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calendar   Monday - March 09, 2015

Another Blast From Out Of The Blue

A very long and busy weekend for me. And not without considerable consternation. Well, at least now that it’s an hour later than it was the other day, it seems that Spring may actually be almost ready to put in an appearance. Yay. Some things are thawing out. Others, not so much.
Sorry, don’t mean to be mysterious. But I don’t write about every thing that goes on in my life. Just the funner parts, sometimes.



I got all caught up doing research this weekend over a little news item I saw about this bit of military hardware called an SDB II. That’s the acronym for another piece of precision minimalist ordnance called a Small Diameter Bomb. It’s a stand-off weapons system that packs two artillery shells worth of boom behind a reactive armor defeating double bazooka like tandem shaped charge warhead, in a drain pipe barely 7” across and under 6’ long, and then adds a set of pop out wings that allow it to home in on targets from 40 miles away. A glide bomb. No heat signature, and a radar cross section about the same as a metal eagle. IOW, just about none. The -II version gets a vastly improved 3 way guidance system that turns this thing into a semi-intelligent Fire And Forget (aka “set it and forget it") munition. It’s a Hunter Seeker, straight out of Dune, only the larger, anti-tank version. Point it, tell it “there be targets that way”, let it go. And it works. And self destructs if your intel happens to be wrong. Amazing stuff.

Oh, and did I mention that reason the -II got the new guidance package was to enable the bomb to hit a moving target? Oh yes indeed. It can hit a pickup truck going 70mph. You want us to hit the driver or the passenger? Your choice. It’s that good.

Naturally, being me, I looked at it and saw the immediate shortcoming. You’ve got to fly the thing to within 40 miles of the target. Which could put your planes in SAM range. Risky business. Then I realized that the higher you can launch it, the further it can glide. And no matter how efficient the wing is, it isn’t going to fly along un-powered from over the horizon, where your planes could be out of enemy radar range. After all, from only 1066 feet up, you can see 40 miles. Radar can do that too, or better.

So I thought about it, and I looked at the pictures, and I noticed how the general shape and size of this one is remarkably similar to the Hellfire missile and it’s improved and strengthened cousin, the Brimstone missile, and that gave me a tiny epiphany.

Years ago the SDB I passed the “can we drop these things while flying at Mach 1.5?” test. So we know it’s tough enough. The Brimstone missile is the new, improved, jet worthy version of the Hellfire missile, which was designed to be launched from a helicopter or other slow flyer. Hellfire, Brimstone, and  STD  SDB are all about the same length, weight, and diameter. Almost exactly. The rocket motor from the Brimstone missile can shoot that missile for 20km. 12.4 miles. Why not hook one on the SDB as a booster? Sure, that could give you some kind of medium range supersonic mini cruise missile, but I’m sticking with the no heat signature, long range stand-off concept, and reducing risk to the launch platform. Strap this rig to a jet. A plane old fighter plane, not the magical and problematic F35 thing. Fly the plane up to 50,000 feet or so, go nearly vertical at Mach 1+, and push the GO button. You’re already up in the really thin air to begin with, so there is a whole lot less air friction. Which means the rocket motor should perform even better. Whoosh, and it shoots the SDB at least another 20km further up into the sky. That puts it 25 miles up, nearly in space. Which should give you a glide range of ... holy cow, a lot ... maybe 200 miles. Your launch planes still aren’t below the radar horizon, but they’re so far away that no SAM battery is going to bother with them. And the enemy radar guy has more to worry about than watching some crazy American jet jockeys punching holes in the sky way way way over thataway. And half an hour or so later, out of nowhere, all the enemy’s hard assets start exploding. A blast from out of the blue.

Damn, I should work for Raytheon.



image

Small Diameter Bomb II Completes Live Fire Test Destroying T-72 Tank

An Air Force F-15 Eagle recently destroyed a moving –model T-72 tank during a live-fire test of the Small Diameter Bomb II at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., service leaders said.

“Just this month we had a successful live fire mission. It was an F-15E that targeted a moving T-72 tank surrogate. We’re still analyzing the data to get the details of it but the visual indicated it was a direct hit,” Lt. Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, military deputy for Air Force acquisition, told Military.com in an interview.

The test earlier this month was the final live fire mission required for the developmental weapons program to move toward what’s called a “Milestone C” full rate production decision, she added.

Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall is expected to approve full-rate production of the weapon by May of this year — a move which would clear the path for large-scale manufacturing and delivery of the Small Diameter Bomb II, or SDB II, later this year.

Ultimately, the Air Force plans to acquire 12,000 SDB II weapons — which will enter service by 2017, service officials said.

“This was the graduation exercise. This is what the warfighter is going to drop on the bad guys. It is the end to end test. The warhead performed as expected and we ended up putting steel on target which is what the goal is,” Jeff White, senior manager, business development, Raytheon, told Military.com.

image



The SDB II has had a couple of teething problems, like any other newly developed system. It can’t fit in the undersized magazine of the US Marine’s tiny version of the new F35, but it fits just fine in the standard one the Air Force uses. Carrying the SDB II on wing racks defeats the stealth aspects of the new wonder fighter, which is what lead me to the booster engine range enhancement idea. My idea is a cheap fix using off the shelf parts, and lets all the other regular planes join in the fun. Their fix will be to redesign the STOL F-35’s weapons bay, which could take years and is guaranteed to cost hundreds of millions.


First cousins, with added thrust: the Hellfire and the Brimstone missiles. All three are about the same size, weight, and diameter. The SDB II carries a lot more blast, but less fragmentation. Which could be provided by a bolt on iron collar, at the cost of added weight and lesser range. Such a collar already exists for the Hellfire, to enhance its use against softer targets. All the more reason to use a little booster engine!

image   image

One of many many links to more information

The Air Force is currently enjoying a daydream in which truckloads of these glider bomblets are packed into a B2 stealth bomber. 216 of them to be precise. And then one invisible plane flies off and silently destroys an entire army’s worth of tanks, trucks, cannons, radars, etc. A whole war fought from one plane.
The tripping thing is, it might not be a wet dream at all. It could work.

And that’s what happened to all my blogging time this weekend!


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 03/09/2015 at 12:25 PM   
Filed Under: • Militaryplanes, trains, tanks, ships, machines, automobiles •  
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