High Ground

Blog Post
The Raider

The first Northrop Grumman B-21 Raiders are under construction and should be operational by 2025. It’s the Air Force’s new Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) program. Many details are classified but it’s designed to have a very long range, and to eventually replace the B-2, B-1, and B-52 aircraft. I expect that it will look much like a larger version of the B-2, which has a successful, stealthy design shape. The strike package that it will carry will vary based on mission, but expect it to deliver the newest version of hypersonic (scramjet powered) cruise missiles armed with thermonuclear or conventional weapons. 
When you read this blog, it’s not like reading “Aviation Leak”. I don’t have much new to share in that way. I’m a fossil. I thought that being on the ground, lazing a target and having a B-52 on call overhead with smart munitions with rotary launchers that would drop an old iron bomb (snake eye) with a new guidance package was pretty darned cool. 
Now, it’s a B-21, standing off 400 miles, (roughly the distance between Los Angeles and the New Mexico State border) selecting the warhead you want, launching a hypersonic missile traveling 4,000 +/- mph (1.1 miles per second) and having it hit the target you’ve designated six minutes later. It’s awesome power for the SEAL/ODA Type on the ground. Sure, they’re expensive, but it has the benefit of shortening the war you’re fighting. 
Some of the new US Cruise missiles are said to be Mach 10 capable, so make the delivery time three minutes. You can play with numbers all day, but the payload hauler can be a very long way from the target and launch missiles that are very difficult to shoot down that travel with blinding speed and make short work of, say, Iran’s capacity to pump, refine and deliver oil.
Let me scale it for you. One B-21 should have the comparable strike capacity of a Navy aircraft carrier. And we’re buying a lot of them with taxpayer dollars.

Same Topic Really

Hypersonic Missiles (more here from the US Naval Institute) are the new high ground delivery systems for precision demolition (the spear point). 
They differ from existing technologies in three critical ways. First, because kinetic energy is a function of the square of velocity, a one-kilogram object delivered precisely and traveling multiples of the speed of sound can be more destructive than one kilogram of TNT. Second, the low-altitude path helps mask HCMs; when coupled with the curvature of the Earth, they are mostly invisible to early warning radars. And third, HGVs can maneuver during flight; in contrast with the predictable path of ballistic-missile descent, they are more difficult to intercept, if even detected. By offering the precision of near-zero-miss weapons, the speed of ballistic missiles, and the maneuverability of cruise missiles, hypersonic weapons are a disruptive technology capable of striking anywhere on the globe in less than an hour.

26 thoughts on “High Ground

  1. Ed: nah, saturation bombing is old school, not going to see any of that any time soon. Don't get me wrong, though; a sqaudron or two of antique B-52's stuffed to the gills with dumb bombs, gets me pining for the good ol' days. They still got the job done.

  2. I've been following the scramjet thing over the years. It'd be neat to see it applied to civil aviation, and of course the military application is significant.

    All this to say nothing of anti grav.

  3. I don't think so. It ended in Hiroshima. Now if you want someplace flattened like that, you drop a nuke.

  4. If you want anti-grav, the cadet will need to leave his cushy job with the Army's Signal Corps and transfer to the Space Force. Maybe he could smuggle you aboard some of those neat flying saucers that they have.

  5. Good to know that the US are up to speed with efficient airborne weapon platforms. There will be a lot of opportunties to use them in the years to come as all the islamic terrorist organiztions create problems all over the world. Using the available firepower with pinpoint precision to eradicate the terrorists suppressing local citizens will be appreciated.

  6. As an old ditch boy (as my jarhead bud calls me) I'm a fan of cluster bombs and carpet bombing. Since something like 10% fail to explode, you get a minefield as an aside.

  7. The plans are off the drawing board and they are being built, they are coming to a Middle Eastern country that gets into mischief soon.

  8. There is nothing wrong with a CBU. And despite the current ban on its use, napalm was very effective. But it's also nice to sit back and whack-a-mole from 1000 miles away and have it hit the mole at five times the speed of sound.

  9. I'm sure you are right and progress marches on. Still, when it comes to military hardware, I like keeping it simple/stupid.

  10. I don't know when the first man napped the first flint knife, but they've been effective since the dawn of time. I have a tomahawk and two kukris on my desk close at hand. Just because they have their roots in antiquity doesn't mean that they're not effective.

    Armored knights feared war hammers (a knife attached to a lever) that would pry open their armor so that a blade could be inserted when they'd been de-horsed.

    Obama thought that the US military no longer issued bayonets (but consider who he was). In the debate with Pierre Delicto/Romney, Romney wasn't well enough versed to call him on it. The truth is that soldiers and sailors still prize quality knives as tools of war. And when you don't have a knife, you can use a sharp rock to shave a tree limb into a spear and a little fire to harden it.

    What is a bullet but a bodkin arrowhead with some propellant behind it?

    In short, I take your point and agree completely.

  11. The B-21 will be powered by two of F-35A engines, ie the most powerful turbofan ever built. And sll of the development costs are paid for.

  12. If hypersonic weapons can do all that, aircraft carriers are just big targets… What will we do on that day when our carriers disappear?

  13. The same is true of research for the stealth design, which is why it's come so quickly to market. The avionics are said to have been derived from those designed for the F-35 as well.

  14. May the Sea Gods forgive me for writing this, but Aircraft carriers have been obsolete in a genuine navy war scenario for decades. They're targets. Against mud hole nations like Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria, they work. It's useful to have floating runways and wings of aircraft standing by.

    The air bases of B-21's are likewise vulnerable.

    Submarines are far less vulnerable.

  15. I'm not sure on the 'total' weapons capability… Nor the actual 'range' of weapons that can be carried. They are betting on the come for some of those advanced missiles, and I can't help but wonder what the fall back is… Sigh…

  16. The counter for these will have to be lasers….the only thing fast enough to have a chance at interception. Problem being the Chinese…..and probably the Russians too….steal data and match our new weapons almost cost free. Unless and until we get serious about stopping cyber spying AND banning Chinese and Russians from American universities and working for American companies they will continue to match our developments for pennies on the dollar by stealing what we pay a lot to invent.

  17. The next "big thing" in warfare will be attacks from space. The Chinese without doubt are working hard to gain control of the ultimate high ground. And regardless of any treaties about keeping space neutral we must also. The advantage of controlling orbital space is simply too great to ignore. Submarines are stealthy but aside from nukes are of limited utility in land warfare.

  18. Perhaps it is a cynical nature coming to the fore, but every time I hear of a great new whiz bang tool, I wonder how long it will be before it is used on us, by "US". Damned deplorables are not gonna die off on their own, ya know. They say the military would never take up arms against their fellow countrymen. How about an autonomous weapon? A machine just does what it is told to do. Morality does not enter into it.
    Makes it real easy to "restore order".

  19. All heavy lift troop movements require the ocean at present. The same is true of commerce, so submarines remain valuable in all respects. They clearly lack the flexibility of an aircraft carrier, but they are vulnerable to a variety of attacks.

  20. The Navy has lagged with the development of the follow-on to the A-6. The Super Hornet and F-35 don't have leg, especially with a full bomb load. The harpoon is obsolete.

    The USAF may be overly optimistic. They often are.

  21. Maybe we'll see something in the next Trump Administration that will stem the tide in this regard. That's about the only positive thing that I can say.

  22. I'm not dismissing what you wrote, but I think that we're a long way from Sky Net. At the moment it's more art than science. In the future, who can say?

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