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USAF Launch Supersonic Bomb Firing Technology

samzenpus posted more than 6 years ago | from the drop-it-like-it's-hot dept.

The Military 257

coondoggie writes "Boeing and the US Air Force today said they have tested new technology that for the first time will let military aircraft launch bombs from aircraft moving at supersonic speeds. Researchers from Boeing Phantom Works and the Air Force Research Laboratory used a rocket sled in combination with what researchers called "active flow control" to successfully release a smart bomb known as MK-82 Joint Direct Attack Munition Standard Test Vehicle (JDAM) at a speed of about Mach 2 from a weapons bay with a size approximating that of the U.S. Air Force B-1 bomber, Boeing said. Active flow control is a tandem array of microjets upstream of the weapons bay that, when fired reduces the unsteady pressures inside the bay and modifies the flow outside to ensure the JDAM munition travels out of the bay correctly."

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Wow, very much incorrect. (1, Informative)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513033)

Bombing from a supersonic platform was successfully conducted in the mid-60's, from modified A-12 (later YF-12) aircraft, at mach 3+ speeds

        Brett

Re:Wow, very much incorrect. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21513065)

At risk of sounding like Wikipedia, can we get a link or something to peer at?

Re:Wow, very much incorrect. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21513357)

He's all like, "we've done that already, bitches", and I'm like "[citation needed]", and under my breath, I'm like, "bitches".

Re:Wow, very much incorrect. (1)

gerf (532474) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513171)

Well, perhaps this is more reliable. It doesn't sound like it, as there seem to be way too many moving parts in a chaotic environment to be 100% reliable. In this case, any misfire or malfunction, and the plane blows up, not the target, so it's imperative to be rock solid.

Very very incorrect. (5, Informative)

Rank_Tyro (721935) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513229)

The YF-12was a high altitude and high speed interceptor. It fired Air Intercept Missiles (AIM-7's)which are already aircraft in their own right. It did not drop free fall munitions at high speed.

This current little trick is probably a proof of concept for a change to the F-22, which carries free fall bombs such as the JADM in a recessed bomb bay. The B-1b can only do about Mach 1.25 at altitude where the air is thinner. The B-1b was designed as low level penetrator to sneak under Soviet radars. With the end of the cold war, the B-1b started taking over as a high altitude bomber with GPS guided weapons, and not risk itself to ground fire to drop.

The F-22 can cruise at Mach 2 without using afterburners, and I believe it can only carry two Mk-82 JADM weapons. The ability to fly in at Mach 2 while being practically invisible to radar, AND not having to slow down to deploy weapons would be a huge advantage.

Re:Very very incorrect. (2, Informative)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513343)

One of the weapons devised for the YF-12/proposed B-12 was the original "kinetic energy" weapon - effectively, just a mass that acted much like a meteorite strike. It got to the point of successful testing but the program was cancelled. I will dig up a reference, but it was probably Ben Rich's book.

          Brett

Re:Very very incorrect. (4, Interesting)

jafiwam (310805) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513791)

Rumor has it some laser guided bombs were filled with cement and used as k-kill devices during the last Iraq war to take out tanks next to civilian targets.

At sub-orbital re-entry speeds, you don't need an explosive to fark up a tank. And if you can hit it reliably you don't need to go boom, it just shatters because a big block of stuff just came through the top, out the bottom and into the dirt below.

Re:Very very incorrect. (5, Informative)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513965)

Rumor has it some laser guided bombs were filled with cement

Not rumor, fact [nytimes.com] .

A 2000lb guided rock hitting a particular vehicle/tank is just as effective as a 2000lb MK-84.

Re:Very very incorrect. (1)

GIL_Dude (850471) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513351)

That's what I was thinking; the drop would be at high speed, but since the bomb is leaving the bay at much higher than its terminal velocity the fact that it is going mach 2 at drop really isn't going to add to the impact the device has (for example if you read Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress they dropped "rocks" from the moon onto Earth. If big enough to not disintegrate in the atmosphere you didn't need an explosive payload for an impressive destructive force). With this though, the bomb would be slowing the whole way down I would imagine. The benefit then being as you surmised - the plane is less susceptible to enemy fire as they remain at high speed.

Re:Very very incorrect. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21513477)

> With this though, the bomb would be slowing the whole way down I would imagine

Not if the bomb were shaped like a piece of rebar and made of titanium or sheathed in ceramic, and not if you googled "Rods from God".

Kinetic energy weapons dropped from orbit have been of military interest since the 60s. It's unclear from the public literature whether or not an operational weapon has been developed.

Re:Very very incorrect. (5, Informative)

TopSpin (753) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513355)

The F-22 can cruise at Mach 2 without using afterburners
The F-22 can not 'cruise' at Mach 2. That would be even more buck rogers than the aircraft is already. Exceeding Mach 2 in an F-22 requires afterburners and this, in the parlance of military aircraft, is not 'cruise.' What an F-22 can do is supercruise (exceed Mach 1 without afterburners, thus high fuel efficiencies which means good range and therefore viable in bombing missions) at about Mach 1.7.

The F-22 can dogfight (maneuver at high-G and operate weapons) above Mach 1 which is a major advantage as most of it's contemporaries must be below Mach 1 to do much more than cover ground. Dropping JDAMS at high speed and altitude is another huge advantage which is, as you speculate, what this is probably intended to validate.

Re:Very very incorrect. (4, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513401)

The F-22 can not 'cruise' at Mach 2. That would be even more buck rogers than the aircraft is already.

Actually, the big poop is that, in fact, it probably can. I've read that the engines on that thing are so powerful that with afterburner the aircraft would be capable of Mach 3 but the airframe simply isn't strong enough to take it, so the flight control software intentionally limits the speed so the plane doesn't break up. It's a very aerodynamic design coupled to a fantastically powerful engine, and the result is that the F-22 is quite a burner. One has to wonder if there might be a covert block with a stronger airframe for reconaissance.

Re:Very very incorrect. (4, Insightful)

twiddlingbits (707452) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513515)

I seriously doubt that. F22 airframe is mostly titanium and it's got to take 9G turns which are much more stressful then Mach3 level flight. The PW119 engines are very powerful but only about 25% more than what is on the F16 and the plane is much bigger. The benefit of these engines in their high efficency which allows supercruise w/o afterburners which saves 40% on fuel consumption. Go look at http://www.f22fighter.com/ [f22fighter.com]

Re:Very very incorrect. (5, Informative)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513809)

I've been to the F-22 web site, its really nice. But you should check out this:

http://www.airplanes.com/forums/military-aircraft/1411-mach-2-0-supercruise-60-000ft-altitude.html [airplanes.com]

There, you have a claim by a Major Robert Garland to have flown the F-22 at Mach 2 in level flight.

If you google around, you'll find Air Force guys saying that this plane will do Mach 2.5, and, more than a few people have pointed out that the F-22 has a better thrust to weight ratio than the SR-71... thus, all things being equal, this ought to be one fast bird.

Re:Very very incorrect. (2, Interesting)

Runefox (905204) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513849)

Actually, it's not structural, it's more the fact that the air inlets are fixed rather than variable, so the engines can't get the optimal amount of air intake at different flight envelopes. Because of this, pushing the aircraft beyond mach 2.0 for any extended period of time will cause structural failures in the air intake. Presumably, this is a feature designed either to increase stealthiness or decrease overall weight and/or surface area, or perhaps to optimize air intake for supercruise. I'm not a flight engineer or rocket scientist, only an aircraft buff, so I can't really say.

Re:Very very incorrect. (1)

TopSpin (753) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513905)

the aircraft would be capable of Mach 3
Highly unlikely. Large, fixed geometry wings and an apparent lack of variable inlets precludes that sort of speed. An example of what is required to attain Mach 3 is the Blackbird; those large cones at the inlet of each engine adjust to control the shock front of incoming air. This is a requirement of extreme velocity jets and the F-22 simply doesn't have this or anything equivalent. This is qualified by the fact that not every aspect of F-22 design is public.

The F-22 is a fast aircraft, but not in the classic sense of absolute velocity at altitude. It cruises fast and it dogfights fast. Usable speed the competition can't match.

It's a very aerodynamic design coupled to a fantastically powerful engine
F-22 aerodynamics are compromised for stealth and optimized for maneuverability (large wings, less wing loading.) Without variable inlets those fantastically powerful engines can not play in the Mach 3 regime. Accelerate vertically, yes. >Mach 1 turns, yes. Mach 3? Not likely.

Re:Very very incorrect. (1)

sholden (12227) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513631)

The F-22 can not 'cruise' at Mach 2. That would be even more buck rogers than the aircraft is already. Exceeding Mach 2 in an F-22 requires afterburners and this, in the parlance of military aircraft, is not 'cruise.' What an F-22 can do is supercruise (exceed Mach 1 without afterburners, thus high fuel efficiencies which means good range and therefore viable in bombing missions) at about Mach 1.7.

A less than 20% error is fine for government work...

Re:Very very incorrect. (1)

peektwice (726616) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514019)

ok, nitpicking again... can a pilot do high-g turns and operate weapons above mach 1 and withstand it?

Re:Very very incorrect. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21514107)

A 5-g turn at 5,000 MPH is no harder on your body than a 5-g turn at 100 MPH. You will cover vastly different amounts of ground, during those two maneuvers, but 5-g's is 5-g's. It's the number of G's that matter to your body, not the speed of the vehicle you are in.

Laymen's terms? (2, Funny)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513387)

[arm chair general] It'll be just like the Aurora Supersonic Bomber from Command and Conquer:Generals, except you can drop two and your desperate, last minute airstrikes on Iran's superweapon won't have to be suicide missions! How long until we have the Air Fuel bomb version from the Zero Hour's turtler General? That'll show those Al Quaeda tunnel/stinger-missile sites: lets see you rebuild your hole now! [/arm chair general]

Re:Wow, very much incorrect. (2, Insightful)

Gerhardius (446265) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513681)

The B-58 could drop at supersonic speeds, and the A-5 Vigilante may also have had this capability. During the 50's the USAF had a serious hard-on for all things supersonic. Given the generally limited supersonic capabilities of aircraft from that era the ultimate utility of the concept must have been called into question. The supersonic cruise ability of the new generation of aircraft has simply re-awakened a dormant idea. Much like the fashion industry, the institutional memory is so limited that many folks inside have no clue what has been done before.

Release bombs at supersonic speeds? (2, Insightful)

Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513041)

We miss often enough at sub-sonic speeds. Great.

Re:Release bombs at supersonic speeds? (2, Funny)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513123)

We miss often enough at sub-sonic speeds

...and with this exact same test weapon. For a few dollars more, they'll develop an even better JDAM!

Re:Release bombs at supersonic speeds? (1)

modecx (130548) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513301)

Oh, the bombs don't miss too badly. Intelligence on the other hand...

Re:Release bombs at supersonic speeds? (0, Flamebait)

jmv (93421) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513439)

You're really buying that whole "intelligence screwed up" explanation for Iraq? I believe the intelligence was 100% accurate. If the CIA had really believed Iraq had WMDs, I doubt the US would have invaded (see North Korea and Iran).

Re:Release bombs at supersonic speeds? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21513651)

Well, I believe Iran is next on the list...

Re:Release bombs at supersonic speeds? (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514281)

You're really buying that whole "intelligence screwed up" explanation for Iraq?

Or could grandparent be referring to the 1999 bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade?

Re:Release bombs at supersonic speeds? (0, Flamebait)

thegrassyknowl (762218) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513635)

Now we can miss faster! It's win/win. The quicker we miss the first target and kill a bunch of non-related civillians the quicker we can launch a second attack and kill even more civillians.

Off on a tangent though, it seems we (collectively as the human species, but some nations more than others) are putting so much time and effort into finding better ways of killing each other off. Wouldn't it seem that a better expenditure for most of that energy would be a little patience so we can all get along and resolve our differences?

Re:Release bombs at supersonic speeds? (1)

d12v10 (1046686) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513919)

I'm sorry to disappoint you, but the USAF rarely misses when it's bombing places. As a poster noted, it tends to be the intelligence supplied about the targeted location that's awry.

Re:Release bombs at supersonic speeds? (1)

Duhavid (677874) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513967)

It's win/win/win. Your two wins, plus the additional win
for the defense contractor selling the items, in that they
can miss at a higher sortie rate.

Re:Release bombs at supersonic speeds? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21514051)

> We miss often enough at sub-sonic speeds. Great.

Dude, check your history. In WW2, we used to send hundreds of bombers (sometimes over a thousand), each of which dropped dozens of dumb bombs, all just to hit one ball-bearing factory or bridge. We'd lose 10-20% of the attacking aircraft, and we'd send the survivors (and their replacements) out again later that week because we still didn't hit the target.

Towards the end of WW2, we realized that the most efficient way of destroying target X was to drop enough incendiaries around target X that the resulting firestorm would sweep over target X, destroying it in the process. We killed as many people in the firebombing of Tokyo as we did a few months later using goddamn nukes.

I'm not saying we're perfect. I'm just saying we're a hell of a lot closer to perfection than WW2-era pilots (or even Vietnam-era pilots) could have dreamed of. We spend a hell of a lot of money every year making sure we miss as infrequently as possible. If we were willing to accept the levels of collateral damage our parents were, never mind our grandparents, this war would have been over in a week, and there would have been tens of millions of civilians incinerated.

Be angry that we miss as often as we do -- it not only keeps weapons designers employed, sometimes it's their motivation for their career choice. But be damn grateful that we don't miss anywhere near as often as we used to.

This is very handy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21513051)

cos those camels move fast just like the cash out of your pockets to pay for it

Re:This is very handy (5, Informative)

gujo-odori (473191) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513219)

It's not a matter of how fast a target on the ground may move. It's a matter of how fast:

A) SAMs move
B) Enemy fighters aircraft move

If a bomber can fly by at Mach 2 at a high altitude and kick out its load of smart bombs, it becomes much harder to hit it with either a SAM or an air-launched missile. Let's say you make your bombing run at 40,000 feet going Mach 2 and a SAM battery a few miles away takes a shot at you. You kick out the bombs and firewall the throttle for any more speed you can get, and punch out chaff. The SAM is going maybe Mach 5 and you're maybe now at Mach 2.5. At a closure rate of only Mach 2.5, the SAM may run out of fuel before it reaches you, even if it doesn't get fooled by the chaff. If you'd had to slow down to sub-sonic speeds to make your bombing run, the SAM would have a much better chance of catching you.

If there is a CAP up, it's going to have a lot more trouble catching and firing on a bomber going Mach 2 than a bomber going Mach .7.

While these have not been particularly great threats recently (I believe the Viet Nam War was the last time an American heavy bomber was brought down by enemy fire), it wouldn't be wise to assume that the situation will always remain this way, so it's good to have that technology in our back pockets.

Even at lower altitudes, that would take a lot of light anti-aircraft systems off the table, and at least make it harder even for large SAM systems. Imagine being a guy with a shoulder-fired AA missile trying to get a bead on something going at Mach 2. Even if you get a successful lock on it and fire, it's unlikely your missile will be able to catch it even if it's on a low-level bombing run (something I wouldn't expect a B-2 to do, anyway).

Anyone know (1)

427_ci_505 (1009677) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513057)

Can powered munitions (stuff with a rocket motivating it instead of just gravity) be fired without this new technology? ie. Is the new research just applicable to iron bombs?

Re:Anyone know (3, Informative)

Tmack (593755) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513365)

Can powered munitions (stuff with a rocket motivating it instead of just gravity) be fired without this new technology? ie. Is the new research just applicable to iron bombs?

I think most supersonic fighters already have that capability, since the missiles they fire tend to travel much faster than the jets they are chasing down (even the old AIM-9 sidewinder hit mach2.5+), and when launched, are already under power and moving forward in the supersonic flow relative to the aircraft and can thus navigate themselves clear. See Here [army.mil] , scroll to SRAM, and that was 1969.

The challenge with dropping bombs at supersonic speed is to get them to clear the bomb bay or wing pylon without the shock of the surrounding air flow blasting it back into the aircraft or otherwise tossing it about or ripping it apart. Not to mention designing a bomb bay and aircraft that can withstand the supersonic shock when the doors are opened.

Tm

Afghan workers die in US-led attack (-1, Offtopic)

hey (83763) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513069)

http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/E54953AF-C2F1-45F9-BB35-55EE40359FE1.htm [aljazeera.net]
We bombed guys working for us!
Time to slow down the bombing.

Re:Afghan workers die in US-led attack (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21513551)

Like or dislike Bush, he's killed a lot of ragheads!

Re:Afghan workers die in US-led attack (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21513759)

No, he didn't. He conscripted thousands of your friends and neighbors to do it for him.

Re:Afghan workers die in US-led attack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21513961)

Wake up there 60's druggie...the draft is over.

Re:Afghan workers die in US-led attack (-1, Troll)

stoicfaux (466273) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513847)

I don't understand the reference. When has Bush killed lots of people who have a fetish for performing cunnilingus on menstruating women?

Huh? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513081)

Huh? The USAF was launching bombs (and missles) out of bomb bays (and off of pylons) at supersonic speeds back in the 1950's.
 
This new system is probably needed because the rotary launcher used by the B-1 doesn't allow enough clearance for, or won't take the stresses associated with, the kicker systems used back then.

Re:Huh? (1)

soundscape (962537) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513445)

Do you have any links to back up this claim?

Re:Huh? (1)

solitas (916005) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513447)

I can't figure out the article: they're talking about "launching" bombs. I normally take it that 'bombs' are dropped and 'missles' are launched; bombs use gravity and missles are powered.

Are they trying to say that they're firing the bombs backward to the direction of flight so that they end up with significantly lower forward-velocity and, thus, fall with a shorter ground track?

I can figure it must be merry hell trying to sight a target SO far ahead (at your given speed and altitude) that you have to drop the bomb SO far away and hope its trajectory holds to the target.

Re:Huh? (1)

hax0r_this (1073148) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513579)

Keep in mind, air resistance increases exponentially with velocity. I believe it is also increased by traveling at supersonic speeds. The point being that if you are traveling twice as fast the bomb will travel less than twice as far if dropped from the same height.

Re:Huh? (1)

Karthikkito (970850) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513885)

Almost -- it's proportional to the square of velocity (F=-bv^2). At low velocities, you can approximate it linearly...but we're quite clearly out of that range now =).

Re:Huh? (1)

c_forq (924234) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513857)

Modern bombs are launched (at least precision guided ones). The type of bomb you are thinking of is actually called a Gravity bomb [wikipedia.org] .

Pylons maybe, but not bomb bays (1)

quanticle (843097) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513533)

Maybe we were launching bombs off pylons as supersonic speeds, but probably not bomb bays. As the article indicates, supersonic airstream around the plane would have blown the bomb back into the bomb bay, with obviously disastrous results. What this technology does is use small jets to locally slow down the airstream around the bomb bay so that the bomb can fall out of the bay without getting pushed back inside.

As another poster indicated, this technology would be useful for the F-22, which has to carry its weapons in internal bays to maintain its stealth and aerodynamic characteristics.

How much did this cost (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513107)

How much did we pay for this?

Re:How much did this cost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21513209)

Your mother's virginity. A pretty high price, IOW.

Re:How much did this cost (1)

Artraze (600366) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513315)

Less than the cost of a plane, it's cargo and it's crew, I'd wager.

Re:How much did this cost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21513347)

So, less than 100 million dollars? I doubt it.

Great news everyone! (5, Funny)

Bragador (1036480) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513111)

There is no such thing as investing TOO MUCH in the military. People that are saying we should focus more money on social problems and the economy don't understand that military technology can be applied to fix social problems eventually.

Rejoice for now we can drop food and medical supplies at supersonic speed! I can't wait to see the look on those African kids!

Re:Great news everyone! (4, Funny)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513169)

Why drop food, which fixes the problem for a few days at most, when dropping a bomb will permanently fix the problem.

Re:Great news everyone! (5, Funny)

josteos (455905) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513189)

Build a Man a Fire, and he is Warm for a Day
Set a Man on Fire, and he is Warm for the Rest of His Life

Re:Great news everyone! (1)

pesho (843750) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513383)

"Death is the solution to all problems. No man - no problem." (J Stalin)

The only thing I don't get is why do you need to drop the bomb at supersonic speed.

Re:Great news everyone! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21513553)

That only applies to the technologically illiterate. Think dead man's handle on a doomsday device. Many /. residents could probably produce a windows virus that only causes chaos in the event of their death (Myself, I'm fond of the idea of a virus/worm that quietly messes with excel spreadsheets and numeric MS-SQL database entries, etc. rather than doing anything too blatant). Since you'd be dead, it wouldn't really matter much if there was collateral damage, either, so you could just indiscriminately target all the people you dislike on the off chance one of them was responsible for your death.

Re:Great news everyone! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21513245)

If you teach a man to fish, you further the extinction of ichthians everywhere. Blow the man to peaces, you reduce the threat global warming.

Re:Great news everyone! (1)

Traf-O-Data-Hater (858971) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513373)

Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you give up your monopoly and IP rights on fishing.

Re:Great news everyone! (1)

xSauronx (608805) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513491)

No no no youve got it all wrong. Its like this:

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and he'll sit in a boat and drink beer all day.

this is *not* mine.

Re:Great news everyone! (1)

brusk (135896) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513887)

That's what franchising is for.

Re:Great news everyone! (1)

mruizcamauer (551400) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513287)

Can it drop leaflets at supersonic speed? You do know, the word is mightier than the sword, after all...

Re:Great news everyone! (1)

modecx (130548) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513369)

You do know, the word is mightier than the sword, after all...

No, I'm pretty sure you've got that wrong. It's the pen. The pen is mightier than the sword.

Of course, whoever penned that immortal phrase certainly had no inkling of how true it really could be! Oh the damage that thousands upon thousands of supersonic pens could reap... It's enough to make a man giggle in glee.

Re:Great news everyone! (1)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513451)

Totally off-topic, but you just gave me an odd idea. I wonder if perhaps bunker-buster bombs could be fired into a patch of land at such an angle and to such a depth that the blast propelled the soil up and as low to the ground as possible (to prevent it from blowing aside and forming a hole,) essentially tilling a patch of land all at once for us! Back on topic, now what I just said done in Africa at supersonic speeds!

Re:Great news everyone! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21513521)

You should stop being so cynical. I'm sure the Air Force has been developing this technology in conjunction with Santa Claus for the entire world's benefit. Just think of the toy delivery possibilities.

Merry Christmas everybody!

What The Fuck?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21513561)

Nobody in their right mind would argue this technology has benefits other than military. It's a nice strawman to think that this "can be applied to fix social problems eventually."

You tree hugging hippies should get over yourselves. Military technology has been ongoing since the dawn of man, and to think that it will stop anytime soon is pie in the sky thinking.

Those African kids wouldn't have been any richer or healthier because money was spent on this.

Well (2, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514023)

Please remember that military spending isn't without benefit. Often technologies are developed there that then later become useful for civilians that are just the kind of thing you aren't likely to see developed on the commercial market.

Best example is GPS. No way a company was going to build something like that. Even a government wouldn't do that for civilian reasons. However the military felt it was worth it. Out of that we now have an awesome navigation system used the world over, and finally because of its success there IS interest in building a civilian system in Europe (though it is not going well).

While military spending isn't what one would call the best use of money, let's not pretend like it is a black hole that nothing comes out of. There are an amazing amount of technologies that are directly owed to the military (trauma surgery would be another, the Internet yet another).

Also there's just the sad truth that there are assholes in the world and nations have a need for defense. Don't think for a second North Korea would be nearly so well behaved if South Korea just disarmed their allies all left.

In other news... (-1, Offtopic)

Swampash (1131503) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513149)

still no cure for cancer.

Re:In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21513575)

in other news, non sequitur

Boeing Phantom Works? (0)

NJVil (154697) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513183)

Sounds like a prime supplier of vaporware to me.

Re:Boeing Phantom Works? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21513399)

I used to work at Boeing. You're more right than you know.

*sigh* (1, Flamebait)

Kelz (611260) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513251)

How many millions/billions spent on this that could've gone to the people of the US?

As I see it, any enemy we'd have to use this against would be throwing ICBMs with nukes at us. Why the fuck are we building bigger and better and more expensive bombs when all of our operations are counter-terrorist ops?

Re:*sigh* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21513335)

How many millions/billions spent on this that could've gone to the people of the US?

Or not come from them in the first place?

Don't worry though, we've got the best fleet of destroyers, subs, and jet fighters so that we can take on bin Laden's troops over, on, or under the sea!

Re:*sigh* (0)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513513)

Well, for one, its not a new bomb. Its a system that allows us to use a bomb under different conditions. Considering its using an existing bomb, an existing flight platform, and really just an improved version of existing technology; I'd wager it was in the low millions range, and I'm probably grossly over-estimating it. As far as I'm concerned, looking at other things congress would waste the money on, I'd rather have something cool to read about like this than some mule museum [cnn.com] in a place I'll never care about. Let the states deal with the US people and the Federal worry about the US. Sadly, the states seem to be floundering in that reguard and we end up looking to the Feds.

Re:*sigh* (1)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513629)

low millions? um surrrrreeeee

Re:*sigh* (1)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513765)

Oops, that was supposed to be a comment about the development costs, not deployment or production of the whole setup. What I was saying is that there was very little actually developed here for this.

Re:*sigh* (1)

Karthikkito (970850) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513915)

Probably low millions -- a team of PhD's over a few years.

Re:*sigh* (1)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514027)

Gone to us? It was ours in the first place!

Abolish the income tax!

-Peter

obligatory welcome (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21513277)

I, for one, welcome our ultrasonic bomb-dropping overlo- (boom)

soon enough... (1)

SECProto (790283) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513309)

soon enough we'll be able to fire proton torpedos from warp.

Re:soon enough... (4, Funny)

J_Darnley (918721) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513539)

Sorry, but you fire photon torpedos from warp and proton torpedos from hyperspace.

Re:soon enough... (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514157)

Sorry, but you fire photon torpedos from warp and proton torpedos from hyperspace.
Ahh... but can you still jam someone while going at ludicrous speed?

Not to be outdone... (4, Funny)

YU5333021 (1093141) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513311)

... upon hearing the news, the Russians have taken the concept to the next, logical extreme. Code named "Mamushka" the first supersonic plane will fire a smaller plane traveling twice as fast, which will fire yet another smaller plane traveling 4 times faster than the first one, and so on until the very last, smallest plane (traveling an nearly the speed of light) will fire a potato that will hit the original big plane in the back, thus demonstrating that like many other US expenditures, they are at least good for HUMOR.

Next up, basketballs that bounce 10 times as high. Is gonna change the game!

Re:Not to be outdone... (1)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513457)

They can't do that. That idea is the intelectual property of Dr. Suess.

Re:Not to be outdone... (1)

temojen (678985) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513723)

Next up, basketballs that bounce 10 times as high. Is gonna change the game!

Try this one on for size.... stack up a small playground ball on top of a medium one anmd stack those on top of a large one... drop the 3 of them from about six feet and watch the little one hit the ceiling...

Re:Not to be outdone... (1)

YU5333021 (1093141) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513827)

shhhh... don't let the Russians find out.

This is a REAL sled. (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513379)

The sled train accelerated to more than 13 g's to get to peak velocity, then decelerated at 7.5 g's for more than a mile to stop," the company said.
I want a ride on that.

Re:This is a REAL sled. (2, Informative)

stox (131684) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513427)

If I am not mistaken, at 7.5 negative G's, your eyeballs would pop out of your head. The human body can take significantly more positive G's than negative. Oh, and at 13 positive G's, sustained, you would pass out. Doesn't sound like much fun to me.

Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21513407)

Someone set us up the (supersonic) bomb.

Good tactics bad strategy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21513431)

Haven't we reached the point where we can forget manned bombers? With every passing decade, the advantages manned bombers have vs. drones, decrease. If you have to have human controllers, they can be in a command plane hundreds of miles from where the action is.

The judgment of individual pilots is over rated. Often they misinterpret what they see and end up bombing friendly troops. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4155/is_20070924/ai_n20517694 [findarticles.com]

It also has to be a lot cheaper to train the technicians who control drones. The drones are much cheaper than a B1. You can send several drones at a target and, with any luck, the enemy will use up all his SAMs trying to hit them.

Any way I can think of looking at it, we shouldn't be spending a lot of money on the B1 any more. Yes, it is a better plane because it can drop its bombs when traveling fast but was it really worth the expense when you consider the other things we could be doing with the money?

I also suspect that the Russians (and Chinese too) can shoot down a B1 fairly easily. Remember the U2 spy plane that was supposed to fly too high and fast to be shot down. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Gary_Powers [wikipedia.org]

Re:Good tactics bad strategy (3, Informative)

nrgy (835451) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513573)

Well the one thing you never hear talked about with the whole "Drones are the future" topic is what about jamming technology in the future? Your over sized RC plane with some bombs on it isn't gonna do much if it cant relay its data link back to base or a satellite.

If I remember correctly during the beginning of the war in Iraq, some cruise missiles were thrown off target when they were jammed by GPS jamming devices. What is to say that technology in the future wont advance to also include jamming the drones you plan to fly over a foes city? Yes I'm sure as technology advances ways of dealing with it will probably be thought of, however as is most often the case with technology (especially military technology) its a back and forth between counter measure and threat.

Being unable to fly your fancy Quake engine virtual reality RC plans over a target does you little good in warfare.

Maybe one day it will be the future, but right now as it stands I wouldn't be holding your breath for it to be the norm for quiet a while.

Those pushing the drones as the next thing tend to remind me of the militarys thinking back when the US entered the Vietnam war. The military believed dog fighting was a thing of the past and all future air engagements would be with missiles from far away. They stopped training pilots in dog fighting skills and instead believed in what they thought the future air engagements would be. It wasn't long before it was apparent this just wasn't the case, the military soon found itself scrambling to train its pilots in air to air combat; the birth of Top Gun.

Drones vs. cruise missiles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21513855)

A drone with a very directional communication system is very hard to jam. I am assuming that the first thing China or Russia would do is shoot down all the GPS birds. GPS is easy and cheap but it is by no means the only accurate way to guide a missile. Human guided drones are cheap and effective. Given enough altitude of the controlling airplane, the drones can be controlled from a couple of hundred miles. (Use the radar range equation for an exact solution.)

The drone can have a quite directional antenna. It isn't much of a problem to get a 20 dB rejection of signal coming from the 'wrong' direction. Techniques like boxcar averaging increase the noise immunity by many many more dB. Generalized jamming isn't likely to succeed. Directed jamming would work but you would need to continuously jam every individual drone coming at you. You would be better off trying to blast them with a laser. That would also work against a B1. In fact the B1 is a bigger, easier to hit, target.

Re:Good tactics bad strategy (2, Informative)

tsotha (720379) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514267)

This is just wrong for a lot of reasons. First, jamming is spectacularly ineffective. Not only is the other responder correct in pointing out antennas can be designed to reject signals coming from the wrong direction, but also spread spectrum communications operate over such wide bands it's impractical to jam them - it takes too much power. Finally, any source of a jamming signal has a big bullseye on it, since the signal can be used for homing. No jammer will last more than a few minutes after the engagement is joined. Also, the JDAM isn't designed to hit moving targets. Once the target is programmed in to the drone, the operator doesn't need to do anything, so even if you could jam communications with the drone, it would finish its mission.

The B-58 could do this (1)

stox (131684) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513503)

almost 50 years ago. The B-58C, if it had been built, would have been able to do it at Mach 3.

Re:The B-58 could do this (1)

Rank_Tyro (721935) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513577)

The B-58 Hustler was dropping Nuclear weapons, with a substantially larger blast radius than the 10 meter CEP of a JDAM. They could afford to be off of the target a bit.

Re:The B-58 could do this (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513625)

The B-58 carried its bomb externally.

Re:The B-58 could do this (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513979)

No, it carried three in that big permanently-attached pod under its belly, in addition to a couple on pylons under the wings.

In case anyone was wondering... (4, Informative)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513613)

The tagging beta includes the word sopwith [die.net] , a reference to "Sopwith Camel", a game I used to place on an 8086 box as a kid :). Your goal was to drop bombs on ground targets in a simplistic side-scroller sort of map. You can install a modern-day Linux version (pretty close to the original) by doing "sudo apt-get install sopwith" on Debian-based distros.

Maybe not as much fun as dropping real bombs out of a supersonic jet, but pretty darn close :).

Re:In case anyone was wondering... (1)

Runefox (905204) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514147)

Which, while being an awesome game, was also (for the clueless) a WWI fighter plane [wikipedia.org] .

So much money (1)

kylehase (982334) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514133)

I'm glad to see my tax money put to good use to keep our country safe. I'm sure supersonic bombs are the answer to stopping hijacked US airlines or car bomb wielding extremist. [/sarcasm]

Sweet merciful crap!! (2, Funny)

ichthyoboy (1167379) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514171)

from a weapons bay with a size approximating that of the U.S. Air Force B-1 bomber
I'm sure glad that we have planes with weapon bays that can hold a f&@%ing B-1 bomber!!!
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