Category Archives: Military

Military Technology of the Future – Modern Weapons

Myths About the NATO 5.56 Cartridge

M16A1, M16A2, M4, M16A4

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding the current M16A1, M16A2, M4, M16A4NATO 5.56 round and its effectiveness on the battlefield. Now before you make a judgment as a soldier or as a firearm enthusiast (a more euphemistic way of saying “gun nut”), consider your sources. Who is it that is telling you the 5.56mm, or .223 if you prefer, is an ineffective round? Is this source an armchair general who has watched Blackhawk Down one too many times; or a Navy Corpsman who has been attached to a MEF fighting in Fallujah and has seen, treated and inflicted these wounds with his own M-4? People look at the .30-06 round from their grandfather’s M1 Garand and the 7.62×51mm round from their dad’s M-14 and compare it to the M-16/M-4’s 5.56 and think; “Wow, this is considerably smaller. Therefore, it must be less effective.”
Now Joe Nichols had it right when he said, “Size Matters.” However, when you are talking about combat cartridges this is not always the case, and I say that hesitantly. When the 5.56 was derived from Remington’s .223 in the late 1950’s, it was meant as a “force multiplier” if you will. By that I mean a soldier could literally carry twice as much ammunition as one who has the older 7.62 for the same weight. They wanted a soldier who could stay longer in the field without re-supply and could literally out-last and out-shoot the enemy in many aspects. The 5.56 is an incredibly fast and flat shooting round compared to the 7.62, but is under half the bullet weight.

So one might ask; ‘How in the world can a smaller bullet be more lethal than a bigger one?” One word: cavitation. Cavitation is the rapid formation and collapse of a substance or material after an object enters it at a relatively high velocity. I guarantee you have seen cavitation before. Next time you are in the pool or on the boat, look at your hand as it passes through the water or the propeller spinning. In both cases you will notice bubbles on the trailing edge of each. You see this because the liquid water falls below its vapor pressure. Without getting into physics and the hydrodynamics behind it, I’ll just leave it at that. When a human body is hit with a 5.56mm 62-grain bullet traveling at 3,100 feet per second; essentially the same thing happens but much, much more violently. For a split second, the cavity created inside the human body by the round from an M-16/M-4 is about the size of a basketball (if hit dead center of mass). The 5.56 creates this massive cavitation by tumbling through the body initiated by inherently unstable flight.

5.56 ballistic test
5.56 ballistic test

Other calibers of bullets travel through the body on, more or less of, a straight line after some fragmentation. When the 5.56 round was first designed by Remington, it was meant to tumble through a target, not kill with brute force. It did this not only by the relatively blunt shape, but also by using a rifle barrel with less of a twist. Next time you look at an M-4 or an AR-15, notice it says “5.56 NATO 1:7” on the barrel. This literally translates into; “the bullet will make 1 full rotation for every 7 inches of this barrel.” This was not always the standard twist set for the new NATO round. The first AR-15 made by Armalite, had a 1:14 twist making it a very, very unstable round. One can only imagine the orientation of the entry and exit wounds. Now if you haven’t figured it out already, the less the twist, the more unstable the round is. (1:14 twist is less than 1:7) It is said in “firearm enthusiast” legend that the first tests were done on pig carcasses and that the entry wound could be on the lower right stomach with an exit wound coming out of the back upper left shoulder. It left horrific wounds and terrible internal damage to its intended target, immediately drawing the interest of the US Military, in particular USAF General Curtis Emerson LeMay. That’s right folks, you can thank we in the United States Air Force for the M-16/M-4 legacy (I say this without sarcasm). He thought it was an ideal weapon for his deployed members of the USAF Security Forces for guarding the perimeters of Air Force installations in such places as Korea and Vietnam. Before military trials, Armalite increased the barrel twist to 1:12 to improve accuracy. But when tested in frigid Alaska, accuracy was decreased because of the increased friction from the denser, colder air. Therefore, the barrel twist was eventually increased from 1:12 to 1:9 and eventually to the 1:7 you see it today. Although some bull-barreled AR-15’s and Stoner Sniper Rifles can be found in a 1:9, most issued M-16’s and M-4;s are primarily a 1:7 twist.

This change increased the accuracy of the 5.56 round out past 500 meters, but decreased its lethality when striking a body. Now the real debate begins… How truly deadly is the 5.56? Well, this past April when I was going through Combat Skills Training at Ft. McCoy, Wisconsin, one week was spent in Combat Life-Saving class (CLS). The medics who instructed us had slide show after slide show of combat injuries they have treated over their last three deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. And let me tell you, these were not for the weak stomachs among us. If you are reading this article, I bet you are the same type of person as I to ask, “What calibers caused those wounds?” These men and women have seen the worst injuries of coalition forces and enemy combatants alike. The Geneva Conventions state that medics must provide medical care to all captured enemy personnel when able. Therefore, many Taliban and Jihadist fighters came across their operating rooms. After class one day I asked all of them, “Do any of you doubt the killing power of the 5.56 round?” They all answered with a resounding, “NO.”
I personally don’t like telling war stories but I do enjoy telling hunting stories. I have brought down 180 to 200+ pound deer with a 55 grain .223 FMJ (full metal jacket) with no problem. Yes, I know, the counter argument to that is, “Well that’s not an enemy combatant hopped up on cocaine, khat or adrenaline.” I understand that, but if you saw the exit wound or those on the pictures from the combat medics, you would certainly cease your criticism of the 5.56. However, there are certain design features of the M-16/M-4 that continue to puzzle me.

We have all heard the reports of those rifles failing during combat during Vietnam and even yet today. During the 60’s when it was first introduced, it was hailed as “the self-cleaning rifle.” Of course that was proven to be a myth within the first months of its service. Soon thereafter, cleaning kits, cleaning manuals with attractive cartoon-like characters, and muzzle covers were issued in large numbers. A lot of the first problems the rifle saw were due to using ball powder vs. stick powder. Ball powder burns hotter, faster and dirtier than stick does. This caused the rifle to gum up quicker in the humid atmosphere of Vietnam and mis-feed the rounds. The U.S. Military then switched back to the cleaner burning stick powder and added a forward assist to jam the bolt carrier forward after heat expansion and carbon build-up. The military saw this problem and fixed it fairly early on, so why haven’t they saw the clear flaw in the 100% gas-blowback operation of the firearm? Why haven’t they learned lessons from rifles such as the AK-47, AK-74, G36, SCAR and countless other who have switched to a short stroke gas piston?

gas piston operated
gas piston operated

So far rifles such as the HK 416, HK 417, SCAR and MAGPUL Masada have all incorporated this short stroke gas piston in their designs and have all seen massive reductions in carbon build-up, over-heating, and mis-feeds. If this needs any explaining; what this basically does is stop the hot, carbon-filled gasses just rear of the front sight and pushes a pistol-like rod back instead of the gas traveling all the way back to the bolt carrier assembly. It is even possible to convert current uppers to this gas piston system using such kits as those offered by Bushmaster. If the cost benefit is too great for these kits to be installed, why not begin to install them on the floor as they are now? They are 100% compatible with all lowers used by the M-16 and M-4.

So in conclusion, the main flaws of the M-16/M-4 assault rifle system is not necessarily in the round itself, but in one minor design feature of just the upper. This article is meant as a predecessor to a piece in the making on the advantages to switching to a round such as the 6.8 SPC or 6.5 Grendel. The 5.56 round is effective, but could be better. I want to hear your feedback. Tell me why so many people (mostly civilians) think the flaws of the rifle are in the round. I’m looking to you military folks; tell me about your operational experience with it. Airsoft players, armchair generals, and firearm enthusiasts; let’s hear your voice, but don’t comment on its “knock-down power” unless you hunt big game with a .223 or were once in the military and have used it in combat. Next up: A viable future replacement for the 5.56 and the M-16/M-4 combat rifles along with first-hand news from the front on forces already making the switch.

Remember; every rifle and every round can be equally as deadly when put in the right hands. We seek to find the perfect round and the perfect rifle to increase that number of hands.

M230 Chain Gun – Apache Attack Weapon

The omnipresent adjudicator hovering over the skies of Iraq can deliver heinous death at any waking instant.  You are taking a stroll down the street, plotting some terrorist attacks in your imagination, and suddenly, without ever feeling a thing, you are reduced to a full sized human splatter pattern.  The reality is, only you know for sure what you were really wanting, thinking, taking, doing…better shape up for the eyes in the sky.30 mmThese dealings in death, the fine line between reality and the ability to play god with the lives of lesser men, are made possible by the ubiquitous ATK M230 Chain Gun mounted on the chin section of the AH-64 Apache Gunship.  With a rate of fire of 625 rounds/minute, firing 30 mm depleted uranium or anti-personnel fragmentation rounds, this weapon enables the FLIR vision films of utter anhillation the likes of which were never seen until recently.  People 100 years ago would label a death like the one below an act of God, fire and brimstone punishing the guilty.  Is that true?

You decide.  After all, the USA is a free country.

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Military Hovercraft – LCAC

The LCAC, short for Landing Craft Air-Cushioned, is the beastly hovercraft used by the United States Marine Corps. This ship is designed to transport supplies, vehicles, and troops to the shore from a Wasp class assault ship or other dock-landing/amphibious cargo ships participating in an amphibious assault. These huge hovercraft can travel at up to 40 knots (46 mph), and have 2 machine gun emplacements and additional weapon mounting stations that can support additional machine guns or 40 mm grenade launchers. There really isn’t a huge demand for armaments on this ship, as it will hit the shores after the EFVs and long after initial bombardment from maritime strike fighters such as the Harrier jump-jet or the new F35 Lightning.

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Touch Screen Battlefield Technology in HD

touch screen
Northrop Grumman’s integrated collaboration environment featuring TouchTable technology, creates a high-definition interactive display to facilitate viewing and manipulation of complex geo-spatial data for a wide range of applications including national security. TouchTable responds to intuitive gestures made by the user, sensing the location of points that are touched. Moving a hand across the surface of the screen pans the display, moving hands apart or together zooms the image.

Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle – Future Invasion Weapon

Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle

Manufacturer: Boeing [NYSE: BA]

EFVIn support of the Marine Corps’ beyond the horizon approach for amphibious assaults of the future, many different assets must come together to get the job done. First up was the Wasp Class Amphibious Assualt Ship, which is the launch-platform for many different crafts to get troops, supplies, and firepower to the shores of the enemy. Emerging from the belly of the Wasp: I will introduce the Marine Corps’ Expiditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV), a burly upgrade to the dated Amphibious Assualt Vessel (AAV) of times past. The EFV has 3 times the speed of the AAV, carries a 30 mm Bushmaster Cannon, and can carry a full Marines’ rifle squad to the coast with protection from enemy bullets, mines, and chemical weapons. Also, once they get ashore, the EFV can maneuver and travel at speed with the other armor on the gound like the Abrams tank, something the AAV could never do. Basically, this thing is a fully-fledged fighting vehicle that can travel in water, not just a naval battle taxi. Seeing this thing in the water is truly an amazing sight, and to have hundreds of these rolling at your coast at high speed is not going to be the start of a good day.

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Wasp Class Amphibious Attack Ship

WaspLCAClaunchOne thing is for sure, there is only 1 thing worse than having a US Navy aircraft carrier show up on your coast, and that is having a US Navy Wasp class amphibious attack ship show up instead.  Of course, we would also send an aircraft carrier, but sometimes aircraft carriers travel alone for mere psychological projection.  When one of these guys shows up…this vessel is designed for nothing else but to invade an conquer enemy territory from their coastline.  Carrying up to 2,000 marines along with attack crafts of various designs, this ship is one of the most advanced and purposeful vessels in the entire US Navy.  Likewise, it is also the enabler for visions of the future for amphibious assaults.  Recently, it was decided that a beyond the horizon approach to amphibious assualts was favorable, as the enemy really wouldn’t see it coming until it was already there.  This can all be accomplished with the smaller crafts that the Wasps are scheduled to accomodate, crafts such as the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, the LCAC (Landing Craft Air-Cushioned – a hovercraft), and especially the new V-22 Osprey.  These are all craft designed to transport troops to the shore faster and more decisively than previous ships such as helicopters and amphibious landing craft.  In fact, the picture above shows the Wasp launching an LCAC from it’s rear loading bay.  Also in the future, the Wasps are slated to be outfitted with airwings of the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which will dramatically improve assault and defense capabilities of the Wasp.  All in all, this new ship represents the hub of a wheel spoked by craft all designed to destroy enemies by the quickest possible design.

The Military Channel – Army, Navy, Airforce TV

For all those military buffs out there, wink wink, I would like to take a moment to commend one of the greatest programming achievements in the history of television. The Discovery Communications company, the parent of the Military Channel, converted the older Discovery Wings channel into the Military Channel in July of 1998, and has rapidly increased it’s program listing since then. If you like what you see here on Future Firepower, definitely take the time to check out some of the awesome shows they have on the Military Channel. Just to name a few of the best: Future Weapons, Weaponology, Top Ten, Alpha Company, Size it Up, and the list goes on. I personally am watching from the Southeast, Comcast channel 220. So like I said, if you really want to “go behind the lines”, tune in to the Military Channel, or just DVR all the good stuff like I do. Be well.

SWORDS Military Future Weapon Robot


Manufacturer: Foster-Miller

SWORDSThe SWORDS military robot is basically the first evolution of robotic weapons. What used to be mere science fiction in the 80’s has now become a reality, and 10 years from now, the SWORDS robot will be in the scrap pile. That’s because this tiny guy represents a proof-of-concept project to show the world, and the US leaders, that robotic tanks and such can and should be built. It goes to show that we can create offroad robots that can tote many different types of guns (the SWORDS can be outfitted with a rocket launcher, sniper rifle, machine gun, grenade launcher, and more), successfully locate the enemy, and take him out on command. Fortunately, the tiny robot isn’t autonomous. It is controlled by a human operator on a computer from far away, which is actually better than a fully autonomous platform, because if they controlled themselves….Terminator anyone?

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Iran Nuclear Weapon – Iranian Nukes

Iran NukeThe Bush administration has been increasingly on the look out for nuclear proliferation in so called “rogue states”, such as Iran and North Korea. The current president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadenijad, has declared that he wishes for Israel to be “wiped off the map”. This undoubtedly refers to an Iranian yearning for a nuclear solution for the nation of Israel, an American ally. With the current intelligence on Iranian nuclear activity, and the political posture of Ahmadenijad recently, the Iranians may well be pursuing a weapons development program of a grand scope, albeit; in secret. If the US, Israel, or the United Kingdom wishes to wage war on Iran under the current circumstances, it would not be widely condemned in the international community.

Likewise, who really is this so-called, “international community”, and who really cares what they think? Is it the industrial nations, the western nations, all nations? Who’s opinion matters? It seems to me as if the “international community” should be the UN, but the term is slung around for whatever headline anyone wishes to use to spin a particular topic. For example, Bush says the “international community” is against Iran, but what about Russia and China, are they against it? Don’t they count? Iran says that the “international community” cannot pressure them, but isn’t that really just the US, UK, Israel, and France? Ok, so there really isn’t an all-knowing international community, merely self-interested groups banding together for the common cause of providing for our posterity. Cynically enough, people always bash Bush for supposedly leaving the future with debt in the form of health care costs, social security, etc. etc. Doesn’t conquering other land and wealth to provide for posterity make up for it?

Nuclear WeaponJust yesterday, Ahmadenijad announced to his people that the great Iranian nation has gotten their 3,000 centrifuges operational at their nuclear facility at Natanz. This represents uranium enrichment on an industrial scale, which is exactly what is needed to produce the volume of fissile material for a nuclear warhead. He also went on to say that Iran doesn’t question the West about their machines, so why should we question them? Well, perhaps it is because the West isn’t interested in Iran possessing that capability, and we are more interested in getting your oil out from underneath you. The logic you are applying endorses pandemic idiocy vis a vis radical Islamism, whilst simultaneously dumbing down your population. Likewise, your rhetoric doesn’t acknowledge in the slightest the reality of the situation you are in. It seems…that with the money it would take to invade Iran, the West should just build underground tunnels into their country from Afghanistan and Iraq to siphon all the oil out from under them, and then who knows what…

Check out this nuclear weapons video.

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Iranian Military

Iranian Ballistic Missiles

The Bomb Iran Plan

Future Robot Army Technology

Terminator RobotsToday’s battlefield little resembles those that your grandpa could tell you about from either WWII or Vietnam.  Lasers, satellites, encrypted channels, infrared radar, and myriad other advanced technology permeates the battlespace.  Bascically, we have finished weaponizing the electromagnetic spectrum.  Next must come the weaponization of the combination of this electro-optic technology with both computers and the current hardware in service, i.e. tanks, aircraft, and sea vessels.  Basically, we have begun to build an army, navy and airforce of robots.  Check out the lists and diagrams below to see what is in the works, and also check back for more in depth info coming soon!  Also check out the links to the unmanned vehicles already covered right here on!

RQ-9 Predator UCAV (Unmanned Aerial Combat Vehicle)MQ9 REAPER


M.U.L.E Logistics Vehicle



Firescout UAV HelicopterFire Scout Display


Desert Hawk Recon UAVDesert Hawk


Global Hawk UAV

Global Hawk


The Protector – Unmanned Patrol BoatProtector


SWORDS weaponized robotSWORDS robot