Military Mechanics: The best of 2022
With 2022 well behind us, we thought it might be nice to round up the most popular episodes of our “Military Mechanics” series. Some will be obvious, but others might be a complete surprise.
Let’s get stuck in.
First up is the iconic M134 minigun, naturally.
Six-barrelled, the electrically-operated M134 minigun can fire 7.62mm NATO-standard ammunition at a ridiculous rate per minute. It was developed by General Electric in the 1960s and is widely used by US and foreign militaries today.
This insane gun can fire 6,000 rounds per minute.
Each barrel fires while the others cool, allowing the minigun to fire at a high pace without overheating. A feeder-delinker mechanism lets the Minigun employ linked ammunition belts without jamming.
Vehicles, helicopters, and watercraft mount the minigun for suppressive fire or rapid target elimination. It has been employed in Vietnam, Desert Storm, and Afghanistan, including a few theatres of war.
The US Army and Special Operations Command adapted the M134D, a portable, air-cooled, gas-operated, fully automatic, open-bolt weapon. Yes portable.
Another of our most popular episodes was on anti-ship cruise missiles.
Anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCM) are designed to, as the name suggests, hunt naval warships like destroyers, cruisers, and aircraft carriers. Using radar, infrared, or satellite navigation, these missiles can be launched from ships, submarines, aircraft, and land vehicles.
ASCMs use turbojet or turbofan engines and fly low to avoid ship-borne radar. They can also avoid ship-borne radar and electronic countermeasures using their guidance and navigation systems.
They can employ radar, passive radar, infrared, electro-optical, GPS, or inertial navigation systems to hit the ship after reaching it. ASCMs with stealth technology and supersonic speeds are hard to detect and intercept.
Due to their vast range and difficulty defending against, ASCMs pose a severe threat to naval warships. Modern naval combat uses ASCM systems from many nations.
Notable examples include the SS-N-22 Sunburn, YJ-12, AGM-158C LRASM, Exocet, and BrahMos.
The V-22 Osprey was also an IE audience favorite.
The tiltrotor military aircraft Boeing-Bell Textron V-22 Osprey combines helicopter vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) with fixed-wing aircraft's long-range, high-speed cruise. The V-22 can fly like a fixed-wing aircraft because its two massive rotors tilt vertically for takeoff and landing and rotate forward for flight.
The V-22 takes off and lands like a helicopter but flies faster and farther. It can travel 400 miles (644 km) and hit 275 mph (443 kph).
The US military uses the V-22 for troop transport and medium-lift attack. Special operations, search and rescue, and medical evacuation are also possible.
The V-22 has evolved over decades. Its high cost and history of testing and operational catastrophes have made it contentious.
Everyone loved the Iron Beam laser weapon system.
IAI and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems developed the “Iron Beam” laser weapon system. Its high-powered laser beam can fire down drones, small boats, and other aerial threats.
Iron Beam destroys things at several kilometers of distance using a high-energy laser beam. The technology can track and engage multiple targets day and night.
The laser beam can warn airplanes or drones to evacuate the airspace or destroy the target by modulating its strength. It can be combined with radar and electro-optical sensors for comprehensive air defense. It may be mounted on vehicles, ships, and fixed mounts.
Iron Beam is a game-changer for air defense because it can efficiently, cheaply, and precisely defend against a broad spectrum of airborne and maritime threats without interceptors or munitions.
Another popular episode was the MK19 grenade launcher.
US-made, the 40mm belt-fed automatic grenade launcher MK19 is a legend in its own time. Designed and built by Saco Defense in the 1970s for the U.S. military and other militaries, it can fire smoke, illumination, and high-explosive 40mm grenades. It can fire 325 rounds per minute and has a 2,369-yard (2,212-meter) range.
Two or three persons operate the MK19 on cars, boats, or tripods. Electric motors power and cool it. A feeder-delinker mechanism lets the MK19 employ linked ammunition belts without jamming.
And finally, the M777 howitzer.
BAE Systems created the lightweight 155mm howitzer M777. It gives the U.S. military and other militaries long-range, high-precision weapons. Since it is made from titanium, the M777 is lightweight and transportable, weighing only 4,200 pounds (1,905 kg).
It is so light it only requires a six-man crew to people operate and tow; it can even be airlifted by helicopter or plane.
The M777's advanced navigation, aiming, and fire control systems allow it to accurately deliver firepower at 18.6 miles (30 km) with regular projectiles and 31 miles (50 km) with rocket-assisted projectiles.
Ideal for modern warfare, the M777 can be flown by helicopter or aircraft to remote positions and transported through rugged terrain and snow due to its lightweight design.
And that’s your lot for today.
We want to know which weapons systems will be most popular in 2023.