Apr 30, 2011

Photo of the Month April 2011

Hellenic artillery muzzle brake of M109A1B Self Propelled howitzer

USMC awards contract to Leupold Tactical for Mark 8 CQBSS riflescopes.

Leupold’s® Tactical Optics Division has won a contract with the United States Marine Corps (USMC) to supply 728 Mark 8™ 1.1-8×24mm CQBSS™ riflescopes for use with M2 heavy machine guns and MK19 grenade machine guns. The sight will carry the M521 designation.
Ordered to meet the need of Afghanistan-based Marine units for a Heavy Day Optic, the Mark 8 CQBSS scopes will be employed to support combat operations. A key feature of the scope is Leupold’s new Marine-Tactical Milling Reticle (M-TMR™), which is designed to allow successful range estimation and target engagement with more flexibility than generally possible with other reticle styles. The M-TMR’s “staircased” configuration preserves the instinctive-fire capabilities on low magnification while allowing precise range estimation at any power setting.
“The Marine Corps’ innovative employment of this new technology will bring enhanced lethality to two combat-proven systems, the M2 and MK19 heavy machine guns,” said Kevin Trepa, vice president of Leupold’s Tactical Division. “We will continue working hard to deliver the new tools that our war-fighters need to succeed on the battlefield.”
The Mark 8 CQBSS has a state-of-the-art lens system providing operators with the capability of an 8-power precision rifle-scope in one rugged, field-proven unit. The 34mm main-tube features a fully checkered ocular bell for making quick magnification adjustments even while wearing gloves.
A front focal plane reticle, the M-TMR is accurate at all magnification settings. Eight illumination settings allow for optimum contrast with or without night vision. An off position between each intensity setting makes returning to the preferred setting nearly immediate.
In addition, the Mark 8 CQBSS has Auto-Locking Pinch and Turn turrets with 0.10 mil clicks that are extremely easy to adjust, yet eliminate accidental adjustment in the field. Leupold’s Index Matched Lens System® with DiamondCoat 2™ helps enhance optical performance by providing increased light transmission and scratch resistance that exceeds mil-specs.
Mark 8 CQBSS riflescopes have a matte black finish and are filled with an argon/krypton gas blend, making them second-generation waterproof, fog proof and shock proof. Flip-open lens covers and a 2.5″ sun shade are standard issue.
Leupold Tactical Optics undergo arduous environmental and impact testing to ensure they meet the highest quality standards for durability and dependability. Leupold Tactical Optics are backed by the company’s long history of customer-satisfaction warranties. For warranty information on specific products, call 1-800-LEUPOLD (Option 4) or e-mail tacticaloptics@leupold.com. 

For additional product information, go to Leupold.com.

Supported by a team of dedicated engineers, the Leupold Tactical Optics staff works with American warfighters, law enforcement personnel, and competitive shooters to design and build products that meet their needs. Currently, more long-range Leupold Tactical Optics are in service with the U.S. military than any other brand.
Source: Leupold

Record numbers of Norwegians are queuing up to serve as professional soldiers in Afghanistan.

Attacks on Norwegian soldiers have been increasing since Norway started sending troops to Afghanistan in 2001, with battles and psychological pressures becoming more intense. 10 soldiers have died to date in total, and a former top military man has claimed Norway is losing the fight.
However, the all-professional, at times controversial Telemarksbataljon, has had 550 applicants for just 50 places so far this year.
“It’s our highest figure ever. We see there are groups of Norwegians who want to become professional soldiers for a while. Those wishing to enlist in our battalion are tells us they have the motivation to take on increasingly dangerous assignments,” Lieutenant Colonel Lars Lervik tells Vårt Land.
Ståle Ulriksen, researcher at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), believes the numbers do not reflect just the hunt for excitement and adventure, however.
“These young people also want to do something they see as meaningful with their lives.”
The Lieutenant Colonel says, “Our personnel favour international operations, and now wish to protect Afghan civilians.”
The battalion currently has 450 personnel, including 250 grenadiers. Soldiers can serve for a maximum of six years.

Source: Michael Sandelson for The Foreigner.

SureFire HellFighter 4

Battlefield experience using the successful SureFire HellFighter (HF1) has led to the next generation heavy weapon illumina- tor—HellFighter 4 (HF4). The most significant improvement is an integral rechargeable battery that can run the HF4 at full output for 30 minutes. The integral battery not only serves as a backup to the other two power options—vehicle outlets and BA-5590 disposable batteries—but also makes the HF4 more compact and convenient to use as a handheld spotlight/searchlight.
The rail mount performs double duty as a carry handle. The rail mount itself has been modified to include both the original heavy- duty T-rail clamp and an intermediary adapter mount that permits attaching the HF4 to a Picatinny rail.
Another change is selectable output. When attached to the UH-01E power cable—which includes a new grip switch for the M2HB ma- chine gun—the operator can choose high output (3,000 lumens), low output (1,000 lumens), or strobe mode that flashes about nine times per second (9 Hz). The UH-01E power cable is backward- compatible with the original HellFighter, but does not provide high/ low output or strobe capabilities to that device. All HellFighter power cables now feature a high-strength polymer sheathing that makes them thinner, lighter, more flexible, and more durable.
Finally, the HF4 features a dual swing-open filter/cover system, al- lowing the operator to quickly choose unfiltered white light, filtered infrared illumination, or an opaque protective cover. The HF4’s reflector has also been modified to provide better beam reach and wider peripheral light for situational awareness.

  • High-output, low-output, and stobe capability from HID lamp
  • Modified reflector provides better reach and wider peripheral beam
  • Durable lightweight power cables
  • Picatinny rail adapter clamp
  • Dual swing-open filter/cover system allows quick configuration for unfiltered white light, filtered IR output, or protective cover
  • Carry handle integrated into rail mount reduces profile
  • Integral rechargeable battery provides 30 minutes of runtime at high output

Apr 28, 2011

Munitions knowledge at your fingertips

Photo credit U.S. Army
The Ammunition Multimedia Encyclopedia allows military and civilian personnel to have access to munitions information, even in the most remote locations.
MCALESTER, Okla., April 26, 2011 -- Imagine a Soldier in the hills of Afghanistan or civilian supporting training in a remote area in the back woods somewhere needs critical information on a new piece of munitions. Where can they go to access this information? They can't call back to base. They can't carry a rucksack full reference books with them.

The Defense Ammunition Center, or DAC, partnering with Serco Inc. and Oklahoma State University, has responded to this need. The Ammunition Multimedia Encyclopedia, or AME, was created to provide Soldiers and ammunition civilians in the field a reach-back information center that provides key data related to new munitions items and inspection points.
AME uses virtual reality technology to create a realistic, hands-on training environment and can be used on anything from a desktop computer to an iPhone.
"AME is an electronic performance support tool," explained Upton Shimp, associate director of Operations and Training with the Defense Ammunition Center. "The goal of AME is to provide a surveillance tool to support personnel inspecting munitions. It provides an encyclopedia of currently used munitions which can be used for inspection and refresher training."
AME has been in use for three years. The first year was the pilot phase, folowed by a second year of compiling information for the web version. The final year involved taking the AME to the application environment.

The AME was developed by a small group of Oklahoma State University, or OSU, students, led by Ramesh Sharda, director, Institute for Research in Information Systems, OSU Spears School of Business.
"Designing the AME has been a tremendous learning experience for our students," said Sharda. "Students are gaining knowledge about immersive technology, image editing, iPhone, iPad development, and security regulations for these devices."
"Working with the students to develop new technology that can benefit warfighters has been rewarding for everyone on the project," Sharda said. "In addition, it provides the students with tremendous learning experiences, making them attractive to their prospective employers."
Currently, there are 180 munitions items in the AME available for viewing through the Ammunition Community of Practice https://acc.dau.mil/ammo.
Additionally, 100 munitions items will be added in 2011, totaling 280 different munitions items by the end of this fiscal year.

"Munitions items can be searched by the Department of Defense Identification Code or by name," said Shimp, making AME a very user-friendly tool, that saves time and provides 24-hour munitions support.
Currently, the AME application is targeted toward Quality Assurance Specialist (Ammunition Surveillance) and Ammo Logistics Assistance Representatives in the field who are handling, packaging and inspecting ammunition.
"The plan for the applications environment is to make the AME conducive to the customer," said Sharda. "All information will be uploaded into the memory of mobile application device and used as a reference in the field."
Development of the AME is a win-win situation. It allows military and civilian personnel to have access to munitions information, even in the most remote locations, and provides hands-on training and experience for OSU business information technology students. 


KA-BAR Knives is proud to introduce the Mark I, a legendary World War II knife redesigned for the 21st Century.

The Mark I features a 5 1/8” blade and measures 9 3/16” overall. Offered with a leather or Kraton handle, the Mark I is available with either a straight or serrated edge in 1095 Cro-Van. The Kraton handle Mark I comes with a hard plastic sheath, while the leather handled version features a leather sheath. The leather handle Mark I is available exclusively through Smoky Mountain Knife Works.

Made in Olean, NY, the Mark I will be available May 1, 2011.  

Apr 27, 2011

Russia to test 90 new types of weapon in 2011

MOSCOW, April 25 (Xinhua) -- Nearly 90 types of new weaponry will be tested in 2011, Russian Defense Ministry said on Monday.
The weapons include Iskander-M, S-300, S-400, Tor-M2 and Buk missile systems, Panzir-S anti-aircraft missile-and-cannon complex, Smerch missile volley-fire system, as well as intercontinental ballistic missiles, Interfax news agency reported.
According to the ministry, the tests will be held in the Kapustin Yar testing range in Astrakhan region.
Some 350 missile launches have been conducted from Kapustin Yar last year in the interests of Russian, Algerian, Azerbaijani, Belarussian, Vietnamese, Venezuelan and Myanmar armed forces, the ministry said.

Vests more bullet-proof with wool

Adding wool to kevlar makes a lighter, stronger and cheaper bullet-proof vest, new research shows.
WOOL HAS MANY PROPERTIES ideal for fashion; this natural fibre is warm, elastic fire- and static-resistant, and easy to clean. But new research has uncovered a new use: making body armor even more bullet resistant.

Scientists at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology school of fashion and textiles discovered that a blend of wool and kevlar, the synthetic fibre widely used in body armor, was lighter and cheaper and worked better in some conditions than kevlar alone.
The RMIT textile technologist Dr Rajiv Padhye says the standard bullet-proof vest was generally made of kevlar, a dense, strong and expensive fibre. For military use, a heavy ceramic plate provides greater protection over vital areas.
A kevlar vests typically comprises some 36 layers of kevlar fabric. But it loses about 20 per cent of its effectiveness when wet, requiring an expensive waterproofing process.
"What we did was kept the kevlar but added a wool yarn into this," he says.

Cheaper, lighter

The increased friction of the wool in a tight weave means that a vest with 28-30 layers of fabric, provides the same level of bullet resistance as 36 layers of kevlar.
"And because wool fibres expand naturally in water by up to 16 per cent, the wool-Kevlar blend actually becomes more effective in wet conditions," he says. "The result is a cheaper bullet-resistant vest that works even better when it's wet."
That's a significant matter, considering kevlar costs about $70 a kilogram, compared with about $12 a kilogram for wool.
Rajiv says RMIT had worked with Australian Defence Apparel (ADA) as an industry partner and had taken out a patent. ADA currently provides body armour and uniforms to the Australian Defence Force.
"The next step is to see see if we can move ahead with ADA or any company and see if we are able to commercialise this," he says.

Apr 23, 2011

Apache to field ground fire-detection system

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Army News Service, April 22, 20110 -- Apache attack helicopters will soon field a new, high-tech Ground Fire Acquisition System which uses cameras and infrared sensors to instantly identify the source location of ground fire, service officials said.
"GFAS detects ground fire. It allows us to take information about incoming fire, get our sensors on it and identify and prosecute ground targets," said Maj. Justin Highley, Assistant product manager for the Longbow Apache.

The IR sensors built into the GFAS system detect muzzle flashes from the ground, allowing Apache pilots to get their sensors on potential targets and immediately know the location, and distance of ground fire, Highley explained.
Next spring, 1-101 Aviation out of Fort Campbell will become the first unit equipped with GFAS, he said.
The cameras on the aircraft detect the muzzle flash from ground fire - and move the information through an Aircraft Gateway Processor into the cockpit so pilots will see an icon on their display screen, said Lt. Col. Jeff Johnson, product manager, Longbow Apache.
"The beauty of this system is that we are not changing the aircraft software. We are not adding displays. It's integrated through an Aircraft Gateway Processor," he said.
Upon receiving the information about the ground fire on their display screens, the aircraft crew can move their Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensors, or MTADS/PNVS, onto the target at the touch of a button, Johnson said.

"The crew sees the point of origin where the muzzle flash was detected,"
he said. "It is not just about the aircraft, but about getting information to guys on the ground who are in the fight. Apache has led the way for other platforms with net-centric operations and situational awareness. It is about getting the information to our guys on the ground so they can develop the situation and take appropriate action."
The GFAS effort - called an Early User Evaluation - has undergone a range of key tests at places such as Mesa Ariz., and Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz., Johnson explained.
Pending successful outcome of the User Evaluation, the Apache PM will look at expanding GFAS' capabilities, including integrating the technology with Blue Force Tracker display screens, Johnson said.
"Crews often return from missions in Afghanistan with small-arms damage to the aircraft. GFAS is an offensive targeting system. It is not a piece of aircraft survivability equipment. It helps us fulfill our mission of closing with and destroying the enemy. How many of those forces who've been trying to shoot down our helicopters with small arms would have been eliminated by now if we had been able to pinpoint their location?" Johnson said.

"A recent historical example of why we need GFAS is the battle for Camp Keating in October 2009. We lost 8 Americans and wounded 24 in one day because we could not locate an attacking enemy during the daytime.
"Medevac could not extract our wounded until 2100, when it was dark and those small-arms weapons had finally been located and destroyed -- after 8 or 9 hours of fighting," Johnson said. "To me, that's unacceptable. Our Soldiers deserve better."

Third Army showcases its readiness during Lucky Warrior 2011

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait -Third Army conducted a readiness exercise at Camp Arifjan Apr. 16-19. The exercise, titled Lucky Warrior, helped ensure Third Army maintains a full spectrum of responsive capabilities through an effective forward-deployed force structure.
In a region filled with uncertainty, Third Army maintains its commitment to defend its regional and partner nations in the region through an effective and robust theater-wide engagement plan.
"The Third Army team exhibited the level of readiness expected from such a professional organization," said Maj. Gen. Al Aycock, special assistant to the commanding general, Third Army and a native of Goldsboro, N.C. "The readiness displayed during the Lucky Warrior exercise is very import to the lives of U.S. Soldiers. Our team demonstrated that we take pride in our mission and understand the importance of the exercise."
The Lucky Warrior exercise has been conducted periodically throughout the years to maintain readiness for contingency operations throughout Third Army's area of responsibility. The focus of the four-day exercise was to provide a venue to gather lessons learned in order to refine and improve Third Army battle staff preparedness.
Lucky Warrior is geared toward exercising Third Army's command and control architecture and to demonstrate its capacity to operate as the Joint Security Coordination Center for U.S. Central Command. This was the first time many of Third Army's subordinate commands in distributed locations integrated their command posts into this readiness exercise. The commands included the 1st Theater Sustainment Command, Area Support Group-Kuwait and Area Support Group-Qatar.
"Third Army possesses the agility to balance real-world and exercise events simultaneously," said Col. George Cone, Third Army director of training and exercise and native of Chappaqua, N.Y.

So what is the status of Third Army's readiness?

"Third Army stands Ready Tonight to conduct operations anytime, anywhere to deter and defeat adversaries," Cone said. "We also possess the unique ability to sustain two theaters of operation and continue to Shape and build partner capacity in the U.S. CENTCOM area of responsibility."

Apr 17, 2011

Video: Railgun Blasts an Aerodynamic Round Seven Kilometers Through A Steel Plate

This amazing video, created by Defense Tech, shows the latest test of General Atomics' high-speed railgun. Where earlier attempts have fired ungainly missiles that tumbled end-over-end through the air like "hypersonic bricks," this one uses a sabot round, which flies straight and smoothly for a distance of seven kilometers, AFTER punching through a solid steel plate.

Apr 9, 2011

Operation Winter Fury

SureFire partnered with Desert Tactical Arms to host a four-day demonstration of tactical technology to industry professionals and members of the media. The event was held at Sniper Country in Utah. Attendees used SureFire-suppressed DTA rifles to engage targets over a mile away and scaled a 400-foot cliff to practice high-angle shooting.

RAGGEDedge Gear Kevlar Wallets

Materials : Kevlar Aramid: It's been known to stop bullets...


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Apr 7, 2011

Madbull 1911 Torx Screws

Our pistol grip screws mount on to virtually any airsoft 1911 style pistol.
Have a full custom 1911 pistol? Why stop at the grips, go for a complete custom look with the grip screws as well.
  • T15 reinforced tamper proof screw head
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Army building first Block III Apache

Photo Credit: Courtesy photo. A Boeing shipping and receiving employee rolls the fuselage of the first AH-64D Apache Block III helicopter on to the receiving dock as it arrives at the Mesa, Ariz., facility on Jan. 28, 2011.
ARLINGTON, Va. (Army News Service, April 6, 2011) -- The U.S. Army has begun construction on the first fuselage of its next-generation AH-64 Block III Apache helicopter.
The new attack helicopter will be built with a stronger engine, improved avionics, better computer networking capability and increased maneuverability when compared with current models, service officials said.
The first Block III aircraft will roll off the production line this fall, said Lt. Col. Dan Bailey, product manager for the program. The first two aircraft will be used for developmental purposes, and the next five after that will be used to train the first unit equipped, he said.

The Apache Block III aircraft will begin to be fielded with units by the end of 2012, Bailey said.

Overall, the Army plans to acquire 690 Block III Apaches between now and 2026 at a production rate of roughly two battalions per year, beginning in fiscal year 2013. Of this amount, 643 will be re-manufactured aircraft and 56 will be "new builds," Bailey explained.
As part of its preparation of the Block III Apache, the program completed a "logistics demonstration" in March designed to show that the aircraft will be maintainable once fielded. The demonstration checked on the avionics, wiring, gear boxes, cockpit seat and electronics, among other things.
"We walked through all of these tasks to find the issues and things that needed to be fixed. This demonstrates that the aircraft will be sustainable and maintainable in the future, thus easing the burden on the war-fighter," Bailey said.
"We thought we would need a full three months for this, but we finished three weeks early and found that only two percent of the overall tasks needed refinement."
The Block III Apache features a 701D engine, composite rotor blades, improved networking and communications avionics, and an Improved Drive System of the 21st Century -- known as IDS-21 -- Face Gear Transmission.
"The new 701D engine has a significant increase in reliability based on new coating, new metal and increased airflow which allows it to operate at higher temperatures," Bailey said.

Photo Credit: Courtesy photo. Defense and Boeing representatives examine the paperwork that accompanied the fuselage of the first AH-64D Apache Block III helicopter upon its arrival at the Mesa, Ariz., receiving dock, Jan. 28, 2011.

Coast Guard Sniper Unit Training

Tip of the spear CG Sniper training

Soldiers refine combat medical skills at state-of-the-art facility

Photo Credit: Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Fincham. Spc. Dorian Williams, a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear specialist and combat lifesaver from the 557th Medical Company (Area Support), provides first aid to a simulated casualty at the Medical Simulation Training Center in Vilseck, Germany, March 30.
VILSECK, Germany - Entering the building you become engulfed by darkness. Thick smoke fills the air, and gunfire pierces your ears.

As your boots slip across the blood soaked floor, you find that there are bodies of injured Soldiers lying around the room. It's up to you and your battle buddy to rapidly identify the casualties' injuries, and immediately provide medical care. These split-second decisions can make the difference between life and death.
When the mission is completed the doors of the Medical Simulation Training Center open and sunlight shines in on the numerous simulated casualties.
The Soldiers of the 30th Medical Command's 557th Medical Company (Area Support) used the state-of-the-art MSTC facility here March 28 to April 1, to gain valuable experience and refine their combat medical skills.
"We wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to give our medics and combat-lifesavers some excellent real-world type training on these simulators," said Sgt. 1st Class Richard Kling, the 557th ASMC first sergeant.
During the scenarios, a combat medic was teamed up with a combat lifesaver to treat various simulated casualties. The wounded Soldiers, though simulated, are able to replicate many human characteristics, according to Joe Aubihl, the lead instructor for the MSTC.

"They breathe, bleed, talk, and blink. They can have unilateral or bilateral rise and fall of the chest," Aubihl explained. "They can do a lot."
These "sim-men," as they're known, give real-time feedback to the medics - a training value that simply can't be replicated elsewhere.
"This allows them to actually work on a breathing, bleeding casualty. Granted, it's not a human being, they don't move around too much. But it's getting away from the days of putting tape on someone's arm saying that they have an amputation or chest wound," Aubihl said.
The 557th ASMC, the only area support medical company in Europe, is designed to simultaneously provide level I and II medical care. The MSTC instructors and the noncommissioned officers of the 557th worked together to adapt the training to the unit's unique mission.
"We created this circular lane that goes from point of wound care, to tactical field care, to level II echelon care and evac," said Aubihl.

This led to an invaluable experience for the unit's medics and combat lifesavers, according to Kling.
"Our headquarters is composed of cooks, supply Soldiers, mechanics, admin operations - the usual headquarters type set up," Kling said. "When we have the main aid station set up and our teams pushed out, the headquarters is always with the main aid station. So in the event of [numerous casualties], we have our medical personal and these combat lifesavers to assist."
For the combat medics, the training is both challenging and beneficial.
"The stress level helps us to learn how to work through things under difficult circumstances. This really helps get more confidence in your skills and recognize what you need to work on," said Pfc. Lashun Douglas, a 557th ASMC combat medic. "When I first went through I was all over the place. The more times I go through, I've gained some confidence and focus."

The experience of working on responsive patients is priceless, and the MSTC facility allows the Soldiers to repeatedly practice processes and steps that will save lives.
"Imagine if they can put in a [chest tube] 100 times before they have to put a real one in. Repetition is the key to adult learning, and you get to do it here. Yeah, it's going to be a little different and a little more intense in real life, but they'll be able to just fall back on the training that they've had," said Capt. Avery Walker, a doctor at the Stuttgart Army Health Clinic.
"They need to be able to do this in their sleep and coming out here makes it that much easier," said Walker.
The 557th ASMC, headquartered in Wiesbaden, Germany, was in the area providing medical support during the 172nd Separate Infantry Brigade's mission rehearsal exercise at the Joint Multinational Training Command in Grafenwoehr and Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels.

Apr 5, 2011

FNH USA rocks the Superstition Mountain Mystery 3-Gun Match.

Several members of Team FNH USA posted solid finishes at the Superstition Mountain Mystery 3-Gun Match. This year’s match had more than 300 shooters with several new stages including the technical Stage One where shooters were hung in climbing gear and had to throw dummy hand grenades into windows before shooting targets.
“The quick and dirty stages at SMM3G are challenging and keep you on your toes. One little mistake can cost you the match,” said Tommy “Tommy Gun” Thacker, Director of Product Management and Team Captain for FNH USA. “Overall it was a good start to the year for Team FNH USA.”
Team FNH USA results included finishes by team members Tommy Thacker coming in 7th in the Open Division and 9th overall in the match, Mark Hanish who placed 13th in the Tactical Optics Division, followed by the latest addition to the team, Eric Lund in 35th place. Dianna Liedorff placed 72ndoverall, just over Tasha Hanish in 75th. The women of Team FNH USA also took 2nd and 3rd in the Tactical Optics Women’s Division respectively. Ken Pfau, Vice President of Law Enforcement and Commercial Sales for FNH USA rounded out the team’s overall finish in 20th in the Tactical Limited Division shooting iron sights. “Shooting iron sights at this match is always fun. The close targets are deceptively difficult with plenty of “no-shoots” and chances for penalties,” said Pfau.
Additional staff members from FNH USA also competed in the match with Ernie Beckwith earning 104th place in the Tactical Optics Division and Walt Hasser following in 164th. Tabor Bright placed 17th in the Heavy Optics Division with his .308 SCAR 17s.
The three-day Superstition Mountain Mystery match is held at the Rio Salado Sportmans Range and is considered the kick-off event for the national 3-gun competition circuit. The event attracts several hundred of the top shooters from around the country, and is also the first stop on the “3-Gun Nation” National Tour. The final-day shoot-off at each of the 3GN Tour stops is worth thousands of dollars in cash prizes to the top three finishers and is among the richest payouts in the practical and action shooting realm. Each of the events on the 3GN Tour is also recorded for a later broadcast on the Versus Channel. (Check your local cable listings for broadcast date, time and channel in your area.)

Team FNH USA is slated to attend a number of major 3-Gun matches in 2011, including:
FNH USA Team Captain Tommy Thacker fires his FN SCAR 16S during one of the grueling stages of the Superstition Mystery Mountain 3-Gun Championship. Photo Credit: Courtesy of FNH USA
June 5-11 - MGM IronMan, Parma, ID
July 22-23 - Industry Masters, Park City, KY
Aug 4-6 - Rocky Mountain 3-Gun, Raton, NM
Sept 9-11 - Ozark 3-Gun, Lake Ozark, MO
Oct 21-23 - USPSA Multi-Gun Nationals, Las Vegas, NV
Nov 10-12 - FNH USA / 3-Gun Nation Championship, Glengary, WV
To follow Team FNH USA in action, visit www.fnhusa.com.

Apr 3, 2011

West Point Parachute Team jumps, trains with French Foreign Legion.

Photo credit Col. Kevin Huggins
West Point Class of 2012 Cadet Pam Baker exits from the tail ramp of a C-130 to train in vertical relative work skydiving.
WEST POINT, N.Y. (March 31, 2011) -- For the first time in 38 years, the American flag was raised during morning reveille alongside the French colors at Camp Raffalli, just outside the coastal town of Calvi on the Mediterranean island of Corsica. The 2nd Regiment Estranger de Parachutistes, an elite airborne regiment of the French Foreign Legion, hosted the West Point Parachute Team March 11-20.
The objective was two-fold, to conduct joint free fall training, and to provide an inter-cultural exchange between the West Point Parachute Team, or WPPT, and the soldiers of the 2nd Regiment Estranger de Parachutistes.

A C-130 from VMGR-452, a Marine Aerial Re-fueler Squadron out of Stewart Airport in Newburgh, not only transported the team across the Atlantic, but was also the platform for all airborne operations during the week. Training was very intense and productive, a testament to the professionalism and enthusiasm of the aircrew.
"This definitely ranks in the top three things I've done," loadmaster Gunnery Sgt. Philip Baldridge said. "The training was great for us, good for (the cadets). We got 704 (jumpers out) this week and in my past 17 years leading up to this I'd only sent out 1,100 jumpers."
The cadets used the freefall time to practice the events they compete in for collegiate nationals. This included four-way and six-way relative work, where groups execute numerous formations in a horizontal position, as well as vertical relative work where teams fly in either a sit position or a head-down position.
"This trip was unlike any other training my classmates and I have had thus far on the team in that we tried everything from four to 15 ways during the day. Plus, we got to immerse ourselves in a completely new and different culture on the ground," said West Point Class of 2013 Cadet Christian Beckler.

Cadets and legionnaires often jumped together in joint teams. The soldiers from the 2nd Regiment Estranger de Parachutistes are trained in high-altitude, low-opening infiltration techniques, and do not often get an opportunity to hone their freefall skills. Similarly, cadets were afforded an opportunity to teach relative work techniques to their hosts.
The result was a productive professional development experience for all parties.
"In the four years since I have been on the jump team, we have traveled all over the U.S., but never abroad. The training with the French Foreign Legion was incredible, both for the sport and our professional development," explained West Point Class of 2011 Cadet Christina West.
The joint jumps turned out to be a high point for the week for many cadets.

"Jumping with the French Foreign Legion has been a privilege. It's something I'll tell my grandchildren about," West Point Class of 2012 Cadet Nick Luis said.
An important training tool for incoming members of the WPPT are tandem jumps, which allow them to experience and practice free fall techniques while safely attached to an experienced tandem master. WPPT coaches used this week to exercise their skills by taking select members of the 2nd Regiment Estranger de Parachutistes on tandem jumps.
When not executing jump operations, cadets were able to learn firsthand about the rich and proud history of the French Foreign Legion and about the unique Corsica culture. The team got an intimate view into the day-to-day lives of the legionnaires.
"We come from a lot of different backgrounds. One of the guys from my class came from living on the street to knocking on the (Foreign Legion's) door. You get people from high (social) classes and low," explained Cpl. Mike Jones, an American who joined the legion three years ago after previously serving in the U.S. Navy.
Probably the best way the team was able to bond with the hosts was on the fields of friendly strife. Activities such as an hour-long run on a high ridge overlooking the bay, soccer and American football provided the needed ice-breaking.

Cadets also learned about the unique Corsican culture by exploring the nearby towns. Rich in history and beauty, the island was the birthplace of both Christopher Columbus and Napoleon Bonaparte. Usually a tourist destination, the island was quiet due to the off season.
"The island has everything you need: beaches, mountains, hiking, skydiving, good food, good people. You can't beat it," West Point Class of 2013 Cadet Ben Garlick said.
Such a complex undertaking did not occur without the help of many people. Col. Brice Houdet, the French military attache in Washington D.C., and a former commander of the French 2nd Foreign Legion Parachute Regiment, first proposed the idea of the WPPT training in Calvi. He was also instrumental in guiding the proposal process through the French government.
In addition, a detachment from the Airborne Mobile Training Team, based out of Quantico, Va., assisted the team during the week.
They performed a drop zone survey, which was required prior to airborne operations. Additionally, they provided tandem jumps as well as shooting video during training jumps, enabling the coaches to provide feedback to cadets.

"(It was) phenomenal training," Marine Gunnery Sgt. Shane Denna said, "a great pleasure training with the West Point cadets and the French."
As the week drew to a close, the WPPT exchanged memorabilia with the legionnaires (including pins, unit patches and berets), took their last look at the splendid snow-capped mountains to the east and the deep blue Mediterranean to the west, and hoped that the novelty of this week would soon grow into an ever-appreciated annual event.

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