Monday, March 14, 2011

Scramjet Nuke 600 Miles In 10 Minutes

Launched from a B-52, the proposed X-51 hypersonic cruise missile could travel 600 miles in 10 minutes to strike elusive, fleeting targets. (Illustration by Render Room)A tip sets the plan in motion--a whispered warning of a North Korean nuclear launch, or of a shipment of biotoxins bound for a Hezbollah stronghold in Lebanon. Word races through the American intelligence network until it reaches U.S. Strategic Command headquarters, the Pentagon and, eventually, the White House. In the Pacific, a nuclear-powered Ohio class submarine surfaces, ready for the president's command to launch.

When the order comes, the sub shoots a 65-ton Trident II ballistic missile into the sky. Within 2 minutes, the missile is traveling at more than 20,000 ft. per second. Up and over the oceans and out of the atmosphere it soars for thousands of miles. At the top of its parabola, hanging in space, the Trident's four warheads separate and begin their screaming descent down toward the planet. Traveling as fast as 13,000 mph, the warheads are filled with scored tungsten rods with twice the strength of steel. Just above the target, the warheads detonate, showering the area with thousands of rods-each one up to 12 times as destructive as a .50-caliber bullet. Anything within 3000 sq. ft. of this whirling, metallic storm is obliterated.

If Pentagon strategists get their way, there will be no place on the planet to hide from such an assault. The plan is part of a program -- in slow development since the 1990s, and now quickly coalescing in military circles -- called Prompt Global Strike. It will begin with modified Tridents. But eventually, Prompt Global Strike could encompass new generations of aircraft and armaments five times faster than anything in the current American arsenal. One candidate: the X-51 hypersonic cruise missile, which is designed to hit Mach 5 -- roughly 3600 mph. The goal, according to the U.S. Strategic Command's deputy commander Lt. Gen. C. Robert Kehler, is "to strike virtually anywhere on the face of the Earth within 60 minutes."

The question is whether such an attack can be deployed without triggering World War III: Those tungsten-armed Tridents look, and fly, exactly like the deadliest weapons in the American nuclear arsenal.

XM-25 Declassified Rifle+Programmable Ammo

xm-25.jpgNine years into the war, a handful of U.S. soldiers have a new weapon in hand, a lethal combination of technology and explosives that the Army has called a "game changer."

Looking like it came straight out of a sci-fi movie, the XM-25 shown here--->
fires highly specialized rounds that can be programmed to explode at the precise location where the enemy is hiding behind cover.
Consider it a beefed up take on the old adage "boys and their toys."
Five of the high-tech, semi-automatic weapons arrived in the war-torn country this month and soon will be tested "This weapon makes our forces more lethal, it makes them more effective and it keeps them safer," said Lt. Col. Christopher Lehner, the project manager for individual weapons at Program Executive Office Soldier, which developed the XM-25. "This is the first time that we've put smart technology in the weapons system for the individual soldier."
Though the XM-25 has tested well in the United States, military brass will be watching the weapon's performance in real-life combat to assess not only how well it performs, but also what weapons it might end up replacing.

Soldiers currently up against insurgents ducking for cover behind fortified walls have little choice but either to fire highly explosive 40mm grenades or mortar rounds, which are effective, but often inaccurate, or to leave their own cover and maneuver to fire direct shots, which puts American lives at risk.
Enter the XM-25.
"We're talking about seconds to neutralize the enemy, versus minutes," Lehner said.
Crouching behind his own cover, a U.S. soldier armed with the XM-25 can point his weapon at the wall behind which the enemy is hiding to get the precise distance. The rounds, which come four to a magazine plus one in the chamber, can then be programmed to travel just a short distance behind that to explode precisely where the insurgent is believed to be hiding.
With the scope aimed at the top of the wall, the round will fire and explode before impact, at the precise location programmed by the soldier, raining a hail of explosives and fragments on to the enemy.
It all takes mere seconds -- five to program and fire, two for travel.
The rounds also take into account air pressure and temperature to accurately hit their marks.
"Our soldiers can stay behind cover and shoot this weapon at the enemy who's behind cover and we can take him out," Lehner said. "But they can't take us out because we're behind cover and they don't have this weapon."