An MQ-1 Predator drone fires a Hellfire missile in this undated photo (U.S. Air Force)
In a joint effort to reduce the potential for civilian casualties resulting from U.S. air strikes, the Defense Department and Central Intelligence Agency have reportedly developed a specialized variant of the ubiquitous Hellfire missile that can best be described a 100-pound flying switchblade.
After enjoying years of the Air Force dominating the skies in the fight against the Islamic militants in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, the Army is beefing up its short-range missile-defense capabilities to counter the rockets, missiles, and weaponized drones that are increasingly becoming staples of foreign arsenals. And while the return of active-duty maneuver SHORAD battalions for the first time since the end of the Cold War is part of Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley’s strategic emphasis on a “combined arms, multi-domain capable” Army, the tactical implications are far more appealing: a bunch of new, explosive toys to play with.
The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle is meant to be everything the Humvee is not: It’s designed by Oshkosh Defense to withstand the ground-based IED attacks early on in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars that had forced Humvees to armor up, reducing payloads and performance, and slowing brigades to a crawl. With a modular design to accommodate armor plating fit for an MRAP, Oshkosh hopes the first 600 JLTVs, set for fielding by the Army and Marine Corps in early 2019, will represent a quantum leap forward for the Department of Defense’s light truck fleet.
The Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference in Washington is less of a service branch confab than it is a show-and-tell for the global defense industry: an exposition of gear and vehicles, gun and tanks, that are shaping the future of land warfare. But while Bell Helicopter’s V-280 Valor tiltrotor prototype and a wildly rotating THAAD-style missile launcher dominated the convention center space on Oct. 9, one class of vehicle stood out as the most exciting among rank-and-file soldiers: General Dynamics Land Systems’ brand new Stryker armored fighting vehicles.