New ‘no escape’ Meteor missiles boost fighter jets’ firepower

There is no escape for enemy aircraft when up against fighter jets armed with the incredibly fast, powerful and extremely destructive Meteor missiles. The Meteors are made to excel at hunting and destroying enemy threats at long ranges no matter the environment or weather conditions. To ensure maximum destruction, the Meteor’s fragmentation warhead detonates on … Continue reading “New ‘no escape’ Meteor missiles boost fighter jets’ firepower”

There is no escape for enemy aircraft when up against fighter jets armed with the incredibly fast, powerful and extremely destructive Meteor missiles.

The Meteors are made to excel at hunting and destroying enemy threats at long ranges no matter the environment or weather conditions.

To ensure maximum destruction, the Meteor’s fragmentation warhead detonates on impact or at the optimum point of intercept.

Powered by air-breathing ramjets, these new missiles can reach ultra-fast speeds exceeding the speed of sound. Further boosting the destructive power, the ramjets provide the missile with thrust all the way through to the strike.

The goal is for Meteors to provide the largest “No Escape Zone” of any air-to-air missile – and for this zone to be on a scale of several times larger than current MRAAMs (Medium Range Air to Air Missiles).

In order to be effective in today’s combat, the missiles need to withstand electronic warfare threats from the enemy. The Meteors are engineered to remain effective in the face of dense electronic warfare attempts to stop them.

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The fighter jets of six key allies will be armed with Meteor weapons. The US-born, breakthrough fifth-generation F-35 Lightning IIs Joint Strike Fighters are set to become armed with the powerful Meteors as well.

Meteor on German Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon (MBDA)

Developed by a six-nation European team with MBDA and the U.K. Ministry of Defence taking the lead, the new missiles are now in full production.

And these powerful missiles just made their debut with the United States key ally, the United Kingdom. Carried by British Typhoon fighter jets, the new missiles sent a clear signal of military might when ‘eyeballing’ Russian bomber aircraft this week.

Russian Intercept

This week, British Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoons launched to intercept Russian aircraft approaching U.K. airspace.

Armed for the first time with the Meteor, they escorted the Russian aircraft that many believe to be the Russian long-range Tupolev Tu-160 "Blackjack" strategic bombers.

Before approaching U.K. airspace, the Russian military aircraft were intercepted and escorted by Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16s.

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The Tu-160s flew on to Venezuela where they joined other Russian military aircraft in a high-profile show military force.  Russian officials announced the bombers were participating in combined operational flights with the Venezuelan Air Force and that they were preparing to defend Venezuela when it is needed.

(MBDA)

This is the latest in a pattern of increased Russian military aircraft activity prompting RAF Typhoon fighter jets to intercept.

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What is a ramjet?

Rather than the typical rocket motor, Meteors rely on ramjets for propulsion. A ramjet engine provides a simple, light propulsion system for high-speed flight.

The Meteor uses a solid fuel, variable flow, ducted rocket approach giving it a significant boost in power, increase in range and supporting precision at long ranges.

Ramjets are air-breathing engines that are known for delivering remarkable speeds exceeding Mach 3 and even beyond Mach 6 in some cases.

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Rockets burn onboard fuel whereas ramjets breathe air. This makes ramjet missiles suitable for firing in the atmosphere, but near or through space like rockets.

(MBDA)

Ramjets need to hit high speeds, say at about three times the speed of sound, to harness “ram pressure.” They use the air compression and shock waves yielded by the missile’s high speed.

Smart missiles

Each Meteor packs enormously destructive power into 418 pounds. The missiles are over 12 feet long and about 7 inches in diameter.

Meteors are Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missiles or BVRAAMs.

The target does not need to be within the pilot’s visual range to be within range of a precise strike because Meteors are smart enough to locate their targets and conduct the attack on their own.

A highly advanced active radar seeker guides each missile against a range of targets. They do not need the pilot and advanced aircraft to guide them.

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However, pilots can communicate with the Meteor weapons. The pilot can intervene and re-direct the missile mid-flight or stop the mission if need be.

With the Meteor’s two-way data link capability, the pilot can receive data from the missile throughout its flight. This helps the pilot verify that the missile is correctly on course. It is also useful for the pilot to decide whether firing another missile is necessary.

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When will Meteors hit the skies?

A missile this advanced does not happen overnight. The Meteor program began back in the 1990s.

In 2016, Sweden’s Saab Gripen was the first to declare operational capability with the Meteors and now British Typhoons are armed with the missiles as well.

The French Dassault Rafale, most probably the latest iteration, is expected to be armed next. Three more key U.S. allies – Germany, Italy and Spain – will also have their fighter jets upgraded with this fierce missile.

F-35 joint strike fighter jets may potentially also become armed with Meteors.

Allison Barrie is a defense specialist with experience in more than 70 countries who consults at the highest levels of defense and national security, a lawyer with four postgraduate degrees, and author of the definitive guide, Future Weapons: Access Granted, on sale in 30 countries.  Barrie hosts the new hit podcast “Tactical Talk”  where she gives listeners direct access to the most fascinating Special Operations warriors each week and to find out more about the FOX Firepower host and columnist you can click here or follow her on Twitter @allison_barrie and Instagram @allisonbarriehq.

Subterranean terror: Can tech defeat hidden underground threats?

Nuclear weapon installations, cross-border smuggling tunnels, subway systems, cave networks … just a few places that adversaries can pose an underground threat to security.

Many of these concealed underground threats are extremely difficult to detect and locate. And frequently, they can be dangerous for U.S. forces – both abroad and on home soil – to investigate and to stop adversaries in these locations.

Underground conditions pose challenges such as poor visibility and communication. Access can be very difficult, the conditions unpredictable and the terrain extremely constrained, sometimes permitting only one man at a time.

Technology could make stopping threats lurking underground and preventing illegal smuggling across U.S. borders much easier and far safer.

But there is a serious shortfall in solutions up to the task thus far.

The solution could be teams of robots – air and ground-based highly intelligent drones – deployed into these dangerous places. They could provide their human teammates with detailed maps and real-time visual feeds. Smart robots who could work together to search for threats and report back.

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For this step change in thwarting underground threats to happen, a new generation of bots must be forged. It will require a number of breakthroughs. Developing motor skills to handle rocky, unpredictable terrain just as easily as climbing a ladder will certainly be a challenge.

File photo ( US Customs & Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security, Josh Denmark)

Above ground, a solution that rapidly detects tunnels is long overdue. To crack this problem, it will take some serious American ingenuity on the tech front as well.

Here’s a quick look at some subterranean threats, three ways to better equip forces underground and how you could nab more than $3 million in prizes for sharing your bright idea to help keep Americans safe.

So what’s the threat?

Cross-border tunnels are a persistent underground threat for the U.S. While the media has been focusing on images of “caravans” at the U.S. border, tunnels beneath the ground are a longstanding concern for authorities.

There is an unseen underground flow of drugs, humans, currency and other contraband smuggled into the United States. The smugglers provide an entry in Mexico and then direct underground access into places like Texas and Arizona.

Some tunnels are sophisticated with railways, sidewalks or their own power sources. Some co-opt existing American underground structures. The majority are constructed by amateurs so the structural integrity is not reliable – which means the threat of tunnel collapse at any moment for U.S. authorities.

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Without robot support, teams must drop into a dark, uncharted space, without data on the location or weapons status of adversaries – in a place that could collapse. The location of the smugglers is unknown, but they could be heavily armed.

It would be extremely handy to know about factors such as shoddy construction, poor ventilation, vertical shafts, constrained passages, multiple levels and tunnel lengths. Futuristic robot teams could be the solution.

In the military context, tunnels play a role from attack tunnels into Israel through to concerns that if North Korea chose to attack South Korea, tunnels could be an invasion method.

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Underground complexes

For the military, revolutionizing detection of hidden underground sites and the methods to deploy forces inside as effectively, efficiently and safely as possible will be vital and could save lives.

Countries like Iran and North Korea conceal their nuclear and weapons facilities underground. Russia even has multiple nuclear sites that are so gigantic that they are like underground cities.

For homeland security, the potential to deploy a new generation of subterranean bots could lead to saving lives in a disaster. If there was a terrorist attack with an explosion, then a subway system collapse could result in structurally compromised tunnels. Search and mapping robots for aid teams could ensure as rapid a rescue as possible.

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Robots could possess enough smarts to search for humans themselves by hunting for heat signatures and other clues.

Caves

In Afghanistan, U.S. forces would sometimes be tasked to deal with adversaries who were operating out of complex cave networks.

Natural caves may become a terrain again, but next-gen subterranean bots could play key roles in humanitarian disaster rescue and exploration deeper into the planet.

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What sorts of solutions?

Currently, there are some exciting projects underway. Micro drone swarms could deploy in advance of the human teams. They can travel and collect data on a number of adversaries, firepower, explosives and other threats while building a 3-D map for the team.

Ground drones could deploy with the teams providing eyes so that teams can see lurking threats and potential danger around corners.

$3 Million  

DARPA is pioneering and paving the way with their new Subterranean, (aka “SubT”) Challenge. teams will compete for more than $3 million in prizes in the three circuit events and an integrated final course.

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The Systems track winner will receive a $2 million prize, with up to $200,000 in additional prizes available for self-funded teams in each of the Systems track events. Teams will create and demo prototypes that will compete in live competitions in the underground terrain courses. DARPA will be evaluating how they perform in realistic field environments.

Teams in the Virtual track will compete for up to $1.5 million in the Virtual Final event, with additional prizes of up to $500,000 for self-funded teams in each of the Virtual Circuit events. Virtual track teams will develop software and algorithms using virtual models of systems, environments, and terrain. They will compete in simulation-based events with larger-scale runs in the simulated environments facing larger scenario sizes and durations.

DARPA has selected nine teams to compete in the Subterranean (SubT) Challenge – But self-funded teams are still invited to join in to help the United States find solutions to mapping, searching and navigating. Interested teams can learn more and register here.

What’s the competition timeline?

Next fall, the first competition will be the Tunnel Circuit. In 2020, the Urban Circuit and Cave Circuit will be held. The final event is expected to be held in 2021. The teams will compete in courses incorporating challenges from tunnel, cave and urban underground environments.

Subterranean Bots Revolutionizing Above and Below Ground

The competition will yield innovations with potential beyond underground focused tech. This initiative is under the outstanding leadership of Dr. Timothy Chung so there will no doubt be leaps and bounds in robotics including robot perception, autonomous operation and networking.

Not only will these advances help ensure the military and homeland security are equipped with the right sort of tech advantages they deserve – there is endless potential for the innovation in other applications. From drones that can search tunnels, subways and mines when disaster strikes through to accelerating the advancement of robots to take on other dangerous tasks such as Fukushima-type incidents.

Allison Barrie is a defense specialist with experience in more than 70 countries who consults at the highest levels of defense and national security, a lawyer with four postgraduate degrees, and author of the definitive guide, Future Weapons: Access Granted, on sale in 30 countries.  Barrie hosts the new hit podcast “Tactical Talk”  where she gives listeners direct access to the most fascinating Special Operations warriors each week and to find out more about the FOX Firepower host and columnist you can click here or follow her on Twitter @allison_barrie and Instagram @allisonbarriehq.

Bee-sized bots set to dominate future battles for cities

In future battles, new American warriors may be the size of a baseball, the size of a bumble bee – even the size of a grain of sand.

Micro-bots and milli-bots may be small in size, but they are giant in terms of impact. This next generation of drones will also be smarter, faster and deployable in powerful swarms. The futuristic intelligence on these machines is mind-boggling and will make current “autonomy” look positively prehistoric. 

Swarms will be able to work intuitively and collaboratively in teams, with or without humans, to carry out complex missions.

Human ground warriors could have a machine-based teammate – one that is a swarm, including more than 250 small flying, climbing and “walking” machines.

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Collectively, the swarm can autonomously take on tasks that are dangerous for their human teammates. From conducting reconnaissance in advance of missions through to searching for survivors in collapsed, unstable buildings in humanitarian operations, the potential to reduce risk and save human lives is enormous.

DARPA is eyeing sophisticated micro-bots to help U.S. forces. (DARPA)

Hundreds, (and eventually thousands) of tiny drones will be able to deploy together. This will involve thinking for themselves, communicating with each other, adapting to each other’s movements, reacting to changing circumstances and improvising to achieve objectives by drawing upon a deep tactics library to execute an assigned mission.

Not only will they be able to integrate into human teams, but drone swarms will also be able to conduct their own missions independently.

DARPA has a number of programs that are radically changing the way drones will be used going forward – and these programs continue to make giant strides at a remarkable pace.

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FLA (Fast Lightweight Autonomy), OFFSET (Offensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics) and SHRIMP (Short-Range Independent Microrobotic Platforms), are three such promising initiatives already delivering remarkable results.

DARPA has selected a number of top teams from around the country to contribute their smarts to creating this new generation.

These little fellas will be absolutely game-changing when the military is required to deploy in urban terrains. They represent a series of remarkable advances and breakthroughs with wide-ranging implications for other technology in the military space and also in the civilian space.

Size, scale, smarts and how they are sent on missions are just four of the big ways that will change. Here’s a look at the sort of missions swarms can take on and how they will interact with human warriors.

Sending on missions

The goal is for the drones to be autonomous on an unprecedented level. This will also be evident in how they interact with humans. Directing them will go beyond the tablet. The drones will be smart enough to respond to cues much like a human teammate would.

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As things advance, the human warriors will be able to communicate with the drones using verbal cues and gestures. There may use a specific “language” of verbal and physical signals, but nonetheless human and bot interaction will radically leap ahead.  It will greatly improve the ease and speed with which operators can deploy them to execute tasks.

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Smarts

DARPA is also taking drones from zero to hero in terms of intellect.

Ultimately, there is no human warrior with a joystick, an X-box-like controller or a tablet giving detailed directions. The new generation of drones will be truly autonomous – not just able to fly from A to B complying with instructions and coordinates or mindlessly following humans like robot ‘dogs’ carrying heavy loads.

These drones will be able to think for themselves, adapt to the environment and each other, problem solve and work collaboratively to accomplish missions – all without a human giving detailed instructions to each one or piloting them remotely.

Recon

Urban and subterranean environments can present a lot of potentially dangerous unknowns. So stealthy, smart and small combat units will have the powerful advantage of unprecedented data in advance thanks to these little drones.

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Tiny bots can crawl under cracks below doors, fly through partially opened windows, discreetly perch on a combatant’s shoe, even infiltrating a heavily fortified bomb making lab. The bots can act as teeny tiny spies collecting crucial visual, audio and other data with their advanced sensors.

In advance of human raids into areas where little is known, such as the interior of a city building or an underground WMD base, for example, micro-bots and milli-bots can be deployed by units to rapidly explore unknown areas. They can build maps and feedback other vital data.

Another example would be hostage rescues where the bots could surreptitiously deploy into the enemy held area, map it out, identify the exact number of combatants, how they are armed, the locations of all combatants and the hostages, the medical condition of the hostages and more.

The bots don’t have to be piloted by a warrior with a tablet to do this – they are autonomous. They are given a mission and do what it takes to achieve their objectives and return to their human teammates.

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Swarm raids

First-generation primitive swarms may only be able to locate an assigned area, identify points of entry and map the layouts for human assaulters. Some may be able to independently secure perimeters for their human teammates.

However, based on the current trajectory of amazing advances, U.S. drone swarms comprised of a mix of bots could eventually be capable of conducting their own urban raids. This isn’t a swarm raiding a dollhouse, this is a swarm capable of six-hour missions in areas covering eight city blocks.

Swarms will also be able to deploy alongside human teams and take on tasks such as suppressing enemy fire, maintaining flank security or even isolating and clearing a building.

Stealthy mode and saving downed pilots behind enemy lines

Since this new generation will be far more autonomous, they won’t need communications links to a human “pilot.” This will reduce radio transmissions between the bots and the human team.

Reduced radio transmissions makes it harder for enemy forces to detect bot swarms that have covertly infiltrated to monitor them. And very importantly, it reduces the chances of enemy forces detecting the presence of American warfighters in the area, which helps keep them safe.

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The advanced autonomy also means that if there is a downed pilot behind enemy lines, then the drone swarms can sweep areas searching in radio silence. This can help reduce the risk of the enemy forces identifying the location of the pilot and the presence of U.S. forces on a rescue mission.

Natural disaster swarm rescue missions

Micro-bots and milli-bots can also provide huge humanitarian impact as well in terms of saving lives and helping keep rescuers safe. Tiny bots, for example, can navigate through rubble to help quickly locate survivors trapped in the aftermath of an earthquake

Allison Barrie is a defense specialist with experience in more than 70 countries who consults at the highest levels of defense and national security, a lawyer with four postgraduate degrees, and author of the definitive guide, Future Weapons: Access Granted, on sale in 30 countries.  Barrie hosts the new hit podcast “Tactical Talk”  where she gives listeners direct access to the most fascinating Special Operations warriors each week and to find out more about the FOX Firepower host and columnist you can click here or follow her on Twitter @allison_barrie and Instagram @allisonbarriehq.

Army sets sights on new sniper camouflage

More than 3,000 US military snipers will soon become even more deadly to the enemy thanks to new camouflage.

This month, the Army is starting work on creating a new camouflage for snipers.

Worn over the uniform, the ghillie suit is a fundamental camouflage tool that helps the sniper blend into the terrain. Even the design of the suit itself helps to prevent the sniper’s body shape from being detected.

Since snipers are often dispatched in pairs, or alone, isolated from the force, these brave marksmen rely on this ghillie camouflage to stay safe.

Whether in overwatch or reconnaissance observing and reporting, snipers do not have the advantages of safety in numbers or weapons and artillery support that a larger force would have. They also lack the protection provided by, say a forward operating base.

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Often behind enemy lines, the snipers must rely on their stealthy skills and the art of concealment to avoid detection.

File photo of a heavily camouflaged sniper (U.S. Army)

The ghillie camouflage suit is a vital tool to help keep them safe while they do their job. By staying concealed, snipers are able to play an incredibly important role protecting the ground forces in a wide range of ways.

Ghillie invisibility

Snipers do master shooting, target detection, range estimation and use stalking-type skills. But mastering the art of camouflage and concealment is also crucial.

The current version of the ghillie suit Soldiers use is called the FRGS (Flame Resistant Ghillie System). The FRGS made its debut back in 2012, making appearances at Army Sniper School at Fort Benning, the U.S. Marine Corps Scout Sniper School and the Special Operations Target Interdiction Course.

The new version has been dubbed “Improved Ghillie System”, or “IGS.” IGS will replace the FRGS. Soldiers will wear the IGS over their field uniform. It will include sleeves, cape, veil, leggings and more.

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The IGS modular approach gives soldiers flexibility and lets them easily adapt the suit to their needs. It is important for snipers to tailor their ghillies to match the local environment. They even harvest their location to attach leaves and other items to help blend in.

File photo of two snipers (U.S. Army)

The ghillie suit will usually not cover the face, neck and hands. Snipers use camouflage makeup to conceal these exposed areas.

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How will it be enhanced?

Snipers will find the new ghillie is lighter weight and hopefully more comfortable and less cumbersome. Right now, ghillies are heavy and hot. When you combine that with the regions troops deploy in – such as jungle and desert – it can get extremely toasty inside the ghillie for the sniper.

As a result, the new IGS fabric will be more breathable.

IGS will still incorporate some flame-resistance. The Combat Uniform underneath the ghillie delivers the primary protection from fire.

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Overall, it is expected that soldiers will find the IGS more effective.

The FRGS accessory kit is getting the heave-ho. In practice, Soldiers were not utilizing many of them.

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Advances benefit snipers and all ground troops

Ensuring military snipers have access to the best tools for concealment is important for their safety – and for the protection of the wider force. Here are just four examples of how snipers protect U.S. forces.

In addition to the expert marksmanship that stops threats to soldiers from thousands of feet away, snipers also perform other key missions like reconnaissance.

Snipers often infiltrate enemy territory and gather crucial data on enemy location, force size, the weapons they are carrying and more. This sort of data can be vital to protect the force and end up saving lives.

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In an urban terrain, a sniper may set up on a roof. In a mountainous region, they may perch high up on the edge of a cliff. These are overwatch positions that give the snipers a view of the battlespace.  Snipers regularly save the lives of U.S. ground forces by spotting a threat and stopping it before their teammates on the ground are hurt by the enemy combatant.

For example, one horrible method of attack in Afghanistan and Iraq has been someone approaching an access point to a base pleading for water or medical assistance. Exploiting the kindness of the soldiers, they get close and then detonate a hidden bomb. Snipers in overwatch can spot the bomb, warn the ground force and if the attacker refuses to stop and charge the gate, then the snipers can save those on the ground by stopping the bomber before detonation.

U.S. military snipers are so good that they can remain concealed and in some scenarios suddenly stop an enemy strike team’s ability to function with some well-placed shots.

By targeting their water supply containers and eliminating hydration in the hot desert, for example, they can force them to retreat. By shooting their spare fuel tanks, they can render an enemy unable to move anywhere except slowly on foot. Shooting their radios can stop the enemy force from communicating and disable a coordinated attack on U.S. forces.

The potential for expert U.S. military marksmanship to terrify enemy forces should never be underestimated. The sniper can seem invisible and adversaries can’t fight a threat they cannot see. By delivering deadly pinpointed shots at any moment, the impact on an enemy's morale and commitment to attacking U.S. forces is significant.

What’s next?

This month, lab and field testing begins. IGS will be tested in labs, but also in field environments.

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Sniper-qualified soldiers at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida will help test how effective the ghillie is at providing visual camouflage during daytime conditions.

Army Research Laboratory will put the new ghillie up against intensive nighttime testing with night vision goggles. This will help evaluate how the camouflage keeps soldiers concealed in the dark.

ARL will put the new ghillie fabric through its paces against fire to assess protection. The robustness of the fabric will be tested to see how much more protection it can offer against tears.

Acoustic testing will also be important. Sound is another tell that an enemy can use to locate snipers. It can expose a sniper’s movements and location. The new IGS will be tested to ensure it will be quiet and assess how much noise it will produce in various field conditions.

When will the new camouflage ghillies be available?

As soon as next spring, Sniper School instructors at Fort Benning may get their hands on them.

More than 3,000 military snipers will be receiving the new, enhanced sniper ghillies.

There are about 3,300 snipers in the Army. Once the new IGS is approved, it will be rolled out to all those snipers as well as to the Army snipers at Special Operations Command.

Allison Barrie is a defense specialist with experience in more than 70 countries who consults at the highest levels of defense and national security, a lawyer with four postgraduate degrees, and author of the definitive guide, Future Weapons: Access Granted, on sale in 30 countries.  Barrie hosts the new hit podcast “Tactical Talk”  where she gives listeners direct access to the most fascinating Special Operations warriors each week and to find out more about the FOX Firepower host and columnist you can click here or follow her on Twitter @allison_barrie and Instagram @allisonbarriehq.

8 top gifts for ‘007-worthy’ adventures

Why travel ordinary, when you can travel extraordinary in a “007-style”?

We've curated the best of the big ticket covetable items that are splurge-worthy – and become splurge-able when holiday sales hit and our dollars stretch farther.

This Black Friday nab these Black Ops type steals that merge style with top covert mission performance.

Ballistic briefcases and carry-ons, duffels for double lives, watches with secret mission skills and blazers with 10 hidden pockets are just a few handy hookups in this year’s guide.

You’ll find picks loaded with stealthy, covert features even hidden quick draw-enabled jackets and a martini shaken not stirred ready kit disguised as a shaving bag.

We’ve got the ultimate secret weapon for maximum mission performance that will completely surprise you….and much more.

Gift up to gear up a loved one. Nab these killer deals for MVP gift giving status. You’re going to find it hard to resist gift-giving yourself.

Here are the top 8 Black Friday, Black Op steals for 72 hours of travel with 007 style and maximum performance.

MAXIMUM PERFORMANCE, BEDGEAR PILLOW

(BedGear)

Gift a loved one (or yourself) the secret to maximum performance – state-of-the-art gear for sleep.

Sleep is vital to maximizing your day, whether executing a “mission impossible” or enjoying a weekend with the family. Elite tactical professionals take sleep as seriously as fitness.

BedGear performance bedding has revolutionized sleep gear. They deliver a personalized solution addressing key factors like sleep position and body type so you are comfortable and the optimum temperature throughout the night.

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Just answer a series of questions and you’re equipped with a pillow that will transform sleep quality and deliver maximum results.

The ultra-advanced designs and materials are driven by cutting-edge scientific research. The BedGear system relentlessly protects maximum next day performance by safeguarding best quality rest. They deploy heaps of advances such as air flow control and moisture wicking to ensure optimum sleep.

For folks naturally hot when they sleep, the Cool-to-Touch pillows, for example, use a special advanced heat-deflecting VerTex fabric to lower temps to the ideal level for maximum restful sleep.

BedGear pillows entirely customized to the sleeper are available starting at $119. The personalized, interlocking system also includes best-in-class sheets, blankets, mattresses and protectors for maximum next day performance.

COMPLETE MISSION FUEL KIT, BLACK RIFLE

<strong>Mission Fuel Kit (Black Rifle Coffee)</strong>

Start off your morning right with a mug of best-in-class rocket fuel. Tailor your cup of joe to the mission you’re facing. A dose of Black Rifle will set you up for the day. The Complete Mission Fuel Kit is a fantastic gift giving you a number of Black Rifle Coffee flavor profiles options.

Black Rifle has taken the elite tactical professional world – and the nation- by storm. Disguised beneath fun monikers related to covert missions such as Just Black, Silencer Smooth, AK-47, and Beyond Black … this is some serious coffee.

Special Operations forces veteran Evan Hafer founded the company and brought in more outstanding SOF vets. The very same commitment to the highest excellence that earned them places in the most elite military units has been applied to coffee bean selection and process. In every sip, the exceptional quality shines through.

Complete Mission Fuel Kit is available for $48.

BALLISTIC NYLON DRYDEN BRIEFCASE + CARRY-ON BAG

<br>Ballistic Nylon Dryden rolling 2-wheel carry-on bag (Filson)

You’ve primed for max performance with your next level sleep thanks to a futuristic pillow combined with a boost of delicious, high-speed coffee … now you need the best tools for travel.

Who wouldn’t want a ballistic briefcase or carry-on?

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Filson has been a top outfitter for America’s bold pioneers and brave explorers for more than 200 years. American achievers relied on them during the Gold Rush and still rely on them to this day for outstanding gear and apparel that will last a lifetime of adventures.

The sleek style of the new Drydens will impress whether in high-speed skyscraper meetings or low-key ranch negotiations.

Ballistic nylon blends in with the timeless style and smart design. The Drydens are designed to take the beatings of a rugged lifestyle, but still, perform and look good. Originally created to withstand battle back in WWII, this material is made tough, to stop tough.

The briefcase is available for $175 and the carry-on for $295.

PODCAST: ARMY RANGERS V UNUSUAL DEADLY THREATS – KILLER BEES, THUNDERBOLTS + MORE 

THULE SUBTERRA DUFFEL

Thule Subterra (Thule)

The Thule Subterra Duffel 60L is the ideal duffel choice for lives with multiple demands. On this 72-hour mission (or family trip), you may want to hit the gym or just toss a duffel in a truck rather than use a suitcase.

In two hidden, expandable compartments you can stick in muddy boots from hunting bad guys or big game that day and keep the rest of your stuff and change of clothes muck-free. Ordinarily, duffels can be a nuisance for jumbling things – not this one. Special design features will keep those clean clothes locked down and wrinkle-free.

Need a rapid quick change? For quick access to the contents, the clever design yields your stuff with a simple pull of the side handle.

There’s even a secret access point hidden in a storage pocket that gives you rapid reach to the main compartment.

Available for $159.95 and a smaller 45L version is available as well.

QUICK DRAW JACKET, 5.11 PENINSULA INSULATOR PACKABLE

Peninsula Insulator jacket (5.11 Tactical)

On-trend style, warm and comfy without bulk and weight, the 5.11 Tactical Peninsula Insulator Jacket is the perfect solution for travel to places where temperatures vary.

Ultra-packable, you can quickly squash these up into a little ball and stuff them in a small, removable sack that is tucked inside one of the hand pockets.

ARMY SETS SIGHTS ON BIGGER, BOLDER, HARDER HITTING BULLETS

For those permitted to carry weapons in a concealed fashion, the design incorporates concealed “RAPIDraw.”

There’s a concealed pocket for keeping things like your wallet or keys safe from pickpockets.

The Peninsula series also provides vest and shirt jacket options. Available in Moss, Sequoia, Black and Royal Blue, the Peninsula Insulator jacket can be nabbed for $97.49.

PODCAST: SECRET TO KEEPING KIDS AND SCHOOLS SAFE W/ A US PRESIDENT PROTECTION EXPERT

EXTREME MISSIONS WATCH, BELL & ROSS DIVER

BR03-92 Diver Blue (Bell &amp; Ross)

Bell & Ross are the ultimate in watches for people who tackle extreme situations of all kinds where minutes can mean the difference between life and death.

When danger strikes, it is always a good idea to seek out someone wearing one of these iconic square-faced timepieces and stick with them.

Founded by a dream team of watch designers and aeronautical experts, Bell & Ross create best-in-class extraordinary timepieces to wear full spectrum over a 72-hour 007 type weekend.

Need to withstand extreme temperatures and depths, violent accelerations or dangerous pressures? But also blend in at a black-tie ball with men wearing 100k plus watches?  Bell & Ross is the solution.

BEE-SIZED BOTS SET TO DOMINATE FUTURE BATTLES FOR CITIES

Pure lines and timeless style combined with maximum mission-proofing like anti-shock, anti-magnetic protection and readability in the dark.

For a stealthy underwater enemy turf insertion or a vacation scuba diving, the new BR03-92 Diver Blue and BR03-92 Diver Bronze are excellent choices.

The crystal is sapphire with anti-reflective coating and the dial is black with metal applique skeleton Superluminova -filled numerals and indices. The straps are woven black rubber with ultra-resilient black synthetic fabric and a satin-polished steel buckle.

New BR03-92 Diver Blue and BR03-92 Diver Bronze retail for $3,700.

007-STYLE ALL TERRAIN TROUSERS, FJALLRAVEN KEB

Keb trousers (Fjallraven)

Keb trousers exude 007 style while conducting daily errands or enjoying dinner with the wife, but are also built for action like scaling, perilous rock faces.

It is very difficult to find trousers that can go from backcountry to date night – let alone trousers that can withstand everything a rugged man throws at it and arrive home still looking as good as they left.

The solution is the Keb trousers from Fjallraven. They have a flattering, optimized fit while loaded with details for maximum comfort and performance. There are many thoughtful details like discreet zippers along the calf to help keep cool.

Regular price $225, but you can nab them on sale at $180.

TRAVEL BAR HIDDEN IN A SHAVING KIT

Dopp kit leather travel bar set (Home Wet Bar)

Looks like a manly shaving bag, acts like a portable bar set armed and ready to mix the perfect martini.

Disguised as a Dopp kit, it opens to reveal party gear. There’s a stainless steel wine corkscrew, ice tongs, stirring stick, and four collapsible stainless steel cocktail glasses. And there’s a compartment to conceal a 750ml bottle of your favorite poison.

Available from Home Wet Bar, it retails for $202, but can be snapped up in sales for $159.95.

BLUFFWORKS GRAMERCY BLAZER

Gramercy blazer (Bluffworks)

Blazers are always handy for rapidly upgrading an outfit. The Bluffworks Gramercy version also provides the advantage of 10 pockets to conceal vital things and stash all the essentials safely on your person.

Fall-off proof buttons, wrinkle-defying material, machine washable and so packable that you can smush it up and leave it squashed in a suitcase – but days later pull it out and rock it wrinkle free…just a few of the many features that make it a great fit for a vacation weekend or 007 style shenanigans.

On sale for $220.

Allison Barrie is a defense specialist with experience in more than 70 countries who consults at the highest levels of defense and national security, a lawyer with four postgraduate degrees, and author of the definitive guide, Future Weapons: Access Granted, on sale in 30 countries.  Barrie hosts the new hit podcast “Tactical Talk”  where she gives listeners direct access to the most fascinating Special Operations warriors each week and to find out more about the FOX Firepower host and columnist you can click here or follow her on Twitter @allison_barrie and Instagram @allisonbarriehq.

Bee-sized bots set to dominate future battles for cities

In future battles, new American warriors may be the size of a baseball, the size of a bumble bee – even the size of a grain of sand.

Micro-bots and milli-bots may be small in size, but they are giant in terms of impact. This next generation of drones will also be smarter, faster and deployable in powerful swarms. The futuristic intelligence on these machines is mind-boggling and will make current “autonomy” look positively prehistoric. 

Swarms will be able to work intuitively and collaboratively in teams, with or without humans, to carry out complex missions.

Human ground warriors could have a machine-based teammate – one that is a swarm, including more than 250 small flying, climbing and “walking” machines.

ARMY SETS SIGHTS ON NEW CONCEALABLE MACHINE GUN

Collectively, the swarm can autonomously take on tasks that are dangerous for their human teammates. From conducting reconnaissance in advance of missions through to searching for survivors in collapsed, unstable buildings in humanitarian operations, the potential to reduce risk and save human lives is enormous.

DARPA is eyeing sophisticated micro-bots to help U.S. forces. (DARPA)

Hundreds, (and eventually thousands) of tiny drones will be able to deploy together. This will involve thinking for themselves, communicating with each other, adapting to each other’s movements, reacting to changing circumstances and improvising to achieve objectives by drawing upon a deep tactics library to execute an assigned mission.

Not only will they be able to integrate into human teams, but drone swarms will also be able to conduct their own missions independently.

DARPA has a number of programs that are radically changing the way drones will be used going forward – and these programs continue to make giant strides at a remarkable pace.

HANDGUN DESIGNED FOR THE MILITARY NOW AVAILABLE TO LAW ENFORCEMENT AND CIVILIANS

FLA (Fast Lightweight Autonomy), OFFSET (Offensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics) and SHRIMP (Short-Range Independent Microrobotic Platforms), are three such promising initiatives already delivering remarkable results.

DARPA has selected a number of top teams from around the country to contribute their smarts to creating this new generation.

These little fellas will be absolutely game-changing when the military is required to deploy in urban terrains. They represent a series of remarkable advances and breakthroughs with wide-ranging implications for other technology in the military space and also in the civilian space.

Size, scale, smarts and how they are sent on missions are just four of the big ways that will change. Here’s a look at the sort of missions swarms can take on and how they will interact with human warriors.

Sending on missions

The goal is for the drones to be autonomous on an unprecedented level. This will also be evident in how they interact with humans. Directing them will go beyond the tablet. The drones will be smart enough to respond to cues much like a human teammate would.

SAPPHIRE GEM-BASED ‘TRANSPARENT’ ARMOR PROTECTS SOLDIERS FROM SNIPERS

As things advance, the human warriors will be able to communicate with the drones using verbal cues and gestures. There may use a specific “language” of verbal and physical signals, but nonetheless human and bot interaction will radically leap ahead.  It will greatly improve the ease and speed with which operators can deploy them to execute tasks.

PODCAST: VALOR ABOVE AND BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY – HEAR THIS MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENT’S ASTONISHING COURAGE, FIGHTING ALONE, SURROUNDED BY ENEMY FORCES 

Smarts

DARPA is also taking drones from zero to hero in terms of intellect.

Ultimately, there is no human warrior with a joystick, an X-box-like controller or a tablet giving detailed directions. The new generation of drones will be truly autonomous – not just able to fly from A to B complying with instructions and coordinates or mindlessly following humans like robot ‘dogs’ carrying heavy loads.

These drones will be able to think for themselves, adapt to the environment and each other, problem solve and work collaboratively to accomplish missions – all without a human giving detailed instructions to each one or piloting them remotely.

Recon

Urban and subterranean environments can present a lot of potentially dangerous unknowns. So stealthy, smart and small combat units will have the powerful advantage of unprecedented data in advance thanks to these little drones.

AUSA 2018 IN PICTURES: THE BIGGEST LAND WARFARE SHOWCASE IN YEARS

Tiny bots can crawl under cracks below doors, fly through partially opened windows, discreetly perch on a combatant’s shoe, even infiltrating a heavily fortified bomb making lab. The bots can act as teeny tiny spies collecting crucial visual, audio and other data with their advanced sensors.

In advance of human raids into areas where little is known, such as the interior of a city building or an underground WMD base, for example, micro-bots and milli-bots can be deployed by units to rapidly explore unknown areas. They can build maps and feedback other vital data.

Another example would be hostage rescues where the bots could surreptitiously deploy into the enemy held area, map it out, identify the exact number of combatants, how they are armed, the locations of all combatants and the hostages, the medical condition of the hostages and more.

The bots don’t have to be piloted by a warrior with a tablet to do this – they are autonomous. They are given a mission and do what it takes to achieve their objectives and return to their human teammates.

PODCAST: “NO ONE IS COMING, IT’S DOWN TO US” INSIDE THIS BOLD NAVY’S SEALS ADVENTURES 

Swarm raids

First-generation primitive swarms may only be able to locate an assigned area, identify points of entry and map the layouts for human assaulters. Some may be able to independently secure perimeters for their human teammates.

However, based on the current trajectory of amazing advances, U.S. drone swarms comprised of a mix of bots could eventually be capable of conducting their own urban raids. This isn’t a swarm raiding a dollhouse, this is a swarm capable of six-hour missions in areas covering eight city blocks.

Swarms will also be able to deploy alongside human teams and take on tasks such as suppressing enemy fire, maintaining flank security or even isolating and clearing a building.

Stealthy mode and saving downed pilots behind enemy lines

Since this new generation will be far more autonomous, they won’t need communications links to a human “pilot.” This will reduce radio transmissions between the bots and the human team.

Reduced radio transmissions makes it harder for enemy forces to detect bot swarms that have covertly infiltrated to monitor them. And very importantly, it reduces the chances of enemy forces detecting the presence of American warfighters in the area, which helps keep them safe.

NEW US NUCLEAR BOMBS AND FUTURISTIC STEALTH AIRCRAFT TO PROVIDE MIND-BOGGLING MILITARY MIGHT

The advanced autonomy also means that if there is a downed pilot behind enemy lines, then the drone swarms can sweep areas searching in radio silence. This can help reduce the risk of the enemy forces identifying the location of the pilot and the presence of U.S. forces on a rescue mission.

Natural disaster swarm rescue missions

Micro-bots and milli-bots can also provide huge humanitarian impact as well in terms of saving lives and helping keep rescuers safe. Tiny bots, for example, can navigate through rubble to help quickly locate survivors trapped in the aftermath of an earthquake

Allison Barrie is a defense specialist with experience in more than 70 countries who consults at the highest levels of defense and national security, a lawyer with four postgraduate degrees, and author of the definitive guide, Future Weapons: Access Granted, on sale in 30 countries.  Barrie hosts the new hit podcast “Tactical Talk”  where she gives listeners direct access to the most fascinating Special Operations warriors each week and to find out more about the FOX Firepower host and columnist you can click here or follow her on Twitter @allison_barrie and Instagram @allisonbarriehq.

Army sets sights on new sniper camouflage

More than 3,000 US military snipers will soon become even more deadly to the enemy thanks to new camouflage.

This month, the Army is starting work on creating a new camouflage for snipers.

Worn over the uniform, the ghillie suit is a fundamental camouflage tool that helps the sniper blend into the terrain. Even the design of the suit itself helps to prevent the sniper’s body shape from being detected.

Since snipers are often dispatched in pairs, or alone, isolated from the force, these brave marksmen rely on this ghillie camouflage to stay safe.

Whether in overwatch or reconnaissance observing and reporting, snipers do not have the advantages of safety in numbers or weapons and artillery support that a larger force would have. They also lack the protection provided by, say a forward operating base.

EXCITING NEW MEDICAL 'SILVER BULLETS' WILL SAVE MILITARY LIVES

Often behind enemy lines, the snipers must rely on their stealthy skills and the art of concealment to avoid detection.

File photo of a heavily camouflaged sniper (U.S. Army)

The ghillie camouflage suit is a vital tool to help keep them safe while they do their job. By staying concealed, snipers are able to play an incredibly important role protecting the ground forces in a wide range of ways.

Ghillie invisibility

Snipers do master shooting, target detection, range estimation and use stalking-type skills. But mastering the art of camouflage and concealment is also crucial.

The current version of the ghillie suit Soldiers use is called the FRGS (Flame Resistant Ghillie System). The FRGS made its debut back in 2012, making appearances at Army Sniper School at Fort Benning, the U.S. Marine Corps Scout Sniper School and the Special Operations Target Interdiction Course.

The new version has been dubbed “Improved Ghillie System”, or “IGS.” IGS will replace the FRGS. Soldiers will wear the IGS over their field uniform. It will include sleeves, cape, veil, leggings and more.

ARMY SETS SIGHTS ON BIGGER, BOLDER, HARDER HITTING BULLETS

The IGS modular approach gives soldiers flexibility and lets them easily adapt the suit to their needs. It is important for snipers to tailor their ghillies to match the local environment. They even harvest their location to attach leaves and other items to help blend in.

File photo of two snipers (U.S. Army)

The ghillie suit will usually not cover the face, neck and hands. Snipers use camouflage makeup to conceal these exposed areas.

PODCAST: INSIDE LIFE AS A SEAL TEAM 6 SNIPER

How will it be enhanced?

Snipers will find the new ghillie is lighter weight and hopefully more comfortable and less cumbersome. Right now, ghillies are heavy and hot. When you combine that with the regions troops deploy in – such as jungle and desert – it can get extremely toasty inside the ghillie for the sniper.

As a result, the new IGS fabric will be more breathable.

IGS will still incorporate some flame-resistance. The Combat Uniform underneath the ghillie delivers the primary protection from fire.

BEE-SIZED BOTS SET TO DOMINATE FUTURE BATTLES FOR CITIES

Overall, it is expected that soldiers will find the IGS more effective.

The FRGS accessory kit is getting the heave-ho. In practice, Soldiers were not utilizing many of them.

PODCAST: UNSEEN SIDE OF JUNGLE WARFARE

Advances benefit snipers and all ground troops

Ensuring military snipers have access to the best tools for concealment is important for their safety – and for the protection of the wider force. Here are just four examples of how snipers protect U.S. forces.

In addition to the expert marksmanship that stops threats to soldiers from thousands of feet away, snipers also perform other key missions like reconnaissance.

Snipers often infiltrate enemy territory and gather crucial data on enemy location, force size, the weapons they are carrying and more. This sort of data can be vital to protect the force and end up saving lives.

ARMY SETS SIGHTS ON NEW CONCEALABLE MACHINE GUN

In an urban terrain, a sniper may set up on a roof. In a mountainous region, they may perch high up on the edge of a cliff. These are overwatch positions that give the snipers a view of the battlespace.  Snipers regularly save the lives of U.S. ground forces by spotting a threat and stopping it before their teammates on the ground are hurt by the enemy combatant.

For example, one horrible method of attack in Afghanistan and Iraq has been someone approaching an access point to a base pleading for water or medical assistance. Exploiting the kindness of the soldiers, they get close and then detonate a hidden bomb. Snipers in overwatch can spot the bomb, warn the ground force and if the attacker refuses to stop and charge the gate, then the snipers can save those on the ground by stopping the bomber before detonation.

U.S. military snipers are so good that they can remain concealed and in some scenarios suddenly stop an enemy strike team’s ability to function with some well-placed shots.

By targeting their water supply containers and eliminating hydration in the hot desert, for example, they can force them to retreat. By shooting their spare fuel tanks, they can render an enemy unable to move anywhere except slowly on foot. Shooting their radios can stop the enemy force from communicating and disable a coordinated attack on U.S. forces.

The potential for expert U.S. military marksmanship to terrify enemy forces should never be underestimated. The sniper can seem invisible and adversaries can’t fight a threat they cannot see. By delivering deadly pinpointed shots at any moment, the impact on an enemy's morale and commitment to attacking U.S. forces is significant.

What’s next?

This month, lab and field testing begins. IGS will be tested in labs, but also in field environments.

SAPPHIRE GEM-BASED ‘TRANSPARENT’ ARMOR PROTECTS SOLDIERS FROM SNIPERS

Sniper-qualified soldiers at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida will help test how effective the ghillie is at providing visual camouflage during daytime conditions.

Army Research Laboratory will put the new ghillie up against intensive nighttime testing with night vision goggles. This will help evaluate how the camouflage keeps soldiers concealed in the dark.

ARL will put the new ghillie fabric through its paces against fire to assess protection. The robustness of the fabric will be tested to see how much more protection it can offer against tears.

Acoustic testing will also be important. Sound is another tell that an enemy can use to locate snipers. It can expose a sniper’s movements and location. The new IGS will be tested to ensure it will be quiet and assess how much noise it will produce in various field conditions.

When will the new camouflage ghillies be available?

As soon as next spring, Sniper School instructors at Fort Benning may get their hands on them.

More than 3,000 military snipers will be receiving the new, enhanced sniper ghillies.

There are about 3,300 snipers in the Army. Once the new IGS is approved, it will be rolled out to all those snipers as well as to the Army snipers at Special Operations Command.

Allison Barrie is a defense specialist with experience in more than 70 countries who consults at the highest levels of defense and national security, a lawyer with four postgraduate degrees, and author of the definitive guide, Future Weapons: Access Granted, on sale in 30 countries.  Barrie hosts the new hit podcast “Tactical Talk”  where she gives listeners direct access to the most fascinating Special Operations warriors each week and to find out more about the FOX Firepower host and columnist you can click here or follow her on Twitter @allison_barrie and Instagram @allisonbarriehq.

8 top gifts for ‘007-worthy’ adventures

Why travel ordinary, when you can travel extraordinary in a “007-style”?

We've curated the best of the big ticket covetable items that are splurge-worthy – and become splurge-able when holiday sales hit and our dollars stretch farther.

This Black Friday nab these Black Ops type steals that merge style with top covert mission performance.

Ballistic briefcases and carry-ons, duffels for double lives, watches with secret mission skills and blazers with 10 hidden pockets are just a few handy hookups in this year’s guide.

You’ll find picks loaded with stealthy, covert features even hidden quick draw-enabled jackets and a martini shaken not stirred ready kit disguised as a shaving bag.

We’ve got the ultimate secret weapon for maximum mission performance that will completely surprise you….and much more.

Gift up to gear up a loved one. Nab these killer deals for MVP gift giving status. You’re going to find it hard to resist gift-giving yourself.

Here are the top 8 Black Friday, Black Op steals for 72 hours of travel with 007 style and maximum performance.

MAXIMUM PERFORMANCE, BEDGEAR PILLOW

(BedGear)

Gift a loved one (or yourself) the secret to maximum performance – state-of-the-art gear for sleep.

Sleep is vital to maximizing your day, whether executing a “mission impossible” or enjoying a weekend with the family. Elite tactical professionals take sleep as seriously as fitness.

BedGear performance bedding has revolutionized sleep gear. They deliver a personalized solution addressing key factors like sleep position and body type so you are comfortable and the optimum temperature throughout the night.

ARMY SETS SIGHTS ON NEW SNIPER CAMOUFLAGE

Just answer a series of questions and you’re equipped with a pillow that will transform sleep quality and deliver maximum results.

The ultra-advanced designs and materials are driven by cutting-edge scientific research. The BedGear system relentlessly protects maximum next day performance by safeguarding best quality rest. They deploy heaps of advances such as air flow control and moisture wicking to ensure optimum sleep.

For folks naturally hot when they sleep, the Cool-to-Touch pillows, for example, use a special advanced heat-deflecting VerTex fabric to lower temps to the ideal level for maximum restful sleep.

BedGear pillows entirely customized to the sleeper are available starting at $119. The personalized, interlocking system also includes best-in-class sheets, blankets, mattresses and protectors for maximum next day performance.

COMPLETE MISSION FUEL KIT, BLACK RIFLE

<strong>Mission Fuel Kit (Black Rifle Coffee)</strong>

Start off your morning right with a mug of best-in-class rocket fuel. Tailor your cup of joe to the mission you’re facing. A dose of Black Rifle will set you up for the day. The Complete Mission Fuel Kit is a fantastic gift giving you a number of Black Rifle Coffee flavor profiles options.

Black Rifle has taken the elite tactical professional world – and the nation- by storm. Disguised beneath fun monikers related to covert missions such as Just Black, Silencer Smooth, AK-47, and Beyond Black … this is some serious coffee.

Special Operations forces veteran Evan Hafer founded the company and brought in more outstanding SOF vets. The very same commitment to the highest excellence that earned them places in the most elite military units has been applied to coffee bean selection and process. In every sip, the exceptional quality shines through.

Complete Mission Fuel Kit is available for $48.

BALLISTIC NYLON DRYDEN BRIEFCASE + CARRY-ON BAG

<br>Ballistic Nylon Dryden rolling 2-wheel carry-on bag (Filson)

You’ve primed for max performance with your next level sleep thanks to a futuristic pillow combined with a boost of delicious, high-speed coffee … now you need the best tools for travel.

Who wouldn’t want a ballistic briefcase or carry-on?

EXCITING NEW MEDICAL 'SILVER BULLETS' WILL SAVE MILITARY LIVES

Filson has been a top outfitter for America’s bold pioneers and brave explorers for more than 200 years. American achievers relied on them during the Gold Rush and still rely on them to this day for outstanding gear and apparel that will last a lifetime of adventures.

The sleek style of the new Drydens will impress whether in high-speed skyscraper meetings or low-key ranch negotiations.

Ballistic nylon blends in with the timeless style and smart design. The Drydens are designed to take the beatings of a rugged lifestyle, but still, perform and look good. Originally created to withstand battle back in WWII, this material is made tough, to stop tough.

The briefcase is available for $175 and the carry-on for $295.

PODCAST: ARMY RANGERS V UNUSUAL DEADLY THREATS – KILLER BEES, THUNDERBOLTS + MORE 

THULE SUBTERRA DUFFEL

Thule Subterra (Thule)

The Thule Subterra Duffel 60L is the ideal duffel choice for lives with multiple demands. On this 72-hour mission (or family trip), you may want to hit the gym or just toss a duffel in a truck rather than use a suitcase.

In two hidden, expandable compartments you can stick in muddy boots from hunting bad guys or big game that day and keep the rest of your stuff and change of clothes muck-free. Ordinarily, duffels can be a nuisance for jumbling things – not this one. Special design features will keep those clean clothes locked down and wrinkle-free.

Need a rapid quick change? For quick access to the contents, the clever design yields your stuff with a simple pull of the side handle.

There’s even a secret access point hidden in a storage pocket that gives you rapid reach to the main compartment.

Available for $159.95 and a smaller 45L version is available as well.

QUICK DRAW JACKET, 5.11 PENINSULA INSULATOR PACKABLE

Peninsula Insulator jacket (5.11 Tactical)

On-trend style, warm and comfy without bulk and weight, the 5.11 Tactical Peninsula Insulator Jacket is the perfect solution for travel to places where temperatures vary.

Ultra-packable, you can quickly squash these up into a little ball and stuff them in a small, removable sack that is tucked inside one of the hand pockets.

ARMY SETS SIGHTS ON BIGGER, BOLDER, HARDER HITTING BULLETS

For those permitted to carry weapons in a concealed fashion, the design incorporates concealed “RAPIDraw.”

There’s a concealed pocket for keeping things like your wallet or keys safe from pickpockets.

The Peninsula series also provides vest and shirt jacket options. Available in Moss, Sequoia, Black and Royal Blue, the Peninsula Insulator jacket can be nabbed for $97.49.

PODCAST: SECRET TO KEEPING KIDS AND SCHOOLS SAFE W/ A US PRESIDENT PROTECTION EXPERT

EXTREME MISSIONS WATCH, BELL & ROSS DIVER

BR03-92 Diver Blue (Bell &amp; Ross)

Bell & Ross are the ultimate in watches for people who tackle extreme situations of all kinds where minutes can mean the difference between life and death.

When danger strikes, it is always a good idea to seek out someone wearing one of these iconic square-faced timepieces and stick with them.

Founded by a dream team of watch designers and aeronautical experts, Bell & Ross create best-in-class extraordinary timepieces to wear full spectrum over a 72-hour 007 type weekend.

Need to withstand extreme temperatures and depths, violent accelerations or dangerous pressures? But also blend in at a black-tie ball with men wearing 100k plus watches?  Bell & Ross is the solution.

BEE-SIZED BOTS SET TO DOMINATE FUTURE BATTLES FOR CITIES

Pure lines and timeless style combined with maximum mission-proofing like anti-shock, anti-magnetic protection and readability in the dark.

For a stealthy underwater enemy turf insertion or a vacation scuba diving, the new BR03-92 Diver Blue and BR03-92 Diver Bronze are excellent choices.

The crystal is sapphire with anti-reflective coating and the dial is black with metal applique skeleton Superluminova -filled numerals and indices. The straps are woven black rubber with ultra-resilient black synthetic fabric and a satin-polished steel buckle.

New BR03-92 Diver Blue and BR03-92 Diver Bronze retail for $3,700.

007-STYLE ALL TERRAIN TROUSERS, FJALLRAVEN KEB

Keb trousers (Fjallraven)

Keb trousers exude 007 style while conducting daily errands or enjoying dinner with the wife, but are also built for action like scaling, perilous rock faces.

It is very difficult to find trousers that can go from backcountry to date night – let alone trousers that can withstand everything a rugged man throws at it and arrive home still looking as good as they left.

The solution is the Keb trousers from Fjallraven. They have a flattering, optimized fit while loaded with details for maximum comfort and performance. There are many thoughtful details like discreet zippers along the calf to help keep cool.

Regular price $225, but you can nab them on sale at $180.

TRAVEL BAR HIDDEN IN A SHAVING KIT

Dopp kit leather travel bar set (Home Wet Bar)

Looks like a manly shaving bag, acts like a portable bar set armed and ready to mix the perfect martini.

Disguised as a Dopp kit, it opens to reveal party gear. There’s a stainless steel wine corkscrew, ice tongs, stirring stick, and four collapsible stainless steel cocktail glasses. And there’s a compartment to conceal a 750ml bottle of your favorite poison.

Available from Home Wet Bar, it retails for $202, but can be snapped up in sales for $159.95.

BLUFFWORKS GRAMERCY BLAZER

Gramercy blazer (Bluffworks)

Blazers are always handy for rapidly upgrading an outfit. The Bluffworks Gramercy version also provides the advantage of 10 pockets to conceal vital things and stash all the essentials safely on your person.

Fall-off proof buttons, wrinkle-defying material, machine washable and so packable that you can smush it up and leave it squashed in a suitcase – but days later pull it out and rock it wrinkle free…just a few of the many features that make it a great fit for a vacation weekend or 007 style shenanigans.

On sale for $220.

Allison Barrie is a defense specialist with experience in more than 70 countries who consults at the highest levels of defense and national security, a lawyer with four postgraduate degrees, and author of the definitive guide, Future Weapons: Access Granted, on sale in 30 countries.  Barrie hosts the new hit podcast “Tactical Talk”  where she gives listeners direct access to the most fascinating Special Operations warriors each week and to find out more about the FOX Firepower host and columnist you can click here or follow her on Twitter @allison_barrie and Instagram @allisonbarriehq.

Army sets sights on new sniper camouflage

More than 3,000 US military snipers will soon become even more deadly to the enemy thanks to new camouflage.

This month, the Army is starting work on creating a new camouflage for snipers.

Worn over the uniform, the ghillie suit is a fundamental camouflage tool that helps the sniper blend into the terrain. Even the design of the suit itself helps to prevent the sniper’s body shape from being detected.

Since snipers are often dispatched in pairs, or alone, isolated from the force, these brave marksmen rely on this ghillie camouflage to stay safe.

Whether in overwatch or reconnaissance observing and reporting, snipers do not have the advantages of safety in numbers or weapons and artillery support that a larger force would have. They also lack the protection provided by, say a forward operating base.

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Often behind enemy lines, the snipers must rely on their stealthy skills and the art of concealment to avoid detection.

File photo of a heavily camouflaged sniper (U.S. Army)

The ghillie camouflage suit is a vital tool to help keep them safe while they do their job. By staying concealed, snipers are able to play an incredibly important role protecting the ground forces in a wide range of ways.

Ghillie invisibility

Snipers do master shooting, target detection, range estimation and use stalking-type skills. But mastering the art of camouflage and concealment is also crucial.

The current version of the ghillie suit Soldiers use is called the FRGS (Flame Resistant Ghillie System). The FRGS made its debut back in 2012, making appearances at Army Sniper School at Fort Benning, the U.S. Marine Corps Scout Sniper School and the Special Operations Target Interdiction Course.

The new version has been dubbed “Improved Ghillie System”, or “IGS.” IGS will replace the FRGS. Soldiers will wear the IGS over their field uniform. It will include sleeves, cape, veil, leggings and more.

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The IGS modular approach gives soldiers flexibility and lets them easily adapt the suit to their needs. It is important for snipers to tailor their ghillies to match the local environment. They even harvest their location to attach leaves and other items to help blend in.

File photo of two snipers (U.S. Army)

The ghillie suit will usually not cover the face, neck and hands. Snipers use camouflage makeup to conceal these exposed areas.

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How will it be enhanced?

Snipers will find the new ghillie is lighter weight and hopefully more comfortable and less cumbersome. Right now, ghillies are heavy and hot. When you combine that with the regions troops deploy in – such as jungle and desert – it can get extremely toasty inside the ghillie for the sniper.

As a result, the new IGS fabric will be more breathable.

IGS will still incorporate some flame-resistance. The Combat Uniform underneath the ghillie delivers the primary protection from fire.

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Overall, it is expected that soldiers will find the IGS more effective.

The FRGS accessory kit is getting the heave-ho. In practice, Soldiers were not utilizing many of them.

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Advances benefit snipers and all ground troops

Ensuring military snipers have access to the best tools for concealment is important for their safety – and for the protection of the wider force. Here are just four examples of how snipers protect U.S. forces.

In addition to the expert marksmanship that stops threats to soldiers from thousands of feet away, snipers also perform other key missions like reconnaissance.

Snipers often infiltrate enemy territory and gather crucial data on enemy location, force size, the weapons they are carrying and more. This sort of data can be vital to protect the force and end up saving lives.

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In an urban terrain, a sniper may set up on a roof. In a mountainous region, they may perch high up on the edge of a cliff. These are overwatch positions that give the snipers a view of the battlespace.  Snipers regularly save the lives of U.S. ground forces by spotting a threat and stopping it before their teammates on the ground are hurt by the enemy combatant.

For example, one horrible method of attack in Afghanistan and Iraq has been someone approaching an access point to a base pleading for water or medical assistance. Exploiting the kindness of the soldiers, they get close and then detonate a hidden bomb. Snipers in overwatch can spot the bomb, warn the ground force and if the attacker refuses to stop and charge the gate, then the snipers can save those on the ground by stopping the bomber before detonation.

U.S. military snipers are so good that they can remain concealed and in some scenarios suddenly stop an enemy strike team’s ability to function with some well-placed shots.

By targeting their water supply containers and eliminating hydration in the hot desert, for example, they can force them to retreat. By shooting their spare fuel tanks, they can render an enemy unable to move anywhere except slowly on foot. Shooting their radios can stop the enemy force from communicating and disable a coordinated attack on U.S. forces.

The potential for expert U.S. military marksmanship to terrify enemy forces should never be underestimated. The sniper can seem invisible and adversaries can’t fight a threat they cannot see. By delivering deadly pinpointed shots at any moment, the impact on an enemy's morale and commitment to attacking U.S. forces is significant.

What’s next?

This month, lab and field testing begins. IGS will be tested in labs, but also in field environments.

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Sniper-qualified soldiers at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida will help test how effective the ghillie is at providing visual camouflage during daytime conditions.

Army Research Laboratory will put the new ghillie up against intensive nighttime testing with night vision goggles. This will help evaluate how the camouflage keeps soldiers concealed in the dark.

ARL will put the new ghillie fabric through its paces against fire to assess protection. The robustness of the fabric will be tested to see how much more protection it can offer against tears.

Acoustic testing will also be important. Sound is another tell that an enemy can use to locate snipers. It can expose a sniper’s movements and location. The new IGS will be tested to ensure it will be quiet and assess how much noise it will produce in various field conditions.

When will the new camouflage ghillies be available?

As soon as next spring, Sniper School instructors at Fort Benning may get their hands on them.

More than 3,000 military snipers will be receiving the new, enhanced sniper ghillies.

There are about 3,300 snipers in the Army. Once the new IGS is approved, it will be rolled out to all those snipers as well as to the Army snipers at Special Operations Command.

Allison Barrie is a defense specialist with experience in more than 70 countries who consults at the highest levels of defense and national security, a lawyer with four postgraduate degrees, and author of the definitive guide, Future Weapons: Access Granted, on sale in 30 countries.  Barrie hosts the new hit podcast “Tactical Talk”  where she gives listeners direct access to the most fascinating Special Operations warriors each week and to find out more about the FOX Firepower host and columnist you can click here or follow her on Twitter @allison_barrie and Instagram @allisonbarriehq.

Bee-sized bots set to dominate future battles for cities

In future battles, new American warriors may be the size of a baseball, the size of a bumble bee – even the size of a grain of sand.

Micro-bots and milli-bots may be small in size, but they are giant in terms of impact. This next generation of drones will also be smarter, faster and deployable in powerful swarms. The futuristic intelligence on these machines is mind-boggling and will make current “autonomy” look positively prehistoric. 

Swarms will be able to work intuitively and collaboratively in teams, with or without humans, to carry out complex missions.

Human ground warriors could have a machine-based teammate – one that is a swarm, including more than 250 small flying, climbing and “walking” machines.

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Collectively, the swarm can autonomously take on tasks that are dangerous for their human teammates. From conducting reconnaissance in advance of missions through to searching for survivors in collapsed, unstable buildings in humanitarian operations, the potential to reduce risk and save human lives is enormous.

DARPA is eyeing sophisticated micro-bots to help U.S. forces. (DARPA)

Hundreds, (and eventually thousands) of tiny drones will be able to deploy together. This will involve thinking for themselves, communicating with each other, adapting to each other’s movements, reacting to changing circumstances and improvising to achieve objectives by drawing upon a deep tactics library to execute an assigned mission.

Not only will they be able to integrate into human teams, but drone swarms will also be able to conduct their own missions independently.

DARPA has a number of programs that are radically changing the way drones will be used going forward – and these programs continue to make giant strides at a remarkable pace.

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FLA (Fast Lightweight Autonomy), OFFSET (Offensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics) and SHRIMP (Short-Range Independent Microrobotic Platforms), are three such promising initiatives already delivering remarkable results.

DARPA has selected a number of top teams from around the country to contribute their smarts to creating this new generation.

These little fellas will be absolutely game-changing when the military is required to deploy in urban terrains. They represent a series of remarkable advances and breakthroughs with wide-ranging implications for other technology in the military space and also in the civilian space.

Size, scale, smarts and how they are sent on missions are just four of the big ways that will change. Here’s a look at the sort of missions swarms can take on and how they will interact with human warriors.

Sending on missions

The goal is for the drones to be autonomous on an unprecedented level. This will also be evident in how they interact with humans. Directing them will go beyond the tablet. The drones will be smart enough to respond to cues much like a human teammate would.

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As things advance, the human warriors will be able to communicate with the drones using verbal cues and gestures. There may use a specific “language” of verbal and physical signals, but nonetheless human and bot interaction will radically leap ahead.  It will greatly improve the ease and speed with which operators can deploy them to execute tasks.

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Smarts

DARPA is also taking drones from zero to hero in terms of intellect.

Ultimately, there is no human warrior with a joystick, an X-box-like controller or a tablet giving detailed directions. The new generation of drones will be truly autonomous – not just able to fly from A to B complying with instructions and coordinates or mindlessly following humans like robot ‘dogs’ carrying heavy loads.

These drones will be able to think for themselves, adapt to the environment and each other, problem solve and work collaboratively to accomplish missions – all without a human giving detailed instructions to each one or piloting them remotely.

Recon

Urban and subterranean environments can present a lot of potentially dangerous unknowns. So stealthy, smart and small combat units will have the powerful advantage of unprecedented data in advance thanks to these little drones.

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Tiny bots can crawl under cracks below doors, fly through partially opened windows, discreetly perch on a combatant’s shoe, even infiltrating a heavily fortified bomb making lab. The bots can act as teeny tiny spies collecting crucial visual, audio and other data with their advanced sensors.

In advance of human raids into areas where little is known, such as the interior of a city building or an underground WMD base, for example, micro-bots and milli-bots can be deployed by units to rapidly explore unknown areas. They can build maps and feedback other vital data.

Another example would be hostage rescues where the bots could surreptitiously deploy into the enemy held area, map it out, identify the exact number of combatants, how they are armed, the locations of all combatants and the hostages, the medical condition of the hostages and more.

The bots don’t have to be piloted by a warrior with a tablet to do this – they are autonomous. They are given a mission and do what it takes to achieve their objectives and return to their human teammates.

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Swarm raids

First-generation primitive swarms may only be able to locate an assigned area, identify points of entry and map the layouts for human assaulters. Some may be able to independently secure perimeters for their human teammates.

However, based on the current trajectory of amazing advances, U.S. drone swarms comprised of a mix of bots could eventually be capable of conducting their own urban raids. This isn’t a swarm raiding a dollhouse, this is a swarm capable of six-hour missions in areas covering eight city blocks.

Swarms will also be able to deploy alongside human teams and take on tasks such as suppressing enemy fire, maintaining flank security or even isolating and clearing a building.

Stealthy mode and saving downed pilots behind enemy lines

Since this new generation will be far more autonomous, they won’t need communications links to a human “pilot.” This will reduce radio transmissions between the bots and the human team.

Reduced radio transmissions makes it harder for enemy forces to detect bot swarms that have covertly infiltrated to monitor them. And very importantly, it reduces the chances of enemy forces detecting the presence of American warfighters in the area, which helps keep them safe.

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The advanced autonomy also means that if there is a downed pilot behind enemy lines, then the drone swarms can sweep areas searching in radio silence. This can help reduce the risk of the enemy forces identifying the location of the pilot and the presence of U.S. forces on a rescue mission.

Natural disaster swarm rescue missions

Micro-bots and milli-bots can also provide huge humanitarian impact as well in terms of saving lives and helping keep rescuers safe. Tiny bots, for example, can navigate through rubble to help quickly locate survivors trapped in the aftermath of an earthquake

Allison Barrie is a defense specialist with experience in more than 70 countries who consults at the highest levels of defense and national security, a lawyer with four postgraduate degrees, and author of the definitive guide, Future Weapons: Access Granted, on sale in 30 countries.  Barrie hosts the new hit podcast “Tactical Talk”  where she gives listeners direct access to the most fascinating Special Operations warriors each week and to find out more about the FOX Firepower host and columnist you can click here or follow her on Twitter @allison_barrie and Instagram @allisonbarriehq.