29 January 2013

FWS Topics: 10 Things That Didn't Happen Like They Were Promised

Being in my mid-thirties, I'm looking back on what the world was supposed to be like in the year 2013 from the point-of-view of a child who grow up in the 80's. From conception, I think, I've been a science fiction geek and lover of the future. So much so, that I always felt that I was born too early, and hard reality of 2013 has only broadcast that feeling more clearly. Growing up in the 1980's, you felt like technology that was in sci-fi movies was right around the corner. After all, we were the first generation that had computers (the Apple IIs) in our schools, most of our pop music was made with computers (I'm reminded of Gary Numan's 'Are Friends Electric?'), and we hung out at the video game arcades. Adding to this sense of the impending future was the increased American manned space program via the shuttles, Space Camp, and bold plans for future manned space missions. For me, that was the most exciting thing happening at the time, because I wanted nothing more than to be an astronaut, and it seemed in the 1980's that the human race was on the edge of being a spacefaring species. During the 1980's, there was a groundswell of culture that was looking towards the future, not the past. I can remember magazines like OMNI, Odyssey Science Magazine, and National Geographic Our Universe along with loads of pretty over-sized books that detailed our future in space and with robots with glorious 1980's concept art. To make matters worse, my elementary school stocked plenty of books about space, robots, and the future, setting me up to believe that a bright future with hoverboards, flying cars, and missions to the red planet were around the corner...how wrong we were.Here is my list of ten things that didn't turn out like the books and visionaries said that they would. This Calvin and Hobbes from 1989 encapsulates my feelings on the matter:

There seems to be an unwritten rule in science fiction that the skies of the future cities would have to be filled with dual-use vehicles, that are at home equally on the road as they are in the sky. This is one piece of technology is often a symbol of the advanced nature of the future time-period, like the Rolls-Royce 'copter from the 1958 Starship Troopers novel, the Doctor Who flying car or 'WhoMobile', the Police Spinner from BLADE RUNNER and so on and on and on. This trend still continues through today, just look at the remake of Total Recall complete with flying cars. Science fiction has been lying to us for generations on the promise of flying cars, even into my generation about the common man having access to the skies with their basic everyday transport, because for all logically reasoning, flying cars WILL NOT be a reality to the common citizen.
Why? With ground based wheeled vehicles, humans do enough property damage and killing themselves by drinking or get confused, or texting (I work in a Trauma ICU)...can you imagine if two flying cars had in-flight collision or engine failure while over a densely populated area? This could mutant every MVA into a shower of airborne kinetic projectiles. Drunk drivers would be transformed into drunk pilots on a more massive scale than the current air transportation system. Instead of traffic signs, or houses, or even parked cars, drunk pilots would plow into building. Another reason would be the technical and mental challenge of transforming drivers into pilots. Even if you dumb down the controls via computers, and equip these flying car with VTOLs, your average driver couldn't become a pilot, and most of the time, they shouldn't be. Then there is the consideration of resources, namely greater fuel demand  and construction of an air traffic control system on a unthinkable scale.
If there are to be a real flying car, it could be similar to uber-expensive Bugatti Veyron...a plaything for the very rich and nearly none of us little people will ever see or drive (FWS has two for Starbuck runs). These future personal VTOL vehicle could resemble the failed ultra-expensive Moller M400 Skycar concept. The  best current example of a flying car from sci-fi is the Terrafugia Transition.

I wouldn't lie...I wanted to be the first man on Mars...to see those vast red sand cold deserts, untouched by man, and to see the vastness with my own eyes. That seem within reach when I was in grade school. Sadly, my math skills, coupled with the lack of national will forced my walk on Mars to be scrubbed. Pity...I wanted to see the Face on Mars! For much of us that grew up in the 1980's, Mars looked like a real possibility, the Space Shuttle missions were seemly common, and plans for Space Station Freedom were on track. From there, it was an easy jump to being back to the Moon, then Lunar outpost, then Mars. Then warp drive. In 1987, I read an official NASA timetable for this very scenario, and now in 2013, we should have been two years away from a Martian landing, and the ship to get us there, would now being constructed at Station Freedom. Today, there is a good sized International Space Station in GSO, robotic rovers are rolling around Mars, and private space companies are a reality, there is even a spaceport in New Mexico....I guess that is something....now, where are my moon boots?


Nothing says the future more than a robot doing the cleaning or serving you Jack and Cokes while your playing Black Ops: II on Live. For my generation, the likelihood of robotic servants was high, I mean..c'mon...I had an Alphie and the Nitendo R.O.B growing up! More than just those simple machines were being sold at local Radio Shacks and from the Sharper Image catalogs. I can still remember going to the Radio Shack at Eastland Mall in Tulsa, that was stocked with the Omnibot 2000 and the Robie Sr. robots for sale. The sight of these robots created a belief that by the time I had my own home, that robots would attended to the cleaning. Yeah...I just mopped my floors and waiting for them to dry...I guess I'm my wife's robot.
 For the most part, the robot crazy of the 1980's crashed, and these unloved and underused robots could be found on Ebay today. So, what happened? Robot technology was not what it was cracked up to be, most of the robots of the 1980's didn't do much, even the expensive Topo by Androbot Inc, were little more than fancy expensive toys. However, we are just getting close to true personal robot servants of sci-fi with robots like the iRobot Roomba, the Husqvana auto-lawnmower, and the cat-box cleaner, litter robot. With robots like Honda's ASIMO, we can only hope the day is coming when I have a Cylon to do my mopping.

My first G.I. Joe was Flash from the original 1982 lineup. and if someone had told me in the mid-1980's that our military would still be using the same assault rifle that they had used since Vietnam, I wouldn't have believed them. After all, science fiction of my early years (1982's Megaforce anyone?) and even my G.I Joes were telling me that future wars would be waged with laser rifles.This fantasy perspective has been around the earliest science fiction, War of the Worlds, Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, that our future heroes would have laser blasters in their hands. That didn't happen...yet.
The reality is that in the last decade, military lasers can be found on nearly every one of the US soldier's M4s, with the AN/PEQ light aiming system, which is now in its sixth generation. Also, the US Army and Navy are about to deploy defensive DEW systems onboard ship and portable systems for FOBs. The continuing issue with military laser rifles is power and lethality...remember even Flash had a power-pack on his back...wouldn't want to hump that around the mountains of Afghanistan!

The commonly held believe when I was a kid, was that Terra was going to be dangerously overpopulated, and due to the limitations of space travel, humanity would have to turn to underwater colonies for Earth to be room enough. A number of experts cited that we knew more about outer space than the very deep portions of the ocean. Some believed that we would better served to establish an underwater exploration agency, than going to Mars.When I was in high school, science fiction gave us a vision of an underwater colonies...that was NBC's SeaQuest DSV and early, there were movies like the Abyss, Leviathan and Deep Star Six. 
There are plans for floating cities, like what was featured in Black Ops: II, and there  plans for an underwater city near Amsterdam. but the sad reality is that were is no government or private underwater colony or mining platform...my brother works for Shell Oil at their New Orleans HQ, and he has told me as much. The only thing even close to Deep Core are a few ultra-luxury underwater hotel rooms that are, of course, in Dubai. I guess my Porsche personal-submarine will have to wait.    

Another technological hallmark of the incoming future were always the video phones, and they were projected much different by science fiction that what actually occurred. Interestingly enough  this is one of those promised future technologies that actually did come true...sort of. From the Jetsons, to BLADE RUNNER, to ALIENS, to nearly every single science fiction work, there were bulky, hard-wired phone booths, and TV-like home phones that used video along with voice. Since the 1960's, there have been video phones marketed for home use, and all of them met with little or no success. Anyone that own a phone video needed to have a the same system on the opposite end. In all of my years, I've never known anyone with one of these systems, and I knew people that had a 3DO and a Intellvision!
While these expensive and bulky systems never took off, smart digital phones, like the Apple iphone have been able to delivery on the promise of face-to-face video calls on the go, and webcams and Skype give us face-to-face communication at home. On of the interesting things about this video phone technology is their lack of use and why that is. I don't know anyone that uses Skype or webcams (expect for porn),  and I believe that most people still prefer voice communication. After all, with video, you have to look good, and cannot lie about what you really doing. Think about it...how many times have you texted or talked on the phone while on the toilet?
For the most part, science fiction missed the boat on mobile digital smart telephones and their massive impact on the society of today. Even for someone like me that had a cellular phone in 1994, the technology had progressed at an alarming rate, it is almost unbelievable the revolution in mobile phone technology that has occurred since I was in high school in the mid-1990's. Another thing that simply cannot understand about current phone culture is texting. I would have seemed so backwards back in the day.

For close to three generations of Americans, they grew up under the shadow of full-scale thermonuclear conflict where the few survivors of the nuclear winter blasted world would scour the burned out cities for food and fight off cockroaches and rodents of unusual size. We can be very thankful that World War III never happened, because this delightful little blog wouldn't be here and I hate cockroaches. What replaced an full-scale nuclear exchange between the Warsaw Pact and NATO is something worse, and more real...nuclear terrorism. I do not doubt that one day that some wing-nut with a belief that they are doing something right for their empty belief will get their hands on a loose nuke or dirty radiological material and set it off in a major metropolis...and it will be in my lifetime. So, can I have the Cold War back...?


When I was in 4th or 5th grade at Hoover Elementary School in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, my reader had a story by Issac Asimov about two children discovering a real, printed book. 'The Fun They Had', relates how much school and education is different in 2157 than 1987, computers built into every desks, robot teachers, and punch-card homework. I can remember magazines and books talking about a more computerized classroom that could connect to the global community, and elimination of paper-and-pencil work. That seemed completely possible when Hoover got their two Apple II computers. Another element of the future classroom that occurred to me in later years, that these future classrooms of science fiction were more Montessori type models that the dictatorial public schools of my childhood. The sad reality of today's schools does not match up with the vision of sci-fi. I could imagine my child going to a futuristic looking building with all manner of technology....yeah....that didn't happen. Every student now normally has a home computer, and portable computers in their hands with the advent of smart phones, and even in my daughters special needs classroom, they have the interactive Promethean Board.
Some of you might know that I am a 6th-12th grade history teacher (who could never find a teaching job), and while technology has made the leap into the hands of nearly every student, the classroom of the 'future' is much more draconian and terrifying than my years or what most visionaries were predicting. With No Child Left Behind and funding being based on scores on tests, and the continuing slide of the American education system, not to mention school shootings, schools have become less about education, and more about control.

In 1982, I witness the magic of TRON, and I could see a future were their virtual worlds to play in...to be someone or something else. With the advancement of video game and computer technology is looked possible. During the 1990's, virtual reality was a hot future technology that stirred the public interest with movies like Lawnmower Man, the short-lived FOX series, VR-5,and Max Headroom along with  the flopped Nintendo Virtual-Boy.
During these days, you could imagine a future were you were the player in a VR simulated world, like a personal holo-deck, or using it in the classroom to experience times past.What happened to that? In someways, we do have VR simulated worlds via the internet. Is not Second Life, World of Warcrack, and Call of Duty, simulated worlds? Minecraft anyone? There is also VR software that helps NASA integrate with their Martian Rovers. The US Military uses VR technology for training, from pilots, to special operations, allowing for soldiers to have an safe experience prior to a live training operation. 

I can remember when every pulp sci-fi rag, movie, or TV show would project that by the 21st century, we all would be wearing jumpsuits and silver moon-boots. These new future treads would be topped off with wearable computers, head-gear that linked into the telephone/data network, and intelligence sunglasses that adapted to the light conditions. It seems so possible when I was a kid with of those massive high-top air-pump Nikes and Reeboks (I had both!), the 'Hyercolor' T-shirts that reacted to body heat, Gargoyle sunglasses, and when Gore-Tex started to take off. If we examine Back to the Future: II, early 21st century people could buy power-lace Nikes, self-drying, self-adjusting jackets...yeah, that didn't happen...or did it? The closest thing to the jacket that McFly wore are the high-tech weather-resistance hoodie-jackets that are designed to wick moisture internally, resist water on the shell, and be designed for adaption to changing weather conditions (thanks, Global Warming!).
My favorite band: School of Seven Bells 
 In addition to these features, the high-tech hoodies have special places for your smartphone, and mp3 player, allowing you string some earbuds through your jacket. But there is no self-drying feature. When BTTF: II was made, large, self-lacing athletic shoes seem possible, especially when air-pumping shoes in stores (yes...I had both the Nike and Reebok pumps), and there heat-changing dyes, but like much of the futuristic clothing seen in science fiction, they forgot about fashion. While there are freaks like Lady GaGa and Nicki Minaj running around, for the most part, fashion has not changed that much since the 1960's. We still wear leather jackets, Navy pea coats, polos, jeans, cotton sweaters, scarfs, sunglasses, and suits. Sure, small things change, like hair styles, the popularity of colors and brands, there is not a great deal of overall fashion change. A sweater is still a sweater, a leather jacket is still a leather jacket...men are not wearing 'skants' skirt-like Starfleet uniforms.


Here is a crazy article on the 11 things that came true in BTTF:II

23 January 2013

Did Anyone Else Notice This?

My wife is very in to the British Royal Family, and we were watching Prince Harry's BBC interview on his service in Afghanistan as an Apache gunner. When he climbed into the front cockpit of the attack helicopter, I noticed he positioned a very compact carbine next to him.
When I reviewed the footage, this weapon was a rarely seen L22A1 carbine of the standard British assault bullpup rifle, the L85A2! According to some sources, the L22A1 carbine is mainly issued to armored crews, much like the Soviet-era AKS-74U, and it seems now, to Apache crews.
Which it makes sense, if an Apache goes down, the crew would need defensive firepower until the rescue bird shows up. Much of the carbine is covered up, and I couldn't notice what kind of optical setup. Did anyone notice this or am I just odd?

FWS Movie Review: ZERO DARK THIRTY (2013)

Since the towers fell in New York, we Americans have been living in strange, complex days. Not since the attack on Pearl Harbor have we seen anything like what happened that day of days. But it was not a hostile government that launched the sneak attack, but a group led by Osama bin Laden, and for over a decade, we hunted for the most wanted man on the face of Earth. All of that ended in May of 2011, when two rounds of 5.56 banged into his skull. The journey it took to place those SEALs at the doorstep of UBL was also a strange, complex story, and the film ZERO DARK THIRTY by Kathryn Bigelow attempts to tell the backstory of the raid that killed the heart of darkness. Originally, Bigelow was going to make a film about the failed manhunt for UBL, then once he was capped, they had to alter the film, with the new real-world happy ending. When the film was finally released, there was much made about the torture scenes and that the events didn't happen that way or this way. Even the CIA attempted to distance themselves for the film. Which informs me that what we are seeing is mostly likely correct. I saw the film on January 21st, at an AMC in Arlington with my wife for our 13th wedding anniversary.

For the most part, Americans do not have a good realistic idea of how the CIA does its job. We've been spoon-fed bullshit for decades, and the reality of intelligence gathering has been skewed by mass media, much like the role and ability of the special forces. That is one of the best elements in the entire film, displaying the work that goes into intelligence game and I give credit to the filmmakers for showing that and pacing ZERO DARK THIRTY to that end. Much of the two and half hours is developed towards actress Jessica Chastain CIA character Maya journey for newbie agent to "the mother fucker who found the house." Thematically and stylistically, ZERO DARK THIRTY is more similar to Body of Lies (2008), Syriana (2005),and  Green Zone (2010) than Black Hawk Down. Once again, I give credit to the filmmakers for not just showing the raid on the compound, but all of it, and doing such an amazing job on drawing out the best from the actors and crew. Everyone, from main star Jessica Chastain to the actors that have only a few lines, even to the location crew all turn impressive performances and lending credence to the film's best picture nod.  
During the raid by DEVGRU, there is no music. None. That mean that every sound is important and very loud. My wife jumped several times when the breaching charges were planted and the thump of the suppressed H&K 416s went off. I was impressed with this choice, and how it brought a good dose of realism that most directors would have hammed up and waved the flag...also the suppressors on the assault carbines was accurate and not some Hollywood bullshit. I was impressed by the level of accuracy with the little details, especially on the stealth helicopter, the gear of the DEVGRU guys. But, the best portion of the film, I thought the torture scenes.
Okay, I'm not some sadomasochistic sick-fuck that likes to jerk off while watching Jack Bauer work someone over, but I respect realism, and Americans have a poor understanding of modern torture...seeing this movie will change that. Real torture for information, like the location of the rebel base, is more about breaking the mind and spirit of the person, not the body. The body is easy. To gain information, the subject must be without hope, where reality is determined by their captors, that is what we seen in the movie. There is nothing in ZERO DARK THIRTY to compare to the scenes out of Syriana or Body of Lies, but it nevertheless heartbreaking to see broken will of these people, and there is one of best works of acting I've seen since Lincoln, and it is almost like they put a camera in the room of a real CIA Black Site. It is that good and powerful, and left me speechless. Interestingly, I thought that Kathryn Bigelow did an level job of showing both sides of the issue of torture in the same fucking scene at the same time. That is skill, my friends. When future generations watch the films of this strange time in American history, this will be one of the ones that will be important to the next generation.

This film is two and half hours, and covers about eight years, and does not play down to the audience. That means you need to really pay attention and it would help to know something about AQ's major players. This does mean, much like Lincoln, this film is not accessible for all audiences, and the message and the purpose of the film is not going to reach everyone. Jeremy Jahns, a youtube movie reviewer, said that ZERO DARK THIRTY was the Jessica Chastain show, and he is right, we just lucky that she is good at her job. Why is that bad? Because only a few characters get much in the way development, and the ST6 operators are really not developed at all, and only given a few lines.
If you were expecting Black Hawk Down: Part II: KILL UBL, then you were wrong, and while I think that this was a good thing, a few of my friends said I should mention it. This could mean that some filmmaker might make a more SEAL-concentric film about the raid on the compound. When it comes to the raid-portion of the film, I was left being bothered by it. Not because of the violence, but the tempo of the scenes themselves. The entire raid up until exfil seemed slowed-down, not like in slow-motion, but it more methodological, careful, and low-intensity. I wasn't even sure when they capped UBL if it was indeed UBL. Perhaps  this is how the raid really was, and I am too much of REMF to understand...that is totally possible.

The very end...it just ends with no text afterwards. Wow...really? What became of the intel gathered from UBL's compound? What about the tail-rotor from the stealth chopper? I wish the film had rounded off the edges for us alittle more just ending with the the finale scene that it has. I have an impression of what she was attempted to communicate with the audience, and I think repeated viewings will clear this up.

Should You See This Film?
That largely depends on why are going to see this complex movie...is it for the raid that killed UBL or is it for the complete story? My advice would be to experience in the theaters only if you are interested in the whole complex tale of how the CIA and local assets give the DEVRU operators a target to hit, because two hours of this two and half hour film is about that. I personally I'm glad I and my wife got to see it and experience one of the greatest story of this time in American history.

Jeremy Jahns' Take on ZERO DARK THIRTY

19 January 2013

FWS Topics: Sub-Light Starship Propulsion

Since the 1972 Apollo 17 lunar mission, humanity has not ventured more than 400 miles away from Terra...all of the promise made to my generation about Martian colonies have been broken and the human species lingers in the shallow end of deep space. When (or if) we spread out to the stars, armed conflicts will break out over resources or just ownership of the planets themselves, and thus soldiers will need to be transported to these very distant shores to protect their government's interstellar interests.The far-future armed forces, like today's military organizations, will regard getting to the battlefield has half the battle. The primary mission of Future War Stories is to be a resource for military science fiction authors and creators, and here is the best list I could assembly on the various sub-light hard science starship propulsion. This is not meant to be an exhaustive scientific article, but more a highlight list. The genesis of this blogpost, which has been in the draft pile since day one of FWS, came when I read this month's National Geographic, and I thought it was high time to dive into starship propulsion. FWS will be writing the second part of this, FTL propulsion systems, in the next few months. That one will be fun...I think. One thing to consider before reading this list, acceleration must be matched at the end of the journey in de-acceleration, adding to the amount of propellant carried onboard. Also, acceleration needs to be at around 1G for the crew NOT to be transformed into chucky salsa, causing the acceleration time-table to be greater than an umanned interstellar probe, which could travel at 12G.

Magnetoplasmadynamic (MPD) Thruster
What is it?
MPD thrusters are, according to NASA, the most powerful form of electromagnetic propulsion that uses charged particles from ionized gas fuel, such as xenon, neon, and lithium, are pumped into an acceleration chamber, and expelled as thrust via a nozzle. NASA's official work on the top speed of MPD thrusters is about 200,000 MPH.
MPD thrusters actually seem to work, and are being researched by NASA for use in future probe and manned missions. Tests have demonstrated that MPD thrusters can delivery up to 200,000 MPH worth of thrust, similar to a chemical rocket, but more fuel-efficient. This could be a real possibility for future space crafts. Several of my MSF novels along with the USS Sulaco from ALIENS feature MPD thrusters for sub-light propulsion.

The power needed to generate the field need for acceleration is on the order of hundreds of kilowatts, which the current RTGs cannot generate. That means using a space-based nuclear power plant for the required power, and current Terran thinking is hinky on putting nukes into space.

The Woodward Effect Particle Recycle Drive
What is it?
This highly experimental theory on particle behavior could led to a sub-light starship engines that has an 'endless' supply of fuel by 'looping' or 'recycling' the needed particles. According to the theory, a Woodward Effect Particle Recycle Driver starship would loop the needed particles to change their mass based on push and pull, depending on their mass. When light mass, we pull, when heavy, we push...like Aikido. Since the Woodward Effect Particle Recycle Drive is so experimental, I could find much on the possible velocity.

If it works...no more fuel!

Some believe that this 'Woodward Effect' does not exist. One of those nonbelievers was Einstein.

Mustafa's Space Drive

What is it?
19 year old Egyptian physics student, Aisha Mustafa, developed a new type of spaceship propulsion based on a new theory on quantum physic concerning the nature of how empty space really is. According the theory which Ms. Mustafa used is that the universe is not a vacuum, but vast gulfs of empty space with rolling 'seas' of particles and anti-particles. These twin forces destroy each other so quickly, that we cannot detect it. As near as I can tell, the Mustafa Drive uses movable shaped silicon plates that adjust based on the flow of this particle sea, and this 'push-and-pull' effect leads to thrust, similar to the Woodward Effect Particle Recycle Drive. There are a few sites that have worked out that Mustafa's space drive would only produce about 3% of C, others say that it build up to faster speeds.

No fuel is needed to propel the vessel, and the propulsion system is quiet simple, making it as complex as a solar sail.

The theory on which the drive system based would need to be proven, and it would still need RCS thrusters. What if the starships runs into a region of space where the particle sea is less dense?

Nuclear Pulse Propulsion 
What is it?
First suggested in 1947, and undertaken in 1958 as a study project under the name 'Orion'. The idea was to eject a nuclear fission charge out of the rear of our spacecraft then set off the charge, having the energy of the explosion use for propulsion via pusher plates on the space vehicle. Sounds simple enough. To test the theory, a 230lbs test vehicle of the basic shape was constructs, called 'Hot Rod', then launched via gunpowder explosion then and propelled upwards for 105 meters via a series of C4 explosion in 1959. Excitement ran high for the Orion Project, causing speculation that by the 1970's, NPP equipped craft would be visiting Saturn in just seven-month trip. While since Virgin Galactic is not selling cruises to see the rings of Saturn, the Orion Projection was halted due to concerns over using nukes in space along wit the space test-ban treat. Some sites content that there was conspiracy regarding the cancellation.One of the only visual examples of NPP in sci-fi media is the starship Phaeton from the 2009 TV pilot Virtuality. 

Unlike a great of the propulsion technology mentioned here, the NPP has be tested and would work. Most of the technology is already here, and Terra has plenty of nuclear weapons for propellant. It was believed that the Project Orion NPP ship would generate 12 to 19 miles per second worth of thrust or even up to 10% of C or 2.9 million meters per second.

The real bitch with the NPP is not the acceleration, but slowing towards your designation, causing the NPP ship to use more nuclear charges to slow them down. Once the mission is complete, you have to build up speed, and slow back down again. This all adds up to a massive amount of nuclear charges being needed for a trip to Alpha Centauri. Some sites suggest that the Orion equipped spacecraft would achieve 5% of C, which would take 85 years to reach Alpha Centauri, others say 10%. Either way, it's going to be a real long trip...better pack the Xbox 360 and some snacks and beer.

Anti-Matter Catalyzed Nuclear Pulse Propulsion (AMCNPP)
What is it?
This works in a very similar manner to the traditional nuclear fission pulse propulsion, but uses anti-matter changes instead, which could, in theory, propel a vessel at 16% of C.

Bigger explosion=Greater Speed.

Bigger explosion=more mass for the structure of the spaceship to survive the shockwave, not to mention the cost of producing that much anti-matter for a four lightyear trip. Much like the NPP, the AMCNPP would need fuel for several accelerations and de-accelerations, and to watch the acceleration for the health of the crew. Lastly, there is the issue of long-term containment of anti-matter...a single unit's containment failure could led to the expensive space voyage coming to a sudden, but bright, end.

NERV Rocket
What is it?
Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application or NERVA works via super-heating liquid hydrogen and forced out of a nozzle for thrust. According to my research, the hydrogen would generate thrust propelling the space vehicle at 20,000m MPH. NERVA was thought to be the next step in manned American space exploration. So much so, that between 1965 and 1973, the US Atomic Engery Commission and NASA attempt to construct NERAs for a 1978 return to the Moon and a 1981 target date for construction of a lunar base. Once these were completed, a NERV would send humans to Mars. Sadly, the project was cancelled in 1973 by the Nixon Administration  It was a victim of the times, the American public interest in space decreased after we beat the Soviets to the Moon, there was the expense of the Vietnam War, which ended that year, and there were environmental worries over launching a nuclear reactor into space.  

Twice has a effective has a conventional chemical rocket, with greater range and speed. Plus, the technology is close, if not, already here. The supply of hydrogen for the rocket could be supplied by a Bussard ramscoop.

Having a nuclear reactor, which can be tricky, has your primary source of thrust and close to your space vehicle. There also worries about the greater temperature that a NERVA systems would be under while burning towards the red planet. Then, of course, the NERVA needs a supply of hydrogen.


What is it?
Vaccum-to-Antimatter Rocket Interstellar Explorer System or VASMIR would be a proposed starship that used solar arrays to power a highly intensity laser that would through, advanced physics, create anti-matter while near a star. This newly minted anti-matter would be stored for fuel. The thrust for our VASIMR ship would come from an anti-matter rocket.
Being about to collect anti-matter from nearby stars could allow our starship to travel into deep space. The design, if correct, could able to travel at 125 miles per second (or 6% of C...if my calculator is right)

For anti-matter generation to occur, the starship must be near a star that can power the laser and given the stated speed of 6%, reaching another star before you exhaust your supply of expensive anti-matter could be a risky.

Chemical Rockets
What is it?
These are the good old rockets that are feed by liquid, solid fuels, or both. Since the first space launch in 1957, these have propelled us beyond our world into space...well...to the Moon. These types rockets are very useful at allowing spacecraft and satellites to achieve orbit, propelling at above Mach 24. During the Apollo mission, the last stage of the Saturn V rocket, S-IVB, gave the final push towards trans-lunar injection, and were ejected outside

Current on-the-shelve technology and they are a proven technology.

Chemical rockets are useful for getting the space vehicle into orbit and for possibly getting the space craft up to speed...but for interplanetary missions, chemical rockets are just too thirst and require too much fuel to effective in crossing the gulf of interstellar space.

Pulsed Plasma Thruster
What is it?
Plasma, while unrealistic for future DEWs, does seem a likely source for future starship propulsion...even Star Trek uses plasma for their 'impulse drive'. Pulsed plasma thruster, (AKA plasma jet engine), use a solid block of propellant. Teflon was used in the real-world test and an arch of electric current to general thrust. Pulsed plasma thrusters have been used on space probe reaction control system (RCS) since the 1960's.
Could be a low-cost solution for smaller space vehicle propulsion, and we know it works with current technology.

One of the more inefficient starship propulsion system, but could used for RCS or smaller craft, just not for primary sub-light propulsion.

Fusion-Plasma Rocket

What is it?
Deuterium pellets are injected into fusion generation at an amazing rate of 250 times a second. Electron guns would rise the temperature inside the pellets to cause an explosion at around the same rate, and a magnetic field would channel the blast has thrust. This could reach up 13% of C, allowing our fusion-plasma rocketship to reach Pandora in a few decades.

The exhaust velocity would be around 250 miles per second, or around 13% of light speed or even as high as 20% of C, and it is possible for Jupiter to be a refueling station due to it's high levels of Deuterium.

The reason I'm still paying electric bills is because a fusion generators are still experimental  but the Europeans are close, and the other main element for the engine is deuterium. Heavy water is not common on Terra, but Jupiter has a great supply. That being said, some research work on a proposed fusion rocket ship called Discovery II that could get to Jupiter in 118 days, but had to carry 11 tons of those pellets...just imagine the load for a trip to Alpha Centauri or Sirius AB.

Bussard Interstellar Ramjet
What is it?
In 1960, Dr. Robert W. Bussard developed a interstellar propulsion system that drew its fuel from space itself. A cylinder shaped space vehicle uses powerful EM field to collect interstellar hydrogen that is compressed then expelled has propellant for a fusion rocket. The speed is relative when using the ramscoop, much would depend on the density of the hydrogen, drag via the collection of the medium, the thrust vs. mass, and if or when the collection system breaks from use. If the name seems familiar, the Enterprise-D has two 'Bussard Collectors' on the front of the warp nacelles (the red cap on the front) and were used to be emergency fuel sources for the warp drive or just for a nice show.

There is no issue with mass, if the flow of the fuel is correct. Some sources estimate, if the conditions are correct, that a ramscoop ship could move at 77% of C, which is greater than a anti-matter rocket ship. That, coupled with the lean fuel needs (once under way), make the interstellar ramscoop a good choice.

According to some research, the Bussard Ramjet could achieve mean range 12% of C, and others say that greatly depends on the density of interstellar hydrogen, higher or lower. That could led the inability to maintain a constant speed.  To make matters worse, the collector array would have to be massive...like kilometers in size to scoop and the space craft would need to be moving at 6% of C in order to gather the needed hydrogen particles for thrust. That means our Ramjet-equipped Enterprise would need another type of propulsion until the desired speed is met...which adds mass to our ship. Having an object that large in space that is moving at a high rate of speed will certainly attach more than just hydrogen. Any crew of a Bussard Ramjet vessel would have to worry about micro-meteors and other types of collision on their ramscoop array.

Ion Thruster

What is it?
Ion propulsion has been proposed since the early part of the 20th century, and is in current use. This is a form of electric propulsion that uses an electrostatic field to excite particles to generate thrust via inert gas, like xenon. This system is being looked has a low-cost, low-mass propulsion system. In 1998, the NASA Deep Space 1 probe's NSTAR successfully used ion propulsion to intercept asteroid 9969 Braille. Currently, the NASA space probe, Dawn, is on its way to Ceres and Vesta with the help of three ion thrusters. This type of propulsion is  famous in science fiction for their usage  in the Star Wars Imperial TIE fighters.

Scientifically proven current technology that has deployed on space probes, and given the efficiency, less fuel is needed. The ESA has a working prototype of a dual four-stage grid ion drive (DS4G) that produced 130 miles-per-second thrust, and NASA has kept their xenon-based ion engine running continually for five years. Powering this little seven kilo-watt wonder was either a nuclear or solar power source and this hallmarks the ability of an ion-based propulsion system to be efficient, reliability, and space-worthy.
Ion thrusters are by nature, low thrust, speed is builts up over time...one example reached 60 kilometer-per-second in four days and could take 80,000 years for travel between the stars. Bugatti Veyron it is not. This low-burn makes for ion thrusters being better for lower mass robotic missions.

Solar Sail and Beamed Solar Sail
What is it?
Are two ways to sail our way into the solar system and possible beyond, the solar sail that uses solar photons to push a hair-thin reflective carbon-fiber fabric at speeds relative to the size of the sail and distance from the sun. This is already proven technology, with an 3,400 foot version was tested at NASA vacuum labs, and in 2010, a small solar sail was deployed in low-Terran orbit. The Japanese IKAROS solar sail traveled toward Venus in 2010, and became the first interplanetary solar sail, demonstrating the technology could work for intrasolar missions. The second way is for faster space sails, the beam solar sail that uses a lens and light source, normally a laser to feed the sail. Much like using a electric fan on a model sail ship.

Scientifically proven with current technology via real outer space tests, and NASA is moving forward with their use on the Sunjammer probe that explore our Sun in 2014. One big positive is that Solar Sail do not need fuel...if they pushed via solar pressure, that is.

Solar Sails must build up to speed, taking years, and the size of the sail determines the speed. NASA's Sunjammer will be 1,500 and generate 100,000 MPH of velocity after several years of being deployed, and at is going towards the sun. An interstellar solar sail wouldn't work that well. Solar pressure for good velocity depends on proximity to a star, and would be difficult in the wastes being the stars. To solve this issue, a laser could be used to generate pressure on the sails creating thrust. According to the January 2013 issue of National Geographic, for a beamed solar sail to reach Proxima Centauri in a few decades of travel time, the sail would be the size of Alabama and Mississippi combine and the laser would require the combined power output of Terra. And that is just to move a probe the size of a desk. Making matter worse for the beam interstellar solar sail is that the laser would have to be powered, creating more mass, and expanding the solar sail, which would mean that the laser and lens would have to be bigger, which means more sail....and so on.

Anti-Matter Rocket
What is it?
Protons and anti-protons are feed into a special chamber, were they crash into one another, creating a burst of charged particles that move at near the speed of light. A powerful magnetic field directs this flow of rapidly moving charged particles to become thrust for out Venture Star. According to the RDA ship from AVATAR, injection of hydrogen atoms into the charged plasma stream for more thrust.

Some believe, including James Cameron, that AM rockets could achieve up to 70% of C (or 130,000 KPS) and be one of the more effective and efficient interstellar propulsion system available in the realm of hard science.

Anti-matter is the most expensive man-made item in existence, and could trillions of today's dollars to gas up the damned thing! Storage of anti-matter is also very difficult, because it reacts, violently, with matter. Storage is normally accomplished with a magnetic Penning Trap or could be done via cooling and a high vacuum environment. Also, due to the heat generated by an AM rocket, the radiator would need to be massive, think Florida, and may the Lords of Kobol protect you over you if a micro-meteor strikes them, because it would be much bigger than the habitat portions of the AM rocket ship.     

13 January 2013

"I've Seen Things.."

I just finished watching BLADE RUNNER for the 100th time today, and even after this years of repeated viewing,  I can still be in awe of this gem from 1982, and the power that it has. Without BLADE RUNNER, the world of sci-fi would be much worse off. I personally cite it has my favorite film (but, I've seen ALIENS more), and a game-charger for my own sci-fi imagination back when I first saw in 1990. For most of us, BLADE RUNNER is the Citizen Kane of science fiction cinema, and something unique that will never be touched or improved upon.  
I end this blogpost with the best speech ever uttered in a science fiction:
I've seen things you people wouldn't believe...
Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. 
I watched c-beam glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. 
All of those moments will be lost in time...like...tears in rain. 
Time to Die.

11 January 2013

FWS Armory: The Battle Rifle and the DMR

In our modern world, there are products that occupy the in-between space of two different products. Such is true of the auto industry, Aston Martin has the recent Virage that is between the DB9 and the DBS, or Porsche offering their iconic and god-like 911 in all manner of levels, or the recent trend of crossover vehicles, like the Land Rover Evoque. In the realm of military firearms, the battle rifle (BR) sits tucked between the assault rifle and the bolt-action rifle, while the designated marksman rifle (DMR) is in the slot between the sniper rifle and assault rifle. In FWS continuing mission to bring the reality of firearms to the world military science fiction, there is the armory blogpost on these two often overlooked military firearms by MSF, the Battle Rifle and the DMR.

What is an Battle Rifle?
More than the current assault rifle/carbine, the battle rifle echoes the original infantry rifles used since the times of Spanish arquebus all the way to the bolt actions rifles. Unlike their cousin, the assault rifle, the battle rifle uses a larger cartridge caliber, and due to this power, are often single-fire weapons.This larger round, like the 7.62x51mm, makes them heavy in construction, long in length, and less ammunition capacity in their magazines than the assault rifle. Historically, it is best to think of the battle rifle has the in-between stage from the old bolt action rifle to the assault rifle.

What is an Designated Marksman Rifle?
At there core, the majority DMR are fancy semi-automatic battle rifles that fulfill a gap between the regular infantry assault rifle and the out-and-out sniper rifle, engaging targets in the 400 meter to 1,000 meter range. Some DMRs are constructed around assault rifles and modified to chamber heavier rounds, like the Mk. 12 Special Purpose Rifle being based on the M16. These more full sized weapons often use calibers like the 7.62x51mm that fall ballisticlly between the assault rifle and the sniper rifle, around the 500 to 1,000 meters range. Unlike the sniper rifle, the DMR can be used by most well-trained infantry, allowing for them to be used in a counter-sniper role or for precision fire. Some sources use the term 'tactical support rifle' instead of DMR, especially when applied to 'sniper' variants of an assault rifle that receive little changes, like the DMR variant of the IDF Galil or the Steyr AUG 'sniper' variant, the AUG HBAR-T.

And They're Different From Assault Rifles How...?
Splitting hairs could be the best way of describing how these two weapon class are different than the typically assault rifle. The primary difference between the standard infantry assault rifle is the purpose and caliber. Most BR/DMR are going to caliber larger, more powerful rounds developed for more precision shooting. Rather than unleashing full-automatic fire at a target, the user of the battle rifle is trying to limit the amount spent brass and get the heavier round on target.

The History of the Batte Rifle
When we discuss the development of the battle rifle, than we have to discuss the same weapons that led to the development of the assault rifle. These semi-automatic rifles started with the Mexican Mondragon rifle of 1887, then the 1900 Italian Cei-Rigotti, followed by the Russian First World War Fedorov Avtomat, the American  BAR LMG, the French Ribeyrolle 1918, and the French Chauchat LMG.
When the technology was proven for military magazine-fed, semi-automatic rifles, weapons like the M1 Garand are placed in the hands of fighting men that offered the power of the bolt action cartridge and the functionality of modern technology. These types of weapons could be seen as a intermediate step between the old bolt action rifles and the assault rifles which all occurred between the First and Second World War.
What allowed the battle rifle to survive pass the post-war years even after the Nazis developed the first real military assault rifle (STG44), and the Soviet Union, the largest military at the time, is due to several factors. NATO adopted the 7.62x51mm cartridge for use in all of their member military rifles. As what was seen with firing the FN FAL on full auto testified is that 7.62mm NATO round was to powerful for a weapon more akin to the AK47. Another factor played into this, much of the military was being run by the WWII generation, who seem favor accuracy over volume of fire, and the large cartridge, which may be due to the ineffectiveness of the .30 M1 Carbine round during winter battles during the Korean War.
In 1952, the British abandoned their plans to adopt the .280 round in favor of the 7.62x51mm, in exchange the US would adopt the FN FAL has their new infantry weapon. It was believed at the time, that all member NATO states should use the same rifle, not just the same caliber. When it came time of the US to adopt their battle rifle chambering the 7.62x51mm round, they tested both the M14 (called the T44 at the time) and the FN FAL (called the T48 in the trials). FN of Belgium offered the FAL design for free to WWII-era allied nation without licensing fees as a thank you gift for the liberation of Belgium.
During the cold weather tests, the M14 was modified for the cold, while the FAL was not, causing the Belgium-made rifle to fail, and it is believed that the US military rigged the rifle trials to favor their 'merica-made weapon over the European sourced rifle. The US was alone in NATO when they did not adopt the FN FAL design. What is historically odd, is that US military seem to completely change their minds, when forced by the Kennedy administration, that is, during Vietnam to adopt the smaller 5.56x45mm round. This was directly against their original agreement with NATO, and until really the 1980's, the US was alone in using the 5.56mm. During the next two decades, most of the battle rifles were converted over to DMRs, only the reunited Germany used their G3 battle rifle until the mid-1990's. The fate of the old rifle seemed to be sealed...until combat operations in Afghanistan, Somaila and Iraq demonstrated the lethal effectiveness of the larger, heavy rounds. This led the development of the Mk.14 EBR and 7.62mm firing battle rifles/DMRs within a modular rifle family. In addition, American shooters have re-embraced larger rounds, with AR15s being chambered to fire the 6.8mm, .300, and 6.5mm, and mainly used for hog hunting.
There has also been a rise in popularity of the good old 7.62x51mm round, increased sales of the AR10 and the new CM901 bear that out.
For some of us, our first introduction to the world of battle rifles was the 1980's G.I. Joe figure 'Ripcord', the HALO specialist that carried a full-sized olive colored FN FAL. Today, it is odd to me that Special Operator that made his mark in the GI Joe Team would wield such a massive rifle. This was one of my favorite GI Joe figures back in the day!

The History of the DMR
The history of the designated marksman rifle is more cloudy than the battle rifle, mostly due to its unique battlefield role and confusion with regular sniper rifles. It seems from my research that the first rifle to bear the title of DMR was the 1940's Soviet SVT-40 battle rifle. Out of the more than one million built, less than 50,000 were mounted with a scope, and due to inaccuracy, the bolt action Mosin-Nagant rifle was a better choice.
The 3rd Reich, not to be out done by the USSR, saw the potential of a semi-automatic rifle  and pushed forward with their Gewehr-41/43/K43. After some initial issues, the Gewehr-43/K43 was deployed in the last years of the war, including a DMR variant with a Z-F 4x scope.What is interesting, that the around the same number of K43 and SVT-40 DMRs were built. This variant was used a few years after by a few eastern bloc nations.
 The next big event in the history DMRs came in 1962, when the Soviet Army developed the iconic and well-named Dragunov SVD DMR and was deployed on massive scale. This not only confirmed the usefulness of a mid-range accurized rifle that was not a full-on sniper rifle, but also triggered NATO nations to start thinking on developing their own DMR...and the funny thing was they already one...the Eugene Stoner's AR-10 and the M14. As early as 1960, the AR10, which chambered the heavier 7.62mm NATO round was being deployed, and some were outfitted with scopes, and being used in a similar role.
By the time the Vietnam War was hot and heavy, the conversion from the M14 to the M16 was underway, and it is reported that M14 was being turned into a DMR by marksmen and snipers. The effectiveness of the DMR was proven by users of the M14 DMR variant, especially when we look at Sgt. Ed Eaton and actions during a night raid on some VC in the Mekong Delta. In April of 1969, a small ten-man team including Ed Eaton a marksmen outfitted with the XM-21 and a starlight scope. After the raid, their evac helicopters came under VC fire, and crash landed. During the confusion, and VC attack on the crash site, Eaton used his NVD scope to locate the enemy and direct fire. With the enemy closing in, Eaton used the DMR to kill or scare off the incoming enemy. Another example was the actions of Marine sniper Chuck Mawhinney, who during a night op, killed 16 NVA soldiers with 16 bullets from his M14 fitted with a starlight scope.

While the M14 was performing good deeds in the jungles, there were groups already using the M16 as an DMR. There a few pictures of flat-topped M16s outfitted with scopes being utilized by special units, like the SEALs, LARPs, and MACVSOG. Some sources state that the Marines at Khe Sanh used an M16 DMR. According to other sources, these were the Colt Model 655 and 656, and fitted a heavier barrel, scope attachment for the carrying handle, and various sights, from 3x to 9x. These early Colt special rifles were the earliest forerunners to the Mk.12 SPR of today.

During the 1970's and 1980's, the role of the DMR was expanded with the increased threat of terrorism. After the 1972 Olympic terrorist attack, special police units and elite counter-terrorism military forces began employing the sniper rifle in urban situations  along with the DMRs. The primary favorite of these units was the H&K G3, and later led to the development of the PSG-1.During a black ops mission in the late 1980's, US military used a FLIR-equipped OH-58 helicopters to 'interdict' Iranian minelayers and gunboats during strictly night operations under Project Ernest Will. Stripped to the outside of the helicopter, was SEAL Master Chief Jim Kauber and his M16 DMR matted to a Litton M-845 NVD. This was not only an important operation in of itself, but also to pioneer the use of night vision and FLIR in aviator special operations.
Between 1992-1993, the US was involved in operations in war-torn Somalia, and in an echo of things to come, elite special forces units, like DELTA and SEALs were involved. One important element was securing their base of operations, and SEAL operators were often photographed using the M82 Barrett and a DMR variant of the M16 or even the CAR-15. It is also well documented that the DELTA and ST6 operators were used has helicopter sniper support, and from the evidence, armed with the M21 DMR and a custom M16 DMR. Technology was also catching up with lower cost, more compact optics, like the Aimpoint 3000.
However, most of these DMR were still hanging on the fringe of the military, and not has widely accepted a tool of warfare until the operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Combat conditions were in flux, causing soldiers to be engaged by all manner of soldiers and rebels over various terrain. While there was still a place for the traditional two-man sniper team, on-the-ground units needed a precision fire and counter-sniper weapon, that led to the explosion of DMRs on the battlefield. Also fueling this increase in DMRs is the modular rifle systems, like the AUG, G36, and the cancelled XM8, which all had a DMR variant. For some of us, me included, our introduction to the DMR, especially the buffet of M16-based DMRs was the class 1980's GI Joe figure 'Frostbite' that came with the Snowcat vehicle, who used a classic Vietnam-style M16 with a 30-round magazine and a massive starlight scope. I used to use this gun has a plasma sniper rifle against Terminators in a GI Joe/Terminator mash-up...yeah...it was epic!

The never ending debate between the larger cartridge vs. the smaller cartridge is seemly not over, and some believe that the battle rifle will return to the top spot in military organizations, like King Arthur or something. In a interesting historical note that I came across when reading Andy McNab's books and research why the SAS in COD use the M16/M4, is that SAS units in the Falklands and other operations, used the M16 over the FN FAL. Why? The M16 was less weight, more ammo could be carried, and the the SAS liked the ability for having a 30mm grenade launcher. This trend of SAS/SBS using the M4 has continued throughout today.

The Future of the Battle Rifle and DMR
Given the urbanization of Terra, and the continued prospect of low-intensity warfare, weapons like the DMR are going to be continued to be developed for precision fire and/or counter-sniper, especially if infantry transition to smaller HV ammunition to defeat ballistic armor (Ghost in the Shell anyone?). It is also likely that with the trend for modular rifle systems that the DMR variant could be chamber some sort of special DMR cartridge, like the cut-down .50 Beowulf, or a hot-load 6.8mm, or even the current .338 Lapua. For the time being, the DMR looks like it still has a bright future...I wish I could say the same of battle rifles.
There are few new production battle rifle weapons being rolled out, and most of those are original designed to be DMRs. Some, like the H&K 417, the SCAR 'H', and the Colt CM901 .308 are as close as we are going to get, and this trend may die off with the development of better cartridges, like the 6.8mm, 6.5mm. Simply put, the trend in firearms development and usage by the military/LE/Private Security is for more compact carbine weapons that are at home in cities, the vehicle, and the field equally. That is, of course, unless we encounter seven foot tall blue aliens that with tough armor or skin, that require the heavy hitting power of larger projectile, like HALO's 9.5mm.

Examples of Real-Steel Battle Rifles

The Springfield .30-06 M1 Garand Rifle
According to my research, the M1 Garand rifle was the first widely-adopted semi-auto military rifle and named for it's designer, Canadian John C. Garand. First developed between 1924-1932, adopted in 1936 and completed outfitted the US Army by 1941. Much deserved praise has been leveled on the M1 Garand and how it gave the US the edge in infantry combat, but it was also a trailblazer for the military semi-automatic rifle and the being the first battle rifle. Unlike the bolt-action rifles of the day, a soldier could fire eight rounds with breaking visual contact with their target, and achieve superior fire suppression with the M1 over the bolt-action rifles.
I recently held an current production M1 at a gun show in Fort Worth, and I shocked how heavy and large this weapon when compared to the M16/M4. Being only 5'6, I couldn't imagine running through Europe with this monster. My Grandfather who fought in the Pacific, used an M1 Carbine, and after comparing the two, I can see why!

The FN FAL 7.62x51mm Rifle
This long serving battle rifle is considered the 'right arm of   thefree world' and the western world's counter to the AK-47. Serving with nearly 70 nations, including the former Rhodesia, Great Britain, Israel  Australia and nearly the United States, the FAL can still be seen on the battlefield today.
Developed by FN of Belgium in 1951, and was original designed to fire the 7.92x33mm 'Kurz' cartridge of the STG44. This was changed when NATO decided to adopt a common rifle cartridge  the 7.62x51mm, and made the FN FAL a more powerful weapon than previous  Given the abilities and quality of the FAL, it found a home with the re-arming post-war military organizations. Often, the FN FAL was their military's first assault rifle, but, unlike the American M16, the FAL was nearly uncontrollable on full-automatic, making most single-fire. During the Falkland's War of 1982, the British and Argentina both used the FN FAL (the Brit version was called the SLR), but the Argentina FAL was full-auto, and British troops liked the choice, and dumped their own single-fire for the full-auto. The FN FAL is still being used, especially in the War in Afghanistan, where Pakistan/AQ/Taliban all use it.

The Gewehr 43 7.92x57mm Mauser Battle Rifle
Most people believed that Nazis field either the old bolt action K98k and the first real assault rifle, the STG44. However, the 3rd Reich turned out 400,000 of semi-automatic rifles that fired the full sized Mauser round, the 7.92x57mm: the Gewehr ('long rifle') 1943. Sources pointed to the Soviet SVT-40 being the father of the Gewehr 41/43 and the drive behind the Nazis attempting to upgrade their army with semi-automatic rifles. Shortly after the production of the Gewehr 43 began, the weapon was relabeled the Karabiner 43 (K43). During the end of the war, some of the G-43's were modifed to chamber the STG44 'Kurz' round, the 7.92x33 and the magazines as well.Out of these massive number of battle rifles made, some 50,000 were the semi-automatic sniper variant. I am ashamed to admit this, but, without Call of Duty 2, I may have never learned of this weapon, has it has revived poor attention from mainstream WWII media prior to the video games.

The H&K G3 7.62x51mm Rifle

In the DNA of this iconic long-srving battle rifle is first attempt to develop an assault carbine by the 3rd Reich that was later known as the long-lived STG45(m). After the war, the German engineer involved in the STG45(m) Ludwig Vorgrimler was relocated to France, and he worked on a few post-war military rifles for the French, then moved to Spain and began work on the CETME rifle. This Spanish rifle was retooled to chamber the 7.62x51mm round after NATO adopted it for their standard cartridge. When the West German army selected the CETME rifle for standard rifle in 1959, however, the German government required that weapon be manufactured in German, given the work to Heckler and Koch. From the 1960's through 1997, the H&K G3 served has the infantry rifle of the German Army until replaced by the G36. This has not ended the rein of the battle rifle, it still can be found on battlefields across the global. Oddly, the G3 has been on the both sides of a conflict, both Pakistan and India use the G3, along with the Tilban and AQ fighters. Out of all of the weapons on this list, this is the only one I've fired, and I can tell from my experience that the G3 is a beast of a weapon, in both weight and power.

The SVT-40 7.62x54mm Rifle
The Tokarev self-loading rifle model of 1940, or SVT-40 was the semi-automatic rifle of the Red Army during World War II, and 1.6 million were manufactured, with over 50,000 being the DMR variant. Some sources call this 'the Soviet M1 Garand' of the war. These were good that the German army actually took the SVT-40 for themselves being low on semi-automatic rifles. There were quality issues with weapons, causing them to be phased out in 1942, some of them were converted over to full-auto LMGs, but by 1955, the SVT-40 was completed phased out in favor of the AK-47. This weapon's legacy is the German Gewehr 41/43, the SKS, and FN FAL. I am ashamed to admit this, but, without Call of Duty 2, I may have never learned of this weapon.

The Springfield M-14 7.62x51mm Rifle
When my father was in boot to go to Vietnam, this was the weapon he trained with, and despite it's short service life has the US infantry rifle, it is highly thought of, and continues to be used today as a DMR. Development of this battle rifle came during WWII, when commanders wanted to replace all of the different weapons used by GIs in the field, and replace them with one weapon and one caliber, the hard-hitting 7.62x51mm. The M14 was adopted by the US Armed Forces in 1957, and was more closely related to the M1 Garand in function and forum, being a heavy steel and wood rifle.
When Vietnam started up, the M14 was first to go, and was in service with the US Marines longer than in the Army. Despite it abilities to work in the harsh conditions of Vietnam, and delivery hard-hitting impact of the enemy, the gun was heavy, the ammo was heavy, and humping this weapon in the bad bush wore down our troops. This caused the M14 to be phased out in 1964 for the lighter M16. Those who have used the M14, preferred it over the plagued M16. This stands out has the shortest infantry rifle of the US Military. The M14 has come back from the grave has the Mk.14 Enhanced Battle Rifle (EBR). However, I cannot find any examples were the new Mk.14 EBR is being used as a battle rifle instead of a DMR...maybe on Modern Warfare 3? I know my MW3 Mk.14 is a battle rifle!

The H&K 417 7.62x51mm Rifle
Battle rifles are not always based on the first generation of semi-automatic military rifle, but are still being developed due to the effectiveness of the full-sized 7.62mm cartridge as seen in Afghanistan. Normally, the 417 is used has a DMR, but there have examples were it fulfills the role of the battle rifle. Much like the AR10 and the CM901, the HK417 chambers the 7.62mm NATO round and is fed from a 20 round magazine.

The FN SCAR-H 7.62x51mm Rifle

FN developed their own modular rifle system in 2007, nearly specifically for Special Forces, called the SCAR. The 'L' range of SCAR weapons chambered the 5.56mm round, and the more limited 'H' weapons fired the larger 7.62mm. In 2009, SOCOM cancelled funding for the 'L' weapons, and turned their attention to the 'H' battle rifle (Mk.17) and DMR (Mk.20). from 2011 to the present, photos of the SCAR-H has been seen in the hands of Special Operators in Afghanistan serving has a heavy-hitting rifle.  

Examples of Real-Steel DMRs

The LMT L129A1 7.62x51mm DMR

The British have the offensive tools in their infantry military units to deal with threats for 300 meters and beyond 1,000, that being their L85 bullpup rifle and their L96 sniper rifle. But within 400 to 1,000 range, their was no offensive, and the British army decided to hold trials for a DMR. At first, it was believed that the British, similar to the American M14, would dig out their old FN FALs. However, the weapon that rose to the top during the heat contest was the Lewis Machine & Tool LM308MWS, now known has the L129A1. Issued in A-Stan to trained sharpshooters (one step down from snipers) to engage fire from 400 to 1,000 meters, and is proving to be a excellent weapon. Rumors abound that the British military will be trading their unloved L85s for the H&K416. 

The SEAL Recon (Recce) Rifle 5.56x45mm DMR
The modular nature of the new Colt   M4 platform inspirited the SEALs to develop in-house at NSWC-Crane their own DMR out of a 16inch barreled M4. What was wrong with the Mk.12 SPR M16/M4 based DMR? It seems that SEALs were less than impressed with the result of this weapon, and turned to the Santa Workshop that is NSWC-Crane Division, to turn out this weapon.
The SEAL Recce Rifle is an special, purpose built 16inch Lilja barrel M4 or even M16 with the ability to fire any 5.56x45mm ammo, and attach a number of optics, stocks, bipods, and suppressors onto this DMR. Given the rapid nature of upgrades being cracked out for the M4 platform and the evolving mission of Naval Special Operations, the Recce Rifle is always being upgraded. Hard facts on this M4 variant are hard to come by, and at SEAL public events, the Mk.12 SPR has been seen on the display tables, so it is uncertain if the SEAL Recce Rifle was a temporary solution to an early version of the SR-25/Mk.12/M110 M16-based DMRs. There rumors around the internet that the US Rangers us the Recce Rifle as well and that LaRue Tactical of Texas builds something very close to the Recce Rifle.

The SDM-R 5.56x45mm DMR
To the average semi-aware civilian, any DMR fashioned out of a M16/M4/AR15 is classified as a SR-25 or Mk.12 SPR. However, there are a number of inspirited AR15 DMR platform rifles, and yet another of these weapons is the SDM-R or US Army Squad Designated Marksman Rifle. Originally, the SDM-R was called the Squad Advanced Marksmen and was dreamed up during an USMC urban warfare project called 'Project Metropolis' in 2002. The Army, specifically the 3rd Infantry Division developed the SDM-R to fulfill the role as a DMR/Counter-Sniper Rifle, and the USMC developed the SAM-R for the same purpose. Fort Benning Army Marksmen Unit produces the SDM-R using Armlite lower receivers, some bits and pieces for other makers, including Knight's Armaments, along with a 20inch with an M16A2 flash hider, with a number of optics to fit the shooting conditions, and a bipod. This weapon has been mostly with the 3rd ID, along with a known 18inch barreled variant with the 82nd Airborne.

The Dragunov SVD
In service with the Soviet Union since 1963, and chambering the older 7.62x54R round, the Dragunov SVD has become one the  most common DMRs in the world. This commonality was due to the Warsaw Pact military practice of giving nearly every single infantry unit an SVD marksman. Some make the mistake of believing that the Dragunov are an accuarized variant of the AK47, due to the style similarities.However, there are some design differences to allow the SVD better accuracy than the AKs. One of the odd features of the some of the original Dragunovs is a bayonet lug. Dragunovs enjoy some bit of celebrity more than most DMRs due to its rather cool name, including in 1980's action movies, and appearing a massive number of shooter video game. Most of  us that play Call of Duty online have been drilled by an Dragunov. 

The USMC SAM-R 5.56x45mm DMR
Similar to the SEAL Recce Rifle, the SDM-R, the Mk. 12 SPR, is the USMC Squad Advanced Marksmen Rifle (SAM-R). Conceived during a urban warfare training project called 'Project Metropolis' in 2002 and developed by the USMC Warfighting Labs. It was decided to us the M16 has a base for an DMR to allow for easy-of-use, and for this DMR to be used has a counter-sniper, long-range rifle, and helping mortar with aiming assistance. This 20inch barreled M16A4 is outfitted with a number of different stocks, bipods, scopes to fit the shooter and conditions. Most of the 'true' DMR work is done by the Corps via the M14 EBR.

The FN SCAR-H Mk. 20 Mod 0 SSR 7.62x51mm DMR
The 7.62x51mm variant of the FN SCAR modular rifle system originally was developed for use has a DMR, but was further modified by the SOCOM and reclassified has the Mk.20 Mod 0 'Sniper Support Rifle' (SSR). This was designed for use in a two man sniper team, has the weapon of the spotter. Fitted with a 20inch barrel, rail system, 20 round box magazine, non-fold-able stock, and any number of optical system. This has been seen in use with US Special Operations units in Afghanistan since 2011.

The NSWC-Crane Division Mk.14 7.62x51mm DMR

It is commonly believed that the M14 was broken out of storage after operations in Afghanistan, however, the M14 has been use for a DMR since the 1969, as the M21. One of famous example was the M14 DMR with an Aimpoint 3000 used by DELTA Sniper and recipients of the Medal of Honor Sgt. 1st class Randy Shughart in 1993. It is believed that the path of the M14 becoming a more mainstream DMR began in the early 1990's by the USMC, however, the Mk.14 EBR was developed in 2000 by the request of the SEALs by the Navy's Crane Division. Between 2001 and 2008, three separate types of M14-derived DMRs were in service: the Mk.14 EBR, the M39 DMR, and the the USMC DMR.

The H&K 417 7.62x51mm DMR
Despite being able to be deployed has a battle rifle, the piston-driven H&K 417 is mostly seen in the role of DMR. This is verified by photos coming out of A-stan, where the 417 is in service with European nations (France specifically) and in it's DMR livery.With the rail system, the DMR 417 can be outfitted with all manner of optics, bipods, barrels, and stocks. The real advantage, I've read that the 417 has over something like the Mk.14 DMR, is weight and user familiarity due to the similar to the M16/M4. The 417 is on the edge of being THE DMR for the 21st century.

The Knights Armament SR-25/Crane Division Mk. 12 SPR/M110 SASS DMR
Original, Eugene Stoner envisioned his new age combat rifle has a modular system, where one base weapons could be outfitted for different combat roles, including an DMR. When the US Military M16s started to appear on the battlefield in Vietnam, a few were used in the role of a DMR with little more than a scope, and we pictorial evidence of that. Some sources say that first real attempt to forge an out-and-out DMR from the M16 platform was in late 1989 or 1990 using the 7.62mm AR-10 rifle, which itself had been around since 1955(!). Reports state that early copies of the SR-25 DMR were the US Forces (mostly stated as the SEALs) in Somalia, even before the events of Oct.3rd, 1993. Some say that DELTA Sniper and Medal of Honor recipient MSG. Gary Gordon was not carrying a modified M16 DMR, but actually an early SR-25.
By the time of the war in Afghanistan, there were two M16 platform DMRs (and maybe more) in service with US Special Forces, the 5.56mm 18inch barrel Mk.12 SPR and the 7.62mm 20inch barrel SR-25 (then known has the Mk.11 Mod 0/1). It seem that only the cartridge, barrel length  and a few pieces and pieces seem to separate these very similar M16 DMRs. In 2008, the older bolt action M24 sniper rifle was being phased out for the Knights Armament 7.62mm M110 single-action sniper system. Now, at this time, 2008, in service were the Mk.12 SPR, the Mk.11, and the M110 SASS, along with various other DMRs born from the M16/M4 platform. Confused? Good because so am I! It seems that from the onset of the War in Afghanistan and Iraq, there these three main DMR variants of the M16 rifle that descended from the original 1990's Knights Armament DMR idea, along with other DMRs mentioned above. From what I can gather, the M110 SASS
One of the unique features of the SPR is that it does not fire the standard 5.56x45mm NATO cartridges, due to poor performance for an DMR. Black Hills Ammunition assembles the Mk.262 Mod 0/1/2 for use in the weapon. The original 'mod 0' round was a MatchKing 77-grain hollow point boat tail without a crimping groove. This dependence on a special type of the standard NATO 5.56mm bullet is why the SEALs developed their own M16-based DMR.

Could there be an DEW Battle Rifle and/or DMR?
Given the realities of real-world military directed energy weaponry, specifically lasers, it seems more likely that laser DEW rifles would be more akin to battle rifles than assault rifles. Since shot placement, dwelling time, cooling, and batteries are all factories that future soldiers will have to take into account, this label these types of military DEWs a 'battle directed energy rifle'.
This weapons would favor impact power, accuracy over rapid 'pulsing' ability. One of the closest examples in science fiction to my theory is the  Arasaka HLR-12X and/or the SPARTAN Laser from HALO:3. Slow, accurate shots that emit from larger weapons with highly trained soldiers.

Battle Rifles/DMRs and Science Fiction
Most battle rifles and DMRs make their way into science fiction via mostly blind luck. Often prop masters will base a futuristic weapon on a certain real-steel weapon, given rise to this fictional weapon being labeled an BR or DMR. This lack of these types of real-world military weapons arise from the simple lack of development and/or education in sci-fi military organizations or a lack of understanding on the author/creator. Recently, the field of BR/DMR in sci-fi has expanded due to shooter-type video games, specificlly, HALO. When the online community took off, gamers wanted more types of weapons, Bungie answered with weapons like the DMR and the battle rifle. Players today, include yours truly, can pick and chose a weapon that mets there style of play. I personally love the DMR of HALO: Reach and the battle rifle of HALO:4. 

Examples of BR/DMR in Sci-Fi

The M392/M395 7.62x51mm DMR from the HALO Universe

Bridging the gap between the sniper rifle and the battle rifle, the M392 DMR is a bullpup powerhouse, chambering the 7.62x51mm and has a 3x zoom scope. This weapon was commonly seen prior to 2548 in all branches of the UNSC, when the BR55HB became to replace the DMR. When the battle of Reach occured in 2552, the DMR was only in serve with the UNSC Army. However, by the time of HALO: 4 in 2557, the UNSC had upgraded the older DMR and placed them inventory of the UNSC Infinity. It is possible that the SPARTAN-IV project was the reason for the upgraded DMR, and that they are the only users of the weapon. I personally have a hard-on for the DMR, and use in SPARTAN OPS, and War Games with grim effectiveness.

The STARCOM M-9 RIP Rifle from STARCOM: The US Space Force

This is a long shot, but among the 1980's STARCOM: The US Space Force toys had this magnetic propelled KEW called the M-9 Rapid Impulse Projectile (RIP) Rifle. This man-portable railgun was not pictured in the short-lived animated series, but was available on the figure, mostly the Astro Marines. Given the toy gun, the RIP takes a great deal of power, requiring a power backpack, and could be considered a battle rifle.

 The BR85HB SR 9.5x40mm Battle Rifle from HALO: 4
Given the effectiveness of the tri-burst against alien energy shielding and biology, the UNSC updated the older BR55HB into the BR85HB SR for 2557. Still mounting a 2x scope that is more compact than the older model, allowing for accurate fire, especially with the advanced technology keeping the rifle on-target, even when firing the massive burst. It is unknown if the BR85HB SR is only being deployed to crews of the UNSC Infinity. This battle rifle has been a massive favorite among us HALO: 4 on-line gamers for the accuracy and power.

M590 Battle Rifle from Space: Above and Beyond
Here is a science fiction weapon could be classified has an assault rifle, which is were I original place the USMC 2063 M590 in a previous blogpost, but now, I think it may be a battle rifle. First off, the M590 shots the heavier 7.62x51mm  cartridge, and it is never seen on-screen firing full-auto or even burst-fire. The Marine Corps is also emphasizes marksmanship, and they are more likely ti field a battle rifle than the big army. The case could be made further also be made for the M590 being a battle rifle due to the limited capacity magazine seen through much of the series.

Callahan Full-Bore Auto-Lock 'Vera' from Firefly
One of the more celebrated sci-fi weapons is the Callahan Full-Bore Auto-Lock DM rifle from Firefly. In the few examples of Vera firing, it seems to closer to a DMR in usage.
Okay, let us break down the complex name of this weapon. Callahan is the name of gun-maker and a reference to the Dirty Harry films, 'full-bore' speaks to that this gun can adjust itself to various cartridges, and lastly, 'auto-lock' is an aiming assistants system mentioned a few times in the series. The prop weapon was actually based around Russian Saiga-12 shotgun and originally built for the 2002 Showtime has some sort of a supergun that fired depleted uranium shells.

The BR55HB SR 9.5x40mm Battle Rifle from HALO:2 and HALO:3
The BR55 was already in service weapon when the alien war begins in 2525, and proved its use It seems from some of the canon describes of the BR55 battle rifle, it is the weapon that every member of the UNSC is trained on...could this be the weapon they use in basic? Official sources talk about everyone being able to use the BR55 rifle, and could be referring to the hard recoil of the MA5B assault rifle. One of the key points with the BR55 was that it's powerful round, the 9.5x40mm fired in a burst could knock down an alien foe, even the big bastard elites with one or two bursts, allowing for more accurate fire than the MA5B, especially if the user is panicked. Because HALO is a game first, Bungie made many mistakes with the capacity of the magazines...like the 7.62mm chambering MA5B having 60 rounds, and the original BR55 in HALO:2 having 36 rounds. Another interesting point was that the live-action HALO: 3 Land Fall has the Marines and ODSTs firing their battle rifles on full automatic...which never appears in the games. Odd.  

The SMR .308 Battle Rifle from Black Ops:II
This is the highest damage assault rifle in the Black Ops: II game, and fires an 7.62x51mm round for a bullpup layout and is based on a real-steel firearm, the Russian Saritch 308. Here is a video from Drifter, my favorite youtube COD gun and gear reviewer:

The H&K HK91 DMR from Space: Above and Beyond

During the one of the best episodes of SAAB, 'Who monitors the Birds?', Cooper Hawkes willingly signs up for an assassination mission to off a high-level Chig commander. The two-man sniper team used a 7.62mm Heckler&Koch HK91 (a single-shot only variant of the G3) outfited witha massive NGD scope. This is an interesting choice, especially for a show set in 2063 and about US Marines. As far as I know, the US military has never officially used the HK91 for a DMR, but some how in 2063, the USMC Force Recon does.
I wished that SAAB had developed a DMR variant of the M590 instead of this misfit. I do give credit to the show for using a gun that is used for the same intended purpose. The prop gun was sold off recently, and here is the description:
 A high-powered sniper rifle used by Lt. Cooper Hawkes, played by Rodney Rowland in the episode "Who Monitors the Birds?" of the television series Space Above and Beyond (20th Century Fox Television, 1995-1996). This stunt version of the rifle is molded off a German-made HK 91 rifle and has a large plastic molded sniper scope attached. The rifle is hard plastic with aluminum and rubber detailing. Also added is the attached green nylon web shoulder strap.

The Type-3 Federation Phaser Rifle from the Star Trek Universe
Unlike the more aggressive and battle-ready Type-3a that appeared after the film First Contact, the original Type-3 rifle seems more akin to a battle rifle. It is just an impressive that I have when reviewing the differences between the two phaser rifles. The older, less aggressive Type-3 seems to be used mainly the same purpose and style has the battle rifle, precise hits.  As I said, there is no direct evidence of this, just an impression I had from years of watching Trek.

The Morita Mk.1 'Sniper' Variant from Starship Trooper (1997)
Ugh. That is what I have to say about this oddball DMR from 1997's Starship Troopers. As I've bitched before about this massive pupbull assault rifle, I wouldn't rehash that, but just pick on the 'sniper' variant. There is only one seen in the film, making them similar, in role, to a DMR, there is little change on the surface of this variant from the standard AR, save for the "Dirk Diggler" oversized scope assembly mounted on the carrying handle.
When I mean that is the same base Morita AR, that means right down to the shotgun, fully automatic. During the film, there is only one usage of the rifles has a DMR, when Lt. Rasczak mercy-kills another MI trooper after a flying bug grabs him up. This is only view through the scope, and we can the advanced zooming technology and accuracy. Pvt.Watkins never seems to unitize the DMR function of his weapon. He simply blasts away like the rest of the MI on full auto. For the life of me, this scope systems appears more similar to a old style IR scope from the 1950's than a 27th century DMR. Like I said...ugh.  

The MACO EM-41 DMR from Star Trek: Enterprise
The Earth Government military elite of the 22nd century was the MACOs, and their gear differed a great deal from their Starfleet counterparts. Most of the MACO operators used the EM-41 pulse plasma assault carbine, within the team deployed to the NX-01 Enterprise was a DMR variant. Only seen in one episode, it was set apart from the other EM-41s via a longer barrel that allowed for more powerful EM sabot to be formed around the plasma, and a pop-up scope that protected the optics until needed, allowing the user to use the normal iron sights.

The M-99 Saber DMR from Mass Effect 3
I've yet to play Mass Effect 3, however, the wiki mentioned that the Alliance M-99 Saber was a big hitting semi-auto assault rifle...which to me means actually that the M-99 is a battle rifle. What is interesting, is that Bioware balanced the M-99 out in a similar manner to a real-steel BR, by having impact power countered by the heavy weight.

Sedonian Battle Rifle/DMR from Hunter Prey (2010)
In the rather excellent 2010 B-movie Hunter Prey, an alien warrior team was tasked with tracking down an escaped prisoner on a desert world. These Sedonians were armed with some sort of magazine feed semi-automatic rifle that fires plasma bolts from individual cartridges. that is a cross between the battle rifle and DMR. The prop rifle was based around Nerf N-Strike Longshot CS-6.

The Blastech A295 and A280 Blaster Battle Rifles from Star Wars
I'll admit that I made a mistake when I wrote the Armory blogpost on Assault Rifles...I included the Star Wars Rebel Alliance Blastech A295/A280 rifles, when they should been battle rifles. Why? Unlike the Imperial Stormtroopers with their commando-length blaster carbines who seem to favor volume of fire over accuracy, the Rebel Alliance troopers want power and accuracy to defeat the white body armor of Stormtroopers. Given the portrayal of the weapons onscreen (battle of Holt is the only time the A2954/A280 is fired), they are a single-shot rifle, and given the scopes and impact power, these are battle rifles. The A280 prop was based around the M16/AR15, while the A295 is based on the STG44.

The Covenant Type-51 DMR Carbine from the HALO Universe
Firing 8mm radioactive projectiles, the Type-51 Covenant carbine is a lethal weapon, and can be used for limited range (2x zoom) DMR or even a battle rifle when not in the scope. This is one of those great examples of a DEW BR/DMR.
I now believe after playing HALO:4 that the Type-51 is descented from the Promethean Light Rifle.

The Covenant Type-31 'Needler' DMR Rifle from HALO: Reach
When Bungie designed their final game, they threw in a great deal of new weaponry, and one of the more unique, but under-used is the Covenant Type-31 Needler rifle. This was the alien version of the DMR, and is used by players in the same manner. Much like the Needler pistol, this used the kinetic energy needles couple with an micro-explosion to take down the target. I've never care for this weapon, and never pick it up when playing Reach.

The Z-250 DE Engagement DMR Weapon from HALO: 4
343 Industries fused the UNSC battle rifle and the DMR into a single DEW rifle, the Promethean Z-250 'Engagement' weapon. In HALO: 4, the player can use the Z-250 for both roles. click to use the scope, and it is an DMR with a hard-light bolt. Click out of the scope, and the Z-250 fires a three-bolt burst of the same hard-light, configuring the weapon into a battle rifle.

The Breen Distruptor rifle from DS9
Only briefly seen in a few episodes of DS9, specifically, Indiscretion (4x05), this Breen rifles seem to designed to be a battle rifle than a rapid-fire shorty distruptor like we've seen in so many ST aliens. For it's usage on screen, it is a semi-auto, pulse firing distruptor, and not beam-like directed energy blast. I always liked the design of this weapon, and was not surprised when DS9 recycled it for the Federation TR-116 KEW rifle. FWS will be covering that weapon in the Sniper rifle armory blogpost.