31 May 2011

My First Book: Endangered Species


The AMP suit is the basis on my APS suits
 If you been wondering why there as been no new flash-fiction on the blog? It's due to me working on my first novel. At the moment, I am more than half-way done with my first novel, which is my take on the classic military sci-fi tale of Armored Power Suit soldiers fighting aggressive insect aliens. the story is told from the First personal point-of-view of a female Captain in the Union of the Americas Army's elite APS corps.  
The book is a product of reading Starship Trooper, and Armor last summer just after starting the blog, and while reading these classic books, I thought I could do better. In addition, much research was done on trying to overcome the usual limitations and issues with MSF...along with reading criticisms of the entire genre of MSF.
The technology, weapons, tactics are based on real military elements and on hard science. It is my hope to for a novel to finally live up the situations in  Starship Trooper, and Armor. While Starship Troopers is a classic and the founding novel of military sci-fi, it has little the way of the actual Bug War, however the Mobile Infantry raid on the Skinny homeworld is the best part of the book, and was the genesis of Endangered Species. While the book by fellow Texas author, Armor, is filled with more combat scene, and well-written, it takes a serious detour in the middle, which derailed the entire novel for me. My hope is to have Endangered Species be a great MSF book that shows what real futuristic combat will look like, and have realistic emotions, dialog, and weaponry...no micro-atomic bombs here.
The book will be offered to publishers, then if not taken, it will be uploaded to Amazon for the Kindle and other e-book sites for about $2-$3. I hope it will led to other opportunities.

Here is the "backcover" to the novel:

Mankind has always wondered if we were alone…we no longer have to wonder.
One-by-one, our colonies among the stars have gone silent, entire pioneer expeditions have disappeared; the UN sent out probes to these worlds …all were found dead. The off-world colonization by governments and companies has been shut down.
Earth is a doomed world, filled with pollution and rot, forcing mankind to the stars…but something has stopping us, they have threatened our very survival.
The hope of mankind is the largest military mobilization in human history...
In the tradition of Starship Troopers and Armor, comes a novel that fulfills their vision and promise, us versus the bugs…

Here is the small section of my book, when the main character, Captain Jorja Leeds, gets her APS out of storage:

Besides escaping from the army mindset, the Mechanized Combat Application Group offered me to fight in one of those beautiful three-ton suits when fully loaded. These Dragoons were not an object of beauty that would hang in the Louvre to most people. But, I had been in the thick with the basic infantry armor, and once you slip into the Dragoon, you have a soft spot in your hard soldier’s heart forever. About 300 suits from all the different governments were lined up in neat rows, with techs floating around them, and chattering in manner of languages. The funny thing was that I fired at some of these other suits.


This beautiful armored suit could take the punishment and dish it out. During combat drops in hostile atmospheres, the armor took hits that would have easily ended my life or I’d being pooping to a bag at the very least. My suit was between them and me. That was something to get romantic about.

“Captain?” I turned to see James Austin, the head suit technician for our unit. We were damn lucky to have him. Wizardry is the only way that I could explain his talent at patch up suits and getting back in the fight. That was one of the limitations of the being in the MCAG; we had to have technical support to keep the Dragoons up and running. We required less down time than a main battle tank and less support elements, and could be easily dropped into a hot planetary LZ several ways, and terrain was less of an issue for us than convention vehicles. All of us added up to that APS boots were normally the first planetside. After a secure drop zone was secure, Austin and his techs were bought down.

“Austin, finally up from the cryo?” I raised my mug, and he did the same.

“Yeah, didn’t even piss myself this time!”

“Good for you!” He came up on the railing on the catwalk over the bay, and we sat there for a moment looking at the busy little bees relatively below us. James Austin and I had started in MCAG ODA units at the same time, and when it came time for me to command my own ODA, I picked Austin as my lead technical. I had seen James personally fix suits while under fire, that were immobile, repair them enough to get back to a safe point, and then dodge incoming, all without being ordered to. He had the medals hanging from his nipples to prove it.

“Lots of suits, Captain.”

“Yeah, the brass has got us all out here, this time.”

“First joint op since that H³ miners’ strike at McGinnis?”

“And before that is was Sirius.” I said the name like a curse, and I felt the ghost that haunted that place.

“Damn, the rumors around the chow hall must be true.” He did not look at me, but I asked anyways.

“What’s the word, chief?”

“The chatter says that those things are the biggest threat to mankind since the last Oil Crisis.” He swirled his coffee, and kept his eyes focused on the bay. “After all, we got no colonies left.”

“We ani’t going fall back to Sol, chief.”

“Yeah…because our collective backs at the sea.”I nodded slowly; the tone of Austin’s voice reflected the mood back home. Everyone on Earth was trying to get off it. It was a dying world, and the colonial movement had only been undertaken when the real bad shit hit the fan. If the human race was pushed back to Earth, we simply wouldn’t survive. I personally didn’t want to live on that rotten shithole anymore, I joined up to leave, not surrender and go home.

“Was saving up my coin and favors for some green land on Triumph or Hestia “

“Groombridge or Sirius A, huh?” I asked, just going through the motions.

“Now, they’re inflected.” He was clearly pissed. Thousands of settlers were gone; this swarm, as they were being called, completely wiped out decades of work right off the star charts. This felt more like an extinction than an invasion.

“C’mon,” I motioned, “let’s check my suit.”

The armor powered suit was the entire reason I had suffered through selection into the MCAG to earn place in the operation detachment unit. I had my fill of being 1st Air-Cav during the conflicts on Ceres, Mars, Titus, and of course, Sirius. Being fired at by everything known to man, and watching the wrong decision in gear, cover, or movement end a pink mist of blood. During these conflicts, and the difference of environment fueled the need for a quick strike force that go in, destroy and get out, without the need of support. The APS unit could operate in all types of environments, with a few changes in equipment, and complete the job.

Most normal infantry suck when you radically changing their combat landscape. Just try and dropping some infantry into a sweaty humid rice-paddy of a world, then jerk them out, and ship them off to an airless, lightless asteroid while fighting for days in a spacesuit. The results are not good. The Union Army developed within the Special Forces community, specially trained suit driver to fight in all conditions, to be quick strike, or quick support. Often, I was called up, to be heavy weapons support until we could secure a planetary LZ beachhead to bring down the heavy vehicles and infantry.

Which means in plain English, we were the bullet magnets.

That was the primary role of the APS in modern warfare, the opener for the rest of the invasion force. Often, we worked alongside specially trained Spaceborne paratroopers that provided protection against infantry armed with portable Gauss cannons and Anti-Suit missiles.

Each suit was roughly two meters tall and while onboard ship, they locked into hanging frames, used to store them in special cargo holds. Once the ship was underway, the “meat locker” is pumped with special foam that hardens to protect the suit, to the counter the effect of acceleration and de-acceleration from FTL.


The APS from the Anime verison of Starship troopers

When mine was excavated from the hardened foam, she was wheeled out to me. There it was, my personal Dragoon armor powered suit, and the only piece of hardware I got more excited to see was my Porsche. It looked good, with a fresh coat of paint; gone was all the Virginis dust, and impact factures. The suit may have been grey in the suit bay, but once the Dragoon was dirt-side, the adaptive environmental camouflage (AEC) would kick and colored her in the local terrain.




I could remember long ship-board night painting the suits with the local planetary pattern when I was a grunt before AEC.

Good times…


“It had the full upgrade, plus some of my personal touches.” Austin ran on, as I grazed over the beauty of it. The Dragoon vaguely human form, and resumed an ancient Samurai warrior readying for battle. It was more suit than the heavy mecha that the army boys used. The suit was a careful balance of protection, weight, and flexible. It some ways, the Dragoon was a nice fusion a European Knight and Samurai.

The suit was heavier at the chest, shoulders, and head with the thickest armor plating, with the next being at the knees, boots, and forearms.

These portions of the suit had sloped dense ring carbon metal mixed with tungsten plates that were rigid and designed to take a great of punishment. My head was sheltered by a thick sloped tear-shaped helmet, but also by high shoulders. These housed some external lighting and sensors. The outside world was projected on multiple HUD holo-screens inside the helmet. A clear faceplate that was only used in emergency was constructed out of transparent diamond whisker coating.

The joint sections were a mixed of hydro-gel, nano ballistic fibers, and carbon nano-tubes. Inside the suit was designed for my survivability and comfort. Many layers of aerogel, honeycombed biosteel, and padding shield me from the traumatic concussive shock of impacts, in additional, the suit was sealed against NBC, vacuums, and water. All of which was limited protection. Despite those stream-vid ads, if a lucky hit from a gauss cannon or rail round, or even a special atomic demolition munitions could crack the armor. I had seen too many times.

“Let’s do a crack check, Austin.”

I had learned through service that nothing worse than have a micro-crack in the suit while in a hostile environment, so every suit got the once over three times. Each one of these pieces of war-tech was a serious investment, and so were the drivers. You had to have been in the service for six years before even applying to the Mechanized Combat Applications Group. I was only accepted after nearly a decade in sidereal active combat service, and on my third request.

“Damn computer! C’mon!”

“Austin, I got PT in 20, can we hurry this up?” I rolled my eyes, while Austin bashed the computer repeatly.

“The techs have looking at too much porn on the terminals! Slowing it down…”

I laughed, “Austin, one can never have too much porn!”

He laughed, “Roger that, Captain!”

22 May 2011

FWS:Forgotten Classics-Dynamo Joe

In 1986-1988, First Comics published one of the three great American Military Sci-Fi comics series (the others being Dark Horse's ALIENS and Epic's Alien Legion ), Dynamo Joe. During the mid-1980's, the Manga/Anime craze was hitting the comic shops hard, fueled by Robotech. This is a rare-American semi-Manga series that took themes of Starship Troopers and mixed them with hard-edged Military Sci-Fi and humor.The series was created and written by Doug Rice, who served in the US Air Force during the 60's and 70's, where,he most likely exposed to Anime/Magna. After leaving the USAF, he went to college for art, and got in the field of comics. In 1984, with series like Gundum in his mind, he began work on his own giant robot futuristic war story, which became Dynamo Joe.First Comics, that published Joe was known for printing the first computer-generated comic book, Shatter, Teenager Mutant Ninja Turtles (prior to the TV cartoon ruined it!), and the massive 17th century Samurai epic  Lone Wolf and Cub (one of the best comics ever written).  First Comics took a chance on Dynamo Joe by originally publishing it in short comics sections in the varity comic MARS, then a three-part limited series then onto a regular series. However, sadly, Joe only lasted fifteen issues, and First Comics folded in 1992. While ShatterTMNT, and Lone Wolf and Cub were sold off to other comic companies to live on, but Dynamo Joe was left to the bins of back-issue comic boxes of the world.

The Plot of Dynamo Joe
It is the year 3425, mankind as expanded out from Terra to form a vast network of colonial worlds, under the Terran Confederation. However, the government of the Terran Confederation as a gaping rift between the inner and outer colonies, coupling with the activities of rouge colonies, called the Blood Nations, and pirates. Besides, Terra, there are two other major races within our happy corner of the galaxy, the Tavitans and the Imperium. The Tavitans are also a colonizing spacefaring race of felines that have their society centered around their Queen Mother on their homeworld of Londree. Terrans and Tavitans have a trading relationship but mostly keep out of each other's business. The last race is the Imperium, which is centered around their leader Magna Khan who left Terra around 2100 with 400 women after discovering immortality. On his thorneworld, the Khan created a society built on the perfection of humanity via art, science, and some martial training. Like the Tavitans, the Imperium most kept to themselves...that all changed in 3415.An unknown alien race was attacking the galactic rim, and leaving a trail of empty worlds. Their obessive path was directly focused for Terra and Londree, leaving the Imperium out of the path of the sublight invasion.
Wanting to put an end to the threat, the Terrans mobilized their central fleet, and attacked the unknown race. It was a slaughter. More than half of the Terran fleet was destory, and the last serving fleet command staff officer, moved the remains of the fleet out of the kill-zone. This was called the Rim Battle Massacre. The Terran Confederation, the Imperium, and the Tavitans formed the Alliance to deal with the alien threat, who were now called the Mellanares. To win the so-called Orion War, the Alliance, created the 120 ton, 70 feet tall fusion-powered robo-suits manned by two, named the Dynamo. To stop the Mellanares invasion, the Alliance took a star system along the enemy's invasion path and transformed each of the eight worlds into fortress. It lasted for three years. As the comic book series of Dynamo Joe opens, the last fortress-world is falling, and the Orion War is told from the POV of one robo-suit: Dynamo Joe, crewed by pilot Sgt. Daro of the Imperium and technician Pomru of the Tavitan Empire. Daro and Pomru wage the Orion War, while being based out of an Alliance Asteroid armed station, Sigma Six, in robo-suit unit of Spectre Squadron. For fifteen issues, the crew of the Dynamo Joe try to win this war against the aliens, navigate the tense relationship between the members of the Alliance, and figure who the hell these aliens are and why they are coming. One of the most interesting elements of Dynamo Joe, is the alien and mysterious robo-suit, Wolf-1. The end of the series is also original and not typical of normal comic book long-term stories.  

The Dynamo suit
The footsoldiers of the Orion War is the Alliance battlesuit Dynamo that is 70 feet tall, and 120 tons, that powered by a fusion plant in the groin region of the suit. During the war, 70,000 suits were put in-field against the organic shape-shifting enemy, and these suits had limited operating range in space, causing the Alliance to have suit recovery ships. These suits operated in both star-side and dirt-side, with modifitions. Crewed by two, they occupy the chest region of the suit, and there were several levels inside the suit...this allowed a Dynamo suit to stay in the fight for days or weeks without the need for the crews to get out. There as been hinted that food and sleep facilities were onboard the giant robo-suit.Weapons are mostly plasma based and from the dialog in the comic, it seems that Dynamo suits have a slush hydogen tank that have the weapon hook into the ammunition supply. In addition, the suit mounted swords, a hetmet cannons, gaunlet bullet-firing cannons, and a one-shot wrist last-resort weapon.My favorite weapon system was the thermonuclear shoulder cannon. Wonder if the NRA will support me wanting to have one?


Historical Context of Dynamo Joe
Dynamo Joe came at interesting time in the history of Anime/Magna in North America, Robotech was the fuel that feed the fire of people like me to seek out and buy Japanese products. Seeing this trend, Matchbox created a line of so-so quality toys based on Robotech, and comic shops began stocks more imported mecha models.Things were not like today for Western fans of Anime/Manga, often it was expenive, not in English, and you had to go through dealers (normally in LA) to get porducts. The Reagan 80's were a good time for independent comic companies and for fans of non-mainstream comics. Companies like Dark Horse, Comico, Viz, and First were founded and putting out books that were not the tried old Superhero shit like the Big Two (DC and Marvel). However, these new publishers struggled for space on the rack of comic book stores, and if a comic didn't move, it was cut from ordering.

My Personal Dynamo Joe Experience
My older and only brother discovered this series at Starbase 21 in Tulsa, and bought the entire line. I used to borrow them with great fequrancy and even built Lego Dynamo suits. I was very lucky, that my brother had enough good taste to buy this series, and allowed me to explore a rich and well-written comic. At the time that Joe was released, I was obessed with Robotech and the rumored second sequel series, and spend ever bit of my allowance on Anime/Magna products. Dynamo Joe was never a forgotten series to me and over the years, I often thought of Joe. When the blog was started up last summer, I bought the entire series from Lone Star Comics for $15. That was lower than cover prices! Oddly enough, Joe was the first time I had ever heard of the term Armored Power Suits...which is what my first book is all about.

What happened to Dynamo Joe?
You may be asking yourself, if DJ was that good...than why did only last 15 issues, William? Readership was good enough for Dynamo Joe to move from a few stories in MARS to a limited series of three issues to a regular monthy run...but that only lasted fifteen issues. The reason behind the end of Joe was gave in #15, First Comics said that there were not enough readers to support the comic, which is cold economics, plus First Comics was a small press...and not able to have dead wood on their payrolls. The dropoff between the limited series to the end of the regular monthly series must have been sharp, or the numbers didn't grow like they thought. I can only theroize why comic readers of the 1980's did not respond to Dynamo Joe like they should have. I think that First Comics was unable to give Joe the advert it needed to reach the readers, this coupled with the limited shelf space on most local comic shops...would you kick off X-Men for Joe? Yeah...didn't think so. Then there was a cover-price issues...Dynmao Joe started off at buck twenty five then jumped to the unheard of $1.75! Yep, that doesn't seem like much today, but in the Reagan 80's most of the Big Two comics were $.75. We also have to look at Japanese Anime/Magna still only had small core of fans, and there simply wasn't the interest in a giant robot war series that forced readers to think rather than spoon up more recycled shit about Superheroes.  

Modern review of Dynamo Joe
Last summer, I bought all fiften issues of DJ, for about $15, and sat down and read all of them at once.  I hadn't read Joe since my high school day in the mid-90's, and revisiting one the building blocks of my own MSF allowed me to fall in love with the series all over again. I was not expecting Dynamo Joe to live up to the notosia that I had built up over the years, however after several read throughs, I can safely say that Joe was a brillent comic that died before its time...Dynamo Joe is an amazing story with original elements, that does not mimic Anime/Magna style or stories, but burrows the best elements of soldiers interacting with these massive armed robotic suits in deep space combat. Being much older now, since I last read it, some elements, like seeing massive robo-suits weilding swords for hand-to-hand combat is funny, and doesn't jive with my own MSF being harder science.
However, the originality of the races, especially the Imperium society, and the Mellenares aliens are unlike any seen in most MSF. This carries over to the Dynamo suits, which are similar to the suits for Gundum, but are not as cartoony and developed with eye to the realistic. The main problem with Dynamo Joe is with the overall series pacing. The series, according to Doug Rice was to fill a two-year span ran, First Comics allowed for Rice to finish up the Wolf-1 and Orion War storylines...this makes the series move too fast, and some story elements get dropped off. I would have liked to see more planet-side combat and more within the Tavitan Empire and Imperium. It really is a shame that a comic with as much to offer as DJ was canceled and nothing was developed after the end of First Comics with the idea of the Dynamo Joe universe. I would advise, if you like what you see here, and the story sounds interesting, than pick Joe at a comic shop and get into the Orion War!

Why is Dynamo Joe a MSF Classic?
Even the realm of comic books today, Dynamo Joe is an original take on piloted combat mecha facing an alien enemy, but why is DJ a classic of military science fiction? Unlike many of the giant robo-suit Anime or Magna, the crews of the Alliance battlesuits are not teenagers, but experienced, highly trained soldiers that operate within a military structure. Attention as been paid to tactics, technology, and politics, all making Joe well-rounded, especially for a comic book. The idea of a military alliance between three governments is also not seen in many comics, especially allies that do not like one another. Dynamo Joe was not aimed at kids, it was more an adult comic, which were coming about in the 1980's, which allowed the writers of DJ to show the effects of war. However, Joe knew when to inject humor, making the characters seem more three dimensional. Classic normally means something that is groundbreaking, well-done, and is enjoyable years after it was created. Dynamo Joe hits all three of those. This comic should not be a forgotten classic any longer.  



15 May 2011

FWS Forgotten Weapons: The SR-47 Rifle

With all of the recent attention paid to NAVSPECWAR-DEVGRU aka SEAL Team 6, I thought we might examine one of the more unique weapons in their armory and one of my personal favorites: the Stoner Rifle Forty Seven (SR-47). I have to say that if I was a Navy SEAL, than I would want to carry one of these beauties around with me.

The Short History of the SR-47
Early into the War on Terror in 2001, US Special Forces were operating in caves, mountains, and deep in the rough wilderness of Afghanistan. This began to presented a problem for resupply and maintaining their cover. To answer it, USSOCCOM, in the words of Daivd Lutz of KAC: "wanted a weapon that had all the muscle memory of an M-4 - safety, grip, everything that's familiar to the soldier or the SEAL - but capable of using battlefield pick-up magazines." Four companies put in bids for a special purpose variant of the M4 that fired the standard AK-47 Warsaw Pact 7.62x39mm round. Knight's Armament Company (KAC) won the contract for the initial prototype production of six rifles. KAC had a history of modifying the standard M4 carbine into all manner of special purpose weapon platforms, and this looked like just another mod to the growing M4 family. 
It wasn't so easy as they thought.
One of the requirements put down by USSOCOM was for this special modified M4 to accept standard AK banana magazines, for ease of "battlefield picks" without any need to strip out the enemy rounds out into a retrofitted M-16 mags...this required a great deal of work. David Lutz, recalls: "that was a dilemma because the AK-47 magazine won't go well in a straight chute dimensional magazine - it just won't happen,"  Also, KAC had to over come the length difference between the AK-47 and the M4, causing the SR-47 upper and lower receivers to be lengthened  After months of work, testing, and a rumored one million dollars in R&D, the six prototypes were given to SOCOM in October of 2001 and in to the hands of SEALs. There nothing online stating which SEAL team received the SR-47s, however it is a good bet that it was SEAL Team Six (DEVGRU). Rumors state that the guns were given real-world battlefield testing in Afghanistan complete with sound suppressor for cave cleaning work. While the gun was heart-breaking and life-taking in enemy territory Knight's Armaments was gearing up for production on second version that fired the AK-74's 5.45x39mm, but no orders came in.
And then the trail goes cold...no more information on what happened to the six SR-47 or their service with NAVSPECWAR...

Advantages of the SR-47
DELTA Operators, Tora Bora, 2001
When we examine Special Forces operations in regions like Tora Bora, the Shahikot Valley, and in the rumored black ops in Pakistan or Iran, we find the main two roles for the SR-47: extending the ammunition supply and low-profile. During Operation: Redwings in 2005, author and SEAL Team 10 member, Marcus Luttrell, stated that the SEALs carried eight magazines (plus one in the weapon I imagine, which is just under 300 rounds), but they took 12 (about 360 rounds) to be on the safe side. In the heat of battles like at Shahikot Valley during Operation Anaconda and Operation Redwing, the amount of targets that these operators were shooting at outstrips their supply. Once the ammo is gone within these teams, then resupply via helicopter becomes a target for RPG fire and reveals your position.  It is not like there is a Wal-Mart around the corner in A-stan. With the SR-47, resupply is as near as the next dead evildoer's chest rig. Or even a friendly village...since the AK-47 is the most popular and widespread assault rifle in the world (300 million and counting), ammunition is commonplace, even in rural Afghanistan. This also lightens the load fopr long-range patrol missions, where all you got is what's on your back in your pack.
As to the next reason, is for operators keeping a low-profile.Sometimes the knife edge between surivial and death is maintaining that low-profile for Tier One operations. When your small band of commandos is deep in enemy territory, the last thing you want do is kill someone with your 5.56mm weapon, and then have an enemy patrol find the NATO shell casing, they then know that there are Western commandos in the region and you're cover is blown.
During firefights, the SR-47 sounds like an AK-47, which unlike the M4 could alert everyone to the fact that you are an American. The gunshot of an SR-47 could be written off in the mind of some AQ/Taliban lookout as some rival clan faction. The tactic of similar sounding weapons was especially good in cave cleaning operations, where you could use the SR-47 and not have the evildoers know how close you were to their location. In addition, to more ammo and low-profile, the Stoner Rifle -47 had also two great technical advantages over the normal Avtomat Kalashnikova, according to David Lutz:  "this particular 7.62 x 39mm is probably the most accurate 7.62 x 39mm in the world because it's got a really fine free-floated barrel. And, of course, it has the rail system so all of the other SOPMOD accessories off the M-4s are compatible. The SR-47 is a great gun because of the three technologies that it marries: the basic Stoner gun design; the AK-47 series cartridge and magazine; and the modular weapon concept."

Disadvantages of the SR-47
When looking at the Stoner Rifle forty seven  it is not as compact as  10.3inch barreled version of the M4 assault carbine,the CQBR. Adding to the lenght, is the weight of the SR-47 (7.7lbs) verse the standard M4 (6.39lbs). Given that the main reason for having your shooters use the SR-47 is extend your ammunition supply in-field without exposing your position to the enemy by aerial resupply, gives the rifle it the label of "limited mission weapon". Would you, as a CO of a special unit issue SR-47 over the M4? Not according to most operator that have access to good supply lines. There is also the continuing debate raging about the 7.62x39mm verse the 5.56x45mm. However . However, the key design element was for the SR-47, to load AK magazines, may be it's Achilles Heel. An operator may not use a weapon which takes unknown bullets (How old is this round? Where the hell was it made? Is that Rust?!) with unknown magazines (is the spring good? How old is this mag? Is that rust?! )  from an unknown supply source...which I can compare  taking an AK mag from a dead Taliban like sleeping with a whore...you could get an STD, or worse...dead. Also, reloading an M4 to a seasoned NAVSPECWAR is like taking a leak. it's second nature. But reloading an AK is not second nature to most...and that can get you killed.  
While the SR-47 used the ammo of an AK, it certainly did not have the internal advantages for the AK series. Namely loose tolerances that allow dirt to be shaken out, than clog the operation. The SR-47 still comes from the M16/M4 family design that requires more care and cleaning than any AK-47. Another disadvantage was mentioned by Gene, an RN I work with in Trauma ICU, he stated that the individual psychology of the soldier, in regards to their weapon, as a huge part in individual success or failure, and if the person breaks down, than the group breaks down as well. He told me to think of it in terms of playing COD: Black Ops with a weapon I dislike, and rating my performance with that hated gun. This also came up during my experience at Oklahoma D-DAY 2007, when I was on my third(!) backup marker...my old Tippmann Pro/Am...not the same as my beloved Viper M1. Gene said that if the soldier is not feeling it with his gun than s/he is not going to do as well.


Why not just use an AK?
US Special Forces have carried versions of the automatic Kalashnikov in battle and low-profile Ops since Vietnam. During that war, it was widely known that US soldiers would dump the troubled M-16 for the AK-47, and even the VC would not pickup the black rifle! The first boots on the ground in A-Stan in 2001, was the CIA SAD team JAWBREAKER, and they carried folding stock AKs (source: First In by Gary Schroen), this was not to attract attention to the fact they were CIA. For years, rumors have flown around about US black ops mission into Iran, and if true, those soldiers would certainly use the AK. This idea was explored in the 2007 episode Johnny B. Good of the CBS TV show The Unit. One of the main reasons for US SPECOPS to use the SR-47 over the AK variants is as Lutz stated, the better, more accurate barrel  familiar M4 lower receiver  and the ability to mount all kinds of high-tech SOPMOD goodies on the rails, which  current SPECOPS operators relay on.

What Happened to the SR-47?
Rumors around the Internet say that KAC spent one million dollars on the seven prototypes, and were gearing on phase two, which would have been a SR-47 that chambered the AK-74 5.45x39mm round, the so-called SR-74...but SOCOM didn't order anymore and the program died. One of these guns lives in the KAC museum in Florida  while the other six rest somewhere in the shadow word of Tier One operations. Where they used onward from 2001? Are they still in service? Or are they in the halls of DEVGRU's barracks or rec room. But the real question is why did Tier One operators quite using the SR-47? I think, the first main reason, is cost. Only seven of the SR-47 cost one million dollars, while battlefield AKs are free. Next would be a lack of interest by the SOF community. The M-16 platform have been used since 1965, and career soldiers don't normally switching in the middle of a war. Coupled with the fact that special operators trust their lives and their mates' lives to their gun, and the question comes down, can they trust the ammo and/or magazine from a dead enemy? The only theory I read online for the discounted the SR-47, is that gun was easily dirted and fouled from using battlefield pickup mags and ammo. Which was its very purpose for existance.

The SR-47 Reborn...Verison 2.0?
Two guns being manuflacted today: the Magpul Masada and the Robinson Armament's XCR carry on the ideas of the SR-47. Both of these modern assault rifles can be configuration  to fire the Warsaw Pact 7.62mm round, then converted back to fire the NATO 5.56mm with a few simple actions. These weapons are not at present being by any known military, but it nice to see the wisdom of the SR-47 coming back into current weapons design.  


The SR-47 in the media
This Bunny shoots back!
 The SR-47 is a rare gun, and most people have no idea that it exists. At this moment, only a single visual media production as featured an SR-47, the Japanese Animated series: CAT SHIT ONEThe main character, Packy, carries an SR-47. There are airsoft versions of it, and a few people on my milsim empire paintball  board have kitbashed a few...I am waiting for Call of Duty or Medal of Honor to use this rare gun in their next games...
I actually mentioned the SR-47 in both a college research paper I wrote my senior year at university for my 20th century history class and the Powerpoint presention. I wrote an award-winning paper (it's true!) about the global impact of the AK-47, and then presented it during a day of lecture, then presented it to my class as well...

The Genesis behind this Blog post
Normally, FWS attempts to hold the course of posting on topics of military sci-fi, and not contemptibly military affiars...however, recently I've been playing Medal of Honor repeatable, and an idea sprang to mind: a off-world conflict similar to the war in Afghanistan on a world were aliens and humans try to live together separate from their warring governments.However, a proxy war breaks out on the colony, and human special forces ODA teams along with wolf packs are deployed  To lesser their presence on the world of Olive Branch, the SOF units use a special purpose rifle, called OPFOR, that uses the alien enemy's strangle ammunition, which was based on the real-world SR-47 (see? I told you there was a connection!). Somehow, when the idea hit, I thought of the old cover art by Ken Steacy of the 1987 of Night and the Enemy graphic novel by Harlan Ellison and printed by Comico. I am not sure, however, the novel or short-story serial maybe titled: Plausible Deniability or Disavow all Knowledge

In Closing...
Kalashnikov (w/M16) and Stoner (w/ AK-47) with their creations
"The SR-47 is a great gun because of the three technologies that it marries: the basic Stoner gun design; the AK-47 series cartridge and magazine; and the modular weapon concept."










13 May 2011

FWS Favorite 10: Starships

1. The Sulco from ALIENS:
This vessel changed the way that sci-fi writers and creators looked at how starships should look. This vessel was every part of a military vessel and one of the rare unique desgins in sci-fi.








 2. the EDF-Andromeda from Starblazers/Space Cruiser Yamato:
During the invasion of the Comet Empire, this dual Wave-Motion Cannon dreadnought led the Terran strike-force at Saturn. This vessel was a beauty and bassass to boot...and it had TWO Wave-Motion Cannons!


 3. The Omega class Destroyer from Babylon 5
When Babylon 5 came onto the airwaves, Star Trek dominated the sci-fi market, and this series showed a different kind of space opera complete with hard science warships and fighters. The best of the Earth Alliance ships was the oddly beautiful and powerful Omega class destroyer. The way that this ship is beautiful remains me of what Sir Francis Becon once said: "There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion"

4. The NX-2000 Excelsior from Star Trek: III/VI
When you have one of the most iconic designs for a starship, the Enterprise, what do to after that? You design, the Excelsior...my favorite ship from Star Trek. There is just something about this rumored Federation battleship that attached me to it...I guess it's what Sir Bacon said....strangleness.

5. The Andromeda Ascent from Gene Rhoddenberry's Andromeda
This is another one of those original designs in sci-fi, and the Andromeda was one of the best things in the entire series, not to mention the  hot AI. This vessel was crafted around their method of FTL drive (slipstream) and was armed to the frakking teeth with all manner of weaponry...take that Star Trek!








6. The USSR Leneov from 2010: the Year We Make Contact
In 1984, I got to see a rare hard-science starship built by the Soviets that used a centrifuge for artifical gavity. The realistic beauty of this ship sparked imgination and it was nice to see the design carried over in the Babylon 5 Omega class destoryer.








7. The Argo/Yamato Space Cruiser Yamato/Starblazers
Besides the famous ships of Star Trek and Star Wars, this was one of my first educators in war spaceships: the EDF Yamato. Built from the wreck of the Imperial Japanese battleship Yamato in 2199 to save mankind, this badass was equipped with fighters, massive naval artillery cannons, legions of  AAA cannons, and of course, the Wave-Motion Cannon. This, above all, it my favorite starship of all.


8. The Pheaton from Virtuality
This was an Ronald D. Moore pilot for a proposed hard science sci-fi FOX show that would have centered around the nuclear-pulse propulsion Pheaton on its five-year mission to Epsilon Eridani to find a habital world. The pilot became a TV movie, and then was released on DVD. If have not watched Virtuality, you are missing out.


 9. the SCNV Saratoga from Space: Above and Beyond
The United States space carrier Saratoga was the main focus of the landmark MSF series, and the main ship in the Chig War. This vessel was one of the more realistic space carriers seen in sci-fi, and it was a refreshing design over the Star Trek/Star Wars warships.
10. Nova Class Dreadnought from Babylon 5
In a word: badass. This Earth Alliance warship was littered with 22 plasma cannons and six particle cannons, and to show how much offensive power was the primary mission of the Nova class, the gravity centrifuge is omitted. This makes the Nova more limited range, but this god of war is meant to go in, and end the enemy.

07 May 2011

Early Review of Falling Skies


Some time back, FWS published a list of upcoming military sci-fi works, among the most exciting to me, was the TNT big-budget Falling Skies starring Noah Wyle and Moon Bloodgood. The series looks like a cross between Battle of L.A., Jericho,and War of the Worlds.
The story is of a conquered Earth, subjected to an alien occupation force that is interested in captured children alive. Falling Skies takes place six months after we got our collective asses kicked via the aliens using a massive EMP that takes down our advanced technology, and Noah Wyle's character, a history teacher (like me!) is leading a band of resistant fighters that protects a small community of survivors.  

io9.com as an early review of the first seven hours of the series. From the article on io9 states that the alien overlords and their relationship with the captured children is down right creepy and the alien themselves are interesting. 
I think this series could be bold and ofter something different to the science-fiction landscape, however, it could be like Jericho and never find an audience then die slowly...despite the tons of nuts.  Since V on ABC is going to be canceled and took the teeth out of the Visitors, I am hoping that Falling Skies producers watch and learn. Having a series closer to the emotions and feel of the excellent 2005 Tom Cruise War of the Worlds rather than V should give the series the push to be more realistic and honest. 
The main worry with a series like this, is that it does depress the audience too much, reminding them too much of September 11th, and not having enough story to make a series...there cannot be us battling aliens every week...the series producers need to look at Battlestar Galactica for pacing of the combat scenes. Also, don't build up the mystery to the series then there is no way that the writers can create an answer worth of the hype...yeah, LOST I'm frakking looking at you and all those years I wasted on you! And you too, X-Files!  

Here's the link:

04 May 2011

The Debt is Finally Paid...

FWS would like to thank the members of the Special Forces community that pulled off a daring mission deep in unfriendly territory and came back home safety.
It is amazing to see the world's best Special Forces community come together and take down a target like UBL. Gentlemen...the beers are free...for life!


DELTA FORCE (1980) 

Loading DELTA onto a C-130

The success of the brave pilots of 160th SOAR and SEAL Team SIX (Devgru) assaulters is a tribute to the eight American lives lost during Operation Eagle Claw in 1980. Their sacrifice in the Iranian desert created the push to rethink and rebuild Americans Special Force capabilities...the amazing skill-sets that those brave soldiers demostrated during the operation to kill UBL is the direct payoff to that dark days in April 24-25,1980.
Rest in peace, honored soldiers, your debt is finally paid.
Thank you.
Oh, and a side note to Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri....you're next...hope you like an ocean-side view.



The Fallen Heroes of 4/24-25/1980












01 May 2011

FWS Topics: Dude, where's my Blaster?

It's 2011, Do You Know Where Your Raygun Is?
According to the pulp sci-fi novels of yesteryear, we should be colonizing space, have flying cars, jetpacks, and of course, laser guns! However, the reality is that we are still stuck in orbit of Earth, no flying cars unless your drunk, jetpacks set your pants on fire. However, you would think that laser-based weaponry would be possibly. Soldiers today carry IR aiming lasers on their M4 assault carbines via the AN/PEQ-5. Despite a few next-gen toys, our soldiers are using a rifle designed in the 1960's, while their opponents are using a gun developed in 1940's! Where is the blaster that sci-fi promised me?The US military is working on deploying lasers in the role of munitions interception, and are massive systems at the moment, not even close to a blaster.

Faded Memories...or...the best Christmas of all time (1986)!
One of the reasons that I really felt laser weaponry was just around the corner was it seemed that high-tech was all over the place in the 1980's.  When I was a kid, all the cool sci-fi characters had Blasters, Battlestat Galatica, Buck Rogers, Boba Fett and everyone's favorite Nerf Herder: Han Solo.My favorite G.I. Joe was Flash during my childhood, and he had the uber-cool XMLR-1A laser rifle.  However, the best thing about Growing up in the SDI Reagan-80's, you really believed at backpack laser were around the corner. After all, we had Lazer-Tag, why couldn't the Army zap the bad guys? If you grew up in the 1980's, than you may have played, or owned the two coolest toys of the mid-1980's, Photon and Lazer Tag.

For those of you that do not know what Photon and Lazer Tag are, than I pity you. Photon and Laser Tag were battery powered guns and sensors that fired invisible IR beams at sensors placed on the body. This was great fun, but they ate batteries.Photon and Lazer Tag differed in their look, not tech. Photon used an all-over body sensor system, with a helmet, chest, and I believe gun sensor to score hits, however, the Photon system was less refined and prone to sensor issues than Lazer Tag, weighted about 18 pounds, and plus, it looked kind of dorky when compared to the Worlds of Wonder Lazer Tag system. I must confess, I thought the Lazer Tag was the uber-shit back in the day, it had the cool gun, vests, rifle, and the helmet, and a much better cartoon than the Photon live-action series. For years, we would head off into the woods, and fire invisible beams at one another...we painted our gear and gun to cool more military. On birthdays, we would pile into a car and go to the Tulsa area Photon center for hyper-sugared fun. 
Here are some pics of what the original Photon centers looked like around 1987:

The sign of any good Birthday in '86



Interior







The battlefield, several levels



The gear-up area...red or green








The lit up battlefield
 
An used ID passcard













There is no way in words to tell how cool these sites were back in the day. For those of us that remember the original TRON, than these indoor fields were similar, neon lights, futuristic buildings, fog, smoke, screaming, laser sounds...epic. I played at two Photon centers, one in Tulsa on Memorial street, and another in Albuquerque, New Mexico (I still have my ID pass!), both were some of the best times. I can still recall, going into the staging area, putting on a paper surgery hat, donning a red or green helmet, and then piling into the gate waiting for the call. Ah...those were the days...Then it all ended within a few years, the fad died and Worlds of Wonder went belly up, along all of the Photon centers closed...while simulator laser tag like systems are still around, the majority of people, like me, switched to Paintball and/or AirSoft. A verison of these old IR force-on-force training system is still used by the US military in the form of the MILES gear.

So, where the hell is my Han Solo blaster?
Why haven't our militaries using lasers on the battlefield? Here are my "theories":

Economics
The M-4 assault carbine costs the US military about $2,000 and has to issue this to thousands of troops. Imagine, taking a Laser Rifle that costs five or six figures and issuing it to half a million troops. Then add in replacement battery/power packs, chargers, and replacement weapons. That means billions invested in a new technology, that may not be as good as the bullet.

The Want & Need
The simple fact is that has to be a need for a Military Laser Rifle over the current KEW weapons we use to today.  And the Congress, taxpayers, and President want the US military to have it. They have not replaced the M-16/M-4 yet. Is a laser better than an M-4 or even the AK-47? The modern ammunition punches through body armor, when it doesn't, the lab geeks design something deadlier.For example, when the 9mm MP5 SMG was not longer cutting it in close warfare, the FN P90, H&K MP7, and M-4 CQBR were developed to fill the gap. There simply no need for a Laser Rifle at the present time. When we push out to the stars, if we met a xenomorph that an AK cannot bring down, then we will have Plasma Rifle in the 40 watt range.

The Dirty Reality of Soldier's Life
The reality of a soldier's life during combat sucks. Rain, mud, heat, cold, and poor cover. Would the new Laser Rifles be rugged enough to deal with these factors? What about being dropped, hit, and used to bash the enemy's skull in? Could a soldier on a isolated afghan mountain be able to repair it without a degree in electrical engineering? After all, in the 1960's when the US rushed the M-16 into battle in the harsh environment of Vietnam, soldiers died when their weapons didn't work. The US soldier began taking the AK off of dead VC. Would lasers kill more of our own then the enemy? According to the Atomics Rockets website, handheld laser weapons would have lens, and resemble a old-school camcorder than a Phaser. Nothing brittle survives the riggers of combat...

Heat, Thermal blooming, Indirect fire, and DEW Trail
Laser DEW systems have four major weakness: heat, thermal booming, indirect fire, and they leave  DEW trail. The conditions in the local atmosphere of the world you are fighting on, effects the range and lethality of the beam, like fog, dust, and smoke, this is general called thermal blooming. The beam of a laser leaves a trail of ionized particles that could be used to track the sources of shooter. Bad if you're a sniper. Along with a tractable DEW trail is the amount of heat that laser weapon would bleed off, allowing for thermal to pick up the positions of soldiers. Cooling these laser weapons would add to the complexity of the weapon and the power requirements. Lastly, bullets have odd physics, riccohet off of walls, missing targets, and artillery shells use indirect fire and arching to destroy the enemy. Lasers are focused and direct for better or worse. What is keeping handheld laser weaponry in this section is most likely the cooling needed between firings, such systems would bulky, add weight, and increase the price tag.   

Invisible Beams
For those of us that grew up with Star Wars and Star Trek, we watched brightly colored bolts of deadly laser energy darting across the battlefield. Saly, that's false. The truth is, that the majority of laser DEW systems would be invisble to the naked eye, and unlike bullets, the soldiers could not where the beam hit or who is firing at you with some sort of sensor gear that track DEW lines. You can imagine, a combat patrol in a urban enviroment, then suddenly one goes down, with any bullet report, or even muzzle flash to work from. Not my idea of a good time.

"Hey buddy, got a Double A?"
One of the things that holds back the electric car is the battery. The Tesla Roadster can go about 250 miles, the new Nissan Leaf gets about 100 miles while my Corolla can go 400 on a single tank. How many "shots" would an infantryman get out of their laser? Would soldiers have to be hunting about for a power-pack or loaded down with fuel cells? If the laser charge finally goes out, do the soldiers carry a spare bullet-firing gun or pistol? Like the M-79 grenadiers during Vietnam? Would Special Operations units, like SEALs be able to use these DEW rifles on long-range RECON missions? According to the Atomic Rockets website, a handheld laser weapon would have fire a beam or pulse of one kilojoule, and the battery storage would converstatively be about 50-100 pulses, or if applied to a beam, then it would be measured in amount of time beforel the weapon overheated, which would add cooling systems to the laser rifle. This increases demand on the power source to operate the cooling system, and air-cooling simply takes too-long, unless you're on Hoth... 

Lethality
Ammunition companies, firearm websites, and soldiers endless debate about which bullet is best for the kill, and no likes to hit a target and then see it get back up (just read Blackhawk Down). Unlike other DEW systems, lasers need to hit the target with an continuous focused beam, inflicting thermal and physical damage...if the target stays still, for anyone who as used the Spartan Laser in HALO, knows all about that. It takes about a kilojoule against a normal human, more if they had cerameric armor to burn through. This calls into question, if a laser DEW system would be an replacement for something like the AK47. When a soldier as a target dead-to-rights, and squeezes the trigger, that target needs to be gone, not suffering from a sunburn or dancing like Muhammad Ali.

Examples of Realistic Laser in Sci-Fi
 Lasers and other similar DEW are projected in Sci-Fi has blasters that shot a bolt of laser energy, and knock the enemy down dead. Some have gotten more of the reality of the laser beam.


  • Firefly-in the 13th episode "Heart of Gold", a wealth villain is shown to have custom-built laser pistol. During the attack on the whorehouse, his laser-pistol quickly runs out of power, and is taken prisoner.
  • Firefly-the Alliance are the only ones to use Laser weaponry, partly because the alliance government  made lasers illegal for private citizens. Also, frontier settlements are unable to keep the up with the high power demands, spare parts, and a good ole bullet does the job just fine, thank you very much.

  • Akira-when Neo-Toyko is under attack and all hell breaks out, the military breaks out portable laser cannons, called the Arasaka HLR-12X. These are massive devices, with a battery pack, and a narrow beam.

  • HALO 3/ODST-the elite of the UNSC have access to the so-called M6"Spartan Laser". This is a slow charging, solid-state or electron-free beam that relays on battery that lasts for five shots.

  • ALIENS: Colonial Marine technical Manuel by Lee Brimmicombe-Wood-this is manual features some of the best science on the uses of DEW weaponry ever written. Buy it.

  • The Forever War-the military sci-fi classic has the soldiers using "laser fingers" mounted to their powered armor. They behave like cutting beams
  • Star Trek: TOS-"The Cage"- The original pilot for Star Trek featured landing parties using the Mark One Laser Pistol that seemed to more realistic than the traditional phasers
  • The Classic Battlestar Galactica- In the original frakking 1970's series, the Colonial Warriors used a large blaster and for a few episodes, when the warriors would hit a Cylon, there was only an explosion on the other end, no laser bolt sailing through the air.
  • Goldfinger (1964)- The laser scene with 007...need I say more?
  • Endangered Species-This is my own book, still being written. The American Special Forces Armored Power Suit unit uses a portable 40mW electron-free powered by a hydrogen fuel cell and fires in the 2.5-3.5 micron range.

 LINKS:

The best website on hard-science laser weaponry:


Here is a link to a great site about the Photon Centers:

http://home.comcast.net/~photonlasertag/