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The Pentagon's Supersonic, Shape-Shifting Assassin

ScuttleMonkey posted about 8 years ago | from the this-switchblade-illegal-to-carry-also dept.

489

grammar fascist writes "CNN reports that Northrop Grumman is under contract to build a new supersonic, shape-shifting bomber by 2020. The main innovation is in its single, rotating wing. From the article: '[It] will cruise with its 200-foot-long wing perpendicular to its engines like a normal airplane. But just before the craft breaks the sound barrier, its single wing will swivel around 60 degrees (hence the name) so that one end points forward and the other back. This oblique configuration redistributes the shock waves that pile up in front of a plane at Mach speeds and cause drag. When the Switchblade returns to subsonic speeds, the wing will rotate back to perpendicular.'"

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489 comments

Shape shifting? (5, Insightful)

MustardMan (52102) | about 8 years ago | (#15597568)

So, having one part of the plane change its angle is now shape shifting? WOW. My laptop is a shapeshifter, because the lid opens. My car must be a shape shifter too, the sunroof can take several positions!

Re:Shape shifting? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15597597)

I thought it was going to be about a Doppleganger

Budget Priortites (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15597601)

We clearly see where the priorities of this adminstration are. Forget the rising unemployment rate, the balooning deficit, and the fact that medicare is getting slashed to the bone.

Let's continue to invest in war, because as we all know, war is good business, right?

Re:Budget Priortites (4, Interesting)

(H)elix1 (231155) | about 8 years ago | (#15597717)

Let's continue to invest in war, because as we all know, war is good business, right?

At least war pays for pure R&D and cutting edge science. Seems shareholders are only interested in only doing research that will generate revenue on a quarterly basis. Unfortunate that war (or the preparation/avoidance of war) is the driver, but the cutting edge avionics and composite technologies I enjoy as an aviation hobbyist were born from that 'war machine'. Someday we might not - but I don't see it changing anytime soon.

Re:Budget Priortites (2)

killjoe (766577) | about 8 years ago | (#15597869)

WOuldn't it be more efficient to take the war out of it and spend the money on pure R&D? Better yet why not just provide incentives for private enterprise to do R&D and give the money back to the taxpayers? How about R&D through the space program? Wouln't that be better then making new bombers to drop bombs on miami on a band of al-quada sypathisers?

I can imagine how useful this weapon will be to drop bombs on big cities in the US which have terrorist cells in them.

Re:Budget Priortites (0, Troll)

McBainLives (683602) | about 8 years ago | (#15597723)

You got 1 out of 3 right. Unemployment is down to 4.6% (about half that of the major European economies), and Medicare never actually gets cut- Congress either fiddles with the rate of growth, or adds a multi-billion-dollar "Part D" program. Try reading the news every now and then. Sure, the deficit's a bummer, but national defense is mandated by the Constitution in Article IV, as opposed many of the abuse-of-the-Commerce-Clause programs whose names I won't mention... ...and whoever runs this place, how about adding an option to post as "Anonymous Ignorant Coward" for those AC's who realize that they may not know what they're talking about?

Britain isn't a major European economy? (5, Insightful)

torstenvl (769732) | about 8 years ago | (#15597771)

Britain - 5.1% Portugal - 4.3% Denmark - 4.2% Ireland - 4.2% Austria - 3.9% Luxembourg - 2.6 Netherlands - 2.4

How about adding an option to post as an ignorant math-challenged fascist instead? 4.6 is nowhere near half of 5.1.

As a side note, France and Germany have higher reported unemployment because they don't count part-time minimum wage jobs. HTFH.

Re:Britain isn't a major European economy? (2, Insightful)

McBainLives (683602) | about 8 years ago | (#15597875)

Ok- I was wrong about the UK, but get real on the others. Besides- the 2005 average for the EU as a whole was over 9%, with the larger economies of France, Germany, Italy, and Spain all higher than that of the US... (Luxembourg?!? Major European economy? Are you kidding?)

And where do you get "fascist" from? Do you even know what that word means? You really need more than a knee-jerk intellect to be using political terminology, so you don't end up just diluting the definitions.

Re:Britain isn't a major European economy? (0, Flamebait)

torstenvl (769732) | about 8 years ago | (#15597896)

A person who cares more about military spending than social spending is putting kick-the-shit-out-of-the-other-guy nationalism above community well-being. When you're so bent on destruction of the Other that you'll hurt the people in your own community to do it, you're pretty dang fascist.

Correction: stale data. (4, Insightful)

torstenvl (769732) | about 8 years ago | (#15597888)

I had done a quick google search and used figures brought up by the BBC. European unemployment rates similar to the U.S. unemployment rate:
Austria - 4.8% Britain - 5.3% Denmark - 4.8% Netherlands - 5.7% Sweden - 5.5% Switzerland - 3.3%

The overall unemployment rate in the Euro zone is 8% (this is in large part due to high reported unemployment in Germany and France, explained above, 11.0% and 9.3% respectively). However, the Euro zone unemployment rate reduced by .7% from last year's rate, compared with the U.S. unemployment rate, which reduced .5%.

Not to be a total jackass, but I really do have to rub this in your face: the Scandinavian countries have historically had the lowest unemployment (historically lower than that of the United States) and STILL have the largest welfare system of all of Europe. If that doesn't provide a counterexample to your nonsensical "Everyone benefits from a dog-eat-dog world" blind faith in Capitalism-as-God, I don't know what does.

Re:Budget Priortites (1)

DAldredge (2353) | about 8 years ago | (#15597828)

The UE rate is about as factual as the inflation rate...

Re:Budget Priortites (1, Insightful)

killjoe (766577) | about 8 years ago | (#15597858)

National defense is mandated but is spending billions on a program which is useless against terrorist mandated too?

I am all for defense. I do object to waging war for fun and profit though. Where is it mandated that the US taxpayers should get rid of every two bit dictator with oil while making nice with dictators in pakistan and africa?

Re:Budget Priortites (1)

ClamIAm (926466) | about 8 years ago | (#15597911)

Congress either fiddles with the rate of growth, or adds a multi-billion-dollar "Part D" program

It might look like they haven't screwed with Medicare, but that ignores the fact that they're now pushing the costs onto the States. [nj.com]

Re:Budget Priortites (4, Funny)

cp.tar (871488) | about 8 years ago | (#15597726)

Rules of Acquisition say:

34. War is good for business

35. Peace is good for business.

34 comes before 35. All clear?

Re:Budget Priortites (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15597870)

And let's not forget that:

10. Greed is eternal.

62. The riskier the road, the greater the profit. ("Rules of Acquisition")

190. Hear all, trust nothing. ("Call to Arms")

Re:Budget Priortites (4, Informative)

TheCodeFoundry (246594) | about 8 years ago | (#15597758)


We clearly see where the priorities of this adminstration are. Forget the rising unemployment rate, the balooning deficit, and the fact that medicare is getting slashed to the bone.

Let's continue to invest in war, because as we all know, war is good business, right?


Rising unemployement rate? No, national unemployment is down to nearly 1999 levels.
See http://data.bls.gov/PDQ/servlet/SurveyOutputServle t?data_tool=latest_numbers&series_id=LNS14000000 [bls.gov]

Medicare is getting slashed? Congress just passed the largest increase in Medicare spending in decades (Prescription Drug Program).

Were you just posting the Daily Kos talking points without thinking? Just because you keep quoting these talking points as facts doesn't mean they will automagically become facts.

Yes, the deficit is rising and the gov't is spending more for craptastic social programs. Military spending is still ~4% GDP, so I really don't have a problem with that. Of course, I don't have a problem with our gov't safeguarding us and preventing another 3,000 of our citizens from being killed by terrorists, but I guess I'm not blinded by hatred of our President. Win at all costs, that's the mantra of the Kossacks, isn't it?

Re:Budget Priortites (4, Interesting)

nberardi (199555) | about 8 years ago | (#15597865)

Let's continue to invest in war, because as we all know, war is good business, right?

You couldn't be more right, if there wasn't a cold war with the USSR, why would we need a nuke proof network like DARPA NET? And we can see the real impact of that on business, I think all the fortune 500 companies use it as one of their primary ways of making a profit.

If you are going to open your yap the least you can do is make sure it is informed and walking all over your current actions.

Re:Shape shifting? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15597641)

Try opening your laptop at Mach 2.

Re:Shape shifting? (1)

mpcooke3 (306161) | about 8 years ago | (#15597765)

Your absolutely right.

It's really more like a Transformer!

Re:Shape shifting? (2, Informative)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 8 years ago | (#15597819)

"So, having one part of the plane change its angle is now shape shifting?"

No. Rotating the wings so that the entire shape of the plane makes it a shape shifter. This one goes from looking like a plane to looking like a knife, as opposed ot F-14 that just changes to look more like a dart.

Though I agree with your underwhelmment over the name and the description, cripes, your examples suck. Understand what you're poo-poo'ing.

Re:Shape shifting? (0, Troll)

MustardMan (52102) | about 8 years ago | (#15597900)

No, it goes from looking like a plane to looking like a plane with the wings on a funny angle. My laptop screen can rotate through a larger angle than these wings. My examples were sarcastic. Understand sarcasm before you indulge in your slashdot penis waving attempt to correct someone.

Wizard Weapons (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15597573)

Go America! Fuck Yeah!

Re:Wizard Weapons (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15597631)

Note to mods: this actually deserves the Funny mod because of the Team America: World Police reference. (See the movie if you haven't, if only for the parental advisory: "Rated R for graphic crude and sexual humor, violent images and strong language - all involving puppets.")

Old Idea? (0, Redundant)

Gonoff (88518) | about 8 years ago | (#15597578)

I am sure I came accross this in a history book about technology that the Germans had developed in the closing part of WWII.

Re:Old Idea? (1)

megalomaniacs4u (199468) | about 8 years ago | (#15597632)

Certainly I've seen concept of a pivoting wing as described in an osborne book for kids in the early 80's in the chapter about space planes & hypersonice transport. The picture was of long thin fuselage with pan-am blue & white markings with a wing the when pivoted covered most of the fuselage except for the conventional tail fin.

Re:Old Idea? (3, Interesting)

malraid (592373) | about 8 years ago | (#15597849)

Here's a link to an actual Nazi-era blueprint [luft46.com] . Lot's of other cool desings in the page. A lot of the good ones were used by the US lately, such as the B2.

Stability? (1, Interesting)

mfaras (979322) | about 8 years ago | (#15597581)

How will they cope with the inestability that the rotation of the wing will cause?

Any ideas?

Re:Stability? (1)

MustardMan (52102) | about 8 years ago | (#15597591)

Well, the fact that a computer is flying it could be a big help. Plus, if it was an easy thing to make work, they wouldn't be shelling out ten million bucks for a set of blueprints.

Re:Stability? (1)

NevarMore (248971) | about 8 years ago | (#15597617)

Yes, they'd be shelling out 10 BILLION for a $4 set of blueprints, a $2000 r/c airplane, and the remainder into special projects in the home districts of the senators where the aircraft is made.

Re:Stability? (1)

mark_osmd (812581) | about 8 years ago | (#15597678)

RTFA, the money amount was 10.3 MILLION not Billion MS

Re:Stability? (5, Informative)

evanbd (210358) | about 8 years ago | (#15597610)

The reason it's hard is that now all the control moments are linked -- you can't roll the plane without causing pitch and yaw changes too. So you need to control all the surfaces in unison. This makes it complicated and hard to fly, but not necessarilly unstable. That's why there's a computer flying it, not a person -- once they get a good model of how it behaves, applying all the corrections at once isn't a hard thing for a computer.

Re:Stability? (1)

Zuul (103907) | about 8 years ago | (#15597816)

Just because you have a good model of a system doesn't necessarily mean that it's easy to design a controler that stabilises it. Especially when there's a lot of non-linear croos-coupling and, for this particular system, probably large changes in the dynamics over the flight envelope.

Re:Stability? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15597621)

in addition to the instability, how will they cope with the forces that stress the wing as it moves from one position to another while on the cusp of the sound barrier. won't the rigidity required make it heavier than a similar fixed wing aircraft would be? also, would the wing then be a point of frequent failure for the design?

Re:Stability? (1)

hunterx11 (778171) | about 8 years ago | (#15597917)

Computers. Most modern fighter planes are aerodynamically unstable already.

Hypersonics? (1)

sanman2 (928866) | about 8 years ago | (#15597587)

Hmm, a curious asymmetric orientation for an aircraft, swiveling at an angle like that.

Could this translate into anything similarly useful for missile or even rocket design? Like a hypersonic aerospace plane, for instance?

One word (3, Insightful)

PingXao (153057) | about 8 years ago | (#15597590)

Waste

Re:One word (1)

SimplyI (974376) | about 8 years ago | (#15597620)

Hm... Makes sense seeing as "haste makes waste"

Silent but Deadly (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15597605)

takes on a whole new meaning here...

What a great idea (3, Insightful)

_pi-away (308135) | about 8 years ago | (#15597625)

Practical and affordable too I bet. Who cares how many kids can't read?

Re:What a great idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15597718)

Who cares how many kids can't read?

Haven't you heard? No child is left behind. In practical terms, that means the rest of America has to stop and act like a retarded six year-old until the retarded six-year olds gets smarter. Can't go leaving them behind, can we?

Re:What a great idea (2, Informative)

MightyYar (622222) | about 8 years ago | (#15597722)

Last time I checked, the US literacy rate was 99%. Our neighbor to the north - spending considerably less on it's military - has something like 97%. So much for that correlation. I think it's safe to say that the US military budget would not go towards education in any case.

Do all hippies think that we don't need a military?

Re:What a great idea (0, Troll)

Brandybuck (704397) | about 8 years ago | (#15597732)

Do all hippies think that we don't need a military?

No, they only think we don't need a military when a Republican is in office.

Re:What a great idea (4, Informative)

someonewhois (808065) | about 8 years ago | (#15597740)

While I don't disagree with your point, I'd like to point out that Canada's literacy rate is 99% [cia.gov] , not 97.

Re:What a great idea (1)

ari_j (90255) | about 8 years ago | (#15597764)

Isn't 99% "something like 97"? ;)

Re:What a great idea (4, Interesting)

MightyYar (622222) | about 8 years ago | (#15597777)

Isn't that funny? I googled and found lots of different numbers. My favorite of the ones I found was this one [canadainfolink.ca] , which carries the footnote: "Literacy is defined differently by different countries, groups and individuals.The whole topic is a mine field."

Anyway, the place I got my original numbers from was here. [overpopulation.com]

Re:What a great idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15597856)

... And even if it was 97%... how much is 1% of 300M and how much is 3% of 33M?

Re:What a great idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15597904)

Doesn't matter. 1 Canadian life = 100 American lives.

Re:What a great idea (1)

ceejayoz (567949) | about 8 years ago | (#15597783)

Last time I checked, the US literacy rate was 99%.

How many of those are functionally illiterate [wikipedia.org] , though? I've heard figures as high as 30% for the States.

Re:What a great idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15597845)

you mislinked "functionally illiterate [aim.com] "

Re:What a great idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15597801)

We need a military, but I was pretty shocked the first time I paid taxes and saw how much of my money went to my local school district versus how much went to the military. It's a matter of priorities, and regardless what the literacy rate is, you'd have a hard time convincing me that our country's schools couldn't make good use of some extra dough. As for this plane...well, it seems to me like an unnecessarily complicated way of killing people (which IMO we do a bit too much of these days) at best, and the government having a circle jerk with the folks who build these things at worst.

Re:What a great idea (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about 8 years ago | (#15597811)

My local school district (New York City) spends over $10,000 per student. That is a lot of money. There is a problem with America's schools, but it isn't funding.

Nope, just hippies and pussies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15597823)

...and lame suckers who bleed everytime America spends a drop of its budget on preserving its superpower position...like nooobody, not China, Europe or the wacko Iranian dictator would do if they wanted to keep dominance eh? For Christ sake, stop your fucking whining and go feed the poor or teach the iliterates that so bothers you!!

Re:What a great idea (1)

bishiraver (707931) | about 8 years ago | (#15597832)

However, if the interest charged on student loans went to education instead of defense R&D, we might have more money for schools.

Also, while literacy rate is high, the rate of people who graduate high school and cannot locate europe or australia on a map is staggering.

And that's "literate," not "able to read things beyond the tabloids and actually enrich their lives through it"

Re:What a great idea (1)

FridayBob (619244) | about 8 years ago | (#15597842)

Oh, I'm all for a good military, but is there never a limit to what the military really needs? The Air Force already has a long-range strategic bomber (the B-52), a supersonic bomber (the B-1) and a hideously expensive stealth bomber (the B-2). No other country in the world has an arsenal like this, so do we really need a supersonic stealth bomber that's going to cost the taxpayer untold billions of dollars? If we're so desperate to get along with our neighbors (Europe, India, China), why do we have to keep our military so armed to the teeth with all these hyper-expensive mega-weapons -- as if the Cold War never ended? The only thing this achieves is to keep America's military-industrial complex happy.

Re:What a great idea (3, Informative)

AhtirTano (638534) | about 8 years ago | (#15597860)

Last time I checked, the US literacy rate was 99%. Our neighbor to the north - spending considerably less on it's military - has something like 97%. So much for that correlation.

According to the Human Development Reports [undp.org] , the US and Canada are basically tied on the educational front. Both have such high literacy rates that they don't bother to collect detailed national statistics, so UNESCO gives both a 99% rate. On the other hand, Canada's life expectancy from birth is 80.0 years, and the US's is 77.4 years.

I think it's safe to say that the US military budget would not go towards education in any case.

Agreed. That doesn't mean it shouldn't go there though. Or, why not put it towards healthcare and get our life expectancy rates up?

Do all hippies think that we don't need a military?

Can't speak for hippies, having not talked to many in my life; but some of us regular people think we could reduce spending to a mere $100 billion, spend the other $400 billion on health, education, infrastructure, etc., and still have more than enough power to defend our country from anyone else in the world. We outspend the next 20 countries combined---we don't need to spend that much.

Re:What a great idea (1)

StefanoB (775596) | about 8 years ago | (#15597745)

Maybe one day you'll be flying in a civilian version of that very airplane and you'll be like 30% faster there.

Maybe you won't mind that 30% increase but all the (fat/old/...) people in it would as the risk of deep vein thrombosis [bbc.co.uk] lowers...

Quit whining because the money spent on technology isn't spent at those who aren't willing to advance themselves (as if throwing money helps achieve that)

Re:What a great idea (1)

McBainLives (683602) | about 8 years ago | (#15597762)

"We're not calling your name," said the crow, "we're just discussing how many of today's children can't use punctuation correctly!"

Re:What a great idea (1)

j. andrew rogers (774820) | about 8 years ago | (#15597815)

The US already spends more on education per student than essentially any other industrialized nation. If there is a problem with education, it is not in how much money is spent. What you said makes a trite soundbite, but neither identifies a real problem nor suggests a useful solution.

Contrary to popular belief, the Americans spend a lot more on public education (~$600B) than on defense. Defense spending as a percentage of GDP is at historical lows and declining even with the military misadventures (3.x% of GDP currently versus an average of 7% for the 20th century).

Re:What a great idea (4, Insightful)

argStyopa (232550) | about 8 years ago | (#15597903)

Funny, I thought we already had freely-provided education. Hm, I guess we should throw MORE money at it, I'm *sure* that will solve everything.

This is what this meme was made for! (1)

demongeek (977698) | about 8 years ago | (#15597640)

I, for one, welcome our supersonic, shape-shifting overlords.

May I say that I know many strategic points which you may find enlightening!

I can't wait (1)

popsicle67 (929681) | about 8 years ago | (#15597650)

The fighter for the new millenia brought to you by the idiots who couldn't build the postal service a truck that works 50% of the time.

2020? What about 1951? (5, Informative)

Baldrson (78598) | about 8 years ago | (#15597653)

This was known in 1951 [aerodyn.org] :
The first to prove that such a wing has minimum wave drag was R.T. Jones (1951). More recently, inviscid CFD calculations proved that the best performances are obtained with a wing of aspect-ratio 10:1 with a cruise CL=0.068. The best yaw angle would be 68 degrees, and the wing would have the flying operation shown in Fig. 1 below.

Re:2020? What about 1951? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15597754)

So what's your point? Nowhere in the article does it imply that this is a new concept. Just that a new bomber will be built with it. In fact, the article itself mentions that "This is not the first attempt at an oblique-wing aircraft".

Yihaa! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15597655)

More bombs!

Re:Yihaa! (-1, Flamebait)

mgabrys_sf (951552) | about 8 years ago | (#15597746)

Obvously not an American - or even North American - if you're spelling Yeeha, "Yihaa".

So, are we bombing you presently, or did we bomb you in the past - and how are you / did you enjoy it?

And if anyone died - could you give us some details for their exit interview?

Number one: how many fleshy bits flew around after impact.

Number two: were the fleshy bits dog-food shaped, or more like a watermelon exploding?

Number three: did you try to use vinegar to remove the fleshy bits stains from your clothing? Soaking in cold water may also help.

--
brought to you by The United States of America
Why do we bomb? Because we can. Here catch!

Oh no! (0, Redundant)

Chutulu (982382) | about 8 years ago | (#15597657)

I just hope that it's control software won't use Windows 2020 or else it will crash with a blue explosion.

Re:Oh no! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15597800)

I just hope that it's control software won't use Windows 2020 or else it will crash with a blue explosion.

You Seem to be very hopeful about Vista's release date.

NASA did a test plane decades ago (5, Informative)

n76lima (455808) | about 8 years ago | (#15597660)

I recall seeing a NASA test plane with a swiveling wing at the EAA OSHKOSH airshow back in the early 80's. It was one place, jet powered, and was flown in the airshow with the wing rotated to a fairly steep angle several times. It was a proof of concept to explore control issues and to prove that the wing need not be swept BACK on both sides to improve aerodynamics at high speeds. They referred to is as the AD-1", an oblique wing aircraft [fi.edu] .

--
We don't need no stinkin' sig!

NASA page on the AD-1 (5, Informative)

TopSpin (753) | about 8 years ago | (#15597680)

Here is a link [nasa.gov] to the NASA page on the AD-1

Re:Mentioned in TFA actually (and more) (1)

DumbSwede (521261) | about 8 years ago | (#15597707)

You beat me to Googling this earlier attempt, but what you get from actually RTFA is that they metion this 1979 atempt and it involed none other than Burt Ratan! (SpaceShip One fame)

The 1979 attempt was hard and unintuitive to control, but the drone attempt will not rely on ingrained pilot intincts and automatically control the pitch over that happens when say you nose the plane up.

Swing Wing Designs (1)

turgid (580780) | about 8 years ago | (#15597672)

So how is this any better than the swing-wing designs of the F-14 and Tornado? I thought the consensus was that moving wings were a Bad Idea?

Re:Swing Wing Designs (1)

linuxgurugamer (917289) | about 8 years ago | (#15597731)

Why do you think that? The Tomcat (F-14) is still one of the foremost and versatile fighter ever made. With the upgrades done over the years, it still the the best carrier fighter we have. It has range, computer power, ability to lock onto six different targets at the same time and shoot them all down, and doesn't need to be pointed at the bogeys after the missles are fired. The F-18 Hornet is a short range fighter, and has to keep itself pointed in the general direction of the bogeys until the missles hit.

Re:Swing Wing Designs (2, Informative)

couchslug (175151) | about 8 years ago | (#15597785)

It is also out of service. Not due to the swing wing, but the maintenance cost of its aging systems.

Re:Swing Wing Designs (5, Informative)

ceejayoz (567949) | about 8 years ago | (#15597839)

With the upgrades done over the years, it still the the best carrier fighter we have.

With the upgrades done over the years, it still the the best carrier fighter we don't have.

Fixed that for ya. They've been decomissioned since March.

It has range, computer power, ability to lock onto six different targets at the same time and shoot them all down, and doesn't need to be pointed at the bogeys after the missles are fired. The F-18 Hornet is a short range fighter, and has to keep itself pointed in the general direction of the bogeys until the missles hit.

Incorrect, to my knowledge. Fire-and-forget is based on the weaponry, not the platform firing it. Just about every air-to-air weapon - the only exception being the AIM-7 Sparrow, which is being phased out for the AMRAAM - the F/A-18 launches is fire-and-forget and doesn't require external guidance from the launching aircraft. It can carry more payload, too, if Wikipedia is to be believed.

Re:Swing Wing Designs (1)

ceejayoz (567949) | about 8 years ago | (#15597854)

Oops... forgot to mention range.

Apparently not that much of a concern these days, considering the new F-35 was designed with similar range.

Re:Swing Wing Designs (5, Funny)

HotBlackDessiato (842220) | about 8 years ago | (#15597841)

I thought the consensus was that moving wings were a Bad Idea?
As long as they remain attached somehow.

Boondoggle (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15597684)

I love the smell of burning pork in the morning.

Tornado? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15597704)

Shapeshifting? Bit rich I think.

Anyway this has been around for 40 years already http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panavia_Tornado [wikipedia.org] Bore Off.

Same old Pop Sci (1)

Marko DeBeeste (761376) | about 8 years ago | (#15597711)

Been hawking videophones, personal fliers and self-cleaning clothes since the fifties. That I know of.

No Loitering (1)

Joebert (946227) | about 8 years ago | (#15597735)

For years, the U.S. military has wanted a plane that could loiter just outside enemy territory for more than a dozen hours and, on command, hurtle toward a target faster than the speed of sound.

What's wrong with hooking the guys loitering on the side of the quickie-mart up with a keg full of dynamite & sending them over ?

Jimminy christmas, it's all over the news now, by the time one of theese things gets built, anyone it would be used against is going to have things in place to shoot down suspicious craft on sight.

Re:No Loitering (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15597797)

If they are telling us about it now, its been in production and use for a few years. Aurora anyone? The B2A and F-117 were built, tested, and used before they became common knowledge.

Yeah but when... (1)

X3J11 (791922) | about 8 years ago | (#15597779)

This is exciting and all, but when do I get my VF-1 Valkyrie [wikipedia.org] ?

Supersonic, Shape-Shifting Ass (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15597782)

In Firefox's Live Bookmark feed, the title says "The Pentagon's Supersonic, Shape-Shifting Ass ..."

NASA did this in 1982! (2, Informative)

sbaker (47485) | about 8 years ago | (#15597786)

Hmmm - NASA had one of those flying back in 1982!

http://www.time.com/time/archive/printout/0,23657, 949473,00.html [time.com]

Heh, dont you love RSS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15597798)

I have an RSS feed of slashdot, and this topic came up as

"The Pentagon's Supersonic Shape-Shifting Ass..."

And just to be on topic, does anyone know when this goes on ebay?

In RSS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15597799)

The RSS title was, "The Pentagons Supersonic, Shape-Shifting Ass.."

That sounds like a much more interesting story.

And they will call it ... (1)

hritcu (871613) | about 8 years ago | (#15597805)

X-Wing [starwars.com] ?!

Re:And they will call it ... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15597868)

Do you now need to provide a link, explaining what an X-wing is?
I feel positively aincient.

Isn't "Assassin" in the title inflammatory? (2, Insightful)

Goldenhawk (242867) | about 8 years ago | (#15597806)

Funny, I don't recall ever seeing such an inflammatory title on a /. story in years. Just because the plane is a bomber? Come on now, the technology is cool, even if this is a bit outdated (I've got a swing-wing Estes rocket from when I was a kid, sitting on the shelf right over my desk, for crying out loud...). No need to make a political statement like this - let's keep the discussion a bit more civil, please.

Re:Isn't "Assassin" in the title inflammatory? (5, Funny)

Winterblink (575267) | about 8 years ago | (#15597834)

What's so inflammatory about it? I mean what do you think this thing's supposed to do, fly in at supersonic speeds to deliver a payload of Snickers bars to satisfy the hunger of the enemy?

Pretty appropriate, actually... (2, Insightful)

mbessey (304651) | about 8 years ago | (#15597879)

Two quick points.
1. That's CNN's article title, so that's hardly the Slashdot editors' fault.
2. It's unmanned. Unmanned combat aircraft are used almost exclusively for assassinations, at least currently.

Maybe not a waste (5, Insightful)

Screwy1138 (976897) | about 8 years ago | (#15597829)

While projects like this can easily be seen as waste, they do a couple things.
This money goes to create hi tech jobs, rewarding people for getting engineering/science/sometimes computing degrees, potentially supporting universities themselves.
These projects generate knowledge by testing out technologies and supporting businesses or universities that sponsor research.

In my opinion, this is not waste, even if the end product never comes to be.

Certainly, this can only go so far, you wouldn't want all your money going to high tech / low success projects, but it is reasonable to have money going towards these things.

Gotta love RSS... (3, Funny)

RemovableBait (885871) | about 8 years ago | (#15597831)

It might be just me with my widescreen, but the RSS dropdown thingy definitely said;

The Pentagon's Supersonic, Shape-Shifting Ass...


Somehow, I find my browser's interpretation more fitting...

Interesting (1)

brogdon (65526) | about 8 years ago | (#15597835)

Having perused the posts that have been made so far, I'm a bit surprised that everyone is concentrating on the aerospace engineering aspects of the plane. To me, the more interesting facet of this is the idea of having a huge supersonic aircraft loaded with cruise missles and potentially nuclear weapons with no one in the cockpit.

I wish articles like this would focus more on the communications, AI, and general catasrophe-tolerance of the systems that go into a craft like this. There have to be some interesting discussions going on right now in a room somewhere underground about how to protect this thing from unauthorized access, what to do if communication goes out, etc.

Shape-Shifting WHAT (1)

sqwishy (927732) | about 8 years ago | (#15597850)

Looking at the slashdot rss feed i look at the top headline
"The Pentagon's Supersonic, Shape-Shifting Ass..."
Wow that is a big step forward for american's good job!

wwot 7p (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15597862)

Is ingesting Members are

supersonic shape shifter (1)

runlevel 5 (977409) | about 8 years ago | (#15597895)

Was I the only one that thought the DOD was developing a T1000?
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