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Old 04-26-2010, 03:34 PM   #1
Jigsaw

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Default Hyper Fast Conventional Missiles

Interesting article in The Times today regarding a new type of ICBM being prototyped called Prompt Global Strike (PGS) by the US military. Seems to me to be a reaction to the changing nature of warfare, moving away from full scale conventional war and more towards quelling insurgent uprisings and strategic attacks on high value targets.

Worth noting that for every one of these new PGS missiles the US put into service they must decommision one nuclear weapon, which is only a good thing imo.

Quote:
HAUNTED by the memory of a lost opportunity to kill Osama Bin Laden before he attacked the World Trade Center in New York, US military planners have won President Barack Obama’s support for a new generation of high-speed weapons that are intended to strike anywhere on Earth within an hour.

Obama’s interest in Prompt Global Strike (PGS), a nonnuclear weapons programme, has alarmed China and Russia and complicated nuclear arms reduction negotiations.

White House officials confirmed last week that the president, who won the Nobel peace prize last year, is considering the deployment of a new class of hypersonic guided missiles that can reach their targets at speeds of Mach 5 — about 3,600mph.

That is nearly seven times faster than the 550mph Tomahawk cruise missiles that arrived too late to kill Bin Laden at an Al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan in 1998.

“The ability to attack a wide range of targets at intercontinental range, promptly and without resort to nuclear weapons, is of central importance to US national security,” said Daniel Goure, a defence analyst at the Lexington Institute in Virginia.

The White House has requested almost $250m in congressional funding next year for research into hypersonic technologies, some of which harness the shock waves generated by a fast-moving missile to increase its speed further.

The new weapon could be launched from air, land or sea on a long-range missile travelling at suborbital altitudes above 350,000ft. The missile releases a hypersonic pilotless plane that receives updates from satellites as it homes in on its target at up to five times the speed of sound, generating so much heat that it has to be shielded with special materials to avoid melting.

Depending on the version the Pentagon chooses, the warhead would either split into dozens of lethal fragments in the final seconds of its flight or simply smash into its target, relying on devastating kinetic energy to destroy anything in its path. As a precision weapon its effects would be quite different from the mass destruction inflicted by nuclear warheads delivered by intercontinental ballistic missiles that can reach 13,400mph.

The development of PGS has won praise and criticism as the president seeks to reduce the strategic US nuclear arsenal in favour of tactical weapons that can be used swiftly to counter terrorists or rogue states. “Conventional weapons with worldwide reach ... enable us to reduce the role of nuclear weapons,” said Joe Biden, the vice-president, recently.

Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, warned earlier this month that “states will hardly accept a situation in which nuclear weapons disappear, but weapons that are no less destabilising emerge in the hands of certain members of the international community”.

General Yuri Baluyevsky, a deputy secretary of the Russian National Security Council, complained that US concessions at nuclear arms reduction talks were not because of America’s love of peace, but because “they can kill you using conventional high-precision weapons”.

US analysts have also warned of the risk that Chinese or Russian monitors might mistake a hypersonic launch for nuclear attack. “The short flight time ... leaves very little time for an assessment of the situation, putting an enormous strain on national decision-making mechanisms and increasing the probability of an accident,” argued Pavel Podvig of Stanford University.

General Kevin Chilton, the US air force commander supervising the PGS programme, told The New York Times that the Pentagon’s current options were not fast enough.

“Today we can present some conventional options to the president to strike a target anywhere on the globe that range from 96 hours to maybe four, five, six hours,” he said. “If the president wants to act faster than that, the only thing we have that goes faster is a nuclear response.”

The Pentagon has already begun testing missile systems that might be used in a PGS programme. Last week the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) launched a test flight of a prototype labelled the Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2), also known as the Falcon.

The prototype was launched from Vandenberg air force base in California on a solid-fuel rocket booster made from a decommissioned ballistic missile. There was no comment from US Strategic Command, which controls the programme, on either the success of the test or a timetable for future deployment.

“It is premature to discuss the actual implementation of this capability until the technology has sufficiently matured,” a Pentagon statement said.

The Washington Times reported last week that Darpa is building two Falcon vehicles, the second of which is scheduled for launch early next year.

US officials have sought to reassure Russian and Chinese authorities that the new weapons will be developed in small numbers and will be kept well away from US nuclear launch sites so there is no confusion that might trigger an accidental nuclear war.

The new arms reduction treaty signed by Obama and Dmitri Medvedev, the Russian president, in Prague two weeks ago also contains a provision that Washington will reduce its arsenal by one nuclear missile for every PGS weapon that it deploys.

Obama’s efforts to placate Moscow and Beijing have been criticised by US arms control hawks. Dean Cheng, a China specialist at the conservative Heritage Foundation, accused the administration of “pursuing a strategically incoherent policy, one that is ostensibly aimed at reassuring other nations but will more likely lead to greater instability and uncertainty”.

Cheng added: “This is not the path to another Nobel peace prize.”
Hyperfast missile to hit anywhere in an hour - Times Online


"I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed, for 12 hours. When it was all over, I walked up. We didn't find one of 'em, not one stinkin' dink body. The smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole hill. Smelled like... victory. Someday this war's gonna end... "
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Old 04-26-2010, 03:55 PM   #2
BloodBane611
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Default Re: Hyper Fast Conventional Missiles

I read about this a bunch last week, it is very interesting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jigsaw View Post
Worth noting that for every one of these new PGS missiles the US put into service they must decommision one nuclear weapon, which is only a good thing imo.
While this has been stated by various 'authorities', according to the US State Department that is not in fact true:

Quote:
Originally Posted by US State Department
Key Point: The New START Treaty does not contain any constraints on current or planned U.S. conventional prompt global strike capability.



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Old 04-26-2010, 04:06 PM   #3
Jigsaw

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Default Re: Hyper Fast Conventional Missiles

Ah fair enough, I hadn't done any further research just based it on that article

Bit of a shame tbh, anything to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in service for me, but at least the shift in focus is still evident.

Edit: That said, reading through that article it gives me a different impression. All they have said there is that the new PGS weapons will count towards the delivery vehicle/warhead limit as:

Quote:
the treaty does not make a distinction between missiles that are armed with conventional weapons and those that are armed with nuclear weapons
Seeing as increasing the number of these conventional warheads affects these limits it could mean that they will have to reduce the number of nuclear warheads in service. They don't say that directly, but the inference for me is there and they do not confirm that they will not be reducing the numbers of nuclear warheads as has been reported.


"I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed, for 12 hours. When it was all over, I walked up. We didn't find one of 'em, not one stinkin' dink body. The smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole hill. Smelled like... victory. Someday this war's gonna end... "
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Old 04-26-2010, 04:29 PM   #4
DankE_SPB
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Default Re: Hyper Fast Conventional Missiles

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jigsaw View Post
Interesting article in The Times today regarding a new type of ICBM being prototyped called Prompt Global Strike (PGS) by the US military. Seems to me to be a reaction to the changing nature of warfare, moving away from full scale conventional war and more towards quelling insurgent uprisings and strategic attacks on high value targets.
ICBMs already travel at hypersonic speeds(from 4-5M to about 20M iirc)
Missiles in the article are "conventional" cruise missiles and hypersonic missiles were made about 40 years ago.

tbh i'm sceptical that it will appear any time soon.
What can be said for sure, it will be huge and look weird

Quick solution could be designing HE warhead for ICBMs(if there is no one already in US, don't know, but there is 2t HE-F warhead for russian R-29 Sineva i.e.), though this will bring problems with other countries due to using ICBM
Quote:
Seeing as increasing the number of these conventional warheads affects these limits it could mean that they will have to reduce the number of nuclear warheads in service. They don't say that directly, but the inference for me is there and they do not confirm that they will not be reducing the numbers of nuclear warheads as has been reported.
The bit you quoted relates to missiles which can be equipped with nuclear warheads, so if this new missile wont be capable of carrying nukes, it wont be counted into that limit


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Old 04-26-2010, 06:20 PM   #5
Jigsaw

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Default Re: Hyper Fast Conventional Missiles

Quote:
Originally Posted by [R-CON]DankE_SPB View Post
ICBMs already travel at hypersonic speeds(from 4-5M to about 20M iirc)
Missiles in the article are "conventional" cruise missiles and hypersonic missiles were made about 40 years ago.
Im aware of the above, if you actually read the article you will note that this new system is a replacement for Tomahawk cruise missiles which travel at 550mph carrying a conventional warhead whereas PSG missiles will travel at 3,600mph. As it stands the only weapon systems that deliver this kind of speed are nuclear weapons, which are extremely unlikely to be used especially in the current climate, meaning a conventional system is required.

Perhaps the term ICBMs was the wrong one to use, although if you think about it they achieve the same function with different results, one being nuclear the other precision.

Quote:
Originally Posted by [R-CON]DankE_SPB View Post
The bit you quoted relates to missiles which can be equipped with nuclear warheads, so if this new missile wont be capable of carrying nukes, it wont be counted into that limit
I think you're wrong there;

Quote:
Long-range conventional ballistic missiles would count under the Treaty’s limit
These are long-range conventional ballistic missiles, regardless of whether or not they are capable of carrying nuclear warheads, and therefore are included. It says nothing about whether the missiles can or cannot carry nuclear warheads in order to be included in the treaty.


"I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed, for 12 hours. When it was all over, I walked up. We didn't find one of 'em, not one stinkin' dink body. The smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole hill. Smelled like... victory. Someday this war's gonna end... "
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Old 04-26-2010, 07:00 PM   #6
Bob_Marley
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Default Re: Hyper Fast Conventional Missiles

Meh.

The project might not be dead yet (I thought it had died when Bush was still in), but it will be soon. It'll run into the same brick wall it did the first time - congress won't fund it because as wonderful as it sounds no one is stupid enough to actually want this system.

An early warning system can't tell the difference between a nuclear and conventionally armed missile. Which means if one of these starts heading toward one of the other members of the P5, they're likley to get real edgy (and possibly button happy).

Oh, but you say, we'll just tell the ruskies/chinese/frogs/tea drinkers that this is a conventional launch and there is nothing to worry about.

Well no one is going to buy that. Such a system provides the perfect cover for a first strike. Which means no sane power is ever going to believe that any of these launches that head toward thier terretory are not nuclear armed.

All in all, its a ****ing stupid idea. Always was, always will be.

The key to modernising any weapon is covering them in glue and tossing them in a barrel of M1913 rails until they look "Modern" enough.

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Old 04-26-2010, 07:28 PM   #7
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Default Re: Hyper Fast Conventional Missiles

Quote:
Originally Posted by [R-MOD]Bob_Marley View Post
Meh.

The project might not be dead yet (I thought it had died when Bush was still in), but it will be soon. It'll run into the same brick wall it did the first time - congress won't fund it because as wonderful as it sounds no one is stupid enough to actually want this system.

An early warning system can't tell the difference between a nuclear and conventionally armed missile. Which means if one of these starts heading toward one of the other members of the P5, they're likley to get real edgy (and possibly button happy).

Oh, but you say, we'll just tell the ruskies/chinese/frogs/tea drinkers that this is a conventional launch and there is nothing to worry about.

Well no one is going to buy that. Such a system provides the perfect cover for a first strike. Which means no sane power is ever going to believe that any of these launches that head toward thier terretory are not nuclear armed.

All in all, its a ****ing stupid idea. Always was, always will be.
Given the kind of situation these are meant for, they will only be launched one at a time. Even if it had nuclear warheads in MIRVs, that leaves at least 90% of Russia's or China's nuclear arsenal still peering down our throats. That would be the least effective first strike available, as would be fairly obvious to everybody.

However, given the state of military intelligence, is it really a good idea to have senior military officials in the US decide to hit a target on the other side of the world in 30 minutes? I don't really think so. If we look at the political fallout from the drone strikes in Pakistan, which are run in conjunction with a broad-based and sophisticated intelligence gathering program by the CIA, it's still viewed very negatively by most people in the world. It kills a lot of people who at least appear to be civilians, and it's being conducted only a few hundred miles from friendly forces. Creating a near-instant strike option for use against people who are by definition outside of the reach of other conventional weapons would only increase the likelihood of a large number of civilian casualties.



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Old 04-26-2010, 11:35 PM   #8
CastleBravo
Default Re: Hyper Fast Conventional Missiles

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jigsaw View Post
These are long-range conventional ballistic missiles, regardless of whether or not they are capable of carrying nuclear warheads, and therefore are included. It says nothing about whether the missiles can or cannot carry nuclear warheads in order to be included in the treaty.
Sounds more like they plan to build an intercontinental cruise missile to me. This missile would stay inside the atmosphere and fly to the target instead of just getting lobbed on a ballistic arc out into space on the right trajectory to hit the target. As far as the treaties are concerned it is nothing but a really fast and long-range tomahawk.

I suppose they could just throw conventional warheads on ICBMs or even SLBMs but then it wouldn't be a hypersonic missile anymore, it would be much faster. It would hit the target in under thirty minutes instead of five or six hours. Launching such a weapon on a path that might (even mistakenly) be considered an attack on china or Russia could result in a nuclear response. I personally don't think they would be dumb enough to launch on us because they saw a single missile that might be flying towards them, but at the very least using such a weapon anywhere near their part of the world would force them to put their nuclear arsenal on a hair trigger just in case we are doing a preemptive nuclear strike. They would not sleep well when we have such a weapon fielded, and knowing they aren't sleeping well would make me lose some sleep too.
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Old 04-27-2010, 01:35 AM   #9
DankE_SPB
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Default Re: Hyper Fast Conventional Missiles

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jigsaw View Post
Perhaps the term ICBMs was the wrong one to use
thats exactly the point, because when you talk about treaties and limits, terms are very important
Quote:
although if you think about it they achieve the same function with different results, one being nuclear the other precision.
CastleBravo summed it up

Quote:
These are long-range conventional ballistic missiles,
no, they are not ballistic

Quote:
regardless of whether or not they are capable of carrying nuclear warheads, and therefore are included. It says nothing about whether the missiles can or cannot carry nuclear warheads in order to be included in the treaty.
no, the fact they are cruise missile already saves them from the START-3 treaty
furthermore, if you talk about aircraft-based version of it, only the heavy bombers count into treaty as delivery mean, so as long as this missile do not have a)nuclear warhead b)not carried by heavy bomber it do not fall into any limits

START-3 treaty
Quote:
Article I11
1. For the purposes of counting toward the aggregate limit
provided for in subparagraph l(a) of Article I1 of this
Treaty:
(a) Each deployed ICBM shall be counted as one.
(b) Each deployed SLBM shall be counted as one.
(c) Each deployed heavy bomber shall be counted as one
nowhere it mentions cruise missiles

START-3 Protocol
Quote:
6. ( 5 . ) The term "ballistic missile" means a missile that is a weapon-delivery vehicle that has a ballistic trajectory over most of its flight path.
Quote:
23. (80.) The term "heavy bomber" means a bomber of a type,
any one of which satisfies either of the following criteria:
(a) Its range is greater than 8000 kilometers; or
(b) It is equipped for long-range nuclear ALCMs.
the subject missile will be pretty big, so, most likely will be carried by heavy bombers, but they are already there and fall under the treaty, so introduction of PGS in no way will help in decrease of nuclear arms


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Old 04-27-2010, 07:32 AM   #10
[R-DEV]Rhino
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Default Re: Hyper Fast Conventional Missiles

I think its a pretty good idea thou its something that will always heavily rely on intelligence and is pretty much just a much longer range, more expensive Tomahawk missile. I dont quite believe that providing you had a Tomahawk missile in range, that this missile would get there having to travel 1/2 way round the world before a Tomahawk did. Though if you didn't have one in range then it would be a good thing to fall back on.


Quote:
Originally Posted by [R-MOD]Bob_Marley View Post
Meh.

The project might not be dead yet (I thought it had died when Bush was still in), but it will be soon. It'll run into the same brick wall it did the first time - congress won't fund it because as wonderful as it sounds no one is stupid enough to actually want this system.

An early warning system can't tell the difference between a nuclear and conventionally armed missile. Which means if one of these starts heading toward one of the other members of the P5, they're likley to get real edgy (and possibly button happy).

Oh, but you say, we'll just tell the ruskies/chinese/frogs/tea drinkers that this is a conventional launch and there is nothing to worry about.

Well no one is going to buy that. Such a system provides the perfect cover for a first strike. Which means no sane power is ever going to believe that any of these launches that head toward thier terretory are not nuclear armed.

All in all, its a ****ing stupid idea. Always was, always will be.
Ye but in terms of having one of these fire into Afghanistan or somewhere like that where there is known insurgency etc going on, I dont believe that in flight it would upset thous powers if it was evidently going to that area thou ye in the early/mid stages of the launch it would be hard to tell.

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