As a kid I was always amazed and interested in military vehicles. The technology that the military had was almost unbelievable and at such a long time ago. Its amazing to me that the Military still uses technology from the late 70’s and early 80’s and it still gets the job done. When you think about our Freedoms its the men and women of the Military, but one must also consider the vehicles, weapons and technology that makes the United States the best of the best when the 2 are combines. I have listed what I think are the best military vehicles. This choice was made from an all around functional stand point and of course a “coolness factor”.
1. UAV – Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
The MQ-9 Reaper (originally the Predator B) is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) for use by the United States Air Force, the United States Navy, and the British Royal Air Force. The MQ-9 is the first hunter-killer UAV designed for long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance. The MQ-9 is a larger and more capable aircraft than the earlier MQ-1 Predator. It can use MQ-1’s ground systems. The MQ-9 has a 950-shaft-horsepower (712 kW) turboprop engine, far more powerful than the Predator’s 115 hp (86 kW) piston engine. The increase in power allows the Reaper to carry 15 times more ordnance and cruise at three times the speed of the MQ-1. In 2008 the New York Air National Guard 174th Fighter Wing began to transition from F-16 piloted planes to MQ-9 Reaper drones, which are capable of remote controlled or autonomous flight, becoming the first all-robot attack squadron. Then U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff General T. Michael Moseley said, “We’ve moved from using UAVs primarily in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance roles before Operation Iraqi Freedom, to a true hunter-killer role with the Reaper.”
2. Chenowth Fast Attack Vehicle
The Desert Patrol Vehicle (DPV), formerly called the Fast Attack Vehicle, is a high-speed, lightly-armored sandrail-like vehicle first used in combat during the Gulf War in 1991. Due to their dash speed and off-road mobility, the DPVs were used extensively during Operation Desert Storm. The first U.S. forces to enter Kuwait City were U.S. Navy SEALs in DPVs. The DPV is currently operated only by SEAL Team THREE, the unit assigned to the Middle East. The DPV was built by Chenowth Racing Products, Inc. in El Cajon, California. The DPV, powered by a 200 hp VW engine for a payload of 1500 lb, is capable of accelerating from 0 to 30 mph in only four seconds. The DPV can travel at speeds up to 80 mph. With its standard 21 gallon fuel tank, the DPV has a range of about 210 miles. An optional fuel bladder can extend the range to over 1,000 miles. The basic weapons on a DPV consist of a heavy .50 caliber M2 machine gun, two lighter 7.62 mm M60 machine guns, and two AT4 anti-armor rocket launchers. In some cases, the driver’s M60 or the gunner’s M2 is replaced with a 40 mm Mk 19 grenade launcher.
3. Navy Seal HSB Fountain Boat
HSB’s (High Speed Boats) are designed by, and exclusively built for, the Navy SEAL’s! They are double hull, Kevlar and Graphite, MODIFIED open ocean race boats which carry a standard armament of (2) M-60 machine guns forward and (2) 50 Cal. machine guns aft. (A MK19 40mm belt fed grenade launcher and /or a 7.62mm mini-gun could be mounted in lieu of a 50 cal). These boat’s WILL “reach out and touch ’em!” They were used in Desert Storm for shooting up Iraqi gun boats and oil platforms and for SEAL beach insertions and extractions.
4. Military Submarines
Submarines are useful to a military because they can approach their attack victim without necessarily being detected, then strike at close range. A great deal of attention in the design of a submarine is devoted to making its travel through the water silent to prevent its detection by enemy ships and submarines. Modern vessels have a cigar-shaped “albacore” shape. Their hulls are sleek and hydrodynamic. They are designed to remain submerged nearly all of the time, surfacing only rarely.
5. CV-22 Military Helicopter
The Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey is a multi-mission, military, tilt rotor aircraft with both a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) and short takeoff and landing (STOL) capability. It is designed to perform missions like a conventional helicopter with the long-range, high-speed cruise performance of a turboprop aircraft. The V-22 was developed and is manufactured jointly by Bell Helicopter, and Boeing Rotorcraft Systems. It is operated by the United States Marine Corps and Air Force.
6. F22 Raptor
The Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22 Raptor is a fifth-generation fighter aircraft that uses stealth technology. It was designed primarily as an air superiority fighter, but has additional capabilities that include ground attack, electronic warfare, and signals intelligence roles. Lockheed Martin Aeronautics is the prime contractor and is responsible for the majority of the airframe, weapon systems and final assembly of the F-22. Program partner Boeing Integrated Defense Systems provides the wings, aft fuselage, avionics integration, and all of the pilot and maintenance training systems.
The aircraft was variously designated F-22 and F/A-22 during the years prior to formally entering USAF service in December 2005 as the F-22A. Despite a protracted and costly development period, the United States Air Force considers the F-22 a critical component for the future of US tactical airpower, and claims that the aircraft is unmatched by any known or projected fighter, while Lockheed Martin claims that the Raptor’s combination of stealth, speed, agility, precision and situational awareness combined with air-to-air and air-to-ground combat capabilities, makes it the best overall fighter in the world. Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, Chief of the Australian Defence Force, said in 2004 that the “F-22 will be the most outstanding fighter plane ever built.” In April 2009 the US Department of Defense proposed to cease placing new orders, subject to Congressional approval, for a final procurement tally of 187 Raptors. The US Senate and House each passed 2010 budget bill versions without F-22 production funding in July 2009. Congress will combine these versions into one bill for presidential approval.
7. M1A2 Tank
The M1 Abrams is a main battle tank produced in the United States. The M1 is named after General Creighton Abrams, former Army Chief of Staff and Commander of US military forces in Vietnam from 1968 to 1972. It is a well armed, heavily armored, and highly mobile tank designed for modern armored ground warfare.Notable features of the M1 Abrams include the use of a powerful gas turbine engine, the adoption of sophisticated composite armor, and separate ammunition storage in a blow-out compartment for crew safety. It is one of the heaviest tanks in service, weighing in at close to 68 short tons.
The M1 Abrams entered U.S. service in 1980, replacing the 105 mm gun, full tracked M60 Patton main battle tank.It did, however, serve for over a decade alongside the improved M60A3, which had entered service in 1978. Three main versions of the M1 Abrams have been deployed, the M1, M1A1, and M1A2, incorporating improved armament, protection and electronics. These improvements, as well as periodic upgrades to older tanks have allowed this long-serving vehicle to remain in front-line service. It is the principal main battle tank of the United States Army and Marine Corps, and the armies of Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and since 2007, Australia.
8. C-17 Transport
The Boeing (formerly McDonnell Douglas) C-17 Globemaster III is a large military transport aircraft. The C-17 was developed for the United States Air Force from the 1980s to the early 1990s by McDonnell Douglas. The aircraft carries on the name of two previous United States military cargo aircraft, the C-74 Globemaster and the C-124 Globemaster II. The C-17 is used for rapid strategic airlift of troops and cargo to main operating bases or forward operating bases throughout the world. It has the ability to rapidly deploy a combat unit to a potential battle area and sustain it with on-going supplies. The C-17 is also capable of performing tactical airlift, medical evacuation and airdrop missions. The aircraft requires a crew of three (pilot, copilot, and loadmaster) for cargo operations. Cargo is loaded through a large aft door that accommodates both rolling stock (trucks, armored vehicles, trailers, etc.) and palletized cargo. The cargo floor has rollers (used for palletized cargo) that can be flipped to provide a flat floor suitable for rolling stock. One of the larger pieces of rolling stock that this aircraft can carry is the 70-ton M1 Abrams tank. Maximum payload capacity of the C-17 is 170,900 lb (77,500 kg), and its maximum Takeoff Weight is 585,000 lb (265,350 kg). With a payload of 160,000 lb (72,600 kg) and an initial cruise altitude of 28,000 ft (8,500 m), the C-17 has an unrefueled range of approximately 2,400 nautical miles (4,400 km) on the first 71 units, and 2,800 nautical miles (5,200 km) on all subsequent units—which are extended-range models using the sealed center wing bay as a fuel tank. These units are informally referred to by Boeing as the C-17 ER. The C-17 cruise speed is approximately 450 knots (833 km/h) (0.76 Mach). The C-17 is designed to airdrop 102 paratroopers and their equipment. The C-17 is designed to operate from runways as short as 3,500 ft (1,064 m) and as narrow as 90 ft (27 m). In addition, the C-17 can operate out of unpaved, unimproved runways (although there is the increased probability of damage to the aircraft). The thrust reversers can be used to back the aircraft and reverse direction on narrow taxiways using a three-point (or in some cases, multi-point) turn maneuver.
I cannot wait to see what new technology comes out in the years ahead. This of course assumes that the government continues funding these very expensive toys.