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The latest news on Defense from Business Insider

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    marine corps m27 rifle

    On the heels of a widely praised 2015 decision to issue the more maneuverable M4 carbine in lieu of the M16A4 to Marines in infantry battalions, the Marine Corps may be on the cusp of another major weapons decision.

    The Marine Corps' experimental battalion, the California-based 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, has been conducting pre-deployment exercises with the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle to evaluate it as the new service rifle for infantry battalions, the commander of 1st Marine Division, Maj. Gen. Daniel O'Donohue told Thursday.

    The battalion is set to deploy aboard the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit this spring. As part of its workup and deployment, it has been charged with testing and evaluating a host of technologies and concepts ranging from teaming operations with unmanned systems and robotics to experiments with differently sized squads.

    "When they take the IAR and they're training out there with all the ranges we do with the M4, they're going to look at the tactics of it. They'll look at the firepower, and they'll do every bit of training, and then they'll deploy with that weapon, and we'll take the feedback to the Marine Corps to judge," O'Donohue said.

    Marines in 3/5 used the IAR as their service rifle during the 28-day Integrated Training Exercise held this month at Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center 29 Palms, California. The exercise, also known as ITX, is the largest pre-deployment workup for deploying battalions, and typically one of the last exercises they'll complete. O'Donohue said the ubiquity of ITX would give evaluators ample data as they contrasted results with the different weapons.

    "All you have to do is compare this battalion to the other battalions going through ITX," he said.

    The M4 carbine and the M27 IAR handle very similarly as they share a number of features. However, the M27 has a slightly longer effective range -- 550 meters compared to the M4's 500 -- and elements that allow for more accurate targeting. It has a free-floating barrel, which keeps the barrel out of contact with the stock and minimizes the effect of vibration on bullet trajectory. It also has a proprietary gas piston system that makes the weapon more reliable and reduces wear and tear.

    Marines military

    And the the IAR can fire in fully automatic mode, while the standard M4 has single shot, semi-automatic and three-round burst options.

    Currently, each Marine Corps infantry fire team is equipped with a single IAR, carried by the team's automatic rifleman.

    "I think the fundamental is the accuracy of the weapon, the idea that you're going to use it for suppressive fires. And at first contact you have the overwhelming superiority of fire from which all the tactics evolve," O'Donohue said. "So it starts with the fire team and the squad, if you give them a better weapon with better fire superiority, you'll just put that vicious harmony of violence on the enemy."

    But officials do see some potential drawbacks to equipping every infantry Marine with the weapon.

    "One of the things we're looking at is the rate of fire," O'Donohue said. "You can burn off too much ammo, potentially, with the IAR. We have a selector, a regulator [showing] how many rounds the Marines shoot. So that's one area we're examining with experimentation."

    Another variable is cost.

    Chief Warrant Officer 5 Christian Wade, the gunner, or infantry weapons officer, for 2nd Marine Division, told the M27 costs about $3,000 apiece, without the sight. Because the Marine Corps is still grappling with budget cutbacks, he said he was skeptical that the service could find enough in the budget to equip all battalions with the weapons. He said a smaller rollout might be more feasible.

    "To give everyone in a Marine rifle squad [the IAR], that might be worth it," he said.

    O'Donohue said feedback would be collected on an ongoing basis from the Marines in 3/5 as they continued workup exercises and deployed next year. Decisions on whether to field a new service weapon or reorganize the rifle squad would be made by the commandant, Gen. Robert Neller, when he felt he had collected enough information, O'Donohue said.

    If the Marine Corps can sort out the logistics of fielding, Wade said he would welcome the change.

    "It is the best infantry rifle in the world, hands down," Wade said of the IAR. "Better than anything Russia has, it's better than anything we have, it's better than anything China has. It's world-class."

    -- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

    SEE ALSO: Watch a Seahawk helicopter attempt to land on a warship in rough seas

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    NOW WATCH: The US Navy has an unstoppable hovercraft that can go from water to land in seconds

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    A Canadian Armed Forces CF-18 Fighter jet arrives at the Canadian Air Task Force Flight Operations Area in Kuwait on October 28, 2014 in this Canadian Forces handout photo received October 29, 2014.   REUTERS/Canadian Forces Combat Camera, DND/Handout

    A Canadian CF-18 fighter pilot died after his jet crashed on Monday in a training area near Cold Lake, Alberta, the country's military said, without releasing the name of the pilot.

    "A flight safety investigation will be conducted to determine the cause," the Royal Canadian Air Force tweeted. "The name will not be released until next of kin are notified."

    While the air force called the matter an accident, it did not elaborate on its circumstances.

    The incident happened near the community of Cold Lake, which is close to the neighboring province of Saskatchewan and is home to 4 Wing Cold Lake, the busiest fighter base in Canada, according to the defense department.

    The crashed pilot was from 4 Wing and crashed his CF-188 Hornet at about 11 a.m. local time in the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range in Saskatchewan, said Captain Mat Strong, public affairs officer for the base.

    A defense department spokeswoman said helicopters were dispatched following the incident.

    The base, used to train Canada's fighter pilots, attracts international crews to its annual air combat exercise, Maple Flag, according to the department.

    In July, a plane crashed in Cold Lake during a military air show, killing the pilot.

    SEE ALSO: An Iranian Navy ship pointed weapons at a US Navy helicopter in an 'unsafe and unprofessional' move

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    NOW WATCH: Part plane, part helicopter — here's what it's like to fly in the military's MV-22 Osprey

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    A Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk helicopter flies near the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) during a transit through the Strait of Hormuz, February 14, 2012. REUTERS/Jumana El Heloueh

    An Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard vessel pointed its weapon at a U.S. military helicopter in the Strait of Hormuz on Saturday, two U.S. defense officials told Reuters on Monday, an action they described as "unsafe and unprofessional."

    The incident is the latest in a series of similar actions by Iranian vessels this year, but the first reported since Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential election earlier this month.

    During his campaign, Trump vowed that any Iranian vessel that harassed the U.S. Navy in the Gulf would be "shot out of the water," if he was elected. Trump is due to take office on Jan. 20.

    There was no immediate Iranian comment on the incident.

    The officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the incident took place when a Navy MH-60 helicopter flew within half a mile (0.8 km) of two Iranian vessels in international waters. One of the vessels pointed a weapon at the helicopter, the U.S. officials said.

    "The behavior by our standards is provocative and could be seen as an escalation," the officials said. At no point did the crew of the helicopter feel threatened, they added.

    Years of mutual animosity eased when Washington lifted sanctions on Tehran in January after a deal to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions. But serious differences still remain over Iran’s ballistic missile program, and over conflicts in Syria and Iraq.

    A number of similar incidents have taken place this year.


    In September, a U.S. Navy coastal patrol ship changed course after an Iranian fast-attack craft came within 100 yards (91 meters) of it.

    "When they circle our beautiful destroyers with their little boats and they make gestures at our people that they shouldn't be allowed to make, they will be shot out of the water," Trump said at the time.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: America's B-2 stealth bomber is unlike any military aircraft in the world

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    Three soldiers statue

    Just a few feet away from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., is a life-size statue called “Three Soldiers.”

    Crafted in bronze by sculptor Frederick Hart, he portrayed the men garbed in uniforms representative of the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps, carrying weapons of the Vietnam War era and facing the memorial wall. The man on the left, his body draped with ammo belts, carries an M-60 general purpose machine gun.

    Other than the M-16 rifle, perhaps no other firearm is as closely associated with the Vietnam War as the M-60.  Portrayals of the M-60 in the hands of Vietnam War soldiers range from the sublime dignity expressed by the “Three Soldiers” statue to the over-the-top destruction of the fictional town of Hope, Washington, by Sylvester Stallone’s character, John Rambo, in the film “First Blood.”

    The M-60 is a weapon that has faithfully served American soldiers in many battles since 1957. Far from perfect, the early model of the M-60 had so many design flaws that soldiers jerry-rigged fixes using everything from wire coat hangers to empty C-ration cans. The M-60 is also heavy — the machine gun weighs about 23 pounds, and those belts of ammo aren’t exactly lightweight, either.

    No wonder the M-60 earned an unflattering nickname: The Pig.

    But one thing is certain. Even with its flaws, a soldier armed with an M-60 can lay down a lot of lead, whether he is fighting in the jungles of Southeast Asia or the badlands of Afghanistan.

    The M-60 is an air-cooled, disintegrating belt-fed, gas-operated general purpose machine gun. It fires the 7.62 mm round with a cyclic rate of about 550 rounds a minute — a rate of fire that requires the crew to change the M-60’s barrel about every minute. In addition, the M-60 has an integral, folding bipod, but it can also be mounted on a folding tripod.

    M60 machine gun navy seal

    The M-60 was — and is — a fixture in the U.S. armed forces, serving as a squad support weapon, vehicle-mounted machine gun and as a “flex gun” mounted in the doors of helicopters like the UH-1 Huey and the CH-47 Chinook.

    Development of the M-60 started after World War II. American generals held a grudging admiration for the German MG-42, a machine gun so powerful that it was nicknamed “Hitler’s Bone Saw” by the Wehrmacht troops that fired it. The MG-42 had a blinding rate of fire and was belt fed—both qualities were considered desirable by weapons designers. The Fallschirmjägergewehr 42, or FG 42 battle rifle, also had equally desirable qualities, such as a gas-operated bolt, which were closely scrutinized by the Americans.

    Ordnance experts took the best Germany had to offer and developed a prototype machine gun. Some argued it wasn’t an ideal machine gun compared to foreign models such as the FN MAG—but it could be domestically produced, which made congressmen with defense industries in their districts very happy.

    In 1957, the Defense Department adopted the machine gun and dubbed it the United States Machine Gun, Caliber 7.62 mm, M60. It’s been in the arsenal ever since.

    But the three-man crews who served the M-60 during the Vietnam War discovered the machine gun had its idiosyncrasies.

    First of all, no one designing the M-60 remembered to put a wire carrying handle on the barrel. That made barrel changes an agonizing affair—in order to remove the red-hot steel, an assistant gunner was expected in the heat of battle to don asbestos gloves that looked like oven mitts. Also, ammo belts would sometimes bind in the weapon. Then, some G.I. got a brilliant idea: just lash an empty C-ration can to the left side of the receiver so the belt would flow smoothly over the curved surface.

    By the 1980s, the military adopted the M-60E3, a version of the machine gun with added improvements and (most of) the bugs worked out.

    Although the Defense Department ordered the phase-out of the M-60, it is still used by U.S. armed forces personnel. SEALs favor the M-60, the Navy and the Coast Guard often have it on board their ships, and Army reserve units frequently have an M-60 in the weapons room.

    And 45 nations — many of them NATO or East Asia allies — continue to use the M-60 as their heavy-hitting general purpose machine gun.

    SEE ALSO: The Marine Corps is experimenting with a new service rifle

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    NOW WATCH: It’s surreal to watch this 2011 video of Obama and Seth Meyers taunting Trump about a presidential run

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    us marine nicaragua

    Modern Americans can join the military and go to war without too much fuss, since the US still needs people for ongoing fights in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other hotspots around the world.

    But our forefathers didn’t always have a place to go if they got the martial itch. Sometimes, they really wanted to join a war that the American people didn’t want to get involved in.

    That’s when truly bold Americans would just join another country’s military and get to work.

    SEE ALSO: Why the M-60 'Pig' remains one of the best US machine guns ever

    Polish 7th Air Escadrille

    As a victor of World War I, Poland grew in size, gained a border with Russia, and quickly found itself at war with the communist Bolsheviks. American volunteers were allowed to form the Polish 7th Air Escadrille and the aviation unit engaged in fierce ground attacks against Russian cavalry from 1919 to 1920.

    The unit started with eight pilots but conducted more than 400 combat sorties. American Capt. Merian C. Cooper was awarded Poland’s highest military honors, the Virtui Militari, for his service there after he was shot down and escaped from a Soviet prisoner of war camp.

    The gendarmeries and national guards of Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua

    In the early 1900s, Marines were sent to Caribbean nations to protect American business interests and to help shore up governments friendly to the U.S. The Marines who were dispatched to the islands often ended up holding ranks in both the U.S. military and the local forces at once.

    For instance, then Maj. Smedley Butler was the commandant of the Haitian Gendarmerie and then Cpl. Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller was a second lieutenant in the Gendarmerie.

    Eagle Squadrons

    Americans who wanted to take the fight to Nazi Germany before Pearl Harbor had few legal options, but some lied about their citizenship and risked exile from America to join the Royal Air Force in 1939 and 1940. Eight Americans took part in the 1940 Battle of Britain that saw the RAF narrowly defeat attempts by Luftwaffe to open the British Isles to invasion.

    Dozens more Americans arrived after the Battle of Britain and helped the U.K. hold the line until America’s entry into the war after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    missile defense THAAD

    The Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency is in the early phases of engineering a next-generation “Star Wars”-type technology able to knock multiple incoming enemy targets out of space with a single interceptor, officials said.

    The new system, called Multi-Object Kill Vehicle, or MOKV, is designed to release from a Ground Based Interceptor and destroy approaching Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles, or ICBMs -- and also take out decoys traveling alongside the incoming missile threat.

     “We will develop and test, by 2017, MOKV command and control strategies in both digital and hardware-in-the-loop venues that will prove we can manage the engagements of many kill vehicles on many targets from a single interceptor. We will also invest in the communication architectures and guidance technology that support this game-changing approach,” a spokesman for the Missile Defense Agency, told Scout Warrior a few months ago.  

    Decoys or countermeasures are missile-like structures, objects or technologies designed to throw off or confuse the targeting and guidance systems of an approaching interceptor in order to increase the probability that the actual missile can travel through to its target.

    If the seeker or guidance systems of a “kill vehicle” technology on a Ground Base Interceptor, or GBI, cannot discern an actual nuclear-armed ICBM from a decoy – the dangerous missile is more likely to pass through and avoid being destroyed.  MOKV is being developed to address this threat scenario.

    The Missile Defense Agency has awarded MOKV development deals to Boeing, Lockheed and Raytheon as part of a risk-reduction phase able to move the technology forward, Lehner said.

    Steve Nicholls, Director of Advanced Air & Missile Defense Systems for Raytheon, told Scout Warrior the MOKV is being developed to provide the MDA with “a key capability for its Ballistic Missile Defense System - to discriminate lethal objects from countermeasures and debris. The kill vehicle, launched from the ground-based interceptor extends the ground-based discrimination capability with onboard sensors and processing to ensure the real threat is eliminated.”

    ICBM LGM-30G Minuteman III

    MOKV could well be described as a new technological step in the ongoing maturation of what was originally conceived of in the Reagan era as “Star Wars” – the idea of using an interceptor missile to knock out or destroy an incoming enemy nuclear missile in space. This concept was originally greeted with skepticism and hesitation as something that was not technologically feasible.

    Not only has this technology come to fruition in many respects, but the capability continues to evolve with systems like MOKV. MOKV, to begin formal product development by 2022, is being engineered with a host of innovations to include new sensors, signal processors, communications technologies and robotic manufacturing automation for high-rate tactical weapons systems, Nicholls explained.

    The trajectory of an enemy ICBM includes an initial “boost” phase where it launches from the surface up into space, a “midcourse” phase where it travels in space above the earth’s atmosphere and a “terminal” phase wherein it re-enters the earth’s atmosphere and descends to its target. MOKV is engineered to destroy threats in the “midcourse” phase while the missile is traveling through space.

    RS-28 sarmat satan 2

    An ability to destroy decoys as well as actual ICBMs is increasingly vital in today’s fast-changing technological landscape because potential adversaries continue to develop more sophisticated missiles, countermeasures and decoy systems designed to make it much harder for interceptor missile to distinguish a decoy from an actual missile.

     As a result, a single intercept able to destroy multiple targets massively increases the likelihood that the incoming ICBM threat will actually be destroyed more quickly without needing to fire another Ground Based Interceptor.  

    SM-3 MissileRaytheon describes its developmental approach as one that hinges upon what’s called “open-architecture,” a strategy designed to engineer systems with the ability to easily embrace and integrate new technologies as they emerge.  This strategy will allow the MOKV platform to better adjust to fast-changing threats, Nicholls said.

    The MDA development plan includes the current concept definition phase, followed by risk reduction and proof of concept phases leading to a full development program, notionally beginning in fiscal year 2022, Nicholls explained.

    “This highly advanced and highly technical kill vehicle takes a true dedication of time and expertise to properly mature. It is essential to leverage advancements from other members of the Raytheon kill vehicle family, including the Redesigned Kill Vehicle,” Nicholls said.  

    While the initial development of MOKV is aimed at configuring the “kill vehicle” for a GBI, there is early thinking about integrating the technology onto a Standard Missile-3, or SM-3, an interceptor missile also able to knock incoming ICBMs out of space.

    The SM-3 is also an exo-atmopheric "kill vehicle," meaning it can destroy short and intermediate range incoming targets; its "kill vehilce" has no explosives but rather uses kinetic energy to collide with and obliterate its target. The resulting impact is the equivalent to a 10-ton truck traveling at 600 mph, Raytheon statements said. 

    “Ultimately, these Multi-Object Kill Vehicles will revolutionize our missile defense architecture, substantially reducing the interceptor inventory required to defeat an evolving and more capable threat to the homeland,” an MDA official said.

    SEE ALSO: How the US's nuclear weapons compare to Russia's

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Rare footage shows the successful testing of the most powerful weapon known to man

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    Vladimir Putin and Donald TrumpRussian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that he and President-elect Donald Trump agreed during a recent phone call that US-Russian relations "must be straightened out."

    "During my recent telephone conversation with Mr. Donald Trump, our opinions coincided that the current, unsatisfactory state of Russia-US relations, undoubtedly must be straightened out. As I already have said, our country is prepared to go down our part of that road," Putin said at a foreign policy conference in Moscow.

    The Russian leader maintained that the decline in his country's relations with the US was "not our fault," though Putin presided over the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, the bombing of US-backed rebels in Syria last year, and the apparent Russian hacking of the DNC during the election.

    Putin's comments came amid reports in the Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post that the Kremlin has been in touch with Trump and people close to him about the ongoing crisis in Syria.

    During the campaign, Trump's son Donald Jr. met with pro-Russian diplomats in Paris who pressed the younger Trump to "reach an accord on the issue of the Syrian crisis" in partnership, instead of at odds, with Russia.

    The pro-Russian diplomats that met with Trump Jr. support an end to the Syrian conflict that keeps Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power, though the US under Obama has called for him to step aside and the international community has accused him of war crimes.

    russian airstrikes Syria

    In speeches, Trump has characterized Assad as "killing ISIS," despite reports that the vast majority of Russian and Syrian airstrikes in Syria have been directed at anti-Assad rebels operating in western Syria, far from ISIS' holdouts in the east.

    Recent polling carried out in Russia shows 71% of Russians favor strengthening economic, political, and cultural ties with the West, as the past several years of sanctions have been crippling to their economy

    SEE ALSO: EU pledges billions in funds for defense spending amid 'multiplying threats'

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    NOW WATCH: Watch the US Coast Guard seize a narco sub laden with $73 million worth of cocaine

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    President-elect Donald Trump may name his nominee for Secretary of Defense before the week is out, and legendary Marine Gen. Jim Mattis seems to be fading among the candidate pool, according to a new report from Colin Clark at Breaking Defense.

    The report cites two sources involved with the Trump presidential transition team. One source told the site that Trump may release his pick within the next two days, while the other source said that other candidates, such as former Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo.) and former Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), are still very much in the running.

    After Trump met with Mattis more than a week ago, most defense watchers believed the retired Marine general was the top pick to lead the Pentagon. The President-elect described Mattis, 66, as "very impressive" and said he was "seriously considering" him for the position.

    Trump later had an off-the-record meeting with media executives and on-air personalities, in which he said "he believes it is time to have someone from the military as secretary of defense,"according to Politico. Other Republicans and many D.C. insiders also offered praise for Mattis, though he would require a congressional waiver to serve as Defense Secretary since he has not been out of uniform for the statutorily required seven years.

    When reached by Business Insider, Mattis declined to comment.

    Though Sen. Talent has been among the candidates floated almost since the beginning, Sen. Kyl is a new name to emerge as a possible pick. Now a senior counsel at the Washington, D.C. law firm Covington & Burling, Kyl previously served as the second-highest Republican senator when he retired in 2013, after 26 years in Congress.

    Kyl was not immediately available for an interview, but soon after the Breaking Defense report was published, he told Politico he was not interested in serving again in government, which "the Trump transition team is well aware of."

    A number of defense secretaries who served under President Barack Obama have criticized him for his supposed "micromanagement." Even Mattis himself was reportedly forced into early retirement by the Obama administration due to his hawkish views on Iran, according to Tom Ricks at Foreign Policy.

    Whoever is ultimately picked, the next head of the Pentagon will oversee roughly 3 million military and civilian personnel and face myriad challenges, from the ongoing fight against ISIS and China's moves in the South China Sea to the ongoing stress on the military imposed by sequestration.

    The next defense secretary may also end up dealing with a nuclear-armed North Korea, and Russia is very likely to test limits in eastern Europe. The secretary will also need to reinvigorate a military plagued by low morale.

    This post was updated 11/30/2016 at 9:18 a.m. PDT.

    SEE ALSO: The US surveillance state is poised to become even more powerful under Trump

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    NOW WATCH: Forget 'Hell Week' — a Navy SEAL reveals the hardest part of training

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    m79 grenade launcher

    Every soldier wants maximum firepower.

    Firepower is something that can make the difference between life and death in a battle. It’s even better if the firepower is readily portable, so a single soldier can deliver death and destruction anywhere needed.

    That’s why soldiers love the M79 grenade launcher. First used in Vietnam, the weapon has a well-deserved reputation for putting the power of a mortar in the hands of the individual Joe.

    It isn’t a perfect weapon. The 40-mm round the M79 fires sometimes has less-devastating results than a hand-lobbed grenade.

    But it is a simple weapon to use.

    First deployed in 1961, the M79 grenade launcher is a single-shot, break-open, shoulder-fired weapon. It is breech-loading and fires a 40 x 46-mm grenade that is easy to load and easy to fire.

    “The M79 broke in the middle like a shotgun and loaded in the same way,” wrote Dean Muehlberg, a Special Forces operator who fought in Vietnam during 1979, in his book War Stories. “They were an awesome and deadly weapon.”

    No wonder the M79 earned the nickname “The Thumper.”

    The M79 uses a “high-low” propulsion launching system that reduces recoil and increases its effective range to up to 400 yards.

    It also extends the “reach” of an infantryman. Designed to bridge the effectiveness between the maximum range of a hand grenade and the minimum range of a mortar, the M79 quickly proved its effectiveness during the Vietnam War.

    m79 grenade launcher

    U.S. soldiers and Marines could usually shoot grenades best at targets from 150 yards to 300 yards away. Small infantry units benefited the most from the M79 because it increased the destruction they could inflict on enemy targets such as Viet Cong bunkers and redoubts.

    The M79 was not only used throughout the Vietnam War but remains in the arsenal to this day.

    During the early years of the Iraq War, there were Marine convoy units that carried the M79 to destroy IEDs at a comfortable distance. An explosive round from the grenade launcher often did the job of keeping a road clear more quickly and safely than calling in bomb disposal units.

    U.S. special operators also reportedly keep the M79 on hand because it remains a simple and accurate means of destroying an entrenched adversary — even though the M203 rifle-mounted grenade launcher was first introduced into the arsenal in 1969.

    The M79 also fired flechette rounds, known as Beehive Rounds because of the sound they made when traveling down range, that dispensed 45 small darts in a plastic casing that could shred flesh and bone when they hit the target point first. Unfortunately, many times the flechettes simply bounced off the target.

    It can also fire buckshot, smoke, and tear gas rounds. In Vietnam, the M576 buckshot round replaced flechettes, producing far more lethal results.

    The grenade launcher also has the capability of firing less-than-lethal rounds for crowd control and riot suppression. Used by police forces around the world, the M79 is often used to fire sponge rounds or rubber-coated crowd dispersal rounds to break up mobs and restore order.

    Time tested, the M79 is proof that newer isn’t always better.

    SEE ALSO: The Marine Corps is experimenting with a new service rifle

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: It’s surreal to watch this 2011 video of Obama and Seth Meyers taunting Trump about a presidential run

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    Jauniskis lithuania

    A single mother takes a kindly man into her confidence. A student is plied with beer by a smiling stranger. Beguiling scenes. But Lithuanians are being urged in TV adverts to be wary of the kindness of strangers and call a new 'spyline' to check if they aren't, perhaps, being lured into espionage by foreign agents.

    By foreign agents, Lithuania means the Kremlin. Ties have always been tense with former imperial master Moscow. But since the annexation of Crimea, Russia is seen in Vilnius as a threat to Lithuania and the other Baltic states of Estonia and Latvia.

    "People don't even think that information is being squeezed out of them until it's too late," Darius Jauniskis, the 48-year-old head of Lithuania's State Security Department, told Reuters.

    "So to prevent this, we are going public and we are explaining all this."

    The Russian Foreign Ministry and the FSB security service did not immediately respond to written requests for comment.

    Each advert, Jauniskis said, is based on a true recruitment story.

    As the relationship flourishes, the kindly man dupes the lonely mother into installing an information-sucking virus at her workplace. The student wonders if the stranger's largesse might just be motivated by the diplomatic career he plans.

    NATO and EU member Lithuania is perhaps the most vocal of the Baltics in criticizing Russia and increased Russian military activity in the Nordic region. The government has even published a manual on resisting a Russian invasion.

    Russia characterizes such fears as fantasy concocted by a NATO alliance that seeks to intimidate Moscow. NATO also has carried out extensive maneuvers near Russian borders. 

    Soviet Rule

    map soviet republics 624

    But Lithuania was under Soviet rule only 25 years ago. It was the first country to declare independence from Moscow in 1990, and saw off a Soviet army attempt to topple its government in 1991. Twelve civilians were killed.

    Jauniskis, then 22, stood guard inside the Lithuanian parliament. Later, he led a Lithuanian commando squad fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan alongside the Americans.

    He said a third of Russian embassy staff were intelligence officers working under diplomatic cover. Equipment installed on the embassy roof allowed them to listen in to phone calls.

    "You will not recognize a spy," he said. "Because a professional spy will not stand out in any way. He will not have a good car or great clothes. He will just be same as any of us."

    Moscow is recruiting Lithuanians on shopping trips to Russia, accusing them of smuggling, then offering to drop charges - and facilitate future shopping - if they agree to provide intelligence, Jauniskis's agency said in its annual report.

    Russia was also targeting Lithuanian businessmen and diplomats working in Moscow, often using blackmail.

    All these things may appear standard fare for many intelligence agencies, but Lithuania sees a particular threat, living as it does in the shadow of so powerful a neighbor.

    "Russia is abusing every weakness of democracy that it is able to," said Jauniskis. "As a former soldier, I can say that defense alone will not win a war. You need to counterattack."

    An honor guard opens the door as Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) enters a hall to attend a meeting with members of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, October 1, 2015.  REUTERS/Yuri Kochetkov/Pool/File Photo

    But critics say the spy hotline will only breed paranoia - while perhaps overestimating Russian intelligence capabilities.

    Few Russian spies have actually gone to prison. Two Lithuanians were sentenced in 2015 and 2016 and a Russian who Lithuanian prosecutors say is a Russian intelligence officer was detained in 2015. His trial is in progress.

    Jauniskis said Russia was trying to undermine citizens' trust in their own country by repeating falsehoods about it in the media and elsewhere. He proposes legislation to criminalize the "spreading of lies" to destabilize the country.[nL8N1DH3LT]

    "I will not get popular by saying this, but times have changed, and we must understand that civil liberties are being curtailed in times of war," he said.

    Jauniskis is not impressed by critics' accusation that all this constituted a step back to Soviet-style "thought police".

    "I don't think Russia is even concealing that their main target is not Baltics, but destroying the European Union and NATO," Jauniskis said.

    SEE ALSO: Putin: Trump and I are in agreement — US-Russia relations 'must be straightened out'

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    Trump Palin

    President-elect Donald Trump is considering former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin for secretary of Veterans Affairs, ABC News reported on Wednesday, citing unidentified sources.

    Palin was an early Trump supporter and the Republican Party's vice presidential candidate in 2008.

    SEE ALSO: SCARBOROUGH: Trump's Cabinet picks are 'creatures of Wall Street'

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    women in combat

    Congress just nixed a plan that would have made women register for the military draft.

    Lawmakers on the House and Senate Armed Services Committees stripped the requirement of women to register for Selective Service that was inserted into the forthcoming $618 billion defense bill, which will be voted on by both chambers within the next few days, according to The Washington Post.

    Current law requires all male US citizens aged 18-25 to register for the draft. The provision requiring women to do the same was part of early drafts of the bill, added after a number of military leaders and women's rights advocates offered support for it following Defense Secretary Ash Carter's removal of restrictions placed on women in combat.

    While the bill doesn't change the Selective Service System, it does call for a review of whether a military draft is still worthwhile and cost-effective, according to Military Times. The last time a draft was ordered was during the Vietnam War.

    Dropping women from draft registration may be a signal that the next Defense Secretary could reinstitute the policy excluding women from some direct combat jobs, such as infantry and artillery. Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered the policy change in 2013, but since Congress never passed a law affirming it, a stroke of the pen could roll it back.

    SEE ALSO: Report: Trump may name Defense Secretary this week — and General Mattis still has plenty of competition

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    NOW WATCH: The US Navy has an unstoppable hovercraft that can go from water to land in seconds

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    abdul razak artan ohio state university

    A Somali immigrant who injured 11 people in a car and knife attack at Ohio State University may have been inspired by Islamic State and the late al Qaeda-linked cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, an FBI official said on Wednesday.

    The Islamic State militant group on Tuesday claimed responsibility for the attack at the Columbus campus. The U.S.-born Awlaki was killed by a U.S. drone strike in 2011.

    The Ohio State attacker, Abdul Razak Ali Artan, a 20-year-old Muslim student at the school, plowed into pedestrians with a car and then exited the vehicle to stab other victims on Monday.

    A police officer quickly ended the attack by fatally shooting Artan, a Somali-born immigrant and a lawful U.S. permanent resident, officials said.

    "At this time we are not aware of anyone else being involved in the planning of this attack, but the investigation continues," FBI Special Agent in Charge Angela Byers told reporters.

    "It appears that Artan may have at least been inspired by Anwar Awlaki and the Islamic State in the Levant and we will continue to pursue this as part of the investigation,” she said.

    At the time of his death, al-Awlaki was identified by U.S. intelligence as "chief of external operations" for al Qaeda's Yemen branch and a Web-savvy propagandist for the Islamist cause.

    None of the victims, who were wounded after being struck by the car or stabbed, have life-threatening injuries and most were released from local hospitals within one day, officials said.

    One person was struck in the foot by a bullet shot by the Ohio State police officer who killed Artan, Columbus deputy police chief Richard Bash said.

    Ohio State University

    The Federal Bureau of Investigation was not aware of Artan as a potential threat before the rampage, Byers said.

    President-elect Donald Trump, who has called for "extreme vetting" of some Muslim immigrants, criticized Artan's entry into the country on Twitter on Wednesday.

    "ISIS is taking credit for the terrible stabbing attack at Ohio State University by a Somali refugee who should not have been in our country," Trump said on Twitter.

    Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Trump was seeking to exploit the "tragic situation in Ohio."

    "This kind of statement seems to indicate that President-elect Trump will have government by tweet instead of a government based on well thought out policies," Hooper said.

    SEE ALSO: Trump will inherit an FBI with greatly expanded powers to hack and surveil Americans

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    Members of Poland's special commando unit Lubliniec look on during the

    Top NATO and European military officials called in Berlin on Wednesday for more military spending to deal with threats to Europe and said that would help address concerns raised by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.

    During his election campaign, Trump questioned whether the United States should protect allies seen as spending too little on their defense, raising fears he could withdraw funding for NATO at a time of heightened tensions with Russia.

    In Brussels on Wednesday, the European Union unveiled its biggest defense funding and research plan in more than a decade to reverse billions in cuts and demonstrate that it wants to pay for its own security.

    "The best answer to Mr. Trump is to prove that he's wrong, to prove that Europe is strong enough to defend itself," French Admiral Philippe Coindreau, vice chief of defense staff, said during a panel discussion at the Berlin Security Conference.

    "I think European nations should increase their defense budgets."

    Trump's comments have unsettled many in Europe. But NATO said he spoke with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg earlier this month and they agreed on the "enduring importance" of the Western alliance.

    Trump has also spoken twice with British Prime Minister Theresa May and touched on the importance of NATO for European and U.S. security, Peter Watkins, director of general security policy for the British Ministry of Defense, told the conference.

    obama nato 2009

    Watkins said he was "pretty confident" that Trump would make a clear statement about his commitment to the NATO alliance.

    Czech General Petr Pavel, who heads the NATO military committee, said U.S. demands for higher military spending were nothing new.

    Pavel said it was more important to focus on tangible improvements in military capabilities than fixate on the 2 percent target, which he said was "too far and too big" for many NATO members to meet anytime soon.

    NATO's European members cut defense spending to historic lows after the break-up of the Soviet Union a quarter of a century ago, leaving the United States to make up around three-quarters of the alliance's military expenditure.

    Spending has increased in recent years after Russia's annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine, the growing threat of Islamist attacks and large migrant flows. However, only Britain, Poland, Greece and Estonia meet a NATO goal of spending at least 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense.

    SEE ALSO: Congress kills plan forcing women to register for the military draft

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    Donald Trump military gun

    Only one member of President-elect Donald Trump's transition team is dealing with the CIA and the 16 other offices and agencies that make up the US intelligence community, four US officials said Wednesday.

    Geoffrey Kahn, a former House intelligence committee staffer, is the only person named so far to Trump's intelligence community "landing team," they said.

    As a result, said one senior career intelligence officer, briefing books prepared by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the National Security Agency, the National Counterterrorism Center, and 13 other agencies and organizations are "waiting for someone to read them."

    "It seems like an odd time to put issues like cyber security and international terrorism on the back burner," said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Previous administrations, the official said, were quicker to staff their intelligence teams, in part because they considered intelligence issues critical to setting foreign policy, defense and budget priorities.

    The intelligence community has some 200,000 employees and contractors and an annual budget of more than $70 billion. It collects and analyzes information on a vast array of subjects, from national security threats such as terrorism and climate change to global conflicts and the foreign, defense and trade policies of foreign governments.

    Kahn has been in periodic contact with the CIA, said two of the officials, adding that they did not know if he had been in touch with the other intelligence agencies.

    In addition to reviewing potential candidates for top posts, Kahn is responsible for coordinating briefings for nominees and helping prepare them for Senate confirmation hearings.

    Trump has announced that he intends to nominate US Representative Mike Pompeo of Kansas to succeed CIA Director John Brennan, who will step down in January.

    He has yet to tap nominees for other senior positions, including a successor to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, the top US intelligence officer. Clapper, 75, will leave the government when Trump is sworn as president on January 20.

    No daily briefings

    Trump International

    Trump on Tuesday received only his third intelligence briefing since he won the Nov. 8 presidential election, despite an offer from President Barack Obama of daily briefings, three of the officials said.

    Vice President-elect Mike Pence has been receiving intelligence briefings daily or nearly every day, one of the officials said.

    Trump's decision to forgo daily briefings and his delay in designating more transition advisers to engage with the intelligence agencies may reflect his focus on filling the top economic positions in his administration.

    However, said the senior career official, it also may reflect the disinterest and distrust in US intelligence Trump has expressed during and after his presidential campaign.

    Asked on Aug. 17 if he trusted US intelligence, Trump replied: "Not so much from the people that have been doing it for our country. I mean, look what's happened over the last 10 years."

    After his first classified briefing as the Republican presidential candidate, Trump said he "didn't learn anything" that prompted him to rethink his view about how to fight Islamic State. On the other hand, he said, "When they call it intelligence, it's there for a reason."On other occasions, he has contradicted or ignored what his briefers told him.

    After being briefed that US intelligence had concluded that the Russian government was behind the hacking of US political institutions, he said that "maybe there is no hacking" or than maybe it was China or "somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds."Trump's attitude contrasts with those of his predecessors.

    In his book "Getting to Know the President," veteran CIA officer John Helgerson wrote that former President Jimmy Carter asked for longer briefings and Bill Clinton asked the CIA to expand his daily briefs to include economic and environmental issues.

    SEE ALSO: Pakistan released an incredible readout of the prime minister's call with Trump

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    ukraine army missiles otr 21 tochka mobile launch systemUkraine's military said its two-day missile drill starting on Thursday would avoid the airspace over Crimea, sidestepping a possible confrontation with Russia which annexed the peninsula in 2014.

    News of the tests had angered the Kremlin, prompting it to put its air defense forces on high alert and maneuver warships in the Black Sea.

    The disagreement marked a fresh escalation in tensions between the neighbors and one-time allies, whose relations collapsed after Russia seized Crimea and backed pro-Russian separatists fighting in eastern Ukraine.

    Volodymyr Kryzhanovsky, a Ukrainian military official, said the exercises, which are taking place inUkraine's southern Kherson region bordering Crimea, were being carried out in accordance with international law.

    The exercises were taking place at least 30 km (18 miles) from Crimea's air space, "therefore it would be wrong to reproach Ukraine," he told the 112 TV channel.

    Moscow initially responded to the test plans by putting its land-based and ship-borne air defense forces in Crimea on higher alert and a Russian military source accused Ukraine of trying to create a "nervous situation."

    On Thursday Russia's federal aviation agency, Rosaviatsia, said in a statement that it had received new coordinates for the tests that meant the "danger zone reserved for missile launches does not now affect the air space over Russian territorial waters."

    Ukraine says the aim of the tests is to bolster its defense capabilities.

    Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday that he did not know whether President Vladimir Putin had ordered the defense ministry to prepare a potential military response to the Ukrainian tests.

    ukraine crimea russia map

    He was responding to a question about Ukrainian media reports which said that the Russian Defence Ministry had told Ukraine's military envoy that Moscow would shoot down any missiles and destroy their launchers if Kiev test-fired missiles in the air space near Crimea.

    "In the Kremlin we wouldn't want to see any actions by the Ukrainian side that breached international law and that might create dangerous conditions for international flights over the territory of Russia and adjacent regions," said Peskov.

    Kryzhanovsky said the Ukrainian military was ready for "any developments".

    Russia held large-scale war games across its southern military district in September, including Crimea.

    SEE ALSO: Putin: Trump and I are in agreement — US-Russia relations 'must be straightened out'

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    air force

    Since World War II, the US has dominated the skies in any region in which it wishes to project power — but recent competition from countries like Russia and China threaten to erode that edge, and only a small group of elite pilots maintain the US's edge in air superiority.

    Russia has deployed powerful missile-defense batteries to Syria and its European enclave of Kaliningrad. The US Air Force can't operate in those domains without severe risk. US President Barack Obama himself has acknowledged that these missile deployments greatly complicate and limit the US's options to project power in Syria.

    China has undertaken the breathtaking feat of building and militarizing islands in the South China Sea, outfitting them with runways and radar sites that could allow Beijing to establish an air defense and identification zone, the likes of which the US would struggle to pierce.

    Russia S 400 Triumph Missile Systems

    Gen. David Goldfein, the Air Force chief of staff, speaking during the State of the Air Force address at the Pentagon, said of the Air Force's dwindling dominance: "I believe it's a crisis: air superiority is not an American birthright. It's actually something you have to fight for and maintain."

    The US has the world's largest air force, but it is stretched thin across the entire globe. In the Pacific or the Baltics, smaller, more concentrated powers have reached parity or near parity with the US's gigantic fleet.

    Only one US airframe remains head-and-shoulders above any and all competition: the F-22 Raptor.

    The F-22 was the first fifth-generation fighter jet, and it is like nothing else on earth. The plane can execute mind-bending aerial maneuvers, sense incoming threats at incredible distances, and fly undetected by legacy aircraft.


    The coming F-35 Lightning II, a stealthy technological marvel in its own right, has an impressive radar cross section approximately the size of a basketball. The F-22, however, blows it out of the water with a cross section about the size of a marble.

    For this reason, the F-22 Raptor remains the US's only hope for breaching the most heavily protected airspace. Even so, an expert on Russian air defenses told Business Insider that F-22 pilots would have to be "operationally, tactically brilliant" to survive strikes against Russian-defended targets.

    A recent article by The National Interest's Dave Majumdar seems to confirm that the US's Raptor pilots are indeed brilliant.

    "Typically, we'll train against the biggest and baddest threats because we want to train against the newest threat on the block," one F-22 pilot told Majumdar.

    "We're fighting against the most advanced operational threats we can," another said.


    Even though the stealthy F-22s hold an overwhelming advantage at long range, because they can target enemies long before those enemies can see them, the Raptor pilots train for up-close conflicts as well. While close-range confrontations hugely disadvantage the F-22 pilots, they continue to train uphill and achieve impressive results.

    As drivers of the most capable plane in the world, the F-22 pilots exist as a kind of "insurance policy" against the world's most advanced threats, Majumdar said.

    "Even when flying against the most challenging simulated threats — advanced Russian fighters such as the Su-35 and S-300V4 and S-400 — it is exceedingly rare for an F-22 to be 'shot down.' 'Losses in the F-22 are a rarity regardless of the threat we're training against,'" an F-22 pilot told Majumdar.

    SEE ALSO: How China's stealthy new J-20 fighter jet compares to the US's F-22 and F-35

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    Donald Trump James Mattis

    President-elect Donald Trump has tapped retired Marine Gen. James "Mad Dog" Mattis for the role of defense secretary.

    Trump announced the pick during his victory rally in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Thursday night, adding "we’re not announcing it until Monday, so don’t tell anybody."

    Mattis is "an excellent pick that offers an opportunity to restore the warrior culture in DOD that's been undermined by this administration," Joe Kasper, chief of staff to Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter of California, told Business Insider. "Mattis is no-nonsense, and he's a sure bet to turn the Pentagon upside down and get things done."

    After Trump met with Mattis more than a week ago, most defense watchers believed the retired Marine general was the top pick to lead the Pentagon. The president-elect has described Mattis as "very impressive" and said he was "seriously considering" him for the position.

    In an off-the-record meeting with media executives and on-air personalities in November, Trump "said he believes it is time to have someone from the military as secretary of defense,"according to Politico. Other Republicans and DC insiders also offered praise for Mattis— though he would require a congressional waiver to serve as defense secretary since he has not been out of uniform for the statutorily required seven years.

    Mattis faced plenty of competition along the way, including retired Army Gen. Jack Keane, former Republican Sen. Jim Talent of Missouri, and others. Keane reportedly declined Trump's offer to serve at the Pentagon but recommended Mattis for the position.

    A number of defense secretaries who served under President Barack Obama have criticized Obama for "micromanaging" the Pentagon. Even Mattis himself was forced into early retirement by the White House because of his hawkish views on Iran, according to Tom Ricks at Foreign Policy.

    If confirmed, Mattis would oversee roughly 3 million military and civilian personnel and face myriad challenges, from the ongoing fights against ISIS and China's moves in the South China Sea to the stress on the military imposed by sequestration.

    He may also end up dealing with a North Korea armed with nuclear weapons, and Russia is likely to test limits in Eastern Europe. The secretary will also need to reinvigorate a military plagued by low morale.

    The four-star general retired in 2013 after leading Marines for 44 years. His last post was with US Central Command, the unified command based in Tampa, Florida, tasked with operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and more than two dozen other countries.

    Gen. James Mattis

    Mattis is something of a legendary figure in the US military. Looked at as a warrior among Marines and well respected by other service members, he has been at the forefront of a number of engagements.

    He led his battalion of Marines in the assault during the first Gulf War in 1991 and commanded the task force charging into Afghanistan in 2001. In 2003, as a major general, he once again took up the task of motivating his young Marines to go into battle, penning a letter to his troops before they crossed the border into Iraq.

    Though he's beloved by troops for his straight talk and strategic genius, he's dealt with some controversy outside of the military for some of his more colorful quotes. He asserted in 2005 that it was "fun to shoot some people"— he said he was talking about fundamentalists who "slap women around" in Afghanistan for not wearing veils. Still, the Marine commandant at the time said Mattis was counseled and that "he should have chosen his words more carefully,"according to Fox News.

    Mattis is currently a distinguished fellow at Stanford, conducting research and giving lectures on leadership and strategy. He was a distinguished fellow at Dartmouth in 2013.

    SEE ALSO: 19 unforgettable quotes from legendary Marine Gen. James 'Mad Dog' Mattis

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    su 33 kuznetsov russia navy

    Russia's sole aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, began its first combat deployment to Syria with plenty of fanfare, but a recent report from IHS Jane's indicates Russia has given up entirely on launching strikes from the carrier.

    Satellite imagery obtained by Jane's shows Su-33 jets and one MiG-29KR previously aboard the carrier now stationed at the Hmeymim air base in Syria alongside land-based planes from Russia's air force.

    The Kuznetsov, never an entirely reliable system, had one of its MiG-29KRs crash in November, and another pilot had to eject after the Kuznetsov's landing gear failed and couldn't receive the aircraft, Jane's reports.

    mig 29k

    Military analysts speculated before the deployment that the Kuznetsov added "nothing" to the battle, as Moscow already has a wealth of strike aircraft in Syria, and cruise missiles fired from the Russian navy ships stationed in the Mediterranean don't offer any significant advantages over the cheap, unguided bombs Russian planes freely drop in the uncontested airspace above Syria.

    The Russian Ministry of Defense did manage to crank out a few high-quality videos during the two or so weeks the Kuznetsov actually sustained operations, which fits the narrative put forth by the US Naval Institute's news service that the deployment was "propaganda, not practical."

    kuznetsov su 33

    SEE ALSO: The US's military edge over Russia and China has come down to one plane

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    A Russian serviceman walks past Russian Iskander-M missile launchers before a rehearsal for the Victory Day parade, with the Moscow International Business Center also known as

    In recent years, Russia has made a habit of nuclear saber-rattling at its neighbors, but lately Moscow has taken a decidedly more menacing tone.

    NATO states in the Baltics recently expressed their agitation with Russia for placing Iskander nuclear-capable missiles in the enclave of Kaliningrad, that borders Poland. While this isn't the first time Russia has deployed the destabilizing missiles to Europe, Dr. Jeffrey Lewis, founding publisher of Arms Control Wonk, a blog on nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, says this time is different. 

    Through a "crowdsourcing experiment" on, Lewis and his colleagues have been examining satellite imagery of Kaliningrad. According to Lewis, the results are disturbing. 

    Instead of a routine deployment with routine drills, Lewis sees the Russians "knocking buildings down like crazy and building new buildings," in what he considers an attempt to permanently house the nuclear-capable missiles in Europe. 

    "I think construction at the missile base is consistent with permanent deployment. We found the missile base using Russian social media and found the training area. Every time there are reports that there’s an exercise we go take a look at the missile base," said Lewis of his methodology. 

    The military bases in Kaliningrad seem to be undergoing a change to accommodate the missiles and vehicles that accompany them. 

    kaliningrad skitch russia

    The Russians are "probably not there yet, but absolutely making changes consistent with the imminent deployment of the Iskanders," said Lewis. 

    "From Kaliningrad, a couple hundred kilometer range ground launched cruise missile can really get into Western Europe," said Lewis. 

    And because Kaliningrad belongs to Russia, there is little the international community can do to stop Russia from placing its missiles there.

    SEE ALSO: Russia has just given up on trying to launch strikes from its rickety aircraft carrier

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