November 8, 2011

Every infantryman a machine-gunner

Filed under: Military, Technology, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 12:07

Lewis Page on the new lightweight ammunition the US Army is considering introducing:

The US Army has announced successful tests of a new, lightweight portable machine-gun which fires special plastic ammunition. The gun and ammo are so much lighter than current weapons and their brass-cased cartridges that some soldiers are suggesting that every infantryman could in future pack the sort of firepower reserved today for heavy-weapons specialists.

[. . .]

[M]ost soldiers are armed with assault rifles not intended to deliver sustained automatic fire and holding less ammo. These lighter weapons are handier for close-in fighting and permit other kit to be carried.

But US military boffins at the famous Picatinny Arsenal have been working on this situation for some time. Since ammo weight and bulk is much of the problem, they have come up with a new kind of ammunition: Cased Telescoped cartridges.

In a cased telescoped round, the bullet is no longer attached to the tip of a brass case full of propellant powder. The new case is shorter, fatter and made of plastic, so weighing substantially less, and the bullet is sunk into the middle of the propellant which makes the whole round shorter — it has been “telescoped”. A shorter round weighs less itself, and also means that the gun’s action, feed equipment etc is smaller and thus lighter as well. It’s a trick originally developed for tanks, to make the turret smaller and easier to protect.

According to the Picatinny scientists, their new LMG and a thousand rounds of its plastic-cased-telescoped ammo weigh no less than 20.4 pounds less than the current M249 (a version of which is also used by British troops) and a thousand ordinary 5.56mm brass cartridges. The new LMG shaves no less than 8.3 pounds off the 15.7-lb M249, coming in at just 7.4lb — actually lighter than a standard British SA80 assault rifle! This, perhaps, explains Specialist Smith’s opinion that it would be reasonable for all soldiers to carry such weapons, rather than just heavy-weapons specialists.

The difference between economic models and theories

Filed under: Economics, Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 09:34

Emanuel Derman looks at the “physics of an economic crisis” and explains the difference between economic theories and economic models. I had originally quoted a few passages from the article, but the site forbids re-use without written permission.

New frontiers in . . . paint colour names

Filed under: Randomness — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 09:16

I laughed at this idea at first:

Real men don’t paint their basements in Butterscotch Tempest. They colour the walls with Beer Time.

CIL Paints has launched Canada’s first “paint colours for men” collection, Ultimate Man Caves, designed to get men more excited about painting projects. Or, judging by the chosen names, at least get the Canadian paint company some free publicity.

CIL has renamed 27 of its paint chip names including Fairytale Green (Mo Money), Monterey Cliffs (Wolfden) and Cloud Nine (Iced Vodka).

A newly launched brochure offers an array of decorating choices for every room, from the “man cave” — “Featuring new CIL paint colour names for men such as Midlife Crisis, Brute Force, and Deathstar, the walls of this bathroom have ‘masculine’ written all over them,” — to the home theatre room — “The ultimate chill colour combo for having the guys over for pizza and the game . . . or to watch Die Hard for the sixteenth time.”

[. . .]

‘‘Studies show that while a larger percentage of women tend to choose paint colours for their home, it’s often men who give the colours a final nod.”

The original idea behind the campaign was to “do something hilarious,” she says. CIL held a Facebook contest in August asking people for manlier monikers in English and French and more than 15,000 responded. CIL’s marketing team chose their favourites (Ms. Goldman’s favourites are Old Sweat Pants and Pimpin’ the Trans-Am) to be featured in-store along with their 1,200 existing colours.

I thought it was silly until I remembered the last time Elizabeth and I painted a room in our house. She’d selected some paint colours that she thought would work well, and I immediately renamed them as “Luftwaffe Canteen” and “Feldgrau”. Not that I didn’t like them, but that the “official” names didn’t describe them accurately to me. Maybe CIL is on to something after all.

US Air Force to upgrade F-16 to fill the gap until the F-35 comes into service

Filed under: Military, Technology, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 08:41

The delays in the production of the F-35 are forcing the USAF to extend the service life of hundreds of aging F-16 aircraft:

The U.S. Air Force will refurbish several hundred of its 22 ton F-16 fighters, because their replacement, the 31 ton F-35 is not arriving in time. The F-35 began development in the 1990s and was supposed to enter service in 2011. That has since slipped to 2017, or the end of the decade, depending on who you believe. Whichever date proves accurate, the air force has a problem. Its F-16s are old, and by 2016 many will be too old to operate. The average age of existing F-16s is over 20 years, and the average aircraft has over 5,000 flight hours on it. Two years ago, the first Block 40 F-16 passed 7,000 hours. Three years ago, the first of the earliest models (a Block 25) F-16 passed 7,000 hours.

Depending on how late the F-35 is, the air force will refurbish 300-600 Block 40 and 50 aircraft. The work will concentrate on extending the life of the airframe, plus some electronics upgrades. The air force does this sort of thing frequently to all aircraft models. It’s called SLEP (Service Life Extension Program), and this one is special only because it concentrates on very old aircraft and is intended to keep these birds viable for another 5-10 years.

The F-16C was originally designed for a service life of 4,000 hours in the air. But advances in engineering, materials and maintenance techniques have extended that to over 8,000 hours. Because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, F-16s sent to these areas will fly over a thousand hours a year more than what they would fly in peacetime. The current planned SLEP will extend F-16C flight hours to 10,000 (10K) or more.

30 minutes of fireworks in 1 minute

Filed under: Britain, Randomness — Tags: — Nicholas @ 08:35

A technical glitch caused the Oban community fireworks display to be a bit more compressed than the original plan:

H/T to Roger Henry, who quipped “I imagine the fireworks guys realized that it was 30 minutes to closing time.”

NFL week 9 results

Filed under: Football — Tags: — Nicholas @ 08:27

This was a bad week to take the home team: most teams lost at home this weekend.

    @Buffalo 11 New York (NYJ) 27
    @Dallas 23 Seattle 13
    Atlanta 31 @Indianapolis 7
    @Kansas City 3 Miami 31
    @New Orleans 27 Tampa Bay 16
    San Francisco 19 @Washington 11
    @Houston 30 Cleveland 12
    @Tennessee 17 Cincinnati 24
    @Oakland 24 Denver 38
    @New England 20 New York (NYG) 24
    @Arizona 19 St. Louis 13
    Green Bay 45 @San Diego 38
    @Pittsburgh 20 Baltimore 23
    @Philadelphia 24 Chicago 30

This week 6-8 (7-7 against the spread)
Season to date 80-50

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