A novel propulsion system, called a rotation detonation engine, could become a game-changing technology for the military.
Last week, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) quietly unveiled a new high-speed missile program called Gambit. The program is meant to leverage a novel method of propulsion that could have far-reaching implications not just in terms of weapons development, but for high-speed aircraft and even in how the Navy’s warships are powered.
This propulsion system, known as a rotation detonation engine (RDE), has the potential to be lighter than existing jet engines while offering a significant boost in power output, range, and fuel efficiency.
The Gambit missile is just one of a number of programs placing a renewed focus on RDE technology, though for the most part, these systems have managed to fly under the media’s radar. That is, except for Aviation Week & Space Technology Defense Editor Steve Trimble, who has covered these recent developments at length. Trimble was kind enough to discuss that work with me as I sought to better understand just how big a deal this technology could be.
Rotation Detonation Engines may not be common in discussion today, but amid the ongoing hypersonic arms race and America’s renewed focus on deterring near-peers, this technology could help offset a number of tactical and strategic advantages presented by America’s opponents in places like Europe and the Pacific…
Aerojet Rocketdyne rotation detonation engine under testing.
Rotating detonation engines have been the subject of theory and speculation for decades, but have yet to cross the barrier between theory and practical application.
In theory, a rotating detonation engine promises to be much more efficient than traditional jet engines, potentially providing missile applications a serious boost in range and speed. That could also mean fielding smaller weapons capable of achieving the same speeds and ranges as today’s missiles.
In aircraft applications like jet fighters, rotation detonation engines could offer similar benefits to missiles in terms of range and speed, while potentially reducing maintenance requirements. Fighters, in particular, rely on afterburners, which effectively firehose fuel into the engine’s exhaust stream for added thrust, which, you can imagine, rapidly depletes fuel stores and reduces the fighter’s range. RDEs could potentially allow for a similar boost in thrust with a dramatically reduced fuel penalty.
But where this technology could be the most useful is in powering the Navy’s future non-nuclear surface vessels, providing increased power production, range, and speed while having a seriously beneficial impact on the Navy’s budgetary bottom line.
Modern rocket boosters, like the Navy’s D5 Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile, use composite material to save weight and increase potential payload.The boosters designed for the new missile will use a composite material, making GBSD (Sentinel) significantly lighter than the MMIII. Most notably, this will increase the missile’s throw weight, which is a measure of the weight of the payload that the missile can deliver to a particular range. The Air Force asserts that the greater throw weight will allow the new missile to carry different payloads and give it more flexibility for future missions. Specifically, as adversaries develop ballistic missile defensive systems in the future, the increased throw weight could potentially allow the Air Force to develop countermeasures that would help the missile overcome the defenses. The Air Force plans to deploy the GBSD (Sentinel) with one warhead per missile. However, with the greater throw weight available on the missile, the Air Force could, potentially, deploy it with two or three warheads in response to changes in the international security environment. Moreover, some argue that if the Air Force deployed multiple warheads on each missile, it might be able to meet targeting requirements with a smaller number of deployed missiles. Currently, the United States disperses single-warhead missiles across a large area of the upper Midwest, which both reduces the value of each individual missile and complicates an adversary’s ability to attack the entire force. A smaller number of multiple warhead missiles could change this calculus but also might provide a less costly alternative for the ICBM force.
The Boulder, Colorado-based company produces a range of small space vehicles for customers at the U.S. Department of Defense and NASA, and its new 31,000 square foot plant is dedicated to building cubesats.
As per this documentary , the saga of replacing it's scout helicopter - the tried & tested Bell - OH58 which it did by 2017 , by the US Army has officially entered it's 4th decade now , being christened Future Attack Reconnaissance "Aircraft " for some unfathomable reason .
The program began with preliminary studies in the early 1990s post which 2 developmental programs commissioned by the US Army sequentially to Bell & Boeing respectively not necessarily in that order were cancelled in the first decade of the 21st century.
In 2017 , 5 new vendors were chosen to come up with their own design & TDs / Prototypes as per SQRs released by the US Army . Long story short , the latter hopes to award the project shortly & receive the first heptr "HOPEFULLY" by 2028.
So what have we learnt ? That project management with the US armed forces for a project as simple & uncomplicated as a scout heptr ( no matter what terminology they use ) is as complicated as the JSF.
If it's not , the entire eco system viz the YS armed forces , the DoD , the Congress & of course the MIC conspire to make it so .
OTOH , there could also be a much more simpler explanation , something which I'm veering around to viz : the program of inducting low IQ Forrest Gump like trailer tramps as conscripts into the US Army during the Vietnam War , never really ended.
Eventually those trailer tramps found themselves at the very top of the US Army decision making process after decades of service & this program here is but one of the many manifestations of the success of the recruitment program of those conscripts.
In fact I think it's a myth this Forrest Gump program began with the Vietnam war . It's been in existence since forever which explains why the US has never won wars post WW-2 except insignificant ones like Grenada or Panama . Once again Gulf Wars 1&2 don't count as they were an international coalition.
So all those griping at the procedures followed by the Indian Army or armed forces & our MoD , please do not give this documentary a miss .
Sweetie ,I think there's a good chance you may make it as a USAF pilot cruising the skies in the JSF or the NGAD . Why you ask ? Well , if those pilots can get all the training they require on simulators , why can't you be selected by honing your piloting skills on different games.
After all you've the glorious examples of the US Army & USAF programs before you . What more do you need ? @Innominate
US used ‘flying ginsu’ missile to kill al-Qaeda's al-Zawahiri? 5 details on op
al-Qaeda head Ayman al-Zawahiri has been killed in a drone strike in Afghanistan’s Kabul, US president Joe Biden said in his latest address, calling it a moment of justice for families of 2,977 people killed in September 11, 2001 terror attack. Speculation is rife that the United States may have used Hellfire R9X, a warhead-less missile, which is used in finely targeted attacks. Al-Zawahri - born in a prominent Egyptian family - worked as an eye surgeon as a young adult and gradually rose to top of the terror outfit. He was Osama Bin Laden's successor.
Here are five details on the security operation that culminated in the killing of al-Qaeda's al-Zawahiri:
1. The Hellfire R9X first appeared in 2017 when al-Qaeda senior leader Abu al-Khayr al-Masri was killed, according to a report by news agency AP. What suggests the use of the missile is that pictures showed no signs of explosion , the report highlighted. Over time, the missile has earned names like “flying ginsu," after a famous 1980s television commercial for ostensibly Japanese kitchen knives, and “ninja bomb”.
2. In his address, Biden pointed out that there was no harm done to the family members of Zawahiri in the precision strike, and no civilians bore any injuries.
3. Senior Taliban officials were aware of Ayman al-Zawahiri's presence in Kabul, news agency Reuters quoted a senior US administration official as saying. Last year, US troops had left Afghanistan after about two decades in a decision that drew heavy criticism.
4. The operation had a legal basis, the official further added.
5. The operation was planned for weeks and finally given cleared by commander-in-chief Biden.