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    CNN Revision TALOS

    It looks like the “Iron Man” project of the U.S. Military is proceeding as slowly as it can. But there is some good news for those who have been looking forward to seeing this in reality as the first prototype will be fully built by the end of 2018.

    Popularly called the “Iron Man” suit, the project is called Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS). Four years have already been spent on going over the technical aspects to develop and exoskeleton suit that can be used by special operations units. Revision Military has its concept of the TALOS as shown in this video:

    What is known about this project is to make a bulletproof suit that would protect the operator, especially when breaching doors and other areas where most of the enemy’s gun would be pointed at. Apart from ballistic protection, it provides superhuman strength with the use of exoskeleton, and high technology equipment at the operator’s disposal.

    During the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) in Tampa Florida last week, an update by Col. James Miller, the director of the Joint Acquisition Task Force TALOS, reveals that a team of about 35 vendors, labs and academic institutions are diving deeper on systems engineering, according to Defense News. That will speed things up a bit for the project as critics say it is moving slowly.

    Building the TALOS would take a lot of inputs, as it is a 800 part suit that will utilise carbon fiber, but for the first prototype it will be built using titanium which itself lightweight and high strength. It should be able to regulate temperature inside and would also conduct life-saving procedures in case the operator gets wounded.

    Apart from those, there are also considerations that will need to be thought out and implemented thoroughly such as the power to support all the functions of the TALOS, and that means batteries, though the plan it to use commercially available batteries. Another is ballistic protection, as present day protection does not yet protect the arms, legs and face of the operator. A very important aim of TALOS is to provide ballistic more protection to different parts of the body without the ballistic armor hindering movement.

    Just less than two years to for us to see how TALOS turns from a concept to a prototype. But given military projects not always following the timetable, end of 2018 might just be a very optimistic estimate.


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    New Jersey State Police (U.S. Air Force Photo)

    Sig Sauer is getting big contracts for its handguns in the United States in recent months, from the various branches of the U.S. Military and other law enforcement agencies. However, the company is facing also contract battles like Glock’s protest in the M17 Modular Handgun System and the FN America protesting its win Immigration and Customs. Though it’s more of a third party in this as the procuring organizations are to resolve these protests

    Now, a legal fight is looming over the company with the State of New Jersey being the litigant. In a report on Guns.com, Sig Sauer is named in a US$2.5 million law suit for selling defective pistols to the New Jersey State Police. In 2014, Sig Sauer won a contract to deliver 3,000 SIG P229 Pistols to the New Jersey State Police.

    The complaint, which was filed last month with the Superior Court of New Jersey, Troopers during a qualification session found their pistols unable to eject the shells, causing the pistol to be jammed. Sig Sauer tried to resolve the issues by first replacing what it suspected to be culprit, the barrel. However, the issue remained the same. The second diagnosis was the problem with the extractor springs and they started replacing.

    SIG P229 (Sig Sauer Photo)

    Also, the State Police were questioning the use of the P229 Elite Enhanced Elite, when what they tested during the bidding process was the P229 Legacy and these pistols use different extraction systems even if they look similar. The company agreed to replace the guns but was unable to keep the timeline and could only deliver half of what was agreed upon in the contract. Testing of the new weapons still resulted into units showing failures in ejecting the shell.

    By January 2016, Sig Sauer determined that the fault was in the barrel. But by this time, the New Jersey State Police decided to return the pistols and award a new contract to Glock, which then supplied the Glock 19 Gen 4.

    Sig Sauer issued a statement regarding the lawsuit as published in The Outdoor Wire:

    STATEMENT REGARDING NEW JERSEY STATE POLICE

    May 21, 2017 – Sig Sauer, Inc. is aware of the lawsuit recently filed by the State of New Jersey regarding its purchase of the Sig Sauer P229 model handgun by the New Jersey State Police (NJSP).

    The NJSP selected the Sig Sauer P229 handgun as its new duty weapon after conducting an in-depth review and exhaustive testing of available handguns. Sig Sauer developed a version of the P229 specific to the requirements of the NJSP, and delivered to the NJSP as scheduled in the summer of 2014.
    Following delivery, the NJSP informed Sig Sauer that it was experiencing failures during qualification training with their training ammunition. Sig Sauer immediately began working with the NJSP to determine the cause of this failure and resolve the issue.

    Sig Sauer's investigation of the failure mode indicates a contributing factor may be a compatibility issue between this unique NJSP P229 and the specific training ammunition used by the NJSP. Importantly, these failures were limited to the training ammunition used by the NJSP, and the P229s functioned when using their duty ammunition.

    Sig Sauer had been diligently working with New Jersey officials to resolve the issues associated with the P229 handguns it purchased. In light of these discussions, Sig Sauer was surprised that New Jersey filed a lawsuit. Sig Sauer is committed to customer satisfaction, and stands ready to continue these discussions and work with NJSP to reach an equitable solution.

     

    Top Photo: New Jersey State Police Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team member (U.S. Air Force photo/Greg L. Davis)


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    DJI Spark Drone

    I have been in the market for a proper camera drone. I got a cheap nano drone at home which was a pain to fly as the controls were just bad and I often just crash it. I got that nano drone to do some basics in drone flying, and now I ready for a bigger and most importantly, an affordable camera drone.

    I almost bought the DJI Mavic Pro, which was flying lot hotcakes off the shelves of hobby shops, literally. I thought it was the best and most affordable camera drone. But the price is still too much for the occasional drone flyer. I intend to use it for airsoft games and or if is allowed in the destination, for travel. But it won’t be something I intend to use everyday, and a £1,000 camera drone is an expensive proposition.

    It looks like DJI has been listening to folks like me and decided to come out with a new camera drone that is affordable and easier to handle for noobs like me. The DJI Spark, to be honest is still over the £500 mark but it is packed with features that will probably make it worth the purchase. For those looking for a 4K drone, they better look somewhere else, or look at the Mavic Pro, as the Spark captures video at 1080p at 30 frames per second. But if you intend to upload the videos to social media sites, then 1080p is good enough.

    Controlling the DJI Spark does not necessarily require you to use a mobile phone or a remote control unit. Using hand gestures, you can take selfies shots with and with FaceAware, it takes off from your hand when it recognizes your face. With a smartphone, it can be controlled up to 109 yards away and with Tapfly, you can set how the Spark will take the footage, especially when your creative juices start flowing. When recording, it has a 2-axis gimbal for stabilization and with the QuickShot feature, it can take a 1-minute footage and edit to a 10-second video that you can immediately share.

    The DJI Spark has one of the features that I want in a drone, obstacle avoidance and thus I can avoid crashing the drone into something. It can fly for a maximum of 16 minutes and a top speed of 31 miles per hour. Also another favourite feature of mine is the ActiveTrack which can track people or objects according to their speed and makes focusing on the easier.

    Whilst there are still cheaper drones that are of the same size such as the DJI Spark, it still brings more to the table than these drones especially the features that I have been looking for in a cheaper, easy to fly and compact package.

    The DJI Spark is available now though they only allow two units per customer given the demand and limited availability in the initial release. We might see more of the DJI Spark at airsoft events once it gets into the hands of airsoft players who have wanting to lay their hands on a camera drone to record them in action. Below is an in-depth review by We Talk UAV:


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    Garrmin VIRB360

    While 4K in action cameras is all the rage these days, another feature in action cameras is also getting increasing demand for those who want to improve their videos such as making them more immersive for the viewers. These days, 360 view videos are now being posted on video sharing sites such as YouTube and videographers want the latest action camera with 360 views.

    Garmin answers the requirements of these demanding videographers, releasing the VIRB360 action  camera. It is able to capture 5.7K resolution unstitched videos at 30 frames (4K at 30 frames per second stitched by using in-camera stitching) and adds something more that should also delight users, a feature to create 360-degree augmented reality overlays using GPS or GLOSNASS which they call G-Metrix.

    It also has 4 microphones to capture 360-degree audio and 4K spherical stabilization for smoother video capture. One request by users is the ability to livestream the action and VIRB360 allows that and is compatible with YouTube and Facebook. To edit, share and livestream the videos there is the app for both Android and iOS devices.

    As for battery life, the rechargeable battery can power the camera for one hour and supports up to 12GB MicroSD cards. Apart from the one-touch control, record and stop operations can be done with voice controls. Time lapse and burst photos options are also included.

    Just like the GoPro Hero 5 Black, it is waterproof. But then GoPro’s latest camera does not yet do 36-degree video nor does it allow AR overlays. Connectivity options are Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, ANT+ and NFC.

    As for the price, it is expensive at US$800 compared to similar offerings such as the Nikon KeyMission 360 or the Samsung Gear 360 which just got announced to be available this week as well.

    The Garmin VIRB360 will be available next month in the U.S.


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    U.S. Army Tactical Augmented Reality (TAR)

    The U.S. Army is working in a technology for a video game generation. Those raised playing Ghost Recon, Call of Duty, Battlefield, and other tactical shooter games will be more at ease doing real life missions using what is called the Tactical Augmented Reality (TAR) that will put information right in front of the soldier’s eyes without taking the eyes off the target or objective.

    Just like in the tactical shooter games’ heads up displays (HUDs), the TAR will replace multiple devices such as Night Vision, GPS, Friend or Foe Identification, Range Finder, and much more. If this really happens, it’s almost like an all-in-one device that surely will be the most essential piece of equipment apart from the weapons and protective gear.

    The TAR eyepiece is wirelessly connected to a tablet at the soldier’s waist and also wireless connected to the thermal sight that is mounted on the soldier’s weapon. When a soldier points his weapon, the image of the target and other information such as distance are shown in the eyepiece. The screen can even be split into two, if the rifle is pointed to the rear while the soldier is looking forward, he/she can see have both front and rear views. This allows the soldier to point the weapon over walls or around corners without exposing his/her body and still be able to see what the weapon sees and can fire at the target.

    The key to achieving this is technological advances in making the image fit in a one-by-one inch eyepiece. Existing COTS technologies are still not viable for this requirement so the U.S. Army’s CERDEC (Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center) has been working since 2008 to make this technology possible.

    The information generated by the soldier wearing TAR can be shared to others, such as the command center where higher-ups and intelligence can assess what the soldier sees and be able guide or command the soldier on further actions. The same information can be shared to other soldiers or units on the ground allowing them the coordinate properly leading to a higher degree of mission success.

    As of the moment, the CERDEC has been working on to have improved versions of TAR to include full color display as well as brightness adjustment so that information can be seen on the eyepiece in broad daylight where sunlight tends to wash away the display. Smartphones these days have auto brightness adjustments so they can adapt to existing lighting conditions and they hope they can replicate this technology to the TAR. So far, soldiers who have been testing the TAR in the field appreciated the sharpness and contrast of the imagery and information displayed on the eyepiece.


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    U.S. Army 7.62mm Round M240B (U.S. Army Photo/Master Sgt. Michel Sauret)

    The U.S. Army has a pressing need to have a weapon that fires a round that can penetrate the latest body armour, worried that the 5.56mm round that is in use in the standard M4 rifle is underpowered. It is looking into the 7.62mm round which of course is used by the most likely opponents of the U.S. Military and its allies.

    Matthew Cox of Kit-Up! of Military.com reports that Gen. Mark Milley admits that the M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round cannot penetrate body armour that is similar to the Enhanced Small Arms Protective Insert (ESAPI). Furthermore, the U.S. Army has developed a 7.62mm round that can penetrate body armour.

    So does this mean that the U.S. Army will need to replace the M4 rifle as asked by Senator Angus King (Independent, Maine)? Gen. Milley responds that it may not necessarily be so as existing weapons can be made to chamber different calibers. For the M4 to be able to fire the 7.62mm round, experts say that it will need a new barrel, bolt carrier group, buffer system, and lower receiver. Also, Gen. Milley, also said that there are existing weapons in the market that can be easily modified to meet the U.S. Army’s requirements and that not every soldier will need a 7.62mm rifle.

    In a hearing held by the Senate Armed Services Committee's Airland Subcommittee, in which Retired Lt. Gen. John Bednarek and retired Maj. Gen. Robert Scales Jr. testified on the small weapons requirements of the U.S. Army, the latter mentioned the need for a rifle that can perform the role of a rifle as well as a light machine gun. The U.S. Marines already have adopted one in the form of the USMC M27 IAR that is made by Heckler & Koch, and are expanding the use of this weapon to more Marine units.

    The 7.62mm round can be a standard round that can be used by NATO allies. But if the U.S. Army decides to just replace the M4, then which rifles should they look into? Airsofters would probably think that the FN SCAR-H is one possible candidate as it is in use by Special Operations Forces. But then who knows? There might be some rifle out there that the U.S. Army is eyeing that will not be as expensive as some existing rifles that fire the 7.62mm rifle apart from the Kalashnikovs.

     

    All photos here by Master Sgt. Michel Sauret, U.S. Army.


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    Ubisoft Far Cry 5

    Last week, Ubisoft Montreal released the latest in the Far Cry series. For Far Cry 5, the story is set in the United States, Hope County, Montana to be exact. The county is slowly being taken over by a armed doomsday cult called Eden’s Gate that is forcing residents to convert to their group and rid the county of sinners. Some Hope County residents have decided to resist this cult, which of course will set the game into an armed conflict between the two groups.

    Some say the game will controversial in the Trump era, with Sushant Talwar of Dailyo writing:

    Far Cry 5, from its initial release trailer and artwork, promises to be one the most controversial games in modern times. It's literally a far cry from the safe confines of previous plots: from White protagonists killing indigenous people of colour to taking on White militia in the computer-generated Hope County, Montana, the show is already being dubbed as a "White genocide simulator".

    In the Donald Trump-fuelled age of fear and hate, the game's narrative is highly political, with the potential to send out a strong statement, and as the chatter on Twitter will tell you, it also has the ability to enhance the growing divide between people...

    Now, politics aside, the aspects of Far Cry 5 still follows the previous titles, being a first-person shooter open world game and there are many vehicles that can be used in the game, including muscle cars. This means that players will be able to explore the game in a wild expanse. But there is more emphasis in close quarters combat with the use of melee weapons found farms such as pitchforks. 

    The player takes on the role as a Sheriff’s Deputy, to arrest Joseph Seed, who is called in the cult as “The Father” who is supported by siblings --- one is a ex-military officer who oversees armed members; a sister who tries to entices people to join the group; and a lawyer who is acquiring land in Hope County. As for those opposing the cult, these are comprised of the local pastor, a bartender, and a cropduster pilot.

    Far Cry 5 is set to be released in February 2018, and will be Microsoft Windows, Sony PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.


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    MIT Secrets of the Conch Shell and Its Toughness

    What we were fond of blowing as a horn when hit the beaches in the tropics when we were young may just hold the secret to developing material for future armour. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) looked into the structure of a conch shell to find out what makes them unusually strong.

    Whilst a conch shell is made of chalk, which can be brittle and turn into powdery bits, the geometry of the structure of the shell is that one that gives its strength and much stronger than a lot of other materials. This structure can then be reproduced, even with 3D printing, and can used as impact resistant armour for ballistic helmet and body armour as reported in the Advanced Material journal by the MIT graduate student Grace Gu, postdoc Mahdi Takaffoli, and McAfee Professor of Engineering Markus Buehler.

    The material of the shell has what Gu explains having a complex, three-tiered structure zig-zag matrix that a crack has to go through a maze that it cannot turn into a big one and making the shell resistant to breakage.

    Using 3D printing, they recreated the structure of the shell and subjected to an impact test using the “drop tower” tool which they can use in a controlled environment. Although the 3D printed material is no exactly the same as a real world conch shell as they have variations in quality, they team believed that 3D printed material based on the conch structure is 85% better at preventing crack propagation than the strongest material and 70% better than fibre composite material.

    Since the conch shell structure has toughness or the ability to dissipate energy, and strength, the ability to resist damage, it makes it an ideal material that can be incorporated in protective gear for soldiers and athletes. That means future ballistic helmets and body armour may just incorporate the conch shell-like material.

    According to the MIT team, with the use of 3D printing technology, it is possible to produce personalized protective gear. By using a scan of the skull, they can create a highly customized helmet for the user.

    It is still too early to say if the existing material they have developed will the final material as they just developed it as a flat material rather than on curved shapes as the impact protection will vary and will probably better as curve surfaces can help deflect projectiles. But don’t worry, if the material they develop will be used for head protection, the soldier will not look like a conch shell, product designers will have to make consider ergonomics  and make it more tacticool.


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    Call of Duty: WWII Normandy Landings

    With the Call of Duty franchise going back to its roots, being that it is a World War II tactical shooter game, Activision and developer Sledgegammer Games will have to introduce some come-ons in order to reboot the popularity of one of the biggest video game series in history.

    In the development of the story for Call of Duty WWII, DualShockers report that Sledgehammer CEO Glen Schofield and co-founder Michael Condrey discussed some of the missions that players can look forward too. One of these missions is Operation Cobra, which involved one of the biggest aerial bombing operations in World War II, involving thousands of airplanes to carpet bomb Axis positions in Normandy leading to the collapse of the defensive lines. Some of these bombs actually fell into allied lines killing their own soldiers, but the operation led to the safe passage of allied troops further into France.

    Many already expect that the Normandy landings is already a given in the game, but apart from Operation Cobra, the game will include the Battle of the Bulge and the liberation of Paris.

    Now another thing that many of us have enjoyed with the recent Call of Duty titles is the unlimited sprint which allowed players run in the game doing all knife kills and akimbo shooting. This may mean a more realistic sprint in which the character tires out eventually and can do it again as he regains strength. This was reported by VG427.com and confirmed via Twitter:

    More information will be revealed during the E3 2017 which will take place from the 13th to the 15th of June at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Sledgehammer and Activsion promise a full hands-on multiplayer reveal during the show.

    Call of Duty: WWII is scheduled to be released on the 3rd of November 2017 and will be played on the Xbox One, Playstation 4, and Windows PC.


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    Analogue Plus Ahead

    Whether you’re riding a motorcycle, a bicycle, skiing, at a construction site, or even playing airsoft, your hands are not always free. You are holding the handlebars, the ski pole, doing some welding, or in airsoft, your airsoft rifle. Whilst doing such activities, you also prefer hands-free kit such as being able to capture with your action camera, and if possible a hands-free communications kit.

    On Kickstarter, we found a device that should answer your need for a hands-free communications kit. Designed by Analogue Plus, a South Korean group that was accelerated  by Samsung C-lab, “Ahead” is a device that pairs with your smartphone via Bluetooth, and once installed on your helmet, Analogue Plus claims that “Ahead” will turn it into a smart helmet.

    Upon pairing and using the free “Ahead” mobile app, you can use it to make hands-free phone calls, track your activity, listen to music, get turn by turn by navigation instructions, talk to Siri (if you use an iPhone), and use it as a Push-To-Talk (PTT) device which for those in airsoft allows communications amongst members of an airsoft team.

    Perhaps, those functions are something we take for granted with our smartphones and that “Ahead” is a convenient device to use with our helmets. So how does it work with every helmet? Two features in the device do the following: The first feature is that “Ahead” uses an oscillator to pass sounds to your helmet so you can clearly hear music and voice without the need for a headset or an earpiece. The second feature is that uses two-narrow angle microphones that capture the sound right in front of your mouth. An algorithm was developed to eliminate ambient and wind noise so that it can easily capture your voice when riding a motorcycle.

    For those who are in the outdoors such as us airsofters, it is IP45 dust and water resistant so it can be used in the rain. We just don’t know how tough its case is to take a BB hit when it is mounted on a tactical helmet. We hope it is tough enough to take punishment.

    Is it something you want to use with your helmet for an airsoft game? I actually like the concept as I do not need to fumble where I placed my smartphone amongst the myriads of pockets right in the middle of an airsoft game. If a call comes in and I need to take it, I just tap “Ahead” and take it without pulling the smartphone, and of course communicate with your team mates if they are equipped with “Ahead” too.

    If you like it, then you can get one, or two or more by pledging funding at the “Ahead” Kickstarter page.  Analogue Plus is raising US$50,000 with over US$30,000 already pledged as of this writing around 30 days to go. Now, if they just have colours that can go with your tactical helmet, then that would be really cool.


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    AK-50 Test Fire

    Almost two years ago, Brandon Herrera aka “The AK Guy”, unveiled his project AK-50, a rifle that is based on the Kalashnikov or AK that can fire the .50 BMG. Just like the AK, it will still use the e AK operating system of a long piston driven rotating bolt design. But the question is, will be up to the task of firing a big round without disintegrating?

    In a video he released, he tests the AK-50 prototype, putting together just the necessary parts to fire off a round, and not a complete AK-50 .50BMG rifle. He has posted on Facebook a .50 round marked “AK-50 #1” which obviously meant that it will be the first round to be fired by the project. Indeed the video below shows the same round being inserted into the barebones prototype for the test fire:

    The test fire was successful and it looks like the gun is in accordance to his expectations. The next step is putting together a full AK-50 rifle that will be able to fire the big round and be able to empty the magazine which means being able to cycle effectively. Brandon Herrera plans on taking orders for the AK-50 and we wonder if there are orders already placed. If there is a crowdfunding site for firearms, he could have already raised the funds he needed to accelerate the project.

    I am much curious how the AK-50 will be. Will it become a successful product commercially? Or it will be a proof of concept? The mere thought of a Kalashnikov-like rifle that can fire a .50 BMG should send shivers down the spine on how destructive it will be and if it will perform and function like the weapon it takes inspiration from, the AK, then it will be a really fearsome one to bring to battle.


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    U.S. Army 7.62mm Round M240B (U.S. Army Photo/Master Sgt. Michel Sauret) 03

    Firearms manufacturers! Start your engines! The U.S. Army are exploring options for a 7.62mm rifle as they are considering a new weapon that can fire at longer ranges and be able to penetrate present day body armour. The U.S. Army is said to have developed a 7.62mm round that can do just that but will need a rifle to fire that round and be ready to be mass produced for issuance to the troops.

    A new Request for Information (RFI) was released by the US Army’s Program Manager for Individual Weapons for an Interim Combat Service Rifle (ICSR) that can fire the 7.62x 51mm round. It will be interesting which manufacturer will submit their candidates for scrutiny as based on the specifications posted at FBO.gov:

    DESCRIPTION: This announcement constitutes an official Request for Information (RFI) for an Interim Combat Service Rifle (ICSR). The U.S. Army, Army Contracting Command - New Jersey at Picatinny Arsenal is conducting a market survey on behalf of Product Manager Individual Weapons to identify potential sources for a combat rifle system.

    This Request For Information (RFI) is for planning purposes only and should not be construed as a Request for Proposal or as an obligation on the part of the Government to acquire any services or hardware. Your response to this RFI will be treated as information only. No entitlement to payment of direct or indirect costs or charges by the Government will arise as a result of contractor submission of responses to this announcement or Government use of such information. No funds have been authorized, appropriated, or received for this effort. The information provided may be used by the Army in developing its Acquisition Strategy, Performance Work Statement and Performance Specification. Interested parties are responsible for adequately marking proprietary or competition sensitive information contained in their response. The Government does not intend to award a contract on the basis of this RFI or to otherwise pay for the information submitted in response to same. The information provided herein is subject to change and in no way binds the Government to pursue any course of action described herein. The U.S. Government is not obligated to notify respondents of the results of this survey.

    Desired Attributes of Interim Combat Service Rifle:

    • The rifle must be a Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) system readily available for purchase today. Modified or customized systems are not being considered. 
    • Caliber: 7.62x51mm 
    • Available barrel lengths, to include 16 and 20 inch barrels, without muzzle device attached.  
    • Muzzle device capable of or adaptable to auxiliary devices for: 
      • Compensation of muzzle climb 
      • Flash suppression 
      • Sound Suppression
    • Fire Control: Safe, Semi-automatic, and fully automatic capable. 
    • All controls (e.g. selector, charging handle) are ambidextrous and operable by left and right handed users 
    • Capable of mounting a 1.25 inch wide military sling 
    • Capable of accepting or mounting the following accessories. 
      • Forward grip/bi-pod for the weapon 
      • variable power optic
    • Detachable magazine with a minimum capacity of 20 rounds 
    • Folding or collapsing buttstock adjustable to change the overall length of the weapon 
    • Foldable backup iron sights calibrated/adjustable to a maximum of 600 meters range 
    • Weight less than 12lb unloaded and without optic
    • Extended Forward Rail

    Further details of the RFI can be read at the FBO website, especially if your company is interested in presenting a proposed ISCR.

    It will be interesting which companies will submit entries, and the usual suspects will be there. Airsoft players can probably name the usual brands: Heckler & Koch, FN Herstal, Sig Sauer, Smith & Wesson, LMT... the list can get longer and most likely they would prefer a company that has manufacturing operations in the United States which most have.

    Remember that the U.S. Army's RFI mentioms it that it should be a COTS product (Commercial-Off-The-Shelf) which means a ready to go battle rifle that can take some minor modifications to meet the requirements and the production equipment ready to go. No prototype or new concepts will be included.

    The big question will be: will the M4 be finally be replaced? But officials say not every soldier will need a 7.62mm rifle so the M4 will still find a place in the overall scheme of things. Definitely, many would welcome the need for a hard hitting round that can travel longer and give an advantage to the U.S. soldier.

     

    All photos here by Master Sgt. Michel Sauret, U.S. Army.


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    Kalashnikov Concern AK Modernization Upgrade Kit

    This is a good move by Kalashnikov Concern, releasing an upgrade kit for older AKs. For cash-strapped militaries that use older AKs but would like these to be able to use 21st century weapons accessories and functions can op this upgrade kit rather than abandoning their existing AK arsenal to get more modern (read: more expensive) weapons.

    Kalashnikov Concern released a video showing what will be involved in upgrading an existing AK. Most Kalashnikovs lack options for adding weapons accessories such as optics, vertical grips, lasers, etc. Some third party vendors do have some kits that can add rail systems but Kalashnikov Concern wants in the action too as there are millions of AKs out there. Making upgrade kits and accessories can also add to the bottomline as the company wants to increase income by having more revenue streams:

    As the video says, the upgrades involve a muzzle brake/flash hider, picatinny rails, side folding stock that can be pull adjusted, and more ergonomic handling. We were curious what the base gun is for this upgrade but it was not mentioned in the video.

    Kalashnikov Concern will make this kit available to militaries first and they plan to support the civilian market too. With this initial focus, third party vendors suchas ZenitCo can still have a breathing room before Kalashnikov Concern become a big competitor.

    Airsoft manufacturers interested in making this kit for the airsoft market may just want to talk to Kalashnikov Concern for licensing as the company would like to see their own licensed products in the airsoft market too. With a lot of AK users and just one active maker of “upgrade kits” for AK airsoft rifles in the form of Asura Dynamics (there are options from King Arms too), it would be nice to have more options.


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    G&G CEO James Liao IWA Outdoor Classics 2014

    The airsoft industry and community got the shocking news last weekend over that many were in disbelief. As shared by various airsoft news sites and social media pages, G&G Armament CEO, James Liao (Liao Ying-hsi) was sentenced to two years and 8 months jail due to the case of the G&G G960 Airsoft Sniper Rifle.

    The problem is, according to the Criminal Investigation Bureau, the product does not meet the requirements in order to be legal and this violating the Controlling Guns, Ammunitions and Knives Act. What G&G Armament disputes that it meets the regulations on toy guns by another government agency, the Ministry of Economic Affairs. However, the court sided with the Criminal Investigation Bureau ruling that both are two separate matters.

    G&G Armament are appealing the sentence. Whilst they are working on overturning the conviction, Mr. Liao remains free and is back at the G&G HQ.

    We’ll be monitoring this case as it progresses, below is the official statement issued by G&G after we contacted Charlie Suarez, G&G Marketing Manager if they have any update or statement on this:


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    TWAAA International Camo Festival 2017

    The next red letter day in Airsoft will be in the Far East, on the island of Taiwan where the TWAAA International Camo Festival 2017 will take place from the 9th to the 11th of June 2017. The organization has been holding this event since 2015 and this event is getting bigger each year with more activities taking place.

    According to the website of the TWAAA (or the Taiwan Airsoft & Airgun Association), 98% of the airsoft gun production is done in Asia with more than 50% of the manufacturing done in Taiwan, making the island the “world’s largest toy gun production” leader. There are now more airsoft manufacturers designing and producing airsoft guns such as G&G Armament, ICS Airsoft, BOLT Airsoft, GHK, VFC, Modify, KJ Works, SRC, and KWC putting out their airsoft guns under their own brand or as OEMs for other airsoft brands that are based in the U.S.A or Europe. Even King Arms moved its production to Taiwan from Hong Kong a few years back.

    There are many boutique shops making upgrade parts for airsoft as well, and they introduce new innovation sometimes faster than the established names. It is really safe to say that the epicenter of airsoft production in the world right now is Taiwan.

    So what happens at the International Camo Fest? It’s a big trade fair to tell you as the airsoft manufacturers will be there in full force, having their own booths to show their latest and best airsoft products that local and international visitors can try for themselves. There are demonstrations as well as presentations at the main stage.

    For this year, G&G Armament will be holding their World Cup Shooting Competition 2017 at the Camo Fest, bringing the event to more spectators as airsoft players from different parts of the world will try to make the best times through the game course and Modify have their Speed Shooting Competition. We believe there will also be some demonstrations from the R.O.C. military.

    If you want to catch the last plane out to Taipei and visit the camo fest, the event will be held at the Taipei City Huabo Park Zhengyan Museum. Opening times are 1000H to 1700H and entrance is free. Expect photos and videos from the event posted by the airsoft companies on their social media pages once the event starts.


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    USMC LAR 11MEU

    With the U.S. Army looking into the 7.62mm round as the new standard round and might require a new rifle, the U.S. Marine Corps still will be with the 5.56mm round. According to Janes, it is looking into the SOCOM MK 318 MOD 1 round and the U.S. Army M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round (EPR).

    New body armor being used by potential enemies of the United States may just make the present M855 round that the USMC obsolete. The U.S. Senators are concerned with this proliferation of body armor that can stop the M855 round in a hearing last June 6.

    U.S. Army M855A1 Enhanced Perfomance Round (U.S. Army Photo)

    The Marines are already using the M855A1 EPR in Afghanistan and according to the Lt. General Robert Walsh though it is said to be posing problems with the M27 IAR, based on the Heckler & Koch HK416 rifle that has been made to the specifications of the USMC and is partially used as  a support weapon by the Marines instead of using the M249 as a support weapon. Still, the U.S. Marines might go with the U.S. Army round as they found it more capable and can penetrate personal body armor.

    As for the MK 318 MOD 1, what the USMC likes about the round is that is more accurate than the M855 round.

    (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jonathan Boynes)

    One thing that both the U.S. Army and the USMC face is the U.S. Congress, which for the 2017 Budget is insisting for both the adopt a common round. This makes sense from a budgetary point of view as it can lead to lower costs in procuring a single type of ammunition and that lawmaker see that maintaining different ammo caches is wasteful and inefficient. But of course, whatever it takes for the soldiers to accomplish their mission is what is more important and that is determined by these organizations.

    According to the Marine Times, the USMC will be wrapping up their tests with the M855A1 EPR next month.

     

    Top photo: LAR 11MEU(USMC Photo)


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    Fidget Spinner Airsoft

    Fidget spinners are the latest reincarnation of stress relieving devices that young people use at school. I remember flicking my pen for stress relief when taking examinations and it keeps me calm as I solve one math problem after another (no, I’m no math wiz). Now, I see children of different backgrounds spinning their worries away everywhere, especially in schools that some schools started banning them altogether.

    I prefer kids owning these fidget spinners as they are cheap devices to occupy their time rather than seeing them hunched down in front of mobile phones and tablets. If it helps them relieve their stress then get it for them, they are now abundant and really cheap.

    I was about to write about fidget spinners appearing in airsoft Youtube videos and coincidentally, even The Firearm Blog has reported that fidget spinners have started to infect Gun YouTube Channels including YouTube firearms celebrities such as Kirsten Joy Weiss. I guess adults are not immune to this kiddie craze.

    If it keeps them calm and be able to shoot properly, then I’m all for the spidget spinners for airsoft and firearms enthusiasts. But let’s watch some of these channels:

    So far, I have not shelled that five quid to own one of these spinners, but as I see my friend’s kids enjoying and getting more behaved as they fidget spin, I would be willing to get them a spinner or two just to keep them still so that me and their parents can enjoy our time at the pub.

    If you think it’s a good tool for stress relief, then have one in your pocket, in and out of the airsoft field.


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    Star Wars Battlefront II Multiplayer Trailer

    With more characters and a single player campaign mode, you would think EA and DICE would focus their efforts on those rather than on the multiplayer mode. Instead they introduced a number of new features for the game that would make the game stronger in multiplayer mode since Star Wars Battlefront II started as a multiplayer game.

    First and foremost is the new class system. Executive Producer Matt Webster said that the player will have four different classes to choose from instead of just one stormtrooper and that player can choose which class to play with whenever he/she respawns. Using the Star Cards in the game, each of the character and can modified with perks and abilities.

    As to which class of characters are these, here they are: Assault Class is a medium range shooter; the Heavy is obviously, a heavy weapons trooper and less mobile; the Specialist Class does the sniping duties; and the the Officer Class is the medic/support character.  What players can look forward to is that skins and weapons from entire movie franchise will be made available for the players to choose from. As to which Class that players can best play with, it is really up to their preferences.

    Wimpy, that is the word that players describe the weapons in Star Wars Battlefront. In Battlefront II, they are given much more oomph to satisfy the player when pressing the button to fire.

    The multiplayer will still be the 20 vs 20 ground battles with the support vehicles and starfighters. We see more heroes which can be brought to battle through points gained during games instead of being unlocked using the in-game tokens scattered in the game map. In Battlefront 2, you can go into battle with bountry hunter Boba Fett; Captain Phasma which first appeared in The Force Awakens together with Finn, Kylo Ren, and Rey; and other characters from the rest of the movie franchise that you can use in the game now Han Solo, Darth Maul, Luke Skywalker, and Yoda.

    Star Wars Battlefront II will be released on the 17th of November 2017 as the Star Wars marketing juggernaut revs up to full crescendo for the release of Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi for the Holiday Season.


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    Wolfenstein II: The New Collosus

    With the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2017 (E3) airsoft players, many of whom are avid video gamers, are looking forward to what game developers and publishers will be offering to them. For airsofters, it is about more tactical shooter games. One of the most beloved FPS titles, Wolfenstein, is making good of its promise of releasing Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus this year after Bethesda showed a teaser at last year’s E3.

    Bethesda showed the reveal trailer during the E3 press event their follow up Wolfenstein II: The New Order. As many of you already know, the game is set in an alternate world where the Nazi Germany won World War II and have occupied the USA. In the New Order, BJ Blazkowicz fought his way through the Nazi opposition and at the closing credits where he lay dying, he recited “The New Colosus” and now he is back in the year 1961, ready to do battle but first he has to help the resistance movement and spart the second American Revolution:

    AMERICA, 1961

    Your assassination of Nazi General Deathshead was a short-lived victory. Despite the setback, the Nazis maintain their stranglehold on the world. You are BJ Blazkowicz, aka “Terror-Billy,” member of the Resistance, scourge of the Nazi empire, and humanity’s last hope for liberty. Only you have the guts, guns, and gumption to return stateside, kill every Nazi in sight, and spark the second American Revolution.

    Just like in any Wolfenstein game, since the release of Wolfenstein 3D in 1992, The New Colosus will still be a Nazi-killing galore and there will be lots to kiill in the game.  But there will be more devastating weapons and technology, with cyborgs and über soldiers that will try to ruin your day. With the heavy Nazi imagery, the game is banned in Germany as it is forbidden by German law so you might think twice in bringing the game when it gets released and play in Germany even if you will be just in town for a few days as seen at the end of thetrailer’s description on YouTube:

    Please be advised that the international (non-German language) versions of “Wolfenstein® 2: The New Colossus” (the “Game”) includes Nazi-related symbols and content – as a result, the sale, import, export, or distribution of the international versions of the Game and its related images and assets to and in Germany is strictly forbidden by German law, and would be, among other statutory violations, a criminal offence which may result in a financial penalty or imprisonment. Any person involved and/or responsible for such violation may be prosecuted and sentenced, including officers and employees of companies involved. On the basis of legal advice and industry standard practice, ZeniMax are also not making such images or assets available to Austria.

    Wolfenstein II: The New Colosus is planned to be released on October 27, 2017 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows PC.


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    Call of Duty: WWII Multiplayer Reveal

    You might have already noticed that we have been posting more about video games this week. This is so as we are also monitoring what is taking place at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2017 (E3) as the big names in video games unveil their plans and offerings to fans all over for the year. But for purposes of Popular Airsoft, we are mainly more concerned with tactical shooter games or first person shooter games as airsoft players are more interested in these than other game genres.

    The build up for the Call of Duty: WWII which is being developed by Sledgehammer Games continues as Activision tries to take back lost ground as players got disappointed with more sci-fi themed COD titles and EA pulled a big surprise with Battlefield 1 in which players are taken back to World War I. Activision brings back COD to its roots as a World War II FPS game and many are hoping that this return will offer more in terms of storytelling and gameplay features.

    At the Sony E3 Press Conference, the Call of Duty: WWII Multiplayer mode was finally unveiled with the trailer showing some gore such as body parts being blown away, flamethrowers, bayonet attacks, and melees; and we see some trench warfare, strafing runs by fighters, and bunker busting by bombers from the sky.

    The Multiplayer mode features a Divisions system wherein the player setup and select from five elite World War II Divisions: Airborne Division, Mountain Division, Infantry Division, and Armoured Division and fight through multiple strategic objectives. Another feature is the Headquarters, giving the COD community new ways to connect and compete.  We still need to find information regarding character customization, weapon unlocks, and of course the list of weapons.

    Call of Duty: WWII will be released on the 3rd of November 2017 and will be playable on the Playstation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC.


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