MID-LEVEL tech support of intel & special forces

The Air Force loves super-advanced new technology. (As do I.) But in modern and near-future conflicts sometimes lower-level solutions are more effective and cost less.

Such are two military aircraft long used by USAF for ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance). These both use turboprop engines, which might be called MID-LEVEL technology: higher than the older (low-tech) reciprocating engines but lower than the latest high-performance (high-tech) jet engines. These two aircraft and their cousins are also piloted by onboard crews (low-tech) rather than remotely (high-tech).

These aircraft are the MC-12 and the U-28, twin- and single-engine aircraft. They are used by (among other organizations) the USAF ISR group. They have more onboard cargo capacity for electronic equipment, are as much as twice as fast as the larger UAVs and can fly higher. They are also more versatile, for they can be used to quickly and unobtrusively deliver a small team of special forces to back-country roads. They can also pick them up, perhaps along with a high-value spy, captured or defecting terrorist, or rescued humanitarian.

For more info on each aircraft, click their images.

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BERSA clone of Walther PPK

Have you been watching “Marvel’s Agent Carter“? I have, though I hate commercial interruptions and so watch it a bit later either by DVR or by streaming from Amazon’s Instant Video. (It shows up on AMZ and Hulu and so on about six hours later.)

If you’re a gun fan you may have noticed that the pistol she wields is the same that the first movie James Bond carried: the Walther PPK. This week I found out that I can get one in California, though only as a clone. The Argentinean company Bersa sells a model approved by the CA DOJ. (Though you have to search for Firestorm, not Bersa, on the Approved list.)

By most accounts the Firestorm is a well-made machine. It is marketed under the umbrella brand Thunder, which includes several other Bersa-made weapons. The Firestorm is relatively inexpensive for a well-made semi-auto, retailing anywhere from $300 to $400. (Fees in California make it anywhere from $105 to $135 more expensive before tax.)

Click the image below to see a representative YouTube review of the .380 model.

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KINGSMAN a fun spy spoof opens soon

Kingsman: the Secret Service is a spy spoof which opens in the U. S. on Friday, the 13th. It should be great fun – if you can reduce your brain to the mental age of the average 14-year old! (I suggest healthy & environmentally friendly drugs of some sort, but beer or wine should also work.)

Directed by Matthew Vaughn (Kick Ass, X-Men First Class), based on a Mark Millar comic, starring Colin Firth. This is all you really need to know.

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A-10 WARTHOG under attack again

The U. S. Air Force, in which I served as a Chinese linguist and intel specialist in the early ’60s, is dominated at the highest levels by former fighter pilots. In the AF culture even mil transport and close-air-support pilots are looked down upon – even though their courage is tested by deadly fire much more often than that of the high-flying fighter jocks.

This is why the AF is yet again seeking to kill the A-10 “Warthog” program with the strategy of death by a thousand cuts. They want to rob the A-10 to pay the F-35, a program which continues to balloon in cost.

There is certainly a need for the F-35 and its cousins to counter the advanced fighters of China and Russia. But current and near-future wars are more likely to be small-force and insurgent actions by IS, Boko Haram, and (less likely but still possible) Iran and North Korea. In such conflicts we need the A-10, specifically designed for CAS and proven in combat to be very effective.

To find out more about this issue and its key players click the following photo.

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Quiet revolution in AFRICA

Some of the most revolutionary inventions are very simple. Such a one is soap, which some historians of science have said has saved more lives than all other medical advances combined.

Some inventions are not even visible, which makes it hard to recognize them when they crop up. Such a one is the village-based savings and loan association. Or more simply: microbank.

The basic facts hide the revolutionary nature of microbanks. They are made up of a few dozen people, their vault may be a cigar box, and their largest amount is usually only a very few hundred dollars. Their rules of operation are few and their officers rarely spend more than an hour or two a month working at their job.

Yet their effects are massive. Their simplicity means they can be easily understood and they can be quickly put into effect. Their small overhead makes them very efficient. They are quietly but inexorably spreading in Africa, and they may spread to other disadvantaged countries.

For more info click the image below.

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Scarlett Johannson’s LUCY superhero adventure available

The superhero movie Lucy starring Scarlett Johansson earned almost $459,000,000 at theatres worldwide.

It will be available on Blu-ray and DVD from Amazon, Best Buy, Redbox, Target, and Walmart starting on Jan. 20th, a Tuesday.

You can also stream or download it from Amazon, CinemaNow, Google, iTunes, Sony, Target, Verizon, Xbox, Xfinity, and YouTube.

Click the image to see a preview.

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ORIGINATOR: A Cassandra Kresnov Novel is now available

Originator, the third book in Joel Shepherd‘s second Cassandra Kresnov trilogy, just came out.

You’re in for a treat if you’ve not yet encountered his main character, Kresnov, in his futuristic military sci-fi series. She is an artificial human created as a fighting machine. Not only that, but she was made to command other such machines, so she’s smart as well as deadly. Too smart: she began to question why she should fight, and for whom. She finally decided her creators were unworthy of her loyalty, and deserted to live her own life.

Her owners come after her. So do their enemies. Both want to dissect her and use her for their own ends. BIG MISTAKE. You do NOT try to hurt the deadliest fighter in the known universe. Not without realizing you could get hurt back. Badly.

Cassandra is convincingly human and at the same time truly alien. Also convincing is the universe in which she lives. It is like George Lucas’s futuristic universe of megacities and starships and aliens. But it feels realistic, whereas Lucas’s universe is more like those of comic books. A smart person needs to be half-high on some drink or drug to believe in the Star Wars universe.

The two trilogies are available in print and ebook formats. Originator is in bookstores now. They can be ordered online from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Click the image to look inside.

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Marvel’s AGENT CARTER two-hour premiere

UPDATE: The first two episodes lived up to the hype. Loved them. NOTE: The eight episodes are one single story arc, so we get a complete movie in eight parts.

I’m really looking forward to the Agent Carter TV show. It will be eight episodes with a two-hour premiere on USA’s ABC and Canada’s CTV on January 6th, a Tuesday. I’ve set up my VTR to record the series.

Available for streaming on Hulu.

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quirky fem vigilante movie MISS MEADOWS lots of fun

I love female vigilante movies. Which will not surprise readers of my books (so far). All of them have kick-ass female characters.

It comes, I suspect, from my two-year friendship with a feisty little red-headed girl in the 3rd and 4th grades. She often got us into trouble, and I tried to get at least her out of it. I was a big kid and when we got caught it was easy to convince people that I was the trouble-maker.

In Miss Meadows Katie Holmes is a sweet, innocent-looking temp elementary school teacher who we quickly find doesn’t back down from anyone. And carries a small .25 caliber pistol in her purse.

Available for streaming and downloading from Amazon.

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NAVY LASER GUN tests well

Laser weapons have been in development for decades. There are several problems to overcome before they become widely useful. These include a need for ruggedness, a large-enough power supply, and absorption of the laser pulses by dust, water vapor, and so on.

One project seems to have mostly solved these, based upon a recent series of tests. Details are in the December 11th issue of Defense News. To read it click the following image.

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