But the most advance and state of the art weapon is to put weapons on satellites with Rail Guns (Gauss Weapon) that can shoot a
Satellite weapons would be available maybe beyond 2015.
These weapon would be also on the Destroyer DDX that would run using Permanent Magnet Motor technology.
Another NEW weapon would be the laser gun that US Air force plan to put on a 747 plane to shoot down enemy missiles.
Future C-130 with Laser Gun
Future C-130 with Laser Gun
Pentagon stays the course with laser weapon
Airborne Laser given a reprieve — and challenging development schedule
As envisioned, the aircraft would fly in a figure-eight pattern over an area deemed a likely site of a missile launch. Onboard infrared sensors would detect the launch and feed that information into a computer that would direct the laser turret to point at the ascending missile. The turret would then fire two lower-powered solid-state lasers — one to track the missile and one to measure atmospheric distortion — before shooting the high-powered chemical laser at the target.
The ABL program's inability to meet cost and schedule targets in past years once made it a candidate for termination. Just prior to his 2004 retirement, U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish, who was then serving as the Missile Defense Agency's director, said the program could be canceled if it did not perform well in initial flight and ground tests that were scheduled for late in the year.
Those tests were a flight of the aircraft outfitted with the battle-management and fire-control systems, and a brief firing of the chemical laser on the ground. Both went smoothly, and the senior Missile Defense Agency officials have not invoked similar termination threats in relation to any upcoming ABL test, Daniels said in a telephone interview.
As the 2004 demonstrations approached, markers, called "knowledge points," were laid out to ensure that progress on the program — or lack thereof — would be easy for senior MDA officials and their congressional overseers to gauge, said Daniels, who took over the program in April 2005. He replaced Brig. Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, who now serves as the director of the Air Force's military satellite communications joint program office.
Flight testing planned
The ABL program has a budget of $471.6 million in 2006. Knowledge points laid out for this year include testing of the solid-state lasers for missile tracking and atmospheric-distortion correction. Ground-based tests of those lasers are slated to wrap up in August, with flight testing to take place by the end of the year, Daniels said.
An engineer at Lockheed Martin's facility in Sunnyvale, Calif., inspects the Turret Ball Conformal Window on the Flight Turret Assembly for the Airborne Laser. The window is the exit for the High Energy Laser, as well as the exit and return window for the Beacon Illuminator and Tracker Illuminator lasers.
Also planned for 2006 is the refurbishment of the optical hardware on the high-power chemical laser for a new round of ground testing in 2007, Daniels said.
That hardware has been used extensively over the past 18 months, and the military plans to give it a thorough cleaning and inspect it to ensure it is ready for the next series of tests and then the 2008 intercept, Daniels said.
MDA has requested $631 million for the ABL effort in 2007. During that year, the MDA plans to install the refurbished chemical laser hardware on the 747 aircraft, and run ground tests to prepare for the 2008 intercept demonstration, Daniels said.
Demonstration to determine future
Air Force Lt. Gen. Henry "Trey" Obering, the MDA's current director, has indicated that the 2008 demonstration likely will factor heavily into a decision on whether to continue with the ABL program beyond then. The ABL has been positioned as a competitor to the Kinetic Energy Interceptor, a boost-phase missile defense system slated for a flight test in 2008, and MDA officials have indicated that only one of the programs may be funded over the long term.
Daniels said an operational ABL fleet ultimately could consist of seven aircraft.
The threat of cancellation no longer looms over the Pentagon's Airborne Laser effort, but senior program officials say they are taking nothing for granted as they prepare for a missile-intercept demonstration in 2008.
Several clear test milestones have been laid out for the Airborne Laser in 2006 so that senior Missile Defense Agency officials will be able to measure its progress, according to Air Force Col. John Daniels, the effort's program director.
The Airborne Laser, or ABL, is a Boeing 747 aircraft being equipped with a high-powered chemical laser to destroy ballistic missiles in their boost phase. Chicago-based Boeing Co. is the prime contactor on the effort.
When it submitted its 2006 funding request to Congress last year, the MDA said it was planning to begin design work on a second ABL aircraft in 2007. The plan accompanying the budget submission for 2007 delays that work to 2009, to take advantage of the lessons learned from the intercept demonstration, Daniels said.
If the 2008 demonstration is successful, it likely would be followed by attempts to shoot down longer-range missiles, Daniels said.
Other work that could follow a successful 2008 intercept demonstration includes testing the ABL against other airborne targets, and possibly using the system to track space debris, Hyslop said during a March 10 briefing for reporters.© 2007 Space.com. All rights reserved.
|Space-based weapons have exceptionally disparate advantages and disadvantages: They are extremely powerful and difficult to defend against, but they’re also expensive to launch and maintain and they’re in constant motion above the Earth.|
Rods from God
Space-launched darts that strike like meteors
By Eric Adams
The concept of kinetic-energy weapons has been around ever since the RAND Corporation proposed placing rods on the tips of ICBMs in the 1950s; the satellite twist was popularized by sci-fi writer Jerry Pournelle. Though the Pentagon won’t say how far along the research is, or even confirm that any efforts are underway, the concept persists. The “U.S. Air Force Transformation Flight Plan,” published by the Air Force in November 2003, references “hypervelocity rod bundles” in its outline of future space-based weapons, and in 2002, another report from RAND, “Space Weapons, Earth Wars,” dedicated entire sections to the technology’s usefulness.
If so-called “Rods from God”—an informal nickname of untraceable origin—ever do materialize, it won’t be for at least 15 years. Launching heavy tungsten rods into space will require substantially cheaper rocket technology than we have today. But there are numerous other obstacles to making such a system work. Pike, of GlobalSecurity.org, argues that the rods’ speed would be so high that they would vaporize on impact, before the rods could penetrate the surface. Furthermore, the “absentee ratio”—the fact that orbiting satellites circle the Earth every 100 minutes and so at any given time might be far from the desired target—would be prohibitive. A better solution, Pike argues, is to pursue the original concept: Place the rods atop intercontinental ballistic missiles, which would slow down enough during the downward part of their trajectory to avoid vaporizing on impact. ICBMs would also be less expensive and, since they’re stationed on Earth, would take less time to reach their targets. “The space-basing people seem to understand the downside of space weapons,” Pike says—among them, high costs and the difficulty of maintaining weapon platforms in orbit. “But I’ll still bet you there’s a lot of classified work on this going on right now.”
The Weekly Standard June 8, 2005
|Advanced Tactical Laser|
|Is This What War Will Come To?|
|Rods from God|
The Rods from God
By Michael Goldfarb
BY CHANCE, the same day that Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith was released in theaters across the country, the world learned of the Bush administration's plans to weaponize space. So while critics speculated about the parallels between the Evil Empire and the Bush administration, pundits debated the merits of "space superiority"--the allies it would alienate, the treaties it would violate, the billions it would cost. The irony was not lost on Teresa Hitchens, vice president of the Center for Defense Information, whose insistence that the world would not "accept the U.S. developing something they see as the death star," was carried in the pages of the New York Times.
Among the weapons the Air Force might deploy are space-based lasers, a space plane capable of delivering a half-ton payload anywhere in the world in 45 minutes, and the "rods from god." The rods are currently just a concept--and have been since the early 1980s--but, if the myriad technical and political hurdles to deployment could be overcome, the system could represent a tremendous leap forward in the military's ability to destroy underground, hardened facilities of the type that have allowed Iran and other rogue states to violate the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty with impunity.
HOW DO THE RODS WORK? The system would likely be comprised of tandem satellites, one serving as a communications platform, the other carrying an indeterminate number of tungsten rods, each up to 20 feet in length and 1 foot in diameter. These rods, which could be dropped on a target with as little as 15 minutes notice, would enter the Earth's atmosphere at a speed of 36,000 feet per second--about as fast as a meteor. Upon impact, the rod would be capable of producing all the effects of an earth-penetrating nuclear weapon, without any of the radioactive fallout. This type of weapon relies on kinetic energy, rather than high-explosives, to generate destructive force (as do smart spears, another weapon system which would rely on tungsten rods, though not space-based).
Clearly the rods are a first-strike, offensive weapon. The nation's aging fleet of ICBMs, and its more modern Ohio-class submarines--each carrying 24 Trident missiles--will serve as an adequate nuclear deterrent well into the 21st century, but nuclear weapons cannot deter rogue states from developing their own nuclear arsenals.
Iran has used deeply buried facilities, such as the one in Natanz, to shelter its nuclear program from an assault similar to Israel's raid on Iraq's Osirak facilities. This has limited America's options for intervention. A conventional attack on such facilities might succeed in setting the Iranian program back a few years, but due to the presumed dispersal of equipment over a number of sites across the Islamic Republic, only good intelligence and a great deal of luck would eliminate the threat entirely. And while a nuclear attack could be tactically successful, it is politically unviable. A few well-placed tungsten rods, however, would guarantee the destruction of the targeted facilities (assuming timely and accurate intelligence).
OF COURSE THE RODS would not be a panacea for proliferation. It is hard to imagine how the "rods from god" would alter the equation in North Korea, which possesses thousands of rockets and artillery pieces capable of hitting Seoul in retaliation for any perceived act of aggression by the United States. But no other rogue state can hold a gun to the head of the international community the way North Korea can. Absent such a non-nuclear deterrent, rogue states such as modern-day Iran and Saddam-era Iraq have employed hardened, underground bunkers (note the recent discovery of a large, underground insurgent lair in Anbar) as their primary defense against American air superiority.
There are a number of interest groups working to stymie plans to build either a new generation of fission bombs or space-based weapons (see here, and here). These groups present reasonable arguments against both strategic avenues. For instance, if the administration starts production on a newly designed nuclear weapon, it would likely be in violation of the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty. Furthermore, such weapons run the risk of mitigating the military's well-founded fear of launching a nuclear first-strike.
The arguments against space weapons range from the practical--they will be extremely expensive to build and maintain, and they may not work--to the ideological. Teresa Hitchens simply maintains that, "The world will not tolerate this." John Pike, of globalsecurity.org, speculates that the likelihood of the rods, or any other system, being deployed in space over the next decade were "next to nil." The reason, he explains, is that the military appears to be putting very little money into the research and development of such systems--though the military's immense classified budget could in theory be hiding some of the evidence.
Pike offered another interesting explanation for why the rods may remain on the drawing board--the GBU-28. The GBU-28 was designed to destroy underground bunkers, but there have been doubts about whether it can actually penetrate Iran's buried facilities. Pike says they would--"like a hot knife through butter"--and that this misperception may have been intentionally fostered: "to lull the mullahs into a false sense of security."
THE RODS may indeed be more science fiction than science. They are at least 10 years away from being operational, and the cost of launching heavy tungsten rods into orbit would be, well, astronomical. Other financial challenges include the satellite's "absentee-ratio," which refers to number of satellites, or in this case bundles of rods, which would be necessary to assure proximity to the target.
Furthermore, it may be necessary to slow substantially the rods' rate of speed to prevent them from vaporizing on impact--though retrorockets might offer a solution to this problem. Simply attaching a tungsten rod to the tip of an ICBM would overcome many of these hurdles, but would create another serious problem: the need to involve the Russians and Chinese, who might detect such a launch and mistake it for an American nuclear attack on their own territories.
Whether the Air Force does ultimately pursue this particular platform to fulfill its vision of American space superiority is a decision that should not be taken lightly. There are a great many obstacles to getting a tungsten rod into space and bringing it back down on the nuclear facilities or command centers of our enemies. Such obstacles range from our continued reliance on unreliable intelligence to the probability that our enemies would adapt to the new technology. Nevertheless, it's likely that space will be weaponized. The only question is whether the U.S. Air Force or the People's Liberation Army will be at the vanguard of the revolution.
Michael Goldfarb is an editorial assistant at The Weekly Standard.