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US Military Seeks Hypersonic Weaponry

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the what-was-that-noise dept.

The Military 332

Dr. Eggman writes "In an interview with the Star-Telegram, the Air Force's chief scientist, Mark Lewis, talks about the USAF's latest research direction. The service is working on hypersonic missile and bombers for the purposes of reconnaissance and attack. In response to Chinese and Russian anti-satellite developments, the Air Force plans to develop weapons capable of sustained travel at Mach 6 to allow them to deploy against and take out anti-satellite launch sites before the enemy can fire their missiles. Furthermore, should the US spy satellite network be brought down, the Mach 6 recon flight systems would be capable of filling in. Air Force officials hope to deploy a new interim bomber by 2018, followed by a more advanced, and possibly unmanned, bomber in 2035." We've discussed on a number of occasions the scramjet technology that would power such vehicles.

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332 comments

Dead before you hear it coming (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22395404)

Funny, Pynchon in his Gravity's Rainbow [amazon.com] frequently made the point that the V-2 was an especially inhumane weapon because, falling faster than the speed of sound, it killed you before you even knew it was coming.

Re:Dead before you hear it coming (2, Insightful)

Ykant (318168) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396016)

Funny, that seems rather the most humane possible way of obliterating someone. After all, as you said, they don't even know it's coming. I might call it the least *sporting*, though...

Re:Dead before you hear it coming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22396322)

they don't even know it's coming. I might call it the least *sporting*, though...

So, which would be the most "sporting" way to kill someone? Crucifixion? When you are hanging on the cross, you certainly know what's coming...

Black Helicopters (2, Funny)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395430)

I don't get it. If the government has a secret database of information on everyone in the world, including enemy personnel, and they have black, stealth helicopters waiting to attack anywhere in the world at a moment's notice, why all the nonsense about hypersonic attack craft?

Re:Black Helicopters (2, Insightful)

Mr2cents (323101) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395992)

Because The military industry think they can sell it to congress. And I have to admit, they have come up with a nice threat to make it sellable.

Re:Black Helicopters (2, Insightful)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396070)

Well since you and the mods have replied seriously to what was a light-hearted joke, I'll respond seriously to you. Having a potent strike capability that nigh instantaneous (as in a few hours) is pretty handy to have for merits that are obvious. I don't buy the whole satellite warfare line. Once we start blowing up satellites, then the orbitals become unusable. So barring a mad scientist destroy the world scenario, I don't believe satellite warfare is a real threat. It would be like poisoning a well that you drink from as well as the enemy.

Re:Black Helicopters (4, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396200)

Because, there is a government agency called the WCGI (Wicked Cool Gadgets Initiative) which is responsible for developing kickass technology for the military. The charter of this agency is simply to "develop the most awesome, wicked cool gadgets possible". If they can come up with something that sounds really sweet, they'll put money into developing it regardless of whether or not anyone needs it. If the tech is cool enough, the military will find some way to use it.

It's hysterical (4, Insightful)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395456)

Seeing the picture of the prototype being dropped from a 50 year-old B-52. And the design is 60 years old! They just don't build 'em like that anymore.

Re:It's hysterical (3, Informative)

dafoomie (521507) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396134)

The B-52 will likely outlast it, too. Its planned to be in active service until the 2040s.

HVM (3, Interesting)

Missing_dc (1074809) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395462)

Didn't we develope Hyper Velocity Missiles back in the early 80s? No payload, they killed by traveling at mach8. I wanted one as a kid.

This killing machine was much more obscure... (4, Informative)

TransEurope (889206) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395630)

The device was called "Pluto VSLAM".

http://www.designation-systems.net/dusrm/app4/slam.html [designation-systems.net]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Pluto [wikipedia.org]

It's from the 1950/60s. What a naive and stupid era.

Re:This killing machine was much more obscure... (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395708)

By stupid you mean awesome. The flight tech coming out in that period was amazing and basically no advances have been made since then. Waste of time/money/resource? Maybe so BUT undeniably cool toys

Re:This killing machine was much more obscure... (1)

TransEurope (889206) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395816)

No, i mean stupid. I see nothing awesome in the building of machine which kills everyone on the ground in it's flight path and spreading radioactive material all over it just before it's drops several nuclear warheads on it's primary target. There is nothing awesome in such a machine, except the unbelievable assholeness of it's creators.

Re:This killing machine was much more obscure... (2, Informative)

Digi-John (692918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396286)

No, i mean stupid. I see nothing awesome in the building of machine which kills everyone on the ground in it's flight path and spreading radioactive material all over it just before it's drops several nuclear warheads on it's primary target. There is nothing awesome in such a machine, except the unbelievable assholeness of it's creators.

Read the articles you linked. The "path of destruction" is created by flying only a couple hundred meters above the ground--something you would definitely avoid while over friendly territory; takeoff is done with solid fuel boosters. The wikipedia article says, "Contrary to some reports, the exhaust of the engine would not itself be highly radioactive."; the other page conflicts this with "Additionally, the nuclear ramjet continuously left a trail of highly radioactive dust, which would seriously contaminate the area below the missile." One of these is true; which is hard to tell, since atomic-haters like to basically make up danger, while nuclear supporters will downplay any real threats.

It's people who wet themselves every time the words "nuclear power" are spoken that killed cheap electricity and such things as the NERVA engine.

Wasting resources? (2, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395472)

I wish I could say that this is not wasting resources, but it is. All these plans would not be that necessary if the USA kept out of other countries' business. But we will not leave them alone.

There are greater threats to USA's security than these mach 6 planes will address. Things like terror are far worse. Imagine six 9-11's on our [critical] infrastructure.

These plans also assume that Russia and China are sitting idle. Once again, we shall be surprised just like we were when Russia put into service, a nuclear capable missile with independent, multiple war-heads. This made our missile shield obsolete.

This confirms to me that my president and his administration are just incompetent.

Re:Wasting resources? (4, Funny)

StaticEngine (135635) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395510)

Imagine six 9-11's on our [critical] infrastructure.
Wait, do you want me to imagine 5466, or -12?

Re:Wasting resources? (0, Troll)

IdleTime (561841) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395604)

And the funny part is that most Americans think they need this to survive but find health care not so necessary for said survival. Funny and opposite of what the rest of us feel.

Re:Wasting resources? (0, Offtopic)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395722)

That is because most of us realize that there is no reason that the reason an asprin at a hospital costs $22 each is because the costs of our healthcare has been so obsfucated that none of us even know what a fair price for healthcare is nowadays. However, we do know that if you take our current healthcare problems, and try to bandaid on a fix like national healthcare, we will end up with some beast of a system that costs more and provides less.

There is a fix to our healthcare problems, unfortunately nothing I've seen so far begins to address the real problems.

Re:Wasting resources? (3, Interesting)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395888)

However, we do know that if you take our current healthcare problems, and try to bandaid on a fix like national healthcare, we will end up with some beast of a system that costs more and provides less.

Funny how you think that you "know" that, given that we're essentially the only developed country that doesn't provide some form of national health care, we pay almost twice as much for healthcare as the next most expensive country, and even with all that money we're spending, we're nowhere near the top of the list of healthiest or longest living populations.

Re:Wasting resources? (2, Informative)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396234)

Funny that the US is the only country with a healthcare system that spends 90% of its resources on the elderly - specifically in the last five years of life. The rest of the world seems to take the attitude that old people die, so shut up and die.

Comparisons about what country is the "healthiest" is pointless - everyone else long ago figured out that if the government was going to pay they weren't going to get neonatal intensive care or transplants for 70-year-olds. Apparently it was decided that was an OK bargain. Except in the US and a few other places. The result is oldsters come to the US for care they can't get and can't pay for in their own countries.

Funny, the AARP seems to be behind the move to get the government paying for medical care. Their members are the ones that should be the most interested in making sure the situation in other countries is not repeated in the US but with a massive PR campaign the likely outcome isn't being discussed.

The UK and Canada seem to do all right. (3, Informative)

StarKruzr (74642) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395956)

What makes you think we can't do it as well as or better than they do?

No, no they don't. they just don't realize it yet (1, Flamebait)

nunyadambinness (1181813) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396128)

"What makes you think we can't do it as well as or better than they do?"

230+ years of watching government fuck up everything it touches.

And why, oh WHY, would you allow your government ANY hand in your healthcare choices? Doesn't it worry you that such a system can be used to punish malcontents? Or are you ignoring that inevitable reality because you like the idea of "free" healthcare?

And how come the privacy wonks famously disappear when nationalized healthcare is discussed? Doesn't it bother you that your private health information can be used for more than treatment choices? It should, because it will.

Now go ahead and tell me it won't happen. I could use the laugh.

Re:The UK and Canada seem to do all right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22396154)

What makes you think we can't do it as well as or better than they do?
Hillary Clinton. 'nuff sed

Re:Wasting resources? (1, Interesting)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395646)

On one hand you state that this research would not be necessary if the USA kept out of other countries' business, yet then you also make mention that it would be a mistake to assume Russia and China are sitting idle. It would be a mistake to assume that if we suddenly stopped interfering with other countries' business that China and Russia would immediately cease development of capabilities to match and exceed our own.

The real trick is to keep the arms race from switching into a 100 yard dash from the indefinite marathon that it currently is. I'd much rather have the major superpowers fighting to keep each other deterred.

In the end, it would be indescribably foolish to simply cease research on the grounds that we should mind our own business. We SHOULD mind our own business, but we also should keep tabs on the latest technology and that of our global neighbors. I hesitate to say even that, since it is extremely simplistic.

Re:Wasting resources? (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395982)

It would be a mistake to assume that if we suddenly stopped interfering with other countries' business that China and Russia would immediately cease development of capabilities to match and exceed our own.

I think the point is that China and Russia would just pay someone thousands of dollars to get secrets on the ground than to build billion dollar spy systems. With an open society, its much easier to gain information by moles and informants that it was for the US to get info on closed nations like China and Russia. Even though they are still open, it is rather difficult to get into certain areas which the American spy systems do.

However, I'd also like point out that when you are dealing with nuclear powers, this is a moot point that it really doesn't matter what China or Russia is doing as long as we can retaliate with a nuclear strike in the end. So if indeed China and Russia knocked out the US spy satellite system, one could assume that the proverbial red button might get pushed in confusion and spy planes would be a moot point again because there is nothing to spy on other than smoldering nuclear fallout craters pocked over USA, Russia, and China.

Re:Wasting resources? (2, Insightful)

bigdavex (155746) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395680)

Things like terror are far worse. Imagine six 9-11's on our [critical] infrastructure.

The 9-11 attacks were horrible for the people actually involved, but they're really, really small compared to a nuke going off in a city. Terrorism is bad, but it's not a threat to our nation's survival.

Wasting protoplasm (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22395764)

I wish I could say that this is not wasting resources, but it is. All these plans would not be that necessary if the USA kept out of other countries' business. But we will not leave them alone.
The only land the US has taken is for cemeteries for their dead soldiers.

But it's always the fault of the US, isn't it? No matter what "it" is.

There are greater threats to USA's security than these mach 6 planes will address. Things like terror are far worse. Imagine six 9-11's on our [critical] infrastructure.
And you know this how?

These plans also assume that Russia and China are sitting idle. Once again, we shall be surprised just like we were when Russia put into service, a nuclear capable missile with independent, multiple war-heads. This made our missile shield obsolete.
So, the Russians and Chinese are advancing their weapons technology?

That statement makes your first one nothing more than a typically gratuitous anti-American rant - typical in that it's based on nothing.

This confirms to me that my president and his administration are just incompetent. So sayeth the 'expert'.

Like the title says: You are wasting protoplasm

Re:Wasting protoplasm (0, Flamebait)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395996)

The only land the US has taken is for cemeteries for their dead soldiers.

Oh, that's rich. Tell us another one.

Re:Wasting protoplasm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22396052)

Oh, that's rich. Tell us another one.
What's wrong? Can't actually refute it, so all you can do is lame ridicule?

That's pretty pathetic.

Re:Wasting protoplasm (1)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396240)

Any fifth grader could refute your moronic assertion. When you make such a patently absurd statement as "The only land the US has taken is for cemeteries for their dead soldiers.", you don't get to bitch about someone not going to the trouble to "refute" it.

I'm beginning to see why you post as AC.

Re:Wasting resources? (1)

Ogive17 (691899) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395772)

Wait, you start out by stating this is a waste because the US creates our own problems by sticking our nose where it doesn't belong... but then you infer that Russia and China are developing sophisticated weaponry that would make our current defenses useless.

Should we or shouldn't we continue to pursue higher-tech weaponry?

Sounds to me like just a veiled attempt to bash the current administration to karma whore.

Re:Wasting resources? (1)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395776)

Military expenditures are definitely out of whack, but I personally like reaping the benefits of having a high tech and very powerful military. You're mistaking interventionism and the one percent doctrine for keeping a well maintained military. The ideology behind the current military engagements we are involved in are harmful. Keeping our military in the lead isn't.

I'm all for strategic withdrawals from several places all over the world and a reduction of martial intervention, but just because we haven't had a serious threat to American soil since the Soviet Union doesn't mean there won't be in the future. Military spending is good when done properly.

By the way, don't buy the administration bull. Terrorism is the great boogeyman of the twenty first century. First it was the jews, then the communists, now it's the terrorists. Don't buy into that line of thinking, for all of our sakes.

Re:Wasting resources? (1)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395778)

"All these plans would not be that necessary if the USA kept out of other countries' business. But we will not leave them alone."

And you really believe this statement? Wow.

I am so tired of stupid "leave them alone" crap (2, Insightful)

nunyadambinness (1181813) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395802)

"All these plans would not be that necessary if the USA kept out of other countries' business."

And just exactly how is that supposed to happen? How the fuck is the LARGEST ECONOMY IN THE WORLD supposed to "keep out of other countries' business"?

"But we will not leave them alone."

Again, how the fuck is that supposed to happen? The US withdraws totally and walls itself off from civilization? Total isolationism? Not only is that not possible, it doesn't do anything about the fact that the US has resources that some country somewhere will eventually want.

What then, Mr. Waste-of-Resources? I guess you could always complain on Slashdot if they invade...

We're part of the world. All the dumbass pie in the sky wishful thinking, passed off as peacenik wisdom, doesn't change that fact. Pretending it's possible to "leave them alone" just illustrates how far removed from reality you are.

And you'll notice, all the well thought out posts listing the very real reasons why your post is stupid sit there unloved, while your steaming pile is modded up. That says it all about the quality of thought that goes into moderation these days.

Re:I am so tired of stupid "leave them alone" crap (1)

Phase Shifter (70817) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396066)

I take it you have something against Chris Crocker deciding our foreign policy?

Re:I am so tired of stupid "leave them alone" crap (1)

Kinnaird (851535) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396302)

"stupid "leave them alone" crap What has this got to do with hypersonic nuclear first strike capability? Thats not an economic relationship it's a bullying militaristic threat. Now go ahead and mod me out of existence for stating the obvious.

The point flew over your head (5, Insightful)

aepervius (535155) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396348)

Quote : "How the fuck is the LARGEST ECONOMY IN THE WORLD supposed to "keep out of other countries' business"?

There is a difference between being the largest economy of the world, and the largest bully. Nothing in being the largest economy of the world force you to have a big army, and a big nuclear arsenal beyond what is necessary for retaliation, and certainly nothing force you to invade other country which never heard of you, and nothing force you to blackmail other country against producing cheaping anti aids drug (a pet peeve of me, international treaty allow it for emergency situation but the US blackmail a lot of country against doing this, or even retaliate). The fact is that the US seems to be quite trigger happy and forget what diplomacy is. If it was not the case, you would not have so-unhappy-ally and falling out with decades old ally. In case you don't remember you had a lot of support a few years ago before you decided to squander it into what i would call bullying Iraq. Nobody ask you to be isolationist. But sometimes, sometimes, it would be nice if you could leave people which are not disturbing you alone in their own FUCKING country. And I am not even speaking of Irak alone. Nicaragua. Chile. Panama. And so on. You are part of the world, but most of the time your extern politic amount to "do whatever we say or we crush you, crush you so bad you won't believe it".

Remember kids, respecting others [person,country] goes into a long way to get respect back. Bullying other make you a nice target. And spitting on your friend make you look like an idiot.

Re:Wasting resources? (1)

PolarBearFire (1176791) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395820)

First you say we're wasting resources and then you say Russia and China are capable of creating weapons systems to match and overtake ours. So your point is that the US should stand back while everyone else upgrades their stuff. That strategy worked really well for the French. I don't really see jets and aircraft carriers and other military vehicles as weapons of war as such, rather they are the cutting edge of technology that through their development a lot of good comes out of them. Without the military you will never see a jet plane with the flight capabilities of an F-22 because there would not be a practical reason for them. Without continous research by the military we might ever see practical space travel.

Re:Wasting resources? (4, Insightful)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395824)

Aircraft capable of sustained speeds of Mach 6 doesn't just have to have military purposes. This research could be applicable well beyond, in space exploration and more. As a launch veichle, a reusable hypersonic design is one of NASA's prime goals. Materials capable of withstanding the forces present at Mach 6, and even more so, for sustained periods of time could bring great advances in material sciences and result in stronger commercial airplanes, enhance the durability of electronics, or at the very least provide materials more capable of dealing with extreme friction. Military spending just happens to be one of the easier ways to get approval for a range of applicable technologies.

Re:Wasting resources? (1)

inviolet (797804) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395924)

I wish I could say that this is not wasting resources, but it is. All these plans would not be that necessary if the USA kept out of other countries' business. But we will not leave them alone.

All countries meddle with each other to the extent they are able, for their own interests. It's the nature of humans, tribes, and limited resources.

A more relevant question is: how much meddling would they do in our country, if we lost our military dominance?

The entire world is presently blossoming in Pax Americana, in the same way and for the same reasons as it blossomed under Pax Romana. Be careful what your hatred of power leads you to wish for.

There are greater threats to USA's security than these mach 6 planes will address. Things like terror are far worse. Imagine six 9-11's on our [critical] infrastructure.

Have you given any thought to how this situation came about? Do you remember what the Cold War was like? The reason why terrorism is presently a greater threat than symmetrical war, is because nobody could possibly beat us at symmetrical war at this time. Forty years ago, though, when Soviet Union at least thought it could, the threat assessment was very different.

I would prefer to retain military dominance, such that terrorism is the bad guys' only recourse.

These plans also assume that Russia and China are sitting idle. Once again, we shall be surprised just like we were when Russia put into service, a nuclear capable missile with independent, multiple war-heads. This made our missile shield obsolete.

The missile shield isn't useful against enemies who can afford massive arsenals. Such enemies aren't likely to launch against us anyway. It's the erratic little countries, like North Korea and Syria, that might just launch a handful at us. They are the purpose of the shield.

Eventually we may learn to defend against a full arsenal. And the way we will learn to do so, is by incremental advances, and building upon what we learned from Missile Shield v1.0. Wow are you short-sighted!

This confirms to me that my president and his administration are just incompetent.

It confirms that they are operating on a different time horizon than you prefer. That alone is not proof of their, or your, incompetence.

Re:Wasting resources? (1)

RDW (41497) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395938)

'There are greater threats to USA's security than these mach 6 planes will address. Things like terror are far worse. Imagine six 9-11's on our [critical] infrastructure.'

Here in the UK, we're already (controversially) deploying hypersonic weapons against the most dangerous enemies of our society:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7240180.stm [bbc.co.uk]

Re:Wasting resources? (1)

mdarksbane (587589) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395946)

Terrorism is not, and has never been, a significant threat to our national security.

It's been a horrible nuisance, an indirect threat to our civil liberties, and a tragedy for all those affected directly by the attacks, but the only thing that "changed after september 11th" is that everyone got fricking paranoid.

It's only take 18 years for the western world to forget that a world with a single global military power is not a natural or sustainable state of affairs. I am still much more worried about a rising China, a re-invigorated Russia, or an organized Caliphate (in the VERY long term) than I am about terrorism.

And as for "Americans" not being concerned about this instead of healthcare.. not saying I agree with it, but most productive Americans who take part in these sorts of debates *do* have healthcare. It's privatized and possibly inefficient, but they can afford it. Generally the people who are stuck without it (the unfortunate lower classes) vote less and spend less time arguing on Slashdot. So no, universal healthcare doesn't affect me personally, in terms of my health. Its affect on my sense of decency and charity is something completely different.

Re:Wasting resources? (1)

CFTM (513264) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395964)

Terrorism is terrible; innocent civilians who have nothing to do with macropolitics are killed to make a point to the entrenched power.

But the truth is, we now live in a world where dealing with terrorism is "The Price to do business". Everything has its costs, some are nasty and no one wants to pay but bill collectors come anyways. You can't stop them from coming, you can't change the ideological mindset of irrational individuals but you can accept that this is something that will occur as long as their are mitigating circumstances that breed this type of fundamentalism (read:Poverty).

Is increased airport security a good thing? Sure is, quite happy to see it done and I don't mind waiting in the longer lines or showing up two hours early to the flight. But here's the truth, the United States *WILL* be hit by a terrorist attack again. There are no security measures or laws or budgetary adjustments that can be made that will prevent terrorism.

Let me make an analogy; there is a price to do business on earth. That price is, eventually, we will get by a big rock that will kill lots and lots and lots of life on this planet. It's a product of the universe we live in, and with todays technology if the rock is big enough we can't do a whole lot about it. It's a known risk, that can only be accepted. Same goes for terrorism.

So my suggestion is, get off the soapbox and return to reality.

NADA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22396008)

You obviously haven't taken a look at the Chinese and Russian weapons programs and their latest export customers - nice stuff: Supersonic Torpedoes, anti-sat weapons, intelligent missile clusters (like the SHIPWRECK missile), supersonic anti-ship weapons (like SUNBURN). The development of Hypersonic weapons leaps ahead of supersonic weapons were we have lagged.

Anyone think Putin will ratchet back Russian military development and exports if we do? How will he hold on to the North Pole if he does? (ok, satire)

The biggest threat is one you are not ready for. Drop one axis of defense (hi-tech for instance) to focus on another (like terror) and the threat profile switches. Balance in all things.

BTW: In all fairness (this is not a vote of support) this administartion has cancelled more Cold War programs (Crusader or Commanche for instance) than any other administration has.

Re:Wasting resources? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396108)

"All these plans would not be that necessary if the USA kept out of other countries' business. But we will not leave them alone."
The USA tried that. It was called isolationism. The result was WWII. The funny thing is that other countries don't want the USA out of their business. When things where bad in the Balkans, people kept asking where was the USA? When a disaster hits people ask where is the USA?

Re:Wasting resources? (1)

Bombula (670389) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396164)

And projecting 27 years out? I call BS on this whole thing as a PR stunt. Two possibilities: chest thumping, or paving the way for something already well into the works and nearing completion. In the case of the former, it would just be part of the ongoing campaign to drum up support for war funding using a combination of fear and flash-in-a-pan technobabble. In the case of the latter, these planes and missles either already exist or will within just a few years, in which case this is simply prep for future billing because until we admit we have something, we don't have to show it on the accounting books do we? And with deficit spending, that translates to not having to actually pay for it for 27 years. Hurray!

Leave them alone? (1)

GottliebPins (1113707) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396180)

That's what the leaders of Europe said about Germany, and the leaders of Asia said about Japan, hell, it's what the Romans said about the Visigoths. If we just leave them alone and ignore them they'll leave us alone. We were leaving them alone when they attacked us on 9-11. We'd been ignoring them for decades as they bombed embassies, hijacked planes, killed innocent citizens around the world. Ignoring a danger does not make it go away. It makes you an easy target.

Re:Wasting resources? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22396276)

Your a fuckin Idiot

via the stargazer (2, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395528)

In response to Chinese and Russian anti-satellite developments, the Air Force plans to develop weapons capable of sustained travel at Mach 6 to allow them to deploy against and take out anti-satellite launch sites before the enemy can fire their missiles.

Ah yes, the Picard Maneuver.

28 year planning? (2, Interesting)

InsaneMosquito (1067380) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395556)

It may just be me and my youth speaking, but planning out 28 years seems a little...risky. Who knows what the hell is going to happen tomorrow, let alone 28 years from now. Does anyone remember thinking "Tomorrow is going to suck" on 9/10/01? PLUS...what about technology advancements? I seriously doubt that in 28 years "stealth" will mean the same thing it does today. How can we plan out 28 years like this? (Serious question...looking for insight from someone with more experience).

Re:28 year planning? (2, Insightful)

Coffee Warlord (266564) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395704)


It's how military R&D works. We're using stuff now that was developed what...20 or so years ago, if not more in many cases? The life cycle of this stuff is a lonnnnnnnng time (a combination of your standard red tape and just the time it really does take to properly push out this kinda stuff).

'Course, this often causes R&D to be fighting the last war. They're developing advanced technology that would be nice now, but not always useful for the next brand of warfare.

Re:28 year planning? (1)

mapsjanhere (1130359) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395950)

I remember having a card game of military aircraft in the mid 70's which had an Osprey prototype in it. The didn't actually field it until 30 years later. Without an actual military threat to force deployment, prime defense contractors take their time in development. That's where the money is, not in the (usually short) production run that follows.

Re:28 year planning? (1)

quanticle (843097) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395834)

Long term planning is unfeasible when working against fast-moving threats like Al Quaeda, but it is feasible when working against other established world powers (like China) that have long term plans of their own. It'd be awfully shortsighted to specialize on counter-insurgency and abandon conventional weapons and tactics completely.

Re:28 year planning? (1)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395856)

What the hell do you need stealth for when traveling at Mach 6?

Re:28 year planning? (1)

427_ci_505 (1009677) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396270)

Because if an aircraft can be made to travel at Mach 6, a missile can be made to travel even faster. (explosives + guidance + control surfaces + propulsion = win)

Re:28 year planning? (1)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395882)

The modern military has REALLY LONG lead times. They are developing technology to counter technology that is in development by other countries. And besides, schedules to run the armed forces tend to extend out as far as they can.

The timeline of (a) 3-5 years of Requirements and Specification, (b) 2 years for Design, (c) 2 years of Implementation, (d) 2 years of Testing, and (e) 20-25 years of Maintenance is not unheard of.

In fact, during the seemingly huge 9 to 11 year development lifecycle there are prototypes and technologies that NEED TO BE INVENTED. That's a bigger risk. Putting projects on the back-burner because they are technologically infeasible is not unheard of. Keep in mind, the military is pushing the envelope in terms of technology (I mean, each year the military has a Trillion dollar budget to employee millions of Americans in the industry), so it is possible that the technology to BEGIN developing the cutting edge IDEAS won't exist for another ten years. Thus, 28 years is not risky.

Re:28 year planning? (1)

Klaus_1250 (987230) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395988)

I seriously doubt that the next major conflict will take 28 years to develop, especially reading between the lines of events in the last 5 years. Most likely not within 10 years, but I doubt that it will take as long as 20 years plus. Access to energy and raw materials is slowly becoming an issue for certain large (would-be) superpowers, a financial crisis is still looming around the corner and a renewed arms race is in the making. Not recipes for a better world. Planning this technology with a time-span of 10 to 28 years is both silly technology-wise and strategically naive. The technology for shooting satellites out of the sky is already here and I'm pretty sure adversaries can (and will) develop weapons-systems to shoot Hypersonic Jets out of the sky within that time-frame. News like this only confirms (to me) that the US is losing its strategic and technological advantage though how on earth they the manage to do so with their budget beats me. Though I do remember some history lessons about empires falling apart after having spent too much money on occupations...

Re:28 year planning? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22396010)

Your forgetting that we have stuff coming out now that they started on 28 years ago, a lot of our existing technology started 20 or 30 years. R&D is not something you can do in a year, have it prototyped, tested and in manafacturing.

They started on the B2 Spirit 28 years ago, in 1980. shown 8 years later and 13 years after starting they delivered the first one.

Right now the speeds they are looking at are not feasible and will need a lot of engineering and a few breakthroughs to make possible. They are simply setting a goal of making it possible within 28 years, much like what happened with the space program and getting somebody on the moon.

Re:28 year planning? (1)

Phase Shifter (70817) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396376)

Does anyone remember thinking "Tomorrow is going to suck" on 9/10/01?
I was, if only because I would be teaching in the morning instead of the night. But seriously, get over the "9/11 was an unexpected" issues you have. No, I'm not one of those conspiracy theorists who blames the government. The video clips on everyone's favorite documentaries only show 13 seconds from tower to heap of rubble, but it was nearly a decade from the time the first terrorist bomb detonated there.

What a waste (1)

fredrated (639554) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395614)

Spending billions more on another cold war while the world literally burns under our feet. Is this the best that human beings can do?

Re:What a waste (1)

blueturffan (867705) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395876)

while the world literally burns under our feet
The world is NOT literally burning under our feet. Is this kind of hysterical hyperbole the best that human beings can do?

Re:What a waste (1)

gb506 (738638) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395896)

Spending billions more on another cold war while the world literally burns under our feet.

Your hyperbole burns my eyes!

This is just corporate welfare (3, Interesting)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395618)

All these pie in the sky projects are simple ways of creating high paying white collar jobs in the home districts of powerful senators. The real serious immediate threat facing America is the possibility of a terrorist group smuggling in a low grade weapon, nuclear, biological or chemical into the country and detonating it. These hypersonic toys do nothing to protect us against such threats. But border security customs security and port security creates lots and lots of blue collar jobs at the ports and borders. Not at the home district of "bridge to nowhere" pork barrel Senators.

Regan talked about welfare queens. These hypersonic engineers are the new welfare queens.

Re:This is just corporate welfare (1)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395968)

'All these pie in the sky projects are simple ways of creating high paying white collar jobs in the home districts of powerful senators. The real serious immediate threat facing America is the possibility of a terrorist group smuggling in a low grade weapon, nuclear, biological or chemical into the country and detonating it. These hypersonic toys do nothing to protect us against such threats. But border security customs security and port security creates lots and lots of blue collar jobs at the ports and borders. Not at the home district of "bridge to nowhere" pork barrel Senators.'

Yeah, but you have to admit that these 'toys' are really, really cool.

Re:This is just corporate welfare (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396214)

> Yeah, but you have to admit that these 'toys' are really, really cool.

They'd better be - you'll be paying for them!

Re:This is just corporate welfare (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22396280)

These hypersonic toys do nothing to protect us against such threats.
But they're so damn cool!

Re:This is just corporate welfare (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396308)

This might actually be the only time in my life where I have defended military spending, but here goes:
-The US military is about technological superiority over opponents rather than force size. Technology is a "force multiplier."
-When your opponent nullifies your force multiplier you have to maintain par strategically.
-Military strategy is more about winning the war than the battle, right or wrong. It isn't about protecting people but protecting the viability of the nation. Individuals can be sacrificed.

In contrast, "homeland security" to protect us from the "terrorists" is all about security theater. Border security does little to improve the picture; look how effective it is with the drug trade. Corrupting one of the "blue collar" people at the border creates an adequate hole to do whatever you want.

The first step is to limit the forces that want to do "bad things" in a political arena, and ensure that justice happens after the fact to discourage the next round.

Re:This is just corporate welfare (1)

downhole (831621) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396392)

So what? Creating jobs somewhere is a side effect of almost anything the Government does. Should we dump welfare programs because they create lots of high-paying administrative jobs in some other congressperson's district? At least the hypersonic engineers are doing work that could be useful at some point.

Yeah, the most serious threat today is terrorist groups smuggling WMDs. We should be paying lots of attention to that on every level, and as far as I know, we are. But that doesn't mean that we should ignore the possibility of any other type of military conflict. One of the reasons why the conventional threat is practically nonexistent is that we already put a lot of money and work into building a powerful conventional military. If we stop pursuing advances in that because the conventional threat doesn't look very dangerous right now, we're setting the stage to be passed up at a later time. Is anybody eager to see what happens if, say, the Communist Chinese find themselves at the top of the hill as far as conventional military power in 20 years?

Personals (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22395632)

Hypersonic Weaponry seeks non-smoking government for long distance travel at high speeds. Concern for neighboring governments, a plus. Must be able to handle my (at times) explosive temper. Prefer clear moonlit nights and cozy underground silos. Handle me with tender loving care. 1138

2035 (2)

mo (2873) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395642)

27 years is a long time to project for technology.
For example, Ray Kurzweil bet $10,000 [longbets.org] that computers will have passed the turing test by 2029.
Even if you think Kurzweil is an optimistic hack, 27 years is 18 iterations of Moore's law. If that continues, we'll have computers with 200,000 cores and 32 petabyte hard drives by 2035.
I'm not saying that will happen, my point is just that it's probably not prudent to make such long-term plans wrt defense technology, because it's quite likely that technological advancements will make most of your plans obsolete by the time you get that far out.

Groovy, but will the Chinese be willing to fund it (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22395664)

Who's going to pay for this, other than the Chinese? I doubt they'll enjoy seeing the continued armament of the USA against Chinese interests being funded with Chinese credits.

Advanced Military Systems are Great (5, Insightful)

Phoenix666 (184391) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395694)

and their deterrent power shouldn't be downplayed.

But amidst news of new systems a lot of folks forget that the greater part of U.S. strength is so-called "soft power." Economic strength, alliances, energy security, cultural strength, and good-old fashioned good will are examples.

They are harder to develop but are also harder to fight and confer an immeasurable advantage. Building hypersonic weapons is a good thing, but it's a lot easier for your geopolitical competitors to steal the plans and copy it than it is for them to steal your alliances or international good will.

Sources of soft power aren't usually included in defense planning because areas like economic policy and cultural strength appertain variously to non-military departments or even the private sector. But they should be, because our competitors (like China) are.

That said, the United States has a lot of work to do to restore the soft power that eight years of the Bush administration has squandered. Let's hope the next administration is more astute and capable.

Re:Advanced Military Systems are Great (0)

inviolet (797804) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396146)

Sources of soft power aren't usually included in defense planning because areas like economic policy and cultural strength appertain variously to non-military departments or even the private sector. But they should be, because our competitors (like China) are.

That said, the United States has a lot of work to do to restore the soft power that eight years of the Bush administration has squandered. Let's hope the next administration is more astute and capable.

Demonstating a willingness to invade an ill-behaved country (Iraq) is a form of soft power that your ideology prevents you from seeing. Leaders like Clinton, Carter, and Bush Sr. were the ones who initially squandered this.

Also, bringing 11% of the world's crude oil back online (Iraq) is, in the long run, a form of energy security and international goodwill. Google Iraq's current oil production, and America's daily consumption, and dare to tell us it isn't important.

Re:Advanced Military Systems are Great (5, Insightful)

SvetBeard (922070) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396338)

Demonstating a willingness to invade an ill-behaved country (Iraq) is a form of soft power that your ideology prevents you from seeing.

I don't think you quite understand the meaning of "soft power."

From the Wikipedia article on Soft Power [wikipedia.org] :

Soft power is a term used in international relations theory to describe the ability of a political body, such as a state, to indirectly influence the behavior or interests of other political bodies through cultural or ideological means.
and

Soft power . . . distinguishes the subtle effects of culture, values, and ideas on others' behavior from more direct coercive measures called hard power such as military action (hard power) or economic incentives.

"Willingness to invade" is classic hard power. Please make sure you know what you are talking about before reflexively posting a defense of whatever policy you espouse.

Itchy Trigger Finger? (1)

writerjosh (862522) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395706)

"Thompson defined 'time-sensitive assets' as 'something that if you don't hit right now it will be gone if you come back later.' He cited, as one example, a ballistic missile preparing to launch against the United States."

There are a few problems with this:

1. If we can indeed detect a missile preparing to launch, can we accurately project where it's being pointed at? I can see a situation where we hit a missile we thought was aimed at us, but wasn't. "oops!, my bad"

2. Most likely these hypersonic vehicles could and would ultimately target nuclear weapons. What if we launch a defensive attack on a missile silo (or multiple silos)? Would there be any danger of setting off the nuclear warheads in the enemy country? I know nuclear warheads don't explode by just being shot at, but there could still be radio-active fallout from the release of radio-active material into the environment. And if so, would the US be accused of reckless use of our weapons against civilians that may be affected by such a fallout?

3. If we did hit a "regular" missile and/or a nuclear missile as a defensive attack, couldn't this be easily turned against us politically? Couldn't the enemy country simply cry foul saying they weren't really going to attack and that the bully US strikes again?

4. Perhaps a better strategy is to develop satellites with defensive capabilities of their own. Some kind of emergency propulsion system that would move them out of harms way really fast.

5. Perhaps the best solution is to talk with China and make some agreement not to develop these weapons in the first place. China is the last country we need to be fighting right now.

While these hypersonic vehicles are cool, they could become very reckless since they have such a small window of opportunity and could have terrible political or human costs if we have an itchy trigger finger.

Re:Itchy Trigger Finger? (2, Interesting)

coredog64 (1001648) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395910)

1) There's no way to tell exactly where it's going until it gets there. If you know that country A has missile B with range X you can guess at where its going. However, anywhere North Korea wants to send a missile is probably someplace we don't want it to go.

2) No fallout. Worst case you're looking at a small scale cleanup job that needs doing on a military base.

3) Just ask GWB how well preemptive attacks work out for the US's world image ;)

4) Not really. The additional weight required to achieve this would increase cost and/or decrease payload. In both cases another country could "head fake" an ASAT launch to force the US to move satellites out of coverage. Current satellites could move out of position slowly which is good enough for most current ASAT technologies.

5) See the ABM treaty the US signed with the USSR as why this is a really bad idea (TM).

Re:Itchy Trigger Finger? (1)

inviolet (797804) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396230)

3) Just ask GWB how well preemptive attacks work out for the US's world image ;)

You misunderstand the nature of other countries' grumbling. You'll get it when you finally understand how deep human self-interest goes. Their grumbling is an attempt to soften us back up. You'll know we're getting shafted when everyone likes us and speaks fondly of us.

To put it another way... Our total cost of self-defense is lowest when other countries consider us dangerously erratic and unfashionably violent.

Here He Comes To Save The Day! (1)

PirateBlis (1208936) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395714)

In 2035, The unmanned bomber will also give way to 1 manned armored suits, capable of attaining flight speeds close to near supersonic, and outruns most military aircraft. The US Military has released pictures of the new suits which are being created by Stark Industries. http://screenrant.com/images/trailer14.jpg [screenrant.com] http://www.allaboutduncan.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/09/ironman-fly.jpg [allaboutduncan.com] http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/Images/moviestills/i/ironman/29.jpg [ropeofsilicon.com]

Is the US the only one? (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395790)

I wonder if the US is the only one trying to get better military armaments? From the posts so far, one would think the US was the only one building weapons.

Whether or not this particular technology is good to pursue isn't the point of my post, but the idea of developing arms in general.

No one wants another cold war, but no one wants to suddenly be under the military might of China, either, do they? I'm sure all of us slashdotters would love to have the Chinese version of the Internet.

[sarcasm] But of course, our freedom has absolutely nothing to do with military might, because other nations absolutely love the US and really just want to help us become a better and more free nation... [/sarcasm]

Another interesting thought... I wonder if the US military would really release information on the nwest and most advanced arms technology? It seems like that sort of research tends to be fairly classified?

I thank you fo8 your time (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22395844)

so that their maintained that too Waal: *BSD faces a

diplomacy american style (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22395846)

nm

Just remember, defense is always cheaper (1)

melted (227442) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395870)

Just remember, defense is always cheaper than offense (with the possible exception of nuclear weapons). Once this is done, and billions of dollars of taxpayer's money gets spent on the project, Russians will come up with a countermeasure that shoots it down at 1/100th of the cost, and sell it to everyone else.

Re:Just remember, defense is always cheaper (1)

aslagle (441969) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396218)

Really? Defense is *always* cheaper?

Does SDI mean anything to you? How about the English longbow? I would submit to you that, if anything, defense is always *more expensive*.

Middle ages: Castles (expensive) / Trebuchets (relatively cheap)
Agincourt: Knights (expensive) / English longbow (relatively cheap)
pre-WWII: Battleships (expensive) / Land-based bombers (comparatively cheap)

Satellite Warfare (1)

ryanisflyboy (202507) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396062)

Is it reasonable to assume that a large scale space war using high-explosive satellite killing missiles could cause a cascade failure of not just spy sats - but all sats (or a large portion of them)? The ISS is apparently the most heavily shileded spacecraft in orbit, and it can only handle hypervelocity impacts of 1cm in size or smaller. A bunch of spy satellite bits whizzing around might be kind of hard to manuver away from. I imagine it might take weeks or years for the full effects of a massive sat war to become realized. Worst case, could a bunch of space junk flying around in every usable orbit at high speeds essentially shut down space? Something as small as a paint chip can have devastating effects.

http://www.wstf.nasa.gov/Hazard/Hyper/debris.htm [nasa.gov]

Advanced Psychic Weaponry (1)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396114)

> to allow them to deploy against and take out anti-satellite launch sites before the enemy can fire their missiles.

Which would require the device and/or operators to known it's going to happen so far ahead of time that not even the attacker knows for sure yet. Mach 6 would still take hours to get from the US to any major missile launching sites elsewhere. An anti-sat capable solid fueled platform could get from storage to flight in under an hour, far less if it's stored on its launcher.

The US anti-sat missile launcher was an F-15. Other countries could easily do something similar. Unless we could see underneath their planes, we'd need mind reading to know what they're planning. IIRC, the CIA shut down its remote viewing program, and I don't see it on the DARPA budget.

Perhaps the USAF is expecting anyone intending to launch an anti-sat will oblige us and use some cumbersome behemoth that requires construction and fueling for launch prep, as well as using a payload section that couldn't be mistaken for something else, like say a weather satellite or exatmospheric scientific sounding rocket.

The statements made in TFA were intended for mass consumption by sheeples who'd be impressed since they wouldn't know how long the spokesdroid's nose had gotten. The USAF knows better as do the other countries. But it sure sounds cool.

Risky to Deploy (1)

MultiModeRb87 (804979) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396144)

Such a system seems quite dangerous to deploy, since it would inevitably be assumed to be targeting nuclear launch sites (no difference between an ICBM and an anti-sat rocket). Because of its speed to target, an opponent would have no choice but to launch immediately if he saw the slightest hint that you were *preparing* to deploy these puppies.

X-51 Scramjet Test Video (1)

longacre (1090157) | more than 6 years ago | (#22396202)

Here's a neat clip [popularmechanics.com] of the predecessor of the X-51 hypersonic missile's scramjet engine being test fired, too bad it doesn't have sound but it's still neat.
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