Author Topic: Hypersonic Strike Vehicle  (Read 5954 times)

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Offline tomahawk6

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Hypersonic Strike Vehicle
« on: March 21, 2014, 10:07:54 »
Might as well try and keep up with what the Chicom's are doing as we head into a period of smaller budgets which will shrink the USAF.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/mar/19/inside-the-ring-pentagon-goes-hypersonic-with-long/

Hypersonic vehicles can deliver nuclear or conventional payloads in precision strikes against increasingly hard-to-penetrate air defenses of countries like China, Russia and Iran, he said.

“We, the U.S., do not want to be the second country to understand how to have controlled scramjet hypersonics,” Mr. Shaffer told the Precision Strike Association’s annual review on Tuesday.



Offline S.M.A.

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US hypersonic weapon EXPLODES during flight
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2014, 14:20:15 »
Back to the drawing board?

Reuters

Quote
Experimental U.S. hypersonic weapon explodes during flight test

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A new hypersonic weapon developed by the U.S. military exploded shortly after lift-off from an Alaska test facility during a long-awaited flight test early Monday, the Pentagon said.

No one was injured in the incident, which occurred shortly after 4 a.m. EDT (0800 GMT) at the Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska, said Maureen Schumann, spokeswoman for the U.S. Defense Department.

"The weapon exploded during takeoff and fell back down the range complex," Schumann said.

The weapon was developed by Sandia National Laboratory and the U.S. Army, as part of the military's "Conventional Prompt Global Strike" technology development program which is seeking to build a weapon that can destroy targets anywhere on earth within an hour of getting data and permission to launch.


(...EDITED)

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Offline Thucydides

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Re: Hypersonic Strike Vehicle
« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2014, 15:59:11 »
Hypersonics have been something of a holy grail for decades. The X-15 rocket plane was a manned hypersonic aircraft which was very state of the art for its day (Of course, since Neil Armstrong was a test pilot for the X-15 program, it should give you an indication of when the "day" was). Convair proposed a hypersonic strike aircraft to be ferried to the edge of the USSR by a B-58 Hustler, the "Super Hustler" was supposed to penetrate Soviet airspace at Mach 4 to deliver a nuclear glide bomb. And the SR-71 carried a D-21 hypersonic drone for much the same reason (although the D-22 was primarily a camera carrying aircraft), but this combination suffered a catastrophic failure on launch.

Yet here we are in 2014 still without a practical hypersonic vehicle (except perhaps if you count a MAnoeuvrable Reentry Vehicle [MARV] gliding in from an ICBM launch). I think the real problem is that the R&D effort is stop and start because the expected benefits really don't outweigh the costs, which means each time you restart the program under whatever name de jour you spend a great deal of time reinventing the wheel as well, since all the engineers, test data and so on from the last round has been dispersed, is in the hands of rival contractors and so on.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: Hypersonic Strike Vehicle
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2018, 16:20:40 »
Hypersonics getting very big this year--big NORAD implicatons:

Quote
Hypersonics ‘highest technical priority’ for Pentagon R&D head

As China and Russia threaten to overtake the U.S. with new technologies, development of hypersonic capabilities is the “highest technical priority” for Michael Griffin, the Pentagon’s new undersecretary of defense for research and engineering.

“I’m sorry for everybody out there who champion some other high priority, some technical thing; it’s not that I disagree with those. But there has to be a first, and hypersonics is my first,” Griffin said at the McAleese/Credit Suisse conference Tuesday, in his first public comments since taking office 10 days ago.

The department will be looking to invest more in both offensive hypersonics capabilities and ways to defend against the threat, with new budget items likely to appear in the fiscal 2020 budget, Griffin said, adding that the goal is to leapfrog the work that China and Russia are doing in the hypersonic realm.

“I didn’t take this job so that we could regain parity with our adversaries. As I’ve taken to saying: ‘I want to see their hand and raise them one. I want to make them worry about catching up with us again,’ ” he said. “Any American, any ally or partner that we have who doesn’t see it that way, I don’t have time for you.”

The necessity, in Griffin’s mind, comes from the way hypersonic weapons can put at risk America’s ability to project power.

When the Chinese can deploy [a] tactical or regional hypersonic system, they hold at risk our carrier battle groups. They hold our entire surface fleet at risk. They hold at risk our forward-deployed forces and land-based forces [emphasis added],” Griffin said.

Without our ability to defend and without at least an equal response capability on the offensive side, then what we have done is we have allowed a situation to exist where our deployed forces are held at risk and we cannot do the same for them,” he continued. “And so our only response is either to let them have their way or to go nuclear. And that should be an unacceptable situation for the United States.”

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency budget for hypersonic weapons has increased steadily over the last two years, but more funding would inevitably be welcomed by supporters of the technology...

Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, the director of the Missile Defense Agency, said the pace at which Russia and China are “researching, developing, testing, delivering weapons systems” requires his agency to take the hypersonic threat seriously [emphasis added]...
https://www.defensenews.com/pentagon/2018/03/06/hypersonics-highest-technical-priority-for-pentagon-rd-head/

More:

Quote
Inside the race for hypersonic weapons
A speech by Putin heats up a new global arms race
https://www.theverge.com/2018/3/6/17081590/hypersonic-missiles-long-range-arms-race-putin-speech

Plus:

Quote
U.S. Calls For Better Defenses As Putin Touts New Nukes
http://aviationweek.com/defense/us-calls-better-defenses-putin-touts-new-nukes

Mark
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« Last Edit: March 06, 2018, 16:42:02 by MarkOttawa »
Ça explique, mais ça n'excuse pas.

Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: Hypersonic Strike Vehicle
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2018, 15:38:03 »
Control on hypersonics' proliferation?

Quote
Hypersonic Missiles: A New Proliferation Challenge

hile the world bemoans the lack of inspired solutions for dealing with the North Korean missile threat, another danger looms under the public's radar: that of hypersonic missiles and their possible spread into international commerce.

Hypersonic missiles travel at a speed of one mile per second or more—at least five times the speed of sound. They are able to evade and conceal their precise targets from defenses until just seconds before impact. This leaves targeted states with almost no time to respond. Additionally, such weapons are capable of destroying targets without any explosives, using their kinetic energy alone. Hypersonic missiles require a reconsideration of traditional second-strike calculations, as they have the potential to decapitate a nation's leadership before it has the opportunity to launch a counter attack.

As a result, a state facing a hypersonic missile threat must make the best of a bad situation, effectively forced to choose the lesser evil. It could authorize the military rather than the national leadership to conduct retaliatory strikes, but this would raise the risk of an accidental conflict. It could spread out its forces, making them more difficult to attack, but also rendering them more susceptible to sub-national seizure through a greater number of access points. It could deploy its regionally-strategic forces upon receiving the first warning of an attack, which would make crises exceedingly unstable. Finally, it could launch a preemptive strike upon its enemy. All of these choices invite trigger-happy state behavior.

Given that the proliferation of current generations of ballistic missiles poses many of the same problems as the spread of hypersonic missiles, do the latter really present a unique challenge? For states without missile defenses, hypersonic missiles add relatively little in the way of a threat. However, an increasing number of states are procuring missile defense systems, particularly against regionally-ranged threats. These systems could be effectively neutralized by hypersonic missile technologies.

The United States, Russia, and China are leading the race to develop hypersonic missiles, with France and India close behind. Japan, Australia, and Europe are all developing the component technologies, in some cases for ostensibly civilian purposes. Within ten years, hypersonic missiles are likely to be deployed and potentially offered on the international market. Is there no way to avoid a world with widespread hypersonic forces?..

Richard Speier is a member of the adjunct staff at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation. While with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, he started the Office of Non- Proliferation Policy and helped design, negotiate, and implement the Missile Technology Control Regime.
https://www.rand.org/blog/2018/03/hypersonic-missiles-a-new-proliferation-challenge.html

Mark
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Offline tomahawk6

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Re: Hypersonic Strike Vehicle
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2018, 15:54:19 »
Control on hypersonics' proliferation?

Mark
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Fat chance.

Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: Hypersonic Strike Vehicle
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2018, 11:41:21 »
USAF moving fast on hypersonics:

Quote
Lockheed Under The Gun To Field Hypersonic Strike Missile

Insight into how urgently the U.S. Air Force wants to field a hypersonic strike weapon has emerged even as Lockheed Martin officially acknowledges the April award of a potential $928 million contract to develop the air-launched missile.

In a document justifying its decision to award a single contract to develop the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon (HCSW) after only a limited competition, the Air Force says it plans to conduct the critical design review (CDR) just 24 months after contract award, at the end of fiscal 2019. Early operational capability of the Mach 5-plus missile on an existing fighter/bomber aircraft is scheduled for fiscal 2022.

The heavily redacted justification and approval document posted by the Air Force on June 4 also refers to a second hypersonic weapon, but the details have been removed. This is likely the Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW), an air-launched boost-glide missile that Lockheed Martin is already developing under an extension to its Darpa contract to build the Tactical Boost Glide (TBG) demonstrator.

HCSW is a solid-rocket-powered, GPS-guided missile, where ARRW is a rocket-boosted unpowered hypersonic glider. The Air Force document says, “In order to keep pace with our adversaries’ technology efforts, [redacted] programs were directed to proceed quickly to CDR. [Redacted] HCSW is intended to provide an alternative solution with an overall schedule/technical risk by focusing on highly mature technologies.”

The justification document then goes on to say, “This will result in [redacted, but likely the ARRW] CDR scheduled for the beginning of FY19, with HCSW following by the end of FY19. Collectively, the efforts ensure a capability fielding in the early 2020s.”

Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works is under contract to flight-test the 500-nm-range TBG demonstrator in 2019. The Skunk Works is also expected to flight-test Darpa’s scramjet-powered, 300-nm-plus Hypersonic Air-launched Weapon Concept (HAWC) missile demonstrator in 2019.

Because it is rocket-powered, HCSW presents lower technical and schedule challenges for accelerated fielding than the air-breathing HAWC [emphasis added], which is the follow-on to the Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) X-51A scramjet engine demonstrator that exceeded Mach 5 in a 2013 flight test...

After dragging its heels for decades, the Pentagon has come under pressure to field hypersonic weapons quickly because of advances made by China and Russia, including the much-trumpeted initial deployment of Russia’s Kh-47M2 Kinzhal hypersonic strike missile on MiG-31s at the end of 2017 [emphasis added]...
http://aviationweek.com/defense/lockheed-under-gun-field-hypersonic-strike-missile

More on Russkies:

Quote
Russia has adapted 10 MiG-31 fighter jets to test Kinzhal hypersonic missile, minister says
https://thedefensepost.com/2018/05/05/russia-mig-31-jets-test-kinzhal-hypersonic-missile/

Mark
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Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: Hypersonic Strike Vehicle
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2018, 12:26:52 »
B-52 (B-52J?) for hypersonics--excerpts from major article:

Quote
The B-52 Looks Set To Become The USAF's Hypersonic Weapons Truck Of Choice
The rise of hypersonic weapons gives the bombers a new and highly critical mission that no other U.S. combat aircraft is as well suited to perform.

Though the U.S. Air Force plans to keep its B-52H Stratofortresses in front line service through at least 2050, its clear that the aircraft are becoming more vulnerable to increasingly advanced air defense networks and would have to rely heavily on long-range stand-off weapons during any potential high-end conflict. At the same time, the iconic bombers look set to get a new lease on life as the service’s principle platform for a slew of air-launched hypersonic weapons, a role that they are better suited to fill than any other existing American combat aircraft.

Earlier in August 2018, U.S. Air Force Colonel Lance Reynolds, the Program Manager for B-1 and B-52 Systems, briefed industry representatives on the status of both bombers during a meeting at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma. The B-1 and B-52 Systems division is part of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Bomber Development Branch, which is located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.

Reynolds’ presentation says that between the 2016 and 2022 fiscal years, the Air Force will conduct demonstrations of no less than seven different weapon systems, including various nuclear-capable strategic types, on the B-52, also known affectionately as the BUFF, for Big Ugly Fat Fellow. Of these, four are in-development hypersonic weapons. Broadly speaking, hypersonic weapons encompass unpowered and powered vehicles that fly at more than five times the speed of sound, or Mach 5...



Lockheed Martin has also been leading the work on both the TBG and HAWC. That same company has, unsurprisingly now secured the contracts to develop both the ARRW and a new air-breathing design called the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon, or HCSW, which you’re supposed to pronounce as “hacksaw.”..

A weapon system that flies at a mile per second across a distance of 1,000 miles significantly reduces the time in the kill chain from when the U.S. military identifies the target to when it actually strikes it. For an opponent, this translates to a far shorter amount of time in which to spot the incoming threat and decide to either try and shoot it down or evacuate critical assets and personnel from a particular site. Nuclear- or conventionally-armed hypersonic vehicles therefore offer a game-changing option for conducting strikes with little warning against time-sensitive and other critical targets [emphasis added].

The extreme speed and range of hypersonic weapons also makes them especially applicable to non-stealthy launch platforms, such as the B-52s, since it would allow the bombers to remain far away from enemy air defenses when launching the weapons. In addition, the BUFF already has an established capability to carry oversize payloads over long ranges and each bomber, depending on the size of the Air Force's future ARRW and HCSW designs, could offer a significantly greater volume of fire over other available launch platforms. 

The B-52s could potentially hit targets deeper inside hostile territory by flying right to the edge of those defensive networks, as well. Bombers in general also offer the added flexibility of being able to remain on airborne alert near a certain region, acting as a potential deterrent to an outright conflict, and are easier to recall if necessary to de-escalate a situation. This also helps explain why the Air Force plans to keep the BUFFs in service until 2050, even as the service plans to retire the B-1 bomber and continues procurement of the B-21 Raider stealth bomber.

Combined with new fuel-efficient engines and other upgrades to the B-52’s conventional weapon and data sharing capabilities, sensors and defense systems, will be an especially cost effective launch platform for deploying these weapons. This may also explain why the service is looking to buy all-new under wing pylons for the BUFFs that can carry individual payloads weighing up to 20,000 pounds. It has already used B-52s to test various experimental hypersonic vehicles in the past, as has NASA.

An upgraded B-52J would probably be one of, if not the best possible choice for the hypersonics mission, while still retaining the ability to readily perform other conventional and strategic roles as necessary...
http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/23200/the-b-52-looks-set-to-become-the-usafs-hypersonic-weapons-truck-of-choice

Mark
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Online Chris Pook

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Re: Hypersonic Strike Vehicle
« Reply #8 on: September 02, 2018, 16:40:36 »
Not Hypersonic (Yet)











And an Israeli test



Quote
Only 2% to 10% of containers worldwide undergo inspection
Only 5% of all containers shipped to US ports are physically inspected. That figure is estimated to be lower in Europe! And people wonder why we’re having trouble eliminating drug trafficking!

https://www.icontainers.com/us/2016/11/11/friday-fun-fact-3-only-2-to-10-of-containers-are-inspected/
"Wyrd bið ful aræd"

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Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: Hypersonic Strike Vehicle
« Reply #9 on: October 23, 2018, 13:42:46 »
Also the matter of developing defences vs. hypersonics:
Quote
MDA Joins Tri-Service Hypersonic Weapon Program


Army Hypersonic Weapon: Sandia National Laboratory

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has joined the Army, Air Force and Navy in a partnership formed to urgently develop a new hypersonic weapon within about three years, the Army confirmed to Aerospace DAILY Oct. 22.

MDA’s role in the Hypersonic Glide Body (HGB), which has not previously been disclosed, allows the agency to acquire a relevant missile to use as a target.

The Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC) plans to stand up a new program office to manage development and production of the common HGB.

Asked by Aerospace DAILY to provide details about the new office, SMDC’s response revealed MDA’s involvement. The Army’s new program office will “work with the Air Force, the Navy and MDA on the development of a hypersonic glide body. The services and MDA will have an option to embed personnel in the office,” SMDC said.



SMDC referred questions about MDA’s involvement to the agency.

MDA’s original charter covered only ballistic missile defenses, but the emergence of maneuvering, hypersonic missiles as offensive weapons has broadened its focus.

In 2016, Congress directed MDA to stand up a new program of record focused on developing new defenses dedicated to hypersonic weapons. Agency officials have started working on designing a space-based sensor layer, which could be used to detect and track hypersonic missiles as they maneuver in the atmosphere.

The HGB represents the first major push by the U.S. military to match new hypersonic capabilities pursued by China and Russia. The common glide body—derived from a Sandia National Laboratories research vehicle—is being adapted for launch by Air Force B-52Hs, Navy ships and submarines and Army launchers.

The Air Force plans to field the new missile, which it calls the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon, before 2022. The Army plans to deploy its version—called the Long Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW)—around the same time. The Navy’s version faces the most challenging launch environment, from a submarine
[emphasis added].

SMDC plans to stand up the program office in early 2019, to be led by a yet-unnamed major general, the command said.

SMDC held an industry day in early October for the acquisition of the LRHW. The acquisition strategy has not been finalized, but the industry day focused the Limited Operational Capability for the LRHW, SMDC said.
http://aviationweek.com/defense/mda-joins-tri-service-hypersonic-weapon-program

Mark
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Offline Thucydides

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Re: Hypersonic Strike Vehicle
« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2018, 17:22:52 »
I'm somewhat surprised no one has brought this up yet, but the SpaceX launch platform (Falcon9 and Falcon Heavy) would make relatively good launch platforms for hypersonic glide weapons with global reach. The downside is, like 1950 era ICBM's, they are liquid fuelled, leaving a window when they are vulnerable on the ground, but a Falcon9 can carry 22,800kg to orbit (without returning the booster), so any number under that is the allowable payload for a suborbital boost-glide weapon.

The ability to carry a large payload of boost-glide weapons also means hard targets can be saturated with multiple warheads and a host of penetration aids to suppress the defences, or alternatively multiple weapons can be released during the boost phase to attack targets over a wide area.

On the other end, there are suggestions that hypersonic weapons are best tracked and attacked by small platforms in orbit. Once again, the low cost and heavy lift potential of the Falcon family allows the Space Force to place a large number of interceptor platforms in orbit at once.

Until a new solid fuel military rocket is developed, this might be the platform of choice for hypersonic attack and defence.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: Hypersonic Strike Vehicle
« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2019, 11:54:33 »
Lots going on with US services, will see what comes out of it all:

Quote
New Long-Term Pentagon Plan Boosts Hypersonics, But Only Prototypes

Despite an accelerated and deep road map for U.S. hypersonic weapons technologies, the Defense Department’s fiscal 2020 budget request shows that the path beyond operational flight and weapons prototypes is still long and uncertain.

Between six and 10 hypersonic vehicle programs—depending on how they are counted—are funded in the budget request, says Mike White, assistant director for hypersonics to the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering. Moreover, the Pentagon plans to spend $10.5 billion over the next five years on hypersonic programs, including $2.6 billion in fiscal 2020. Both numbers represent a “dramatic” funding increase compared to the previous year’s long-term plan, White says.

That spending supports a broad range of hypersonic applications across all three legs of the Pentagon’s strategy, which includes fielding long-range strike weapons in the near-term, adding defensive interceptors in the midterm and developing manned vehicles in the distant future, he says. 

Although the plan is broad and deep, it remains limited so far to developing vehicles into operational prototypes. It is a designation that indicates a commitment to acquiring small batches of weapons. The Pentagon’s five-year spending plan still stops short of establishing a traditional program of record for a hypersonic vehicle [emphasis added]. A program of record would imply a long-term commitment to a specific technology, with an approved requirement and a funded plan to complete development and launch production and provide sustainment...

https://aviationweek.com/defense/new-long-term-pentagon-plan-boosts-hypersonics-only-prototypes

Mark
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Ça explique, mais ça n'excuse pas.

Offline Technoviking

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Re: Hypersonic Strike Vehicle
« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2019, 12:16:17 »
I'm somewhat surprised no one has brought this up yet, but the SpaceX launch platform (Falcon9 and Falcon Heavy) would make relatively good launch platforms for hypersonic glide weapons with global reach. The downside is, like 1950 era ICBM's, they are liquid fuelled, leaving a window when they are vulnerable on the ground, but a Falcon9 can carry 22,800kg to orbit (without returning the booster), so any number under that is the allowable payload for a suborbital boost-glide weapon.

The ability to carry a large payload of boost-glide weapons also means hard targets can be saturated with multiple warheads and a host of penetration aids to suppress the defences, or alternatively multiple weapons can be released during the boost phase to attack targets over a wide area.

On the other end, there are suggestions that hypersonic weapons are best tracked and attacked by small platforms in orbit. Once again, the low cost and heavy lift potential of the Falcon family allows the Space Force to place a large number of interceptor platforms in orbit at once.

Until a new solid fuel military rocket is developed, this might be the platform of choice for hypersonic attack and defence.
How practicable would it be to park a hypersonic glide weapon into a Geosynchronous orbit and then give it terminal guidance instructions when required?
So, there I was....

Offline SeaKingTacco

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Re: Hypersonic Strike Vehicle
« Reply #13 on: March 18, 2019, 13:00:51 »
I don't think anyone has ever tried to de-orbit something from a geo-synchronos orbit. It cannot be easy. In the first place, the object is orbiting at around an altitude of 32,000kms, which means it has an immense amount of kinetic energy that you have to get rid of somehow to get it to slow down enough to intercept the Earths atmosphere. That fuel bill cannot be cheap, if you want in done quickly. Plus your enemy will watch you do this foor hours, if not day. So much for surprise. Then you have the problem of getting it to a specific point on the Earths surface, probably with less than 10m accuracy. Again, not a trivial problem.

All told, there are probably easier ways to weaponeer something.

Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: Hypersonic Strike Vehicle
« Reply #14 on: September 07, 2019, 12:25:14 »
B-52 or B-1B (or both) for USAF boost-glide hypersonics?

Quote
Behold The First Flight Of A B-52 Bomber Carrying The AGM-183A Hypersonic Missile
The photographs from the first-ever flight test of the weapon offer the first look at its overall design.
...
https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/28576/behold-the-first-flight-of-a-b-52-bomber-carrying-the-agm-183a-hypersonic-missile

Air Force Touts B-1B Bomber's Potential To Carry Huge Hypersonic Missiles And External Stores
The B-1B may have to fight for its life in the not so distant future, but new upgrades could give it the ammo it needs to survive the budget ax.
...

https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/29716/usaf-touts-b-1bs-potential-to-carry-huge-hypersonic-missiles-and-external-stores

Mark
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Offline tomahawk6

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Re: Hypersonic Strike Vehicle
« Reply #15 on: September 08, 2019, 21:42:03 »
Hypersonic weapons will revolutionize warfare and of course how to defeat them.

Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: Hypersonic Strike Vehicle
« Reply #16 on: October 01, 2019, 19:11:06 »
An analysis of boost-glide hypersonics (carried by ballistic missiles) from 2018:

Quote
Hypersonic Boost-Glide Weapons and Challenges to International Security
Hypersonic boost-glide vehicles present new iterations of old challenges to strategic stability.

Editor’s Note: The following is an edited and compressed version of remarks delivered by the author at a recent workshop in Geneva, Switzerland, hosted by the United Nations, on the international security implications of hypersonic boost-glide weapons.

I’ve been asked to address an important topic that is overdue for serious attention in the area of international disarmament studies and arms control. I’ll be building on the earlier presentation we received from on the state of long-range conventional weapon technology worldwide and focus mainly international security implications of hypersonic weapons, focusing primarily on the subgenre of hypersonic boost-glide weapons — HGVs, for short — which present, in my view, a pressing set of challenges.

HGVs have in recent years been associated with strategic disruption, which has prompted great interest in their potential. In 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin, in an address to the Federal Assembly, described HGVs as having the potential to “negate all previous agreements on the limitation and reduction of strategic nuclear weapons, thereby disrupting the strategic balance of power.” The fundamental technology behind HGVs is decades old, but years of experience in materials science, weapons development, and growing concerns about missile defenses in some states has led to a recent push for deployable HGV payloads. Russia and China are at the vanguard with dual-capable systems (i.e., Avangard, DF-17, etc), while the United States continues on with its quest to field conventional-only systems for the prompt global strike mission.

The limited bit of good news with regard to HGVs is that many of the challenges they present to strategic stability between the great powers developing them in a serious way — today, China, Russia, and the United States — are effectively new iterations of old problems. Proponents of HGV technology have made the argument, too, that compared to other kinds of prompt-strike conventional weapons, HGVs can offer certain advantages and even offer stabilizing contributions over their counterparts. I will begin with a discussion of these advantages, mostly because the list here is quite short.

Proponents of investments in HGV technology — particularly in the United States Air Force — had made the argument that their unique flight profiles and, in particular, the nonballistic trajectory followed by the reentry vehicle would allow for easy discrimination. In the U.S. context, where these weapons have been strictly conceived of as conventional systems, this attribute was thought to contribute to stability and escalation ceilings. Assumptions in favor of this analytical conclusion are worth appreciating.

First, this assumed that prospective U.S. adversaries — including Russia and China — would have sophisticated enough early warning sensors to discriminate an HGV trajectory from a ballistic trajectory. Second, this assumed, too, that prospective adversaries might forgive — or at least overlook — the maneuverability characteristics that would allow an HGV payload to strike any number of targets once it had been detected. With regard to the assumption regarding sensors, it should be noted that China continues to lack the kind of sophisticated long-range over-the-horizon early warning system that would be required for HGV trajectory discrimination at present. (Investments are being made in this regard, however.)

The United States currently operates the most advanced space-based sensor layer, capable of detecting ballistic missile launches with a few seconds of booster ignition given sufficient altitude. What remains unclear is whether these geostationary orbit-based space-based infra-red sensors would be capable of discriminating and detecting the unique heat signatures generated by an HGV in the skip-glide phase of its flight from space. If the answer is no with existing geostationary space-based sensors, then HGVs will continue to pose a destabilizing challenge in their ability to bypass existing early warning systems. By the time terrestrial radars have detected an incoming HGV payload, it may be too late to queue ballistic missile defense systems for engagement or allow national leaders enough time to decide on retaliation, prompting all sides to seriously consider the adoption of dangerous LoW or LUA postures.

I want to interrogate too the often-stated point that one of the greatest challenges from HGV technology in their potential to disrupt the capabilities of existing missile defense systems. This point is commonly associated with HGV technologies. For instance, during his public introduction of the Avangard system in March this year, Russian President Putin described its terminal maneuverability as giving it a capability to become “absolutely invulnerable for any missile defence system.” These claims make for good public relations, but may not entirely be true.

It is conceivable that existing terminal missile defense systems capable of intercepting medium-range-class (MRBM-class) and intermediate-range-class (IRBM-class) ballistic targets could be developed further to manage terminal defense against HGV payloads. The U.S. THAAD, Patriot PAC-3, and MEADS systems could be iteratively improved to handle HGV targets. Similarly, China’s under-development DN-3 and Russia’s S-400 could be calibrated and tested against HGV targets.

The core problem posed by HGVs for existing missile defense architectures rests primarily in the sensor layer. The considerably lower altitude midcourse flight phase for most known HGV systems would considerably reduce the engagement time for ballistic missile systems. This would require tightened battle management system software. While MRBM- and IRBM-class targets can reenter at faster speeds than some HGV payloads and still be successfully intercepted by existing advanced terminal theater-range missile defense systems, it’s still not well-understood just what the outer limits on terminal maneuverability might be for systems like the DF-17, the Avangard, and the U.S. Advanced Hypersonic Vehicle (AHV).

The answer to this question has important implications for how we assess the international security implications of soon-to-be-introduced HGV systems. If they pose an unsurpassable challenge to current-generation terminal missile defense technologies, they stand to qualitatively shift the offense-defense balance in the favor of the attacker. (Ballistic missile reentry vehicles, including maneuverable reentry vehicles, meanwhile allow the attacker to quantitatively overcome even the most effective missile defense systems.)

For Russia and China, there will be an undeniable appeal to design intercontinental-range, nuclear-capable HGVs—especially if their concerns about U.S. midcourse defense aren’t assuaged. Both Moscow and Beijing doubt U.S. assertions that the Alaska- and California-based Ground-Based Midcourse Defense is designed to defend against “limited” ballistic missile threats from states like the DPRK and Iran. Intercontinental-range HGVs would reach their ballistic apogees out of the range of U.S. continental Ground-Based Interceptors and skip-glide at a low enough altitude to guarantee their ability to penetrate through to the U.S. mainland. This problem was identified by U.S. Statergic Command’s chief Gen. John Hyten: “We don’t currently have effective defenses against hypersonic weapons because of the way they fly, i.e., they’re maneuverable and fly at an altitude that our current defense systems are not designed to operate at.”

“Our whole defensive system is based on the assump- tion that you’re going to intercept a ballistic object,” he added, referring to the GMD concept. Even if terminal missile defense against HGVs becomes feasible, it will be infeasible for the United States to deploy terminal defenses to cover a sufficient swathe of its territory.

There is an added technical impulse here. For a given HGV, the greater the terminal maneuverability, the higher the tradeoff in terms of overall payload weight, on average. That should cause both Beijing and Moscow to favor low-yield, compact nuclear weapons over conventional payloads. (In China’s case, however, it would be difficult to justify a low/lower-yield HGV system as long as it continues to formally profess a no-exceptions no-first use posture.)

One final note on HGVs: Given the unproven nature of terminal HGV defense and the likely unsurpassable challenge of midcourse HGV interception, some have called for greater investment into boost-phase technologies to deal with the HGV challenge. Given the strategic depth available to the United States, Russia, and China by the sheer size of their territory, shore-based boost-phase systems or even persistent air-based boost-phase interceptor launchers, such as fighter aircraft or unmanned aerial vehicles, can be easily dealt with by moving launch sites further inland. That leaves open the possibility of space-based missile defense interceptors, which numerous studies have shown to be prohibitively expensive and deploy in numbers sufficient to counter the HGV challenge.

Dual-capable HGVs — that is to say HGVs capable of carrying both nuclear and conventional payloads — represent a particular concern. Chinese and Russian HGVs appear to currently fit into this category. The U.S. intelligence community has assessed that the DF-17’s HGV payload is designed to be dual-capable and the booster itself might be quite similar — or identical — to that used by the DF-16 medium-range ballistic missile. Similarly, Russia’s Avangard is rated by multiple sources as having a capability to deliver both conventional and nuclear payloads. The United States does not appear to be considering dual-capable HGVs at this time; all known U.S. HGV efforts in recent years have been focused strictly on conventional payloads.

In wartime, dual-capable systems raise the risk of inadvertent escalation. In the Pacific, in a U.S.-China conflict, U.S. military planners would have high incentives to disarm China of the conventional systems it might use to strike at U.S. base facilities in the region, which, if disabled, would significantly complicate the United States’ ability to sustain military operations west of the first island chain and toward the Chinese mainland. For Chinese planning purposes, HGV-capable systems like the DF-17 might come to adopt a primary mission in this kind of a scenario — particularly as long as the United States lacks a wide enough low-altitude sensor network in the region to make terminal point defense against HGV payloads viable.

If Beijing comingles nuclear-capable HGVs and conventional HGVs — or comingles People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force nuclear assets with conventional HGVs-bearing units — any U.S. conventional strike would easily be interpreted as an attempt at counterforce. Strictly, China’s no-first use posture would lead us to think that nuclear escalation would still be unwarranted, but a wide enough U.S. attack could threaten China’s retaliatory ability and, particularly given existing Chinese concerns about U.S. damage limitation technologies, including missile defense, use-or-lose incentives rise quickly, no-first use aside. Here, it should be underlined that Beijing’s dual-capable HGVs are not a unique challenge; its extensive range of comingled conventional and nuclear-capable missile and warhead units present a greater challenge.

Early in a crisis or during a war, it would be nearly impossible for the United States to communicate to Chinese leaders — or for Chinese leaders to take seriously — any U.S. assurance that conventional strikes were not designed to disarm China of its strategic deterrent. None of the possible solutions to this problem are particularly appealing. One would be for China to maintain its existing posture, but pursue a large nuclear buildup, ensuring it would have a larger strategic retaliatory capability. Another could be for China to maintain its existing force structure, but shift its posture explicitly to adopt launch under attack (LUA) or even launch on warning (LoW).
https://thediplomat.com/2018/11/hypersonic-boost-glide-weapons-and-challenges-to-international-security/

Mark
Ottawa
Ça explique, mais ça n'excuse pas.

Offline Baz

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Re: Hypersonic Strike Vehicle
« Reply #17 on: October 01, 2019, 20:05:46 »
Hypersonic weapons will revolutionize warfare and of course how to defeat them.

I'm not a fan of the use of the term revolution when applied to military technology.  Very few things have revolutionized warfare; an example of the application if that word for me would be air power.

The reason I say this is we were told information warfare and ISR would revolutionize warfare, and then promptly started throwing away concepts like command and control, surveillance, reconnaissance, and tactical use of force because of that.  Only now are we robustly learning that nothing has really changed and the core concepts of warfare are the same.