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Breaking Down the 155MM Shell, M10 Booker, Mi-24 Helicopter and More | WSJ Equipped

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Breaking Down the 155MM Shell, M10 Booker, Mi-24 Helicopter and More | WSJ Equipped

Triton drone boat (00:00:00)

  • The Triton is a solar-powered, autonomous sailboat-turned-submarine used by the US Navy in the Middle East for offensive and defensive purposes.
  • It can carry various payloads, including sensors and weapons, and can sail autonomously for up to three months.
  • The Triton's dual-modality makes it stealthy and difficult to detect, costing between $2 million and $3 million.
  • The US is investing in maritime drones for various purposes, including monitoring underwater pipelines, defending naval assets, and intelligence gathering.
  • Oceano, a company backed by investors like Lockheed Martin, is expanding its operations to meet the growing demand for maritime drones from the US and its partners.
  • Countries like Australia, the United Kingdom, India, and Taiwan have shown interest in Oceano's technology due to their geopolitical situations.
  • Oceano aims to build over 100 Triton drones annually and potentially 600 drones per year if needed.
  • The industry for maritime drones is expected to experience explosive growth, similar to the growth of aerial drones 20 years ago.

M10 Booker tank (00:07:18)

  • The M10 Booker is a new armored fighting vehicle unveiled by the US Army, designed to provide mobile protected firepower for deployed infantry forces.
  • It features a 105 mm main gun, a highly accurate targeting system, and compartmentalized ammunition for crew safety.
  • The Booker is lighter and more agile than the Abrams tank, making it suitable for restrictive terrain like jungles, forests, mountains, and cities.
  • It addresses modern challenges such as artillery, drones, mines, and direct fire threats from any direction.
  • The first unit of M10 Bookers is expected towards the end of 2025, with each system costing around $13 million.

Sentinel nuclear missiles (00:15:40)

  • The US nuclear defense strategy, known as the nuclear triad, consists of land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarines, and bombers.
  • The current Minute Man missiles, which have been in service for over 50 years, are losing reliability and need to be replaced.
  • The Sentinel ICBMs, designed to replace the Minute Man missiles, will have carbon composite outer bodies, allowing for potential upgrades during their estimated 50-year lifespan.
  • The Sentinel program has faced challenges, including increased costs due to acquiring private land and updating silos with modern technology.
  • Concerns have been raised about the potential vulnerability of the Sentinel's technology to hacking compared to the analog systems of the Minute Man missiles.
  • The Air Force is implementing measures to address security concerns, such as enhanced boundary security and resilience against potential vulnerabilities.
  • The project's budget overrun of 37% has triggered a mandatory review by the Department of Defense and Congress.
  • The Nunn-McCurdy Act requires a detailed review of the Sentinel project due to significant cost overruns.
  • The Air Force and the Office of the Secretary of Defense maintain that all three legs of the nuclear triad are essential for American nuclear defense.
  • The Pentagon review of the project is due in the summer of 2024, but military experts believe it is unlikely to be halted.

The USS Carney (00:21:59)

  • The USS Carney, a guided missile destroyer equipped with the Aegis combat system, intercepted drones and cruise missiles launched by the Houthis in Yemen.
  • The destroyer's systems include the Spy 1D radar for threat detection and the MK41 vertical launch system for missile interception, with the Sea Whiz close-in weapon system providing last-ditch defense.
  • The deployment of the carrier strike group to the Red Sea aims to prevent conflict expansion and defend Israel without ground troops, while the potential use of anti-ship harpoons and Tomahawk cruise missiles could escalate the conflict and lead to direct US involvement.
  • Carrier strike groups and destroyers play a crucial role in projecting power, and the US is sending a clear message through its actions and the deployment of these vessels.

155mm shells (00:27:53)

  • The 155mm artillery shell is a highly sought-after NATO standard caliber used in Western howitzer systems due to its versatility and effectiveness.
  • It can be configured for various purposes, including high explosive, high fragmentation, and precision-guided systems.
  • Major producers, including the US, Europe, and South Korea, are exploring range extension technologies like the Ramjet shell, which can travel up to 90 miles.
  • Ukraine has received substantial military aid, including over 300 Western howitzers and 2 million rounds of 155mm ammunition since 2022, leading to increased demand and a surge in prices from $2,100 to $8,400 per shell.
  • The US has significantly increased its production of 155mm shells, aiming to produce up to 880,000 shells per month by 2025, while the EU faces challenges in ramping up production due to privately owned ammunition factories and a lack of long-term orders.
  • Ukraine's reliance on 155mm shells has exposed limitations in its arsenal, prompting a shift towards missiles and air force assets.
  • A joint venture between Ukraine and two American firms aims to establish domestic production of 155mm shells, but production will only commence in at least two years.
  • Despite promises of increased ammunition supplies from Western countries, achieving this goal has proven challenging, as exemplified by the European Union's difficulties in coordinating production.

GLSDB missile system (00:34:49)

  • The Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB) combines a small diameter bomb with a rocket motor, providing a range of approximately 94 miles.
  • It can be launched from various platforms, including the M270 MLRS and HIMARS, and is more affordable compared to other long-range missile systems like the ATACMS.
  • While slower than the ATACMS, the GLSDB's maneuverability and advanced guidance enhance its precision, allowing it to reach challenging targets.
  • Despite having a smaller warhead than the ATACMS, the GLSDB can effectively strike similar targets and offers various fusing options for detonation control.
  • The GLSDB's aerodynamic wings enable diverse launch angles, making it difficult for adversaries to intercept.
  • It can potentially slow down Russian assaults on Ukraine, and its lower cost and existing stockpiles mean Ukraine could receive a substantial quantity.
  • Although not the most powerful or longest-range weapon, the GLSDB adds significant flexibility and capacity for Ukrainian attack operations.
  • The US is repurposing existing bombs and rockets from its inventory to create the GLSDB, aiding Ukraine in repelling the Russian invasion.

Russia’s TOS-1A thermobaric weapon (00:41:42)

  • The TOS-1A is a Russian thermobaric weapon system that uses fuel-air explosives to create a powerful blast and vacuum effect, dislodging troops from enclosed spaces.
  • Russia has used the TOS-1A in Ukraine as an area suppression weapon, but Ukraine has destroyed or captured several of these systems.
  • Thermobaric weapons are not banned under the Geneva Convention, but their use is restricted if they cause excessive damage.
  • The Valkyrie XQ58A, an AI-powered combat drone, is a key component in the US military's efforts to strengthen its assets against adversaries like China.
  • The Valkyrie's stealth design makes it a potential game-changer in the US military's plans to develop a fleet of AI systems.

Valkyrie XQ-58A AI drone (00:48:03)

  • The Valkyrie XQ58A is a prototype of a stealth drone designed for long-range missions and equipped with artificial intelligence.
  • It is part of the US military's effort to expand its arsenal with thousands of drones to counter advanced adversaries like China.
  • The Valkyrie is built for stealth using easily sourced parts and has a unique design to evade radar detection.
  • It can carry up to 1,800 lbs of payload and has a range of 3,000 miles at an altitude of 45,000 ft.
  • The drone's AI pilot uses a range of sensors to monitor its surroundings and can issue commands to the plane's onboard computer system.
  • The Valkyrie is designed to run missions autonomously or in conjunction with fighter jets and can be launched from aircraft carriers or small airfields.
  • The US military plans to add thousands of AI-equipped drones to its fleet within the next two years, exploring more affordable options with varying capabilities.
  • The Valkyrie drone is priced between $5 to $10 million, significantly cheaper than traditional fighter jets like the F35.
  • Other companies, such as Boeing, are also developing their own drones, like the MQ-28A Ghost Bat.
  • The defense industry has responded to the demand for drones with a diverse range of capabilities, from small surveillance drones to larger ones capable of carrying air-to-air missiles.

Mi-24 helicopters (00:56:28)

  • The Mi-24, also known as the "flying tank" and the world's only assault helicopter, combines troop transport and firepower, making it valuable in Ukraine's defense against Russia despite its age.
  • The helicopter's stub wings carry various weapons, including anti-tank missiles, unguided rockets, and bombs, while an additional chin gun provides frontal firepower.
  • The pilots and crew are protected by plexiglass, laminated glass, and an armored bathtub-like structure, and the Mi-24's speed, achieved through powerful engines and rotor blade design, helps mitigate its vulnerability during attacks.
  • Despite its drawbacks, such as the lack of sophisticated radar systems and daytime limitations compared to modern attack helicopters, Ukraine employs countermeasures against infrared missiles and loads American Hydra 70 mm unguided rockets for increased accuracy.
  • While Russia has been updating its military equipment, including its Mi-24s, Ukraine has not been able to do the same due to the breakdown in relations between the two countries. The United States has been actively searching the global arms market to find parts and munitions for Ukrainian equipment, but Ukraine ultimately wants to transition to NATO standards for easier access to munitions and parts.

Russia’s nuclear torpedo (01:02:55)

  • Russia is testing a new nuclear-powered torpedo called Poseidon, which can be equipped on submarines and is designed to target coastal cities and military bases.
  • The yield of the warhead carried by Poseidon is uncertain, with initial reports suggesting up to 100 megatons but later revised to 2 megatons.
  • Russia claims Poseidon can circumvent all missile defense systems, but experts say the US missile defense system was not designed to stop an attack from Russia's existing arsenal.
  • Russia views Poseidon as a second-strike weapon, but some analysts believe it could also function as a first-strike weapon.
  • Russia is constructing storage facilities for warheads and submarines that will carry Poseidon torpedoes, and tests of the weapon are reportedly being completed.
  • Despite uncertainties about Poseidon's future, experts agree that Russian President Vladimir Putin has brought nuclear weapons back into public consciousness after the end of the Cold War.

Spice bombs (01:09:03)

  • The US is sending $320 million worth of Spice guidance kits to Israel.
  • Spice kits convert general-purpose bombs into precise guided munitions.
  • The kits consist of a guidance component, a target acquisition camera, and control surfaces.
  • The electro-optical seeker uses a scene-matching algorithm to recognize and guide the weapon to a target.
  • The control unit utilizes the fins to steer the bomb toward the target.
  • Hundreds of images can be loaded pre-flight into a Spice guidance package.
  • The bomb combines electro-optical guidance with satellite guidance and GPS.
  • Spice kits can operate in adverse weather and visibility conditions.
  • They can convert 1,000 lb or 2,000 lb class general-purpose warheads into precision standoff strike weapons.
  • Spice kits can be deployed from farther away than unguided weapons, making it safer for pilots.
  • Dumb bombs account for almost half of Israel's air-to-ground munitions in Gaza.
  • The IDF has been employing dive bombing tactics to increase precision.
  • Spice kits are attached to the front and back sides of unguided bombs like the MK84.
  • The exact price of Spice kits is unknown, but experts say guided munitions are cost-effective.
  • Some experts are concerned about the potential outcomes of using Spice kits in densely populated areas.
  • Israeli officials say their intention is not to harm civilians and that they use measures to minimize civilian harm.
  • A senior researcher at an Israeli think tank says the size and use of the munitions are carefully calculated by experts.
  • Precision-guided munitions aren't enough to ensure an accurate strike; intelligence gathering, targeting policy, and operator proficiency are also essential.
  • The US is investigating several Israeli air strikes in Gaza to assess civilian casualties and potential misuse of weaponry.

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