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The National Interest online seeks to provide a space for vigorous debate and exchange not only among Americans but between U.S. and overseas interlocutors. This is the new home for informed analysis and frank but reasoned exchanges on foreign policy and international affairs.
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08 декабря, 16:30

Sig Sauer's 516 AR-Style Rifle Is A Real Killer

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Charlie Gao Security, We have the details. Key Point: The tendency for Sig Sauer to promote a new rifle every few years is probably disconcerting to potential users. When the HK released the HK416 in the early 2000s, it rapidly became a hit with elite military and police forces worldwide. Driven by a slick marketing campaign and favorable (albeit disputed) test results from the U.S. military, the HK416 represented a “better mousetrap” version of the AR-family of rifles for many users. Though the advantages of the HK416 have become debatable in modern years, with upgrades to traditional AR rifles enhancing their reliability, Sig Sauer, Inc looked to create their answer to the HK416 in the late 2000s. The result, released in 2010, was the SIG 516. While Sig doesn’t like to emphasize the connection, the SIG 516 was conceived in many ways as a direct counterpart to the HK416. According to the late Jim Schatz, a former H&K employee and H&K expert, one of the key people involved in the HK416 was the lead on the SIG 516 development team. The name “SIG 516” is likely just a riff on HK416. In the basic layout, the SIG 516 also heavily resembles the HK416. Both rifles use a short-stroke tappet system placed above the barrel, which drives back a modified bolt carrier in the upper receiver. This allows the rifles to be easily compatible with most AR lowers without much modification. However, Sig Sauer’s design was found to be relatively close to an existing piston AR, the LWRC IC-A5. This resulted in both LWRC and Sig Sauer, Inc. being brought to court in 2016 on patent claims on the original design of the SIG 516’s piston system. The 516’s piston design does have some advantages versus the 416. The 516 has a 4-position gas regulator, allowing for reduced recoil and wear. The 416’s piston is self-regulating in theory, but in the default position tends to give increased recoil over an adjustable gas system. The HK416 would receive an adjustable regulator in the HK416A5 variant. Read full article

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08 декабря, 16:00

Cruise Missile Defense 101: How the Allies Defeated Nazi Robot Bombs in World War II

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Sebastien Roblin History, Europe That solution came in the form of Operation Diver—a multi-layered defense system designed to thin-out the incoming V-1 barrages. Key point: London and Washinton came up with a wide variety of innovative defenses to stop Berlin's buzz bombs. London was under siege as it never had been before. Starting June 13, 1944—merely a week after the triumph of the D-Day landings—V-1 cruise missiles launched from Nazi-occupied France began raining down upon the metropolis, their rapid-firing pulset jet motors emitting a horrid buzzing drone.  These attacks—which increased in volume to 100 a day—killed thousands, and the threat posed by them caused over a million Londoners to flee for the countryside, leading to major economic disruptions. Unlike the bombardment during the Battle of Britain in 1940, during which Royal Air Force fighters inflicted unsustainable losses on German bombers, the unmanned V-1s were cheap and expendable. While Allied armies struggled to breakout of the hedgerows of Normandy to seize V-1 launch sites around Calais, the British military had to devise solutions to the new threat—fast. That solution came in the form of Operation Diver—a multi-layered defense system designed to thin-out the incoming V-1 barrages.  Fighter Versus Cruise Missiles Fortunately, the V-1—described in greater detail in a companion article—flew in a straight line from its launch site, meaning they would approach from certain predictable avenues and couldn’t dodge defensive fire. Read full article

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08 декабря, 15:47

This Picture Shows Why Russia's Aircraft Carrier Can Be Seen From Miles Away

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Charlie Gao Security, Even without radar Key point: The fuel explains the smoke. For most sailors who served on the Admiral Kuznetzov, Mazut is the stuff of legends. The ultra thick, tarry black substance that powers the ship is known for being rather toxic, sticky, and not easy to get out of clothes. But why did the Soviet navy keep powering its ships with Mazut? What are the advantages and disadvantages of the fuel? Why exactly is the Kuznetsov so smoky? Not all Russian ships run on Mazut. Of all the large ships the current Russian Navy operates, only the Sovremenny-class destroyers and the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier run on Mazut. Given the large profile the Admiral Kuznetsov on the global scene—being Russia's only aircraft carrier—naturally, some curiosity has arisen about what it runs on and why it produces so much smoke. Mazut is a heavy petrochemical fuel. While most sources refer it to being taken from the very bottom of a distillation stack, this is inaccurate as "mazut" is a blanket term for very-heavy oil products, including those that can be formed from blending heavier oils with some slightly lighter ones. In the West, Mazut would fall into the Bunker B and Bunker C fuel oil classifications, although the ISO 8217 standard has superseded these categories. Under the ISO 8217 standard, Mazut may be classified as RMG or RMK fuel. These thick, heavy fuels were, by and large, the standard for both military and commercial vessels up until the 1960s and 1970s. Their thick nature gave them a very high volume to energy ratio compared with lighter distillates. But to be burned, they often had to be preheated and pressurized in a complex series of boilers and pipes. Burning these fuels could also produce large amounts of sulfur, as such heavy minerals tended to settle to the bottom of a distillation stack. As a result, these fuels can be expensive to procure in nations with higher environmental standards as they must be distilled from crude with a low initial sulfur content or removed via a chemical process. Read full article

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08 декабря, 15:34

Is War with North Korea Unavoidable?

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Crispin Rovere Security, Asia North Korea’s nuclear weapons are not merely about regime survival, for all would agree that its existing capabilities are more than sufficient for dissuading unprovoked regime change. Rather, it seeks mutual nuclear vulnerability with the United States to prevent military responses to North Korea’s current and future aggression towards U.S. allies in the region.  Key point: Pyongyang might not be subject to the same constraints as other nuclear regimes. Many believe that North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons, along with its conventional arsenal, rules out war. A conflict would indeed prove more horrific than many apprehend, and being enthused by the prospect of another Korean war would truly be insane. However, what is even more insane is telling the President of the United States that the greatest nation in history, and all its 300 million+ citizens, must live in the shadow of annihilation at the whims of a sadistic cult. This is simply not going to happen, and observers insisting that there is no military option ignore reality and all senior members of this administration and the president himself. The United States will not live with a North Korea that can destroy American cities with a nuclear-tipped ICBM, end of story. Those arguing against war insist that traditional nuclear deterrence with North Korea can work, just like with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Before proceeding everyone should re-read the last paragraph and understand fully that their argument is an academic exercise and not a realistic course of action. They are also totally wrong, for these reasons: 1. Deterrence has already failed North Korea’s nuclear weapons are not merely about regime survival, for all would agree that its existing capabilities are more than sufficient for dissuading unprovoked regime change. Rather, it seeks mutual nuclear vulnerability with the United States to prevent military responses to North Korea’s current and future aggression towards U.S. allies in the region.   This is already being demonstrated. On September 14, North Korea stated that: “The four islands of the [Japanese] archipelago should be sunken into the sea by the nuclear bomb of Juche. Japan is no longer needed to exist near us.” Hardly a declaration that nuclear weapons are for deterrence! The very next day residents on Hokkaido island received a text – ‘a missile from North Korea has been detected, take cover.' Read full article

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08 декабря, 15:30

Brazil’s Answer to the Glock 19 Gun: Meet the Taurus G3

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Kyle Mizokami Technology, An expert tells us what he thinks--and if it can take out the legendary Glock 19. High capacity nine millimeter pistols were first introduced to the public as service pistols. Built for military and police without regard for size, service pistols were full-sized handguns that prioritized recoil reduction and magazine capacity over concealability. Over the years a compromise has evolved, resulting in a pistol mixing all three features. The Glock 19 is cited as the ideal compromise, and Taurus’ G3 pistol very much runs in that vein--but at a substantially lower cost. The Glock 17 handgun was originally designed for the Austrian armed forces and then exported to civilian markets worldwide. The Glock 17 is a reliable handgun that, while lightweight, still has enough heft to absorb the modest recoil of the nine millimeter round. This makes it an excellent gun for conscript armies, where soldiers may not have a background in firearms. It also features a large, seventeen round magazine allowing soldiers to carry more rounds on their person. The Glock 17 did well in the American commercial market but many buyers clamored for a handgun with a shorter barrel and slightly shorter magazine, resulting in the Glock 19. This defined the “sweet spot” for many compact nine millimeter handguns, and Brazil’s Taurus steps into that spot with the G3 pistol. Forjas Taurus, or Taurus, was established in Brazil in 1939 as a tool and die manufacturing company. The company produced its first pistol, the 38101SO, in 1941, and began exporting pistols to the United States in 1968. Briefly controlled by Smith & Wesson, the Brazilian company broke with its American parent in 1977--but not before absorbing many handgun technologies. The company became adept at producing clones of Smith & Wesson style .38 caliber revolvers, and by the 1980s was copying firearms such as the Beretta 92. Read full article

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08 декабря, 15:24

Here's The Trump Administration's Weirdo Plan For The Student Aid Crisis

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Neal McCluskey Education, The Department of Education is overseeing $1.5 trillion in federal student loans.  The U.S. Department of Education was not created to be a giant lending institution. But that is what it has become, overseeing nearly $1.5 trillion in federal student loans. At a meeting of college financial aid administrators in maybe-symbolic Reno, NV, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos proposed to change that by turning the department’s student aid offices into an independent “government corporation.” It would have its own governing board that would, she suggested, be freed of political meddling and motivated to “deliver world-class service to students and their families.” Color me dubious. For sure, it is hard to imagine an independent agency running less efficiently than the U.S. Department of Education, though that is mainly because the bigger the organization, the greater the red tape. I am not aware of evidence that given its size and that it is a government institution, ED is a particularly atrocious steward of student loans. The fact is, as DeVos pointed out in her speech, it is Congress, with approval of the president, that has created the inscrutable profusion of loans, grants, and loan repayment plans—not to mention tax-favored savings accounts and Work Study—that has made federal student aid a tangled web only a professional financial adviser could love. Probably no one could make that into a well-oiled machine. DeVos laid out few specifics for her proposal, but if an independent Federal Student Aid (FSA) agency had to follow all the rules and qualifications of the current aid programs—and Congress put them in there for a reason—it is hard to imagine the system getting much more efficient no matter who oversees it. With its only mission running aid programs, an independent FSA might be more efficient in watching over schools and loan servicers, but probably not by a lot. And DeVos suggested it would not just be a narrower focus that would make it work better, but greater incentives: a need to “work to secure its financial strength and sustainability.” Read full article

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08 декабря, 15:17

American GI Recalls: Imperial Japanese Soldier Asked Me for Hot Chocolate

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Paul Szoldra Security, Asia A perfect Christmas vignette.  Key point: Even in the midst of batlte, there can be some levity. The Battle of Iwo Jima, which began Feb. 19, 1945, was one of the bloodiest battles in Marine Corps history, as former Cpl. Don Graves knows firsthand and will never forget. He'll also never forget the time a Japanese soldier smelled hot chocolate being brewed near him and called out for him to bring him some. The moment, as he recounted in a video posted to the Marine Corps Facebook page Tuesday, was almost like the Christmas truce that wasn't. Sitting in a fox hole with two other Marines on the fifth week of the battle, he said, Graves decided to make himself some hot chocolate. "So my other two buddies, they said, 'make enough for three of us.'" So there he was, slicing up his chocolate ration with a Ka-Bar and chopping it into a powder. Then he cut off a piece of his Composition C2 demolition charge and used it to light a flame. "Just a nice little fire going, and we sat there and we watched it," he said. "And then all of sudden I could smell hot chocolate." Of course, so could everyone else, including enemy soldiers. A few minutes later, he heard a Japanese voice calling out to him, "hey Marine, very good chocoletto. You bring chocoletto here." "If you want chocoletto, you come here and get it," he said back. "He says, 'oh no, you bring here,'" Graves said, laughing. "There's humor in combat. Every man that's been in combat knows that sometimes funny things happen." This article originally appeared at Task & Purpose. Follow Task & Purpose on Twitter. This article first appeared earlier in 2019 and is being republished due to reader's interest. Media: Wikipedia Read full article

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08 декабря, 15:15

Meet Peter Ortiz: An Allied Spy Who Helped Pave the Way for D-Day

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Warfare History Network Security, Americas Legendary. Late in the day on October 24, 1944, all of the available 39 patrol torpedo (PT) boats of the U.S. Seventh Fleet were traveling at high speed into the Mindanao Sea just south of Leyte Gulf. By dusk they had taken up position in a patrol line. The journey of the boats from New Guinea to Leyte Gulf, which was approximately 1,200 miles, presented a difficult problem for the U.S. Navy. The distance was considered too far for the boats to complete in one hop, even if they were escorted by tender, so the Navy set to work to devise a more viable plan. The Navy decided to have the PTs fueled from the tenders. As for the tenders themselves, they would be fueled by tankers. The journey of the boats would represent the largest movement of PTs under their own power during the war. The U.S. Navy’s ship commanders in the Philippines depended on the PT boats at Leyte for an advance warning of the approach of the Japanese fleet. The PT boats’ first contact with the Japanese Imperial Navy in the unfolding Battle of the Leyte Gulf was an encounter with a group of battleships. Ensign Peter Gadd, who operated the radar aboard PT-131, picked up the battleships on radar at 10:36 pm. Three PT boats began closing on the target to make their attack. The Japanese battleship crews soon sighted the PT boats and began firing on them. The PT boats radioed their sighting to Rear Admiral Jesse Oldendorf, commander of Task Group 77.2 that was guarding the Surigao Strait. The PTs made repeated attacks over three hours but were unable to score any hits. Unable to thwart the Japanese battleships, the PT boats retired and the next day U.S. destroyers moved in to engage them. The incident shows the critical role that PT boats performed in the Pacific Theater to screen U.S. bases and warn U.S. fleets of threats. Read full article

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08 декабря, 15:00

The Marines Have A New Job For America's Old World War II Crab Tanks

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Michael Peck Security, Clearing mines. Key point: Except they will now be autonomous and unmanned. At dawn on June 6, 1944, the German troops defending the Normandy beaches glimpsed a terrifying sight. Landing craft were disgorging M-4 Sherman tanks on the beaches. But these were no ordinary tanks: on their hulls were fitted rotating drums to which chains were attached. The chains flailed the beach, detonating any mines buried in the sand. These were the legendary British “Crab” tanks of the 79th Armored Division, whose job it was to clear minefields. And now the U.S. Marine Corps is bringing back the Crabs, but with a twenty-first century twist. The Crawling Remotely Operated Amphibious Breacher, or CRAB, will be a robot vehicle that will clear naval mines that threaten Marine amphibious assault troops. The Marines are developing CRAB as a  “submersible, remote-autonomous system with front-end equipment—including a mine flail, tiller and rake—capable of breaching or proofing amphibious assault lanes for landing forces,” according to a Marine Corps news release. “The robotic crawlers will splash into the water from a littoral utility craft and travel along the seafloor to remove explosive and nonexplosive obstacles from the assault lane. Each CRAB is intended to be expendable.” The surf zone, where waves break onto shore, is a challenge for amphibious landings because turbulent water makes mine detection difficult. The Marines currently rely on the Assault Breacher Vehicle—an M1A1 tank chassis with a mine plow, and Mine Clearing Line Charges, which are rocket-fired lines festooned with explosives. Neither system is designed to operate in the surf zone. “The CRAB system is important because currently, the Naval Force can only breach in the surf zone with significant risk to mission or personnel,” said Capt. Anthony Molnar, a project officer for Marine Corps Systems Command. “This would alleviate that by having an inexpensive and expendable piece of equipment going through there.” Read full article

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08 декабря, 14:15

Kel-Tec Wants To Beat The AR-15, But Is The Su-16 Up To The Challenge?

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Charlie Gao Technology, We take a look. Key point: The SU-16 is an interesting design, but it fails to do anything better than most of its competitors. Kel-tec’s Sport Utility 16 (SU-16) rifle is an odd compromise.  Designed to compete with budget AR-15, the rifle features a highly similar layout to the AR, but an AK-like operating system that uses a long-stroke gas piston and a charging handle integrated on the bolt carrier group. The recoil spring is placed in front of the bolt carrier group on the gas piston itself, which allows the rifle to fold to be more compact. But are these design changes actually an improvement? In short, no. While placing the recoil spring on the gas piston itself may seem like a good idea to shorten the rifle, it means that if the piston or its connection to the bolt carrier breaks in some way at any point along its length during the recoil stroke, the bolt carrier risks being shot back into the rear of the receiver with nothing slowing it down, possibly cracking the receiver and injuring the user. While Kel-tec made some changes to the design, such as staking the operating rod in the carrier, to fix this issue, it’s notable that in their next design, the RDB, they moved the recoil spring back behind the bolt carrier group as in almost every other military firearm. Even under normal recoil, the SU-16 has issues with the bolt contacting the rear of the polymer receiver. While official statements suggest that the polymer the SU-16’s receiver is made of can take this abuse, most military rifles will include a rubber buffer at the rear of the receiver to dampen the shock on their metal receivers. There have been some reports of SU-16 receivers cracking at the rear due to these impacts, but these are largely individual issues and some SU-16s have run for thousands of rounds without this occurring. The SU-16 also has many other questionable features. Similar to the Steyr Scout, it features a split handguard that can be folded down to act as a primitive bipod. However, unlike the Scout, when done so the barrel is completely exposed, requiring the handguard to be folded up again to be used normally. Read full article

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08 декабря, 14:00

H&K SP5: The Best Pistol Caliber Carbine on the Planet?

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Charlie Gao Security, We have some answers for you. Key Point: The German manufacturer brings high quality to its weapons. With the announcement of the H&K SP5, H&K has finally reentered the civilian MP5 clone market in the US. While the SP5K, an MP5K clone has been out for several years, most civilian shooters appear to be more interested in a proper MP5. Until now this demand has been filled by American manufacturers like PTR, or by imported guns from countries that have licensed MP5 production lines of their own, like Turkey or Pakistan. But as H&K is the original manufacturer of the MP5, there is a lot of reputation that goes along with the brand. While H&K produced the HK94, a civilian version of the MP5 with a 16” barrel during the 1980s, imports of HK94s was halted in 1989 following George H. W. Bush’s semiautomatic rifle ban. Due to changing German export laws and American gun control laws, H&K would be unable to important proper civilianized versions of the MP5 until 2019. But the latest SP5 isn’t just a reintroduction of the same old MP5 that was on the American market in the 1980s. The MP5 went through significant design changes for the military and law enforcement markets since then, and it appears that most of the new changes have been incorporated into the new SP5. Though H&K probably planned for the 1980s MP5A5/MP5N to be the last variants of the MP5 before it was replaced by the UMP, continued demand for the MP5 lead to continued development on the design. One of the most substantial was the 1998 MP5F, an MP5 created for a French Gendarmerie contract. As the French planned on using increased pressure ammunition in their MP5s, the internals were revised and strengthened accordingly. Read full article

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08 декабря, 13:55

The Smith & Wesson Model 39: That Old 9mm Gun That Won't Just Go Away

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Kyle Mizokami Security, It works. Key point: The Model 39 is a capable gun that earned its spot in American firearms history. One of the earliest American nine-millimeter pistols was adopted for wartime service to take out enemy sentries… and barking dogs. The Smith & Wesson Model 39 semi-automatic handgun served U.S. Navy SEALs during the Vietnam War and then went on to become one of the American nine-millimeter high capacity pistols, the Model 59. The Smith & Wesson Model 39 had its roots in postwar America. U.S. troops, encountering the Walther P-38 on the battlefield, had a favorable impression of the German pistol. U.S. gunmaker Smith & Wesson decided to make an Americanized version of the P-38 for the domestic market, and borrowed heavily from Walther’s design. Internally, the Model 39 was very similar, to the point where magazines could almost be swapped between guns. Externally there were key differences, including a 1911-type full barrel slide removed with a twist of a barrel bushing. The Model 39 went on commercial sale in 1955. The Model 39 was a double-action pistol. It was 7.44 inches long and weighed just 26.5 ounces empty with a four-inch barrel. It was a recoil-operated handgun using a modified version of the Colt/Browning locking system used on handguns such as the 1911. Like the Walther P-38 the slim metal, single stack magazine held eight rounds of 9-millimeter Parabellum. During the 1960s the CIA had experimented on a suppressor for the Walther P-38, a pistol which in the Agency’s opinion combined reliability, firepower, and a distinctive non-American lineage. The suppressor greatly reduced the Walther’s report, particularly when combined with a slide lock that prevented the slide to fly backward. The use of a slide lock turned the pistol into a single-shot weapon and caused dramatic wear and tear on the handgun’s components, but the result was a very quiet pistol. Read full article