Tags: U.S. | Develops | New | Weapons

U.S. Develops New Weapons

Friday, 29 June 2007 12:00 AM

The U.S. is developing a new array of offensive and defensive weapons designed to fight advanced opponents in both insurgent combat and major national warfare. The new weaponry includes both conventional and unconventional systems that have never been fielded before. One such system is the formidable Trident submarine.

The Trident was designed to carry nuclear tipped missiles into World War III style thermonuclear combat. The submarines only job was to fight a doomsday global nuclear war.

Today, three of the Trident submarines have been refitted with a new array of weapons and can even be armed with Special Forces troops. The former Trident submarine Michigan returned to service in June with a ceremony at Bremerton Washington. After three years and a one billion dollar makeover at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, the Michigan is no longer armed with nuclear tipped missiles.

The refurbished submarine is a massive platform for conventional cruise missiles. The 560-foot Michigan now carries 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles and can launch all of the deadly accurate missiles in a single volley in less than a minute.

The new firepower of the Michigan is enhanced by the fact that the sub also can support special operations forces such as Navy Seals and Marine Recon units. The submarine can carry and support a team of 66 special operations forces for up to 90 days. The USS Michigan is the third of 4 nuclear ballistic missile submarines to be converted into cruise missile/special forces boats. The Michigan follows the USS Ohio, which also is based at Bangor, and the USS Florida, which is based at King's Bay, Georgia. The USS Michigan and its two rotating crews now begin certification and testing that could last more than a year before it will be available for deployment in the Pacific.

In addition, the U.S. Navy is making cruise missiles a lot more lethal. The newest Navy program called Revolutionary Approach to Time-Critical Long-Range Strike, or RATTLRS, is aiming to upgrade the speed of flying missiles to faster than a rifle bullet. Lockheed Martin and Rolls-Royce North America have a $120-million contract to build a hypersonic missile demonstrator that will eventually become an eventual tactical weapon. The first flight of RATTLRS is slated to take place in November 2007.

Current cruise missiles such as the Navy's sea-launched Tomahawk and the Air Force's Air-Launched Cruise Missile move at subsonic speeds, too slow to hit fleeting targets such as terrorists. RATTLRS is designed to fly at hypersonic speeds up to four times the speed of sound. The RATTLRS prototype is aiming to fly for only five- to 15-minutes but in that time it will travel over 500 miles. RATTLRS, using the unique capability of a turbine power jet engine, can be launched at subsonic speeds, without a booster, and accelerate to cruise speeds in excess of 2000 miles an hour. RATTLRS combines the latest technological advances in accuracy and targeting with high performance non-afterburning turbine technology found in its YJ102R engine.

The AADC YJ102R engine provides the supersonic cruise capability of the legendary SR-71 spy plane in a simple and inexpensive engine suitable for an expendable missile.

U.S. advances in turbine cooling technology allow the YJ102R to provide more than six times the power of the SR-71 engines, allowing the RATTLRS vehicle to cruise at high speed without the high fuel consumption of conventional jet engines.

This turbine engine offers high-supersonic speed, extended range, high fuel efficiency, and the ability to trade speed for increased range. With its speed, accuracy, range and responsiveness, RATTLRS will be able to strike a wide variety of target types including mobile, time-critical, hard or buried targets.

Lockheed is not the only company working on super-fast missiles. U.S. missile maker Raytheon is studying a "supersonic Tomahawk" concept it believes could offer the U.S. Navy a quick path to fielding a comparatively high-speed conventional strike weapon. The new super-Tomahawk can fly at twice the speed of sound and range out to targets up to 700 miles from its launch point. The Super-Tomahawk is same size and weight as current Tomahawk cruise missile so it can be deployed from same launchers from warships, and submarine torpedo tubes. Raytheon has indicated that they also might upgrade the Super-Tomahawk targeting system to use advanced electronic array AESA radars for final targeting.

Some of the newest weapons have legs that are even faster and longer than RATTLRS and Super-Tomahawk. Northrop Grumman has been contracted to design a weapon — using the Minotaur launch vehicle and an unspecified delivery device — that can destroy targets at a global range in less than an hour's flight time.

The conventionally armed ballistic missile will be able to reach anywhere on the globe within minutes. It will be armed with a wide variety of conventional explosives included advanced smart-sub munitions that can seek out and destroy individual targets. The sub munitions are to be a number of BLU-108B/B sensor-fused weapons that use an active laser sensor, multimission warhead and large footprint for searching out targets. Each sub munition is to carry four explosively formed penetrator projectiles that can detect a vehicle's shape and heat signature. Other warheads can provide direct attack capabilities against command and control centers using either conventional explosives or even simple concrete blocks. The concrete block warhead can fly in at up to 10 times the speed of sound, striking its intended target with massive kinetic force that could collapse tunnels, or destroy buried bunkers deep beneath the earth.

These latest weapons are but a few of the new tools in the arsenal of freedom. There are other systems, some of which seem the stuff of science fiction that will be introduced over the next few years. These new weapons may deter any potential opponent from starting a war with America. However, they also make sure that America can win any future war.


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The U.S. is developing a new array of offensive and defensive weapons designed to fight advanced opponents in both insurgent combat and major national warfare.The new weaponry includes both conventional and unconventional systems that have never been fielded before. One...
Friday, 29 June 2007 12:00 AM
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