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Drone Shot a Trick

Monday, February 15th, 2010

Got a great comment from a reader on last week’s video post on the Predator that shot at a MiG-25 with a stinger. For those of you who don’t jump into the comment gladiator pit, here’s what “Arcane” wrote about that little incident:

I was at an official briefing where this issue was discussed. The drone in question here was actually the second drone shot down by that Iraqi pilot.

The first drone was operating very near the northern border of the southern No Fly Zone and was annoying the Iraqis. After numerous attempts by other pilots, Saddam sent his best MiG pilot in to knock it out. The pilot waited months for the perfect opportunity, and jumped the border when their radar systems showed all Allied aircraft out of missile range. He accelerated to a supersonic speed, got just close enough to get a missile lock on it, fired the missile, and high tailed it out of there. Literally the minute he crossed the border of the No Fly Zone, every allied aircraft did a 180 and started chasing him, but he made it back across that border before we could get in missile range. His missile impacted

This really pissed us off, so we got the idea of luring the pilot with another drone back into the airspace, but this time we decided that it was time to ruin that Iraqi pilot’s flight suit and we equipped it with a Stinger missile. The pilot pulled the stunt again a few months later, and still knocked out the drone, however the missile the drone fired gave the Iraqis the ebby jeebies and they never attempted a drone shoot down again.

This may be an old story to some, but it was new to me. Think how drone tactics have evolved even since those rudimentary days of armed UAVs…Totally awesome!

– Christian

Another Drone Shoot Down Vid

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

An alert reader pinged me on the Tip Line about another, older vid, of a MiG shooting down a Predator.

I love it that the Predator shot back. And I am also intrigued by the question one reader posed as to why the pilot wouldn’t just go to guns on the drone but instead used an expensive air-to-air missile.

– Christian

How Was Your First Firefight?

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Came across this interesting little video from the Pentagon’s mega list of multimedia coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan and thought it was worth sharing with the BTDTs on Defense Tech.

I love the idea that before becoming an Army infantryman, this guy was a rodeo clown.

An honest interview of a private’s first taste of some bang-bang.

So what was your first firefight like? My first time being shot at was in Afghanistan in 2004. I was on a 5-day patrol with some Joes from the 1st of the 501st and we were eating lunch with a border checkpoint commander when we heard a loud explosion. One of our uparmored Humvees had been RPGed and we rushed out to meet up with the screening patrol to assist. As we were barreling down the mountain in our Humvee we were being shot at with high caliber rounds. Then we dismounted and began to call in air and got plinked at for a little bit longer.

It was exhilerating at the time, but as soon as it was over my mouth was bone dry and I had to take a crap. And tha’s been the exact same reaction every time I’ve ever been in a firefight since.

So join Private Stafinski and tell us what your first time was like…

– Christian

Naval Academy Flight Evals

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Happy Christmas Eve folks.

I thought I’d pass along to you a video we found deep in the Military​.com archives. Give it a look before you cut out early today from the grind.

This is rare archival footage of preliminary flight evaluations for the US Naval Academy class of 1982. We did some video forensics here and we’re pretty sure we’re seeing Midshipman 4th Class Edward Carroll’s very first go at becoming a Naval Aviator.

We need some more eyeballs on this thing to be sure, so give it a very close look and let us know if you think this is the man himself.

Whoever it is, darn nice flying, though!

Merry Christmas everyone…

– Christian

Defense Tech in Avatar

Monday, December 21st, 2009


Thought I’d throw this one your way for a gander…

I wrote a review of the new James Cameron blockbuster Avatar for Military​.com the other day and was generally impressed with the effects and cinematography, but I bristled at the depiction of the military/contractors in the film and found it hard to cheer for the aliens.

From a defense technology standpoint, there’s a lot to chew over here. First, viewers will see a lot of similarity between the weapons and vehicles of Aliens and Avatar. That makes some sense since Aliens takes place in 2179 and Avatar takes place in 2154. There are manbots, huge troop carrying gunships and Osprey-like light helicopters — and most of the weapons are kinetic rather than energy blasting arms. Seems to me, though, if you are at the point of perfecting interplanetary travel on the kind of scale as Avatar, you’d have a little more advanced weaponry. Looks like Cameron just dusted off the Aliens script and had some of his artists spruce up existing weapons with a more “ergonomic” look (where’s the XM-8?)…

It’s pretty simple.

Spend a gazillion dollars on computer animators; concoct an entirely new language, throw the whole thing on another planet with ten-foot-tall aliens that ride dragons and plug into their extraterrestrial horses with biological data cables and add some jet-hovering, super-fortress gunships, belt-fed blasters, and latter day V-22s and you’ve got yourself a pretty good action movie formula, right?

Now make it all 3-D.

That’s exactly what writer/director James Cameron (Aliens, Titanic) tried to do with what is reportedly the most expensive film ever produced. His latest movie Avatar — which opens in U.S. theaters today — certainly lives up to its billing as a visceral assault on the senses. Think of the most gut-wrenching roller coaster ride of your life — and stretch it two and a half hours.

Not bad for the $10 admission price. But, as with most big-budget movies coming out of today’s Hollywood, all that glitters may not be gold.

While Avatar’s visuals and the 3-D effect on the big screen could herald a whole new genre of movie making (Cameron reportedly has plans to remake some of his most famous films in 3-D), it’s tough to ignore your sore bum after sitting through 150 minutes of a storyline that could have been scripted by a group of high school drama students.

And to make matters even worse, the script takes an unintended but vicious swipe at the military that will be hard for Military​.com readers to stomach.

The story revolves around Jake Sully, a former Marine who’s given a second chance at life by transferring his consciousness through scientific wizardry into an alien body known as a Na’vi. You see — and this is where it gets pretty clichéd — the Resources Development Corporation has a mining operation on the Na’vi home planet Pandora extracting a mineral called “unobtanium” (try not to laugh) that they can sell for about a million dollars an ounce.

Read the rest of the review HERE.

At the end of the day, I would go ahead and plop down the ten-spot and see the film in a theater. For the simple spectacle of it all, it’s well worth the price of a few eye-rolls and yawns at the pitiful storyline.

– Christian

Grim Wanat Footage

Friday, November 13th, 2009


Warning folks, this will get your blood boiling. And you talk about a flashback to 1986…

An alert DT reader tipped me off to this video reportedly taken by Taliban insurgents before and during the assault on Wanat. Looking at it makes you wonder how the US base wasn’t totally overrun given the insurgents’ commanding attack position and the interlocking fields of fire.

These were clearly tactically savvy, well disciplined militants who’d done their homework. My question is how were they even allowed to setup on the outpost in the first place? Where’s the overwatch? Where are the patrols?

See the video package HERE.

On another note, I have been pushing to get the Ganjgal report from ISAF and just received word that the investigation isn’t complete. I’ll keep on it, but if anyone has better intel on that please use the “SEND IT” button to the left…

– Christian

Going to the Dogs

Friday, November 13th, 2009

Bet you all didn’t realize I was an expert on everything from the F-22 to Military Working Dogs, huh?

Well, Fox News sniffed me out and threw me a bone this morning on the story of that precocious pooch Sabi– the Aussie EOD dog that went on a 14 month Walkabout in Uruzgan.

They should clearly keep me on a much tighter leash at Military​.com.

– Christian

Morning Joe — Apache Blend

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

Now, I’m not a gratuitous poster of “slam cam” vids, but I watched this the other day on Military.com’s Shock and Awe channel and was just transfixed.

Basically, if you ignore the dorky soundtrack and the jingoistic Bush quotes injected into the audio, this video has some very impressive imagery. I’m amazed at the clarity of the IR vid. But most of all, can someone in the DT audience explain to me how these gunships can seemingly surprise these bad guys like they do? I mean, these helos aren’t THAT quiet and they seem to stay there for a while.

Help me here…

(And PS — for those of you who’ve patrolled the mean streets of Iraq, you’ll appreciate the sense of “get some”…I know I did…)

– Christian

When Driving Spads Was Cool

Friday, July 24th, 2009

I just couldn’t resist…

Happy Friday!

– Christian

Hurt Locker is a Blast Without the Spark

Friday, July 10th, 2009


It has been lauded by the New York Times as the best action movie of the summer. The New Yorker calls it quite a feat. A classic that will be studied 20 years from now. And Time gushes that its a near perfect movie.

Makes me wonder if any of those reviewers even know what EOD stands for.

The latest film from the director best known for the surfing bank heist flick Point Break, Hurt Locker is a duly admirable first attempt at an Iraq war action movie. Director Kathryn Bigelows skill at delivering action, explosions and digital mayhem come through, but the film will strike most military viewers as a bit tone deaf.

But thats Hollywood, right?

Sure there are bomb suits, PackBots, plenty of red, green and black trigger wire, enough C4 to bring down the Green Zone and scores of tweaked out Joes waiting for the bomb squad to see whats under that block of Styrofoam on the side of the MSR.

And itd be fine if it all stopped there.

The movie centers on the quietly intense and a bit loose-cannon-esque Staff Sgt. William James (Jeremy Renner) who steps in to replace an EOD detachment sergeant whos killed during a mission in Iraq mid-way through the deployment.

The films strength comes from the intensely psychological approach taken by the screenplay, with the interplay between an EOD techs studied intellect, selflessness and inherent recklessness moving the action in unexpected directions. James leads his team Sgt. J.T. Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and Spec. Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty) –through a smoldering cauldron of daisy-chain IED ambushes, suicide vest defusing and bomb-making terror cells.

And all that excitement is fine. But the movie jumps the tracks when the team gets involved in a bizarre sniper duel with a team of contractor Saddam hunters, sponsors a booze-fueled combatives tournament in their hooch and when James embarks on an impromptu off-FOB outing with a pistol on his belt wearing ACU trousers and a civilian sweat shirt.

Its understandable when Hollywood doesnt get it quite right. They want drama, action and flow so they take some artistic license. Im not begrudging them for relying so heavily on the bomb suit (Ive never once seen an EOD tech wear one to diffuse a roadside bomb) or fudge the radio chatter or get the raid stack wrong theres no nit picking here. But Hurt Locker is not the best action movie of the summer and it will not be studied 20 years from now. Some of the scenes are so disconnected with reality to be almost parody. And thats where a film plugging along just fine breaks down.