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Hypersonic Weapon Passes First Flight Test

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  • Hypersonic Weapon Passes First Flight Test

    This thing has been type classified already. No "x" in the model designation.

    The U.S. Air Force successfully conducted the first flight test of its AGM-183A Air Launched Rapid Response Weapon, or ARRW, on a B-52 Stratofortress aircraft on June 12 at Edwards Air Force Base, California, the service has announced.
    https://www.afcea.org/content/hypers...st-flight-test
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  • #2
    So the Air Force is putting a hypersonic weapon on what is arguably the slowest Strategic Bomber in its arsenal?

    Pruitt
    Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

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    • #3
      So would this be limited to bombers as a launching platform?
      I saw one article stating that hypersonic weapons over water against ships donít appear to be anymore effective than subsonic ones.
      "In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason."
      Ernest Hemingway.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Achtung Baby View Post
        So would this be limited to bombers as a launching platform?
        I saw one article stating that hypersonic weapons over water against ships donít appear to be anymore effective than subsonic ones.
        It reduces time window for interception.
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        • #5
          Originally posted by Achtung Baby View Post
          So would this be limited to bombers as a launching platform?
          I saw one article stating that hypersonic weapons over water against ships donít appear to be anymore effective than subsonic ones.
          I think that the ranges over which shore to ship or ship to ship engagements take place are likely to be relatively short so that the time from launch to strike remains limited in both cases so reaction time is less of a factor whereas land to land, ship to land and air to land will be greater so that it becomes a factor.
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          • #6
            But can a hypersonic missile really be a sea skimmer? I canít find the details as to how low a Harpoon can go, I just canít see how a hypersonic missile could match that... surely it would need to be at a higher altitude, thus detection would be sooner due to the curvature of the earth.
            "In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason."
            Ernest Hemingway.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
              So the Air Force is putting a hypersonic weapon on what is arguably the slowest Strategic Bomber in its arsenal?

              Pruitt
              Slowest guy in the crowd needs the fastest punch.

              Besides, if something goes wrong a BUFF is cheaper to lose than a B-1. SF has been using BUFF's as launch platforms for a lot of stuff since since it joined the inventory. Big, stable aircraft with a lot of room on board for instrumentation.
              Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Achtung Baby View Post
                But can a hypersonic missile really be a sea skimmer? I canít find the details as to how low a Harpoon can go, I just canít see how a hypersonic missile could match that... surely it would need to be at a higher altitude, thus detection would be sooner due to the curvature of the earth.
                50 feet is plenty low enough, although I hear that some can go down to around 10 feet if the sea is calm. Thing is, hypersonic doesn't leave much time for a reaction from the target, a generated response and a successful intercept. It comes down to the CIWS spraying and the crew praying.

                Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Achtung Baby View Post
                  But can a hypersonic missile really be a sea skimmer? I canít find the details as to how low a Harpoon can go, I just canít see how a hypersonic missile could match that... surely it would need to be at a higher altitude, thus detection would be sooner due to the curvature of the earth.
                  I don't remember the sea-skimming altitude of the Harpoon, either, but I think it was between 20m-30m. You raise a good point about whether or not a hypersonic missile could be a sea-skimmer, given the limited field of view from that low altitude. The hypersonic missile would likely cover the radar search horizon long before it had any chance of gathering target acquisition data and acting upon it with course corrections. The small missile fins would likely mean only the slightest changes would be possible.

                  If the missile were to receive target information via datalinkage, I think it would be difficult to react to any required course corrections due to the distance and data transmission times/rates.

                  I remember reading an old article about the disparity of the Warsaw Pact and NATO missiles. I wish that I could find the article, but it said that NATO chose to go with the sub-sonic missiles because they had a better chance of actually getting a hit, even if it meant that they could be more easily intercepted by defensive systems.

                  The Soviets chose to go with the high speed anti-ship missiles like the AS-4 Kitchen and AS-6 Kingfish. The NATO line of thinking was that the missiles were fast and difficult to physically intercept, but that they didn't need to actually destroy the missile to gain a mission kill. The missile speed made them difficult to control for course corrections, so a small targeting error was easily magnified. This meant that ECM, chaff, and other counter-measures only had to make the missile miss by a bit and it was as good as gone.

                  One aspect that has not been mentioned is the fact that missile bodies at high speed are weapons unto themselves. Even if a hyper/super-sonic weapon is intercepted close to the target (i.e via Close In Weapons systems like gatling guns), the fragments are still deadly due to their kinetic energy.
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                  • #10
                    Thanks Herman, good answers from everyone.
                    The reason I have questions regarding sea skimming vs high altitude hypersonic ASMs is primarily due to the curvature of the earth, and also what sensors would work at such high speeds.

                    Here's an example, let's say a sea skimmer is flying around 10 metres above sea level, the visual range on the horizon is about 27 kilometres, radar range would be about 31 kilometres.

                    A missile, flying at 100 metres above sea level, visual range is now 51 kilometres, radar range would be about 60 kilometres.

                    At 1000 metres above sea level, a missile would be visible at 127 kilometres, radar range would be just under 150 kilometres.

                    And this isn't including stealth.

                    Hypersonic missiles generate plasma which would blind it from optical guidance and only powerful radio signals could be used to guide it. And yes, any sharp turns or failed fairings with simply disintegrate the missile. Active radar homing would be needed, unless something else is used.
                    Last edited by Achtung Baby; 16 Jun 19, 05:25.
                    "In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason."
                    Ernest Hemingway.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Achtung Baby View Post
                      The reason I have questions regarding sea skimming vs high altitude hypersonic ASMs is primarily due to the curvature of the earth, and also what sensors would work at such high speeds.

                      Here's an example, let's say a sea skimmer is flying around 10 metres above sea level, the visual range on the horizon is about 27 kilometres, radar range would be about 31 kilometres.

                      A missile, flying at 100 metres above sea level, visual range is now 51 kilometres, radar range would be about 60 kilometres.

                      At 1000 metres above sea level, a missile would be visible at 127 kilometres, radar range would be just under 150 kilometres.

                      And this isn't including stealth,

                      Hypersonic missiles generate plasma which would blind it from optical guidance and only powerful radio signals could be used to guide it. And yes, any sharp turns or failed fairings with simply disintegrate the missile. Active radar homing would be needed, unless something else is used.
                      You've nailed the technical challenges and physical limitations to a 'T'.

                      The hypersonic missiles create similar problems found with the high-speed Shkvall torpedoes. The bubbles generated by the super-cavitating weapon pretty much ensures that it blinds any sonar sensor it might carry. Therefore, it is an area weapon. The fact that it supposedly has a nuclear warhead negates the need for a sensor for final course corrections. Hypersonic could be made functional the same way.

                      The PRC DF-21 weapons should suffer from most of the same limitations. The fact that it is airborne allows for the possibility of search and targeting data from sources not carried by the weapon itself. Still, the phenomenal speed would mean that any adjustments would be very minor.

                      Michael Crichton mentioned a concept known as 'resonant yaw' from one of his characters, who was a former missile engineer.

                      Look: when I was working on missiles, we dealt with something called 'resonant yaw.' Resonant yaw meant that, even though a missile was only slightly unstable off the pad, it was hopeless. It was inevitably going to go out of control, and it couldn't be brought back. That's a feature of mechanical systems. A little wobble can get worse until the whole system collapses.
                      http://variety-sf.blogspot.com/2007/...-jurassic.html

                      It was from a novel, but much of his writing is based on fact.
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                      • #12
                        Also, throw in a AEW like the E-2 Hawkeye and the detection range is even further while operating at 25,000 ft, with the ability to use it's Cooperative Engagement Capability system to engage an overland cruise missile with an integrated Standard SM-6 from another launch platform.
                        "In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason."
                        Ernest Hemingway.

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                        • #13
                          Before I forget, the US, French Australian and Japanese navy use the GQM-163 Coyote supersonic sea skimming target missile to simulate a hostile missile and test their weapons against it.

                          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GQM-163_Coyote
                          "In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason."
                          Ernest Hemingway.

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