Raytheon PIKE: Miniaturized Laser Guided Weapon

I am not sure what is more surreal – the fact that we now have a laser guided missile that can can be fired from a standard 40mm grenade launcher, or the fact that Raytheon used clean 20-somethings in polo shirts and safety glasses to demo a guided explosive device. Either way, this was a predictable munitions advancement and a real force multiplier for our good-guy soldiers who I’m sure are happy to be able to deliver their own “air strikes”.

For you ’80s kids, here’s what this new tech reminds me of:

RUNAWAY, Gene Simmons, 1984, (c)TriStar Pictures

Raytheon Pike Munition – Miniaturized Laser-Guided Weapon

The Pike™ munition is a 17-inch-long, semi-active laser-guided precision weapon, measuring 40 mm in diameter and weighing two pounds. It’s the world’s only hand-launched precision-guided munition. Fired from a rifle-mounted grenade launcher, the miniaturized weapon can travel one and a half miles and hit within five yards or less of a target, minimizing collateral damage.

The Pike™ 40-mm precision-guided munition is fired from a rifle-mounted grenade launcher and uses a digital, semi-active laser seeker to engage fixed and slow-moving, mid-range targets. (Download High Resolution Photo)

The laser-guided munition is nearly as narrow as some large-caliber ammunition and can fit in the palm of a hand. A lightweight precision weapon, the Pike munition doesn’t tether ground troops to a vehicle launcher. Using a laser designator that resembles a pistol, one soldier points at a target, while another fires the weapon.

Powered by a rocket motor, the Pike munition can be fired from the new family of Enhanced Grenade Launcher Modules, specifically the H&K M320 and the FNH Mk13. The munition travels to its target using a high-tech guidance system that brings the same pinpoint accuracy once found only in mammoth missiles and hulking bombs.

The weapon can be mounted on multiple platforms, including groups 1 and 2 unmanned aircraft systems, all-terrain vehicles, ground mobility vehicles, Common Remotely-Operated Weapons Station and small boats.

Raytheon






Pete

LE – Science – OSINT.
On a mission to make all of my guns as quiet as possible.
Pete.M@staff.thefirearmblog.com
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  • This is actually pretty sweet

  • FrenchKiss

    Knowing Raytheon it probably is overrated, overpriced and ineffective at least 80% of the time. Just like their Patriot missiles or the JLENS programs.

    • LGonDISQUS

      Or their Spectre scopes partnered with Elcan and ALPS (HATE the semi-loose mounting system). Man, I’m hateful in the comments w/o coffee.

    • ARCNA442

      Or Tomahawk, Sidewinder, TOW, Standard, etc…

      Also, Patriot is actually a rather successful system. It intercepted the majority of it’s targets during Desert Storm (despite ABM capability having been only recently added at that point) and it has received two generations of upgrades since then.

      • FrenchKiss

        Patriot was portrayed as pure awesomeness by Raytheon. It was cr@p. Raytheon lied. That is why Israel developed its own ABM systems. And of course, Raytheon used the Israeli technology in the upgraded Patriots.

        • Joe Schmoe

          Revisionist history at it’s best.

          Raytheon make a lot of the parts of the stuff, or the stuff themselves, we use in the IDF, and some of those ABM system you like to talk about wouldn’t be possible without Raytheon and dozens of other U.S. companies.

          • FrenchKiss

            You work for Raytheon? I know first hand. Raytheon steals or buys technology. Their in-house R&D is a joke.

      • MonoChango

        Done forget: SM-3, SM-6, RAM, ESSM, Paveway, Javelin, AMRAAM, JSOW, Phalanx, Stinger, AIM-9X, SDB-II, and Excalibur. Oh and they helped out with David’s Sling and was subcontractor on a bunch of the Israeli Iron Dome systems. I’m no expert but one program that didn’t perform as well as you expected 25 years ago and was then upgraded so it did work isn’t a reason to bag on a company. That is like never buying a Ford because they made the Edsel.

      • kyphe

        The problem was not the technical intercept statistic which was based on how often the anti aircraft missile detonated within it’s kill radius for a jet aircraft. But the total lack of any meaningful effect on the ballistic warhead that had been intercepted. The warheads generally still hit the ground and went bang, which made the patriot not much better than a fireworks show.

      • n0truscotsman

        The p/k ratio in desert storm by the Patriot was *abysmal*. Utterly abysmal.

        …which should lead one to be very skeptical of the system’s capabilities, even with newer iterations.

        The TOW is good stuff though.

  • Uniform223

    Cool beans. I wonder what this means for the XM25.

    • Major Tom

      Probably cancellation. Between developments such as this and SAGM and that one XM25 blowing up in that soldier’s face, it’s gonna prove little more than just proof of concept, an evaluation only.

      • aka_mythos

        They have different goals. I really don’t think it’ll have much direct impact. The reason the XM-25 was developed was because in the urban environments the Army was fighting 40mm grenades were generating excessive collateral damage; sometimes killing innocent bystanders in neighboring rooms. The pike has the same explosive loads as standard 40mm grenades and would create the same collateral damage. XM-25 is meant as a “just enough” weapon with a feature that ensures the explosive is properly and effectively delivered.

        The XM-25 that exploded was due to a double feed causing one round to strike the primer of the chambered round. While this is concerning it is one of the simplest things to fix. That said it’s important to consider the nature of injuries; they were “superficial” and that’s because the gun was designed with safety in mind and those features worked.

        Could Raytheon develop a 40mm Pike variant with the explosive load of a 25mm air burst? -Sure. But the Pike probably cost several thousand dollars a shot. Versus the $20-30 the different XM-25 rounds would cost in full production.

        Ever since the last manufacturing line for the LAW closed the Army has been looking and different businesses have proposed ways of filling the inevitable capability gap its absence will leave when the stock pile is depleted. We should honestly think of the Pike as an easy to adopt weapon that attempts to do some of that.

        While the XM-25 is an attempt to use light explosives to do something similar to what a marksman or sniper does to counter an embedded position.

        • gunsandrockets

          Actually the 25mm round for the XM-25 came about not because the 40mm is too big but because the 20mm round of the OICW was too small.

          • aka_mythos

            That may well be part of it, but in the briefings I read when they approached the company I worked for at the time to do cost studies for manufacturing they were using what I said above as justification. Maybe that was just the “spin” at the time to avoid acknowledging the failure of its predecessor.

          • gunsandrockets

            Yeah, probably spin. The XM25 was spiraled off of the failed XM29 OICW project, and the OICW was never about reducing collateral damage.

            After all, how easy would it be to make a smaller but faster-projectile ammo-variant for the 40mm grenade launcher, if the true goal was for a weapon with less collateral damage than a standard 40mm?

          • Quest

            Faster? 40mm is so un-aerodynamic that you will have a lot of velocity bleed, thinner rounds handle that much better.

            The thing about the XM25 is that its basicly works as an Airburst DMR. You overall make precize shots, but you can engage opponents behind cover, and the dot automatically shows you where to aim (automatic distance and drop). Lets say you want to shoot trough a window at 200-300m, good luck with a 40mm grenade launcher in therms of aiming, drop, and angle trough the window, the XM25 feels like a laser beam in comperasion.

          • gunsandrockets

            Pike is the death of XM25

        • Uniform223

          The M72 LAW is still in production.

          • Major Tom

            And on its like 9th generation version or something like that. It’s not the same thing we used in ‘Nam.

    • Sunshine_Shooter

      I thought the XM25 was already nixxed.

  • VanDiemensLand

    I’d put my guided chrome rod in her 40mm opening…….

    • Pete – TFB Writer

      I could have predicted this.

      • VanDiemensLand

        That would spoil the fun 😉

      • Major Tom

        But you didn’t!

        • Pete – TFB Writer

          In my head I did!

    • Jim Slade

      I think she’s probably quite content with the existing arrangement.

      “The Pike™ munition is a 17-inch-long…”

  • Kovacs Jeno

    If it will work, it could be a new era in handheld artillery. If it fails…above friendly troops…ahhmmmm

  • mechamaster

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9b9622ce3bc49e323238ecd84ea6bc40e96a924a18f5d59952b8291bdc4b7312.jpg

    It would be better if the missile can be carried in the backpack-mounted standalone multiple vertical-launcher ( like the Ghost Recon : Future Soldier example ).

    Especially for lightweight- armored vehicle, or anti-personnel with airburst capability.

    • SP mclaughlin

      I love how the final game didn’t have anything remotely like that.
      Guess it was kinda prophetic as to how Ubisoft gained a bad rep from trailer misinformation.

      • Major Fret

        To be fair, there was a lot of backlash against Ubisoft for a lot of the Sci-Fi like the rifle in the picture during the initial promotion of the game.

        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/cb1b2d546396e36b198057cec479a0129a8b5a0cf75ef70867e55b1561694f35.jpg

        • mechamaster

          For me, Sci-Fi element is fun, as long it is placed in right timing.
          Maybe placed in the final mission, or as New Game+ reward.
          But it is too late now to lament.

      • mechamaster

        Yes, that’s the most disappointment side of Ubi. Especially into beloved series like the Ghost Recon and others.

  • mechamaster
    • Blake

      That’s a completely different class of weapon. Tethered to a launcher, way bulkier, extra gear, soldier only able to fire that one weapon, etc. This is just a tube that turns a standard underslung grenade launcher into a mini airstrike machine.

  • Rocky Mountain 9

    I think it’s refreshing that they didn’t use faux “operator” types in the photo shoot. I’m tiring of seeing beards, patches, PEQ-15s, and Crye everything when the focus ought to be on the new product.

    • Sianmink

      Bucking the tactical trend.
      That’s Raytheon class.

      • billyoblivion

        I’ve worked for Raytheon in the past.

        “Class” is not a term I’d use.

        • Blake

          Meaning?

          • M-dasher

            theyre known for treating their engineers like shit……and their employees as disposable.

            they have a history of hiring a bunch of employees for projects they dont have, and then doing mass lay offs…….

            essentially there is no job security…..even if youve worked there for years.

          • noob

            Defense Contractors have a revolving door policy in Australia at least. Yes you sign non-competes and restraint of trade but a place I worked at hired a bunch of former-Raytheon guys, waited six months and then picked their brains about the AutoTrac Air Traffic Management system in preparation for a major bid.

            Raytheon did the same to our guys when the last corporate binge and purge happened. I’ve since moved to a smaller shop which subcontracts for the primes in a different domain. Much better life because we get hired as a team.

          • billyoblivion

            The short answer is that IME they *suck* as an employer. They treat their people like SKUs.

          • Blake

            I’ve gotten a few answers above but I’d love to hear your experience as well.

          • billyoblivion

            drop an email to antistotle at gmail dot com and I’ll tell you the story.

        • Sianmink

          I can imagine! I’m just referring to not going tacticool though. 😉

        • M-cameron

          former Raytheon employee here as well……your assessment is accurate.

        • Have worked as contractor at Raytheon facility, can confirm.

        • Mog Grat

          Former customer of Raytheon, nods.

        • Anton_Zilwicki

          I was to sign a 180 day contract with Raytheon. They wanted me to sign a 5 year NC/NDA. If they weren’t going to offer a 5 year contract? I refused to sign them both. Went to work for General Dynamics instead. My Dad worked for Raytheon in the 70’s they were a trial to work for then.

        • AlanHan

          Raytheon markets itself as a bulwark of the USA defenses. Yet, all I remember is Michael Schwartz, CEO, handling $1 million to Clinton’s campaign apparatus. Then, boom, Raytheon gets permission to ship missile guidance technology to the Peoples Republic of China. I recall as a young man being persuaded, no, ordered …to fight the expansion of communism. What’s the game? Have to help them build more lethal weapons in order to keep the domestic contracts/funds flowing. Cynical? Yes.

    • MeaCulpa

      It probably helps that the customer/buyer/procurer of this thing is a general or senior civil servant and not some tactical bro that dreams of “when sh!t hits the fan” and the “pink mist” while eating freeze dried food in suburbia.

      • Ryfyle

        Gotta admit though, rails are handy to have.

    • Ben Pottinger

      Instead they have a cute blond girl holding the large phallic symbol… 😉 (note I’m not disagreeing with you. I much prefer this setup to tactical beards!)

  • Rocky Mountain 9

    I did my senior project in engineering school with Raytheon Missile Systems, and saw and handled a Pike missile protype casing on a tour. Very, very cool stuff.

    • Joe Schmoe

      Still not sold on the launch mechanism. It’s an extremely long tube that is not probably going to be on the front of any vest. Why not put in a self-launch canister of a similar size instead of limiting it to the 40mm format?

      Just curious for the reason.

  • Jim Slade

    It’s no good if it doesn’t make that “THOOP” sound.

  • Major Tom

    So does this mean we now have BF2142 broop troops? Now we have the rifle rockets, so there’s no reason to suggest we don’t.

  • User

    “Can travel one and a half miles and hit within five yards or less of a target.” I LOVE IT. Read about it a few months ago, and would like to see its use dynamic in combat.

    • Sunshine_Shooter

      So, it might hit 15 ft to the left or right of your target? Is the payload/warhead (am I using that right?) stout enough to make that a non-issue? Or is this intended to be used against individual people?

      • gunsandrockets

        odds are the warhead is no smaller than a standard HEDP 40mm grenade, with a casualty radius of 15 meters.

        https://fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/land/m430.htm

        • I’m curious to know if they really are effective within a 15 meter radius.

          The M67 hand grenade weighs nearly 2x more then a 40mm grenade, and its kill radius is 5 meters (defined as 50% chance of kill within that range.)

          • gunsandrockets

            Kill radius? possibly a different measurement than casualty radius…

          • CommonSense23

            A M67 is rated to cause 50 percent casualties out to 15 meters, and kill 50 percent out to 5 meters. And that’s pretty much on flat ground against standing targets.

          • gunsandrockets

            The different profiles could explain why the larger M67 hand grenade has no larger effective radius than a 40mm grenade launcher in ideal conditions.

            As a spin stabilized projectile, a 40mm grenade would ideally land nose first on the ground and not waste many fragments blasting down into the dirt, or directly above it into the air. A hand grenade on the other hand will land randomly so by necessity it’s fragmentation pattern must spray in all directions, even useless directions.

          • A1

            In Insurgency, Grenade Launchers are Hell on earth, you hear just a flop and exactly know youre dead, then it flys trough the window, exploding ripping trough your organs, everything instantly goes black.

            I once also had a soundmod installed with direct tinnitus simulation, it was a horrible frontline experience, in merciless hectic urban combat, hopeless defending of a position just laying down under insane incoming supression and grenade fire, like hell broke out, not beeing able to do anything.

          • Chrome Dragon

            Traditional hand grenades are very inefficient in terms of mass fraction. In other words, lots of hullmetal, not much TNT.

  • Risky

    Just like the missile launcher in the original Half-life!

  • gunsandrockets

    And Moore’s Law continues to filter down even into the ranks of the poor bloody infantry.

  • MonoChango

    “fact that Raytheon used clean 20-somethings in polo shirts and safety glasses to demo a guided explosive device”
    Got to throw a bone to the new engineers before they become cynical like us old guys. 🙂 actually Raytheon can be a pretty good place to work.

    • M-dasher

      theyre likely interns…….because theyre essentially the only people raytheon can afford to keep around

  • gunsandrockets

    (Speculating on weapon capability based on what little is shown.)

    What does this all mean?

    This weapon is a machine-gun-nest killer. And might have been invaluable to foot patrols in Afghanistan who attracted long ranged fire from PKM armed Jihadis.

    The Pike might be accurate enough and shoot flat enough to hit a building’s window in urban combat up to 500 meters range. At long range or in open terrain, it might fly a profile similar to a Javelin, looping high and dropping down onto the target.

    Economy of Force weapon?

    Because of the Pike’s tiny small-diameter warhead, it would have very limited anti-armor applications (despite the advantage of laser guided accuracy against a moving target). But still very useful against light-skinned moving vehicles like “technicals” or trucks.

    50 pound Javelin weapons systems were often turned upon distant enemy strong points because of the lack of alternative infantry weapons. So the Pike would give the infantry a lighter/cheaper weapon to use than the Javelin, and that could preserve stocks of Javelin anti-tank missiles for their primary anti-tank job.

    • I wonder if Pike or something like it could be the savior of SCHV. Not much use for a 6.5mm gerrperrscherr if your grenadiers can just zap folks from 2km+ off.

      Of course, all this assumes that there is good enough networking and/or optics for the squad to IFF out to those ranges, which does not currently seem to be the case.

      • Major Tom

        The main drawback and counterargument against that is you can carry a lot more 6.5mm than you can Pike missiles.

        And then there’s the whole “2 km out? Call in the artillery/airstrike/mortars/TOW/helicopters” thing. 70mm laser-guided Hydras kinda steal the thunder of Pike at the extreme range role.

        • roguetechie

          Except for the whole part where you’re just inverting the GOOD arguments against a GPC, which BTW turn into phenomenally bad arguments against the pike…

        • Anomanom

          The value of the Pike is that it’s available “now”. You don’t have to radio for it, wait for someone to approve it, retarget, range it, etc. That means less time under fire from that gun nest/mortar position, technical or other unpleasant enemy asset.

      • The real question will be the cost of the PIKE per shot, and its ballistic effectiveness. Curious what the payload is on a 1.5lb missile. Also if the missile is $10,000 a shot, then that might put a damper on it.

        I think the M855A1 combined with the Shellshock Tech’s hybrid aluminum/steel case will be the savior of the SCHV. If they can pull off the same 1/2 case weight reduction they did for 9mm but for 5.56, then that might prove “good enough” to stave off the PCT ammo project.

        If a regular brass 5.56 case is 94 grains (aprox) and the shell shock gets down to 47gr, then 5.56 62gr would be about 8.88 grams per round, for a 26% weight savings.

        The other question is what the velocity threshold is for m855a1 to fragment? If it’s down to say 1700ft/s, then its fragmenting past 500 yards.

        Which then begs the question, based on the minimum fragmentation velocity for the new class of EPR projectiles, if we run the velocity and BC of the proposed 6.5PCT, how much farther fragmentation range (as opposed to simple energy) does it offer over 5.56 M855A1?

        • Johannes von’ Strauch

          It also gives great benefites like stupid blast from short barrels, a ton of waisted powder for a 3333J cartridge out of a carbine barrel. 125% increased weight. 167% increased Recoil Impulse, and 281% !!! increased recoil energy.
          Slowing down vital follow up shots in Urban combat against small targets. (hit propability can decisive on life or death in critical situations)
          Decreasing of overmatching firepower by reducing rounds to 168Rounds instead a 210R loadout. And reducing magazin capacity to a stupid limit due to the insanly thick cartridges.

      • roguetechie

        My magic 8 ball says…

        Considering that the guys likely to first get this type of optics/networking STUPH to really make this winged blue flying monkey sing are almost by default gonna be the guys with the discretionary funding and streamlined procurement procedures that gives them the freedom to get Raytheon on the horn and say “your singing blue flying monkeys would be a great fit for this thing, we might do soon, don’t worry about the place… Just send us 45 by ummm…. Tomorrow sure would be nice!!”

        In other words LOL…

        Yes

      • Jim

        Small platoon launched drones would be the answer to lock on target. They could designate the target from high up.

      • Core

        I would have to guess this can be linked with small UAV for targeting purposes. Sounds sexy.

      • Johannes von’ Strauch

        Nathaniel, the true savior of the SCHV is the truly-modern SCHV. Like the APEX Projectile i wrote you about, and the MLIR concept.

    • Jim

      I also wonder about the lethality of this system.

  • Midwest Marco

    “You know, I have one simple request. And that is to have sharks with frickin’ laser guided grenades attached to their heads! Now evidently my cycloptic colleague informs me that that cannot be done. Ah, would you remind me what I pay you people for, honestly? Throw me a bone here! What do we have?”

    • Random

      “You know, I have one simple request.” You will like the story about plant seed containing bio degration training ammo. (and yes it actually workes well)

  • SP mclaughlin
  • Wang Chung Tonight
  • Do they have a video of this demo? I’ve been following the Pike for the past year and change, and besides press releases haven’t seen anything more about it.

    I think it’s a very interesting project that has a lot of potential to take up the slack between the capability of the rifle squad and the platoon/company.

    • Johannes von’ Strauch

      I would love to see some combat simulations with it. Or even just Arma III mods putting them in a realistic envoirment as a combat dynamic test (not against AI but rather highly trained human opfor).

  • Marcus D.

    Why does this take two soldiers (one holding the target designator, the other the launcher)? Why can’t the designator be attached to a rail on the same weapon that fires the missile? Is their a contrail that suggests the shooter should fire and duck while the designator remains hidden?

    • Chrome Dragon

      the I always assumed you could get it to fire the lock-on-before-launch-low trajectory of the Hellfire, or the lock-on-after-launch-high where you lobbed a missile in the general direction of the bad guys, and then let it grab your laser designator on the way down. The two-man team seen here seems like it could potentially be reduced with training and automation. (Point your missile at the target, let it learn your buddy’s blink pattern before you fire – there’s more to key fill than the KIK-30 and its kin; if we can do rolling code with garage door openers, there’s no reason we can’t use Diffie-Hellman key exchange with guidance lasers)

    • AMX

      One obvious issue would be recoil – if the designator is attached to the launcher, recoil will throw your aim off and you’ll have to hurry to reacquire the target while the missile is already in the air…

      That problem would be easy enough to address by using a recoilless launcher instead of a standard 40mm, but that’d bring its own trade-offs.

    • roguetechie

      Because you laser designators have always been famous for their lack of bullet drop…

      Meanwhile a 40mm diameter rocket propelled 17 inch missile is definitely going to work best out to max range if you’re elevating the launcher quite a bit more substantially.

    • Cottersay

      But a puny laser designator — makes no sense….

  • Phil Ward

    Ha! Love that movie 🙂

  • Chrome Dragon

    … But what about the venerable M79? And the Insight ISM?

    I originally imagined laser-guided grenades in the XM-8, since they all came with laser-designators built in. Will the ISM’s laser designator be enough, or will you need something with a cryptographically secure blink pattern to guide this bad boy?

    Back when the XM-8 had melting problems with the foregrip, I figured, “Give ’em all grenade launchers, then – aren’t they all stainless?” and “Well, those RPG things are troublesome, I bet we can put that in a grenade”.

    Can anyone actually tell me how smart I was in high school? I know it’s a stupid question, but I’m still curious.

    • mechamaster

      The M79 is heavy ( empty is ± 2,7 Kg ) vs the M320 ( ± 1,5 Kg ). And more expensive to upgrade the M79 with current technology than M320.

      And the Insight ISM, well looks like there are more compact and lightweight & modular ( or better ) system alternative in current time.

      The problem of XM-8 overheat / melting handguard is ( maybe ) same with current problem of G36 design, the barrel trunnion and handguard is not metal reinforced and when overheat, created malformed trunnion & handguard. So, you cannot fix it by attaching the grenade launcher into it, you need to improve the heatshielding and airflow circulation into the hot part of the gun. ^_^ ( well, you can add forward grip as simple solution for hot foregrip problem in short term )

      Plus the M320 added ± 1,5 Kg front weight is added more problem too. ( not all rifleman are grenadier, sometimes you need lightweight rifle in certain condition than full-accesories rifle ) ^_^

      Well, in high school, we still learning the common-myth like the “AK is more reliable than M16 because of the Direct-Impingement” something like that, but currently, the myth is not entirely true in certain condition… Of course we can learn a new things everyday as long we still have enjoyed it !

  • roguetechie

    Considering that the Lockheed MHTK is getting multiple new variants who have different warhead types and seekers and is apparently still going to be really cheap (under $9000 each for original version)

    My sincere hope is that the era of the cheap guided missile is finally here.

  • mechamaster

    Yes, that Future Soldier sci-fi bullpup assault rifle is catching my attention too. But sudly, it’s gone in the final game design.

  • mechamaster

    Wow, thanks. Sure the idea is fun. ( of course it’s not the direct comparison with Raytheon 40mm missile, but with Israeli Mini-Spike, yeah it’s the true rival )

    It can be developed into 2 version :
    1. The disposable lightweight compact version like the M72 LAW, or ‘big’ version like the AT4.
    2. Adapted into existing SMAW launcher.

  • gunsandrockets

    Interesting. Examples of parallel yet divergent development?

    The weapon in your article began as a 4 pound 40mm weapon with a range of 3 km, and morphed into a 5 pound 57mm weapon with a range exceeding 2 km, both of which with an EO seeker, 2 pound warhead and 5 pound launcher.

    Compared to the 2 pound 40mm weapon with a range of 2 km, and semi-active laser guided seeker of the Spike.

  • Rocketman

    Just wondering how long it’s going to be before it shows up on the black market in the middle east?

  • Ooga Booga

    The demonstrators are probably the designers of the weapon, and not dorks with sandbox beards and oakleys.