 EOD missions in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As of late 2014, the Army was refurbishing 353 Talon IV robots, with 296 going to Army engineers and 57 for the Army National Guard.
















Shawn in the Korengal Valley, Kunar Province, Afghanistan.








For more info on these and other weapons
Technical specs compiled from:
http://armypubs.army.mil/doctrine/Active_FM.html
http://world.guns.ru/index-e.html
https://en.wikipedia.org
http://www.militaryfactory.com/
http://www.olive-drab.com/
http://www.army.mil/





For Use of Photos by Shawn
Contact: garlow.co@gmail.com

"The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement."

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Nordic Components by Cactus Tactical