As U.S. Defense Secretary, James Mattis Plots His Own Course
In his first three months as U.S. defense secretary, James Mattis has embraced elements of Pres. Donald Trump’s aggressive war policy while also breaking from the Trump administration on several high-profile issues. Mattis is, in other words, still very much his own man. And the Pentagon under Mattis has,... Read more
Clyde Farrell Made a Rocket Machine Gun
Thirty years before Robert Mainhardt and Art Biehl debuted their GyroJet rocket-powered pistol and rifle, another inventor gained some notoriety for his own, ahem, rocket gun system. Yes, you read that right. In July 1934 Modern Mechanix magazine hailed a new machine gun “hardly heavier than an air rifle” that was... Read more
China Spent Decades Trying to Build a Better AK-47
In the mid-1960s, the Chinese military began to seek a replacement for its assortment of Soviet-licensed small arms, including the Type 56 semi-automatic rifle, the Type 56 assault rifle and the Type 56 light machine gun. The result was the Type 63, first issued in 1968, which combined characteristics... Read more
The CIA Created Fake Weed That Can’t Get You High
In the 1970s, America’s top intelligence agency created super-skunky fake weed and burned it as part of a drug-abuse program that toured the country. According to declassified meeting minutes from 1972 and an old article saved by CIA, the Agency’s Office of Medical Services had a drug abuse booth... Read more
The Hotchkiss Portative Made For a Decent Tank Gun
Laurence Benét and Henri Mercié designed the Hotchkiss Portative light machine gun at the turn of the 20th century. It was a gas-operated, air-cooled, select-fire weapon that fired from an open bolt. A number of nations adopted the weapon, including France, Belgium, the United States and Britain. The United... Read more
I Learned How to Make My Own Bullets
Widener’s sponsored this post. Longtime readers probably won’t find it shocking that I enjoy firing guns. Of the weapons I’ve fired, the World War II-era Thompson submachine gun is my favorite. Not the Tommy, with its large barrel and gangster connotations, but the M1A1 with its long magazine and .45... Read more
MIT Flies a High-Tech Test Plane With the U.S. Air Force
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology operates a heavily-modified Boeing 707-321B, which it calls “Hannah,” as a communications and sensor testbed in cooperation with the U.S. Air Force. Photos of Hannah are rare. Rich Barnett snapped two new ones on April 14, 2017 at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts.... Read more
In South Sudan, Thousands Rely on Fragile Protection Camps for Survival
In a refugee camp in South Sudan’s capital Jub, Jikany Kuol  awaits the rain in a tiny shack cobbled together with pieces of corrugated iron and U.N. tarp. “Our people are fed up with fighting,” he laments as the Chinese soldiers guarding the camp look on despondently. “The people... Read more
Mali’s Desert Climate Is the Doom of Armored Vehicles
Half of the German army’s armored vehicles in Mali—there as part of a multi-national peacekeeping mission—have broken down because of the West African country’s dust and extreme heat, according to Die Welt. By land, the Bundeswehr relies on Wolf and Eagle jeeps, Fennek reconnaissance vehicles and TPz Fuchs armored... Read more
America’s Emerging ‘Little Sparta’ in the Middle East
During his years fighting for Kurdish autonomy from Baghdad in the 1960s and mid-1970s, Kurdish leader Mustafa Barzani was adamant that his people trust no power other than the United States. In the 1970s his Peshmerga guerrilla forces received covert support from the Americans, Israelis and Iran’s Shah in... Read more
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