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The Military Technology

Russia Wants a Hypersonic Bomber 319

Posted by Soulskill
from the to-be-fair-so-do-i dept.
derekmead writes "Hot on the heels of the U.S. Air Force's most recent failed test of an unmanned hypersonic vehicle, Russia now says it wants to jump into the hypersonic game with a long-range bomber. Will Russia's newest Bear fly at 4,500 miles an hour? The Russian military sure hopes so. 'I think we need to go down the route of hypersonic technology and we are moving in that direction and are not falling behind the Americans,' Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said on Russian television. 'The question is will we copy the Americans' 40-year experience and create a [Northrop] B-2 analog or will we go down a new, ultramodern technology route, looking to the horizon, and create a machine able to penetrate air defenses and carry out a strike on any aggressor.' The Russians want their plane operational by 2020, which doesn't seem particularly realistic — we are talking about five times the speed of sound here, and Russia is just starting engine development. The U.S., meanwhile, has been investing in its Waverider program since 2004, and the last test of the X-51A scramjet-powered missile failed after just 15 seconds."
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Russia Wants a Hypersonic Bomber

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    another hypersonic bomber

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @01:57PM (#41169489) Homepage

    Perhaps it's time to get the SR-71 out of mothballs.

    Despite being ancient and retired, it still seems to be the best thing going.

    • by Jeng (926980) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @02:01PM (#41169549)

      Except for being the wrong plane for the job.

      It is a surveillance plane, not a bomber and not a fighter.

      It takes pictures and goes fast and there is no room for carrying ordnance. It can't even take off with it's fuel tanks full.

      • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice@noSPAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @02:15PM (#41169715)

        It can take off with full tanks, it just doesn't because it's single engine performance (needed to be considered incase you lose one on takeoff) is poor - they used to fly with full tanks from Kadena regularly, depending on the mission profile.

        Also, there is plenty of room for weapons bays in the payload bays aft of the cockpit - that's where the YF-12A had its Aim-47A missiles stowed. Yup, there was an interceptor variant of the A-12/SR-71 tested.

        It's still the wrong aircraft for the job, because it's been out of service for nearly two decades, and the jigs and tool sets have been destroyed for nearly twice that long.

        • Urgh - "it doesn't on many mission profiles because..." that was supposed to be. It's standard mission profile was to take off with low fuel in the tanks and tank in the air, because it solved both the engine out issues and it was easier than setting up the fuel tank inerting system on the ground.

        • by jedidiah (1196)

          It's still probably a better starting point than an empty piece of paper and completely unproven technology. It's operational characteristics demonstrate what has already been done with 60s era technology. No flights of fancy required.

          It's not unlike recycled 60's rocket tech in this regard.

          Meanwhile, our hypersonic missiles can't survive for more than 60 seconds.

      • by jgtg32a (1173373)
        Actually it was originally intended to be an interceptor
      • by idontgno (624372)

        It can't even take off with it's fuel tanks full.

        Neither can a B-52, but 35 tons of payload is plenty of room for carrying ordnance, as sure as shooting.

        And the Air Force DID have the F-12 program [wikipedia.org], notionally working on a high-supersonic interceptor to replace the canceled F-108 Rapier program [wikipedia.org]. But that program, and its prototype YF-12 aircraft, were also used as public cover for the SR-71 program (A-12) under development at the time, so it's hard to know how seriously the Air Force took it.

        They did devel

    • by Shagg (99693)

      To drop cameras on the target?

    • I am sure the Russins mothballed all the German rocket scientists after the Apollo progam beat them to the moon.

      All they have to do is pull them out of cryogenic suspension and put them to work on hypersonic technology.

  • Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sparticus789 (2625955) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @01:58PM (#41169505) Journal

    Glad someone else is stepping up to the plate. Development on such equipment could easily lead to civilian hypersonic aircraft, getting rid of 15 hour flights to Australia and such. Also sparks research on better ways of space travel, as the scramjet is closer to being space capable than a traditional jet engine.

    • by Dyinobal (1427207)

      I like your optimism but after the loss of the Concord fleet I really doubt we will ever see supersonic much less hypersonic Jets again.

      I honestly think low earth orbit transport is more realistic in the future when it comes to civilian transport

      • So I see two options:
        1. Hypersonic travel is impractical and development is focused on low-orbit vehicles.
        2. Hypersonic travel becomes practical and you can fly anywhere in the world in ~5 hours.

        Seems like a win-win to me.

    • by jandrese (485)
      People already balked at the price of a Concorde ticket, getting them to pay even more for a Hypersonic Scramjet (and lets face it, the laws of physics are going to be harsh to your fuel prices) is probably not a sound business plan. 10 hour flights are annoying, but not $5000 annoying.
    • by beezly (197427)

      Fifteen!? Luxury! From the UK you're looking at about 24 hours *flying* time, ignoring any time on the ground when you stop over somewhere in the middle. It's a good job I enjoy reading on flights :) Faster planes would be good... faster and more efficient planes would be amazing!

      • Re:Good (Score:4, Informative)

        by Sparticus789 (2625955) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @02:44PM (#41170141) Journal

        Fifteen!? Luxury! From the UK you're looking at about 24 hours *flying* time, ignoring any time on the ground when you stop over somewhere in the middle. It's a good job I enjoy reading on flights :) Faster planes would be good... faster and more efficient planes would be amazing!

        15 hours for a non-stop flight. Looking it up, it would appear the longest flight time for a commercial flight is 18 hours 50 minutes, from New York to Singapore.

    • Development on such equipment could easily lead to civilian hypersonic aircraft

      LOLOLOLOLOL

      Civilian hypersonic flight will never, ever be economical. Not even supersonic flight, probably.

      The only civilian hypersonic aircraft that might ever exist is a "toy fighter jet" for the ultra-stupendous-hyper-rich of the future.

      • LOLOLOLOLOL

        Destroying stone walls with fire will never, ever be economical. Not even a small wall, probably.

        The only fire that destroys stone that might ever exist is a "burning log on the side" for the distraction

        OR (for a non-LOTR reference)

        LOLOLOLOLOL

        Creating light with electrons will never, ever be economical. Not even a small light, probably.

        The only "light bulb" that might ever exist is a "toy" for the ultra-stupendous-hyper-rich of the future.

        CIRCA 1659

        FTFY

  • by G3ckoG33k (647276) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @02:01PM (#41169537)

    "doesn't seem particularly realistic"?

    Huh? Sun Tzu: Never underestimate your opponent

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Not to mention that Russia has always been on the forefront of aerospace technology. Their lists of firsts is unrivaled. It's very possible that they might succeed where the Americans have failed.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @02:01PM (#41169543)

    With the Military Industrial Complex as The Winner. Gotta insure that nothing stops the river of cash flowing into "defense" (on either side.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @02:03PM (#41169561)

    XB-70 Valkyrie on our side, and the Soviets had something along those lines as well.

    Then surface-to-air missiles showed up, and it became clear no bomber could hope to outrun them, so we went with low-observable and/or terrain-following tech. Remember, it's easier to make a missile capable of X speed (just a motor, a warhead, and fuel for one quick interception) than a bomber flying X speed (many warheads, release mechanism, crew, and fuel to carry all that stuff a thousand miles), so you need a massive technological edge to win.

    So... does Russia really think they can make hypersonic bombers, but some enemy that's worth using them on can't make even faster hypersonic SAMs?

    • by Baloroth (2370816) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @02:35PM (#41170013)

      There are other uses to a hypersonic aircraft than simply dodging missiles. The ability to arrive on target in minutes instead of hours, for example. Plus, even if the bomber isn't technically faster than the missile, missiles have limited fuel capacity and require a certain reaction time before they can be fired, so if you can build a bomber fast enough, by the time the missile is fired it can't reach you before it runs out of fuel. This is even more true if you are traveling at extremely high altitudes. If you have a bomber traveling at Mach 5 (1 mile per second, roughly) and a missile traveling at Mach 6 launched at the bomber when it is 20 miles away (easily possible for a high altitude bomber to hit a target that far away), it will take 100 seconds to hit, in which time the missile must travel 120 miles, which is outside the range of, say, a Patriot missile (which travels at Mach 5). And the higher the speed, the more fuel it takes for the same distance. A bomber can afford that. It's a lot harder for a disposable missile to do the same.

    • Early 1970s technology, 0 to Mach 10 in 5 seconds, intercept at 30,000 meters in 15 seconds. There is just no way a modern hypersonic jet could outrun even that 40 year-old tech.

    • by bobbied (2522392)

      >

      So... does Russia really think they can make hypersonic bombers, but some enemy that's worth using them on can't make even faster hypersonic SAMs?

      The Russians are not stupid so no, I'm sure they know full well this idea is folly. However, this fits with their recent uptick in hostile behavior where they are testing the US military responses and ratcheting up the "cold war" type behavior. Recently they had an attack sub in the Gulf of Mexico for a month (then told us about it) and at the same time they had a bomber test our air defenses by flying into our airspace. They are also trying to get navy bases set up in Cuba and Venezuela claiming that th

  • Oh Russia (Score:5, Funny)

    by mumblestheclown (569987) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @02:04PM (#41169581)

    You know, because a dictatorial kleptocracy with no political ideology to speak of and which is ranked #53 in per capita GDP needs to defend itself against brave young women in punk bands with these.

    • by fm6 (162816)

      Yeah, that's crazy. But then, we ignore a ton of problems that need fixing so we can build airplanes that cost billions of dollars each to fight guerrillas armed only with cheap knockoff assault rifles. That's not nearly as crazy, but it's out there.

    • Re:Oh Russia (Score:4, Interesting)

      by shutdown -p now (807394) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @04:33PM (#41171665) Journal

      needs to defend itself against brave young women in punk bands with these

      Haven't you heard? The so-called "brave young women" are agents provocateur on CIA payroll, with the goal of destabilizing the country and causing a revolution that would cause it to splinter, so that individual pieces can then be overrun by NATO and China to extract their precious natural resources, using local population as slaves. Don't you watch RT?

      (also see this [wikipedia.org] - and never underestimate the power of propaganda)

    • Re:Oh Russia (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jpapon (1877296) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @05:01PM (#41171967) Journal
      Never mind the fact that we have perfectly good ICBMs which can do the job of a hypersonic bomber perfectly well, thank you very much.
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @02:06PM (#41169603)

    >> Wouldn't you rather play a nice game of chess?

    No. Let's play thermonuclear war.

    >> Fine.

  • by scorp1us (235526) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @02:10PM (#41169637) Journal

    Given that the ISS is ~360 km from the Earth, and it has a 92 minute orbital period, it seems that bombs could be lifted into space, then launched from there. With sufficient supplies and advanced notice you could get enough stuff in position over the long term and deploy in minutes 4500mph = 2km/s and therefore could be at the surface in 180 seconds (3 minutes) once launched. Then there's the issue of changing orbit, which lets assume takes 1 orbit. So you can stike anywhere in the wold in 95 minutes. Can you fuel, prep and deploy a plane in that time? I think not.

    • by Nkwe (604125)

      Given that the ISS is ~360 km from the Earth, and it has a 92 minute orbital period, it seems that bombs could be lifted into space, then launched from there. With sufficient supplies and advanced notice you could get enough stuff in position over the long term and deploy in minutes 4500mph = 2km/s and therefore could be at the surface in 180 seconds (3 minutes) once launched. Then there's the issue of changing orbit, which lets assume takes 1 orbit. So you can stike anywhere in the wold in 95 minutes. Can you fuel, prep and deploy a plane in that time? I think not.

      Of course you have to get the bomb through the atmosphere and to the intended target without it burning up or exploding on the way down. The bomb would need to be in essence a re-entry vehicle. A lot of stuff can go wrong - like missing your target or filling the atmosphere with something toxic and widespread.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      "I think not."
      Think again.

      You'r mistake is thinking it would be 1 plane. It would be several located around the world, always in operation.

      A space platform is an easy as hell target to hit, and you can't keep it secret.

    • by fm6 (162816) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @02:20PM (#41169799) Homepage Journal

      I think if anybody started positioning atomic weapons in orbit, people would get uptight. Maybe uptight enough to launch a pre-emptive strike.

      • by Chris Burke (6130)

        Indeed they would.

        Not that you need nukes to wreck things from orbit. A dense, sturdy object that's going at orbital velocity would itself pack the punch of a nuke (from tactical to strategic size depending on mass of impactor). Project Thor was the U.S. military's exploration of the idea.

    • by Ryanrule (1657199)

      The satellite at the beginning of this video is called out as a nuclear launcher in the book.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SpvOUnz4T7Q [youtube.com]

    • Totally. We can ship our bombs up there and store them on our side, I can't see any other country having an issue with that. Then of course Russia would match us and store their own bombs there too, and whenever war breaks out we'll just bomb the other side of the ISS. That'll teach 'em. Hopefully the falling hulk will land on Russia, for good measure (or great justice).

      Then there's the issue of changing orbit, which lets assume takes 1 orbit.

      Right, let's just assume that the ISS is able to quickly change orbit at will so that it fits the point we're trying to make. Let's al

    • You don't need bombs - you need Thor's hammer

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinetic_bombardment#Project_Thor [wikipedia.org]

    • by dpilot (134227)

      And on the defensive side, you know exactly where and when to look. And also, it actually isn't that easy to shoot something downward from orbit, especially if you want it to arrive in a non-molten, non-plasma state. True, it's only 3 minutes up, but it's also moving at 17,000 mph, and that's the hard part.

      The problem is how to deliver a weapon to a target in your enemy's territory. A hypersonic craft is an attempt to do it so fast that your enemy can't react. Stealth is an attempt to get so close befor

    • by scorp1us (235526)

      Does no one remember the plot of the movie Space Cowboys [imdb.com]?

  • Wouldn't it make more sense to develop hypersonic nuclear armed cruise missiles instead? Why do they want to pack meat in a tin can with wings these days?

    • by jbeaupre (752124)

      Because the meat in the can is able to bring the can home. Sometimes without dropping any bombs.

  • by fm6 (162816) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @02:18PM (#41169771) Homepage Journal

    ...that they're still a world power. That means building a lot of expensive, useless weapons, because that's what world powers do. Ah, for the good old days, when you could just round up the slaves and put up a pyramid!

  • The Russians are quite good at iterative design and have been for decades. They'll built a jet, make improvements, build another, make more improvements, and so on. The end result is they tend to have programs that operate at a fraction of the cost of the US analog. But what they have at 2020 won't be anywhere close to what the US has. It may never be anywhere close to the US as they have always had trouble with collecting the intellectual capital to compete with high paying US Defense contractors. In th

  • by macraig (621737) <(mark.a.craig) (at) (gmail.com)> on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @02:19PM (#41169785)

    Russia Wants a Hypersonic Bomber

    What a coincidence! I happen to be selling one [craigslist.org] on Craigslist right now.

  • I believe it. Russian Engineering always seems to have its house in order. They have experience with Super Cavitation [wikipedia.org] and perhaps there is some applicable cross over tech. Lets not forget that a rocket plane is feasible. If it was me, I'd remove the hypersonic engine as a dependency from the get go and allow design to progress in that area once other issues are proven by flight testing and there is a solid platform to test and evolve the engine upon. Even if the platform never gets an upgraded engine, a
  • Brilliant!

    It's Star Wars 2.0 and were going to bankrupt the commies into self destruction once more! They took the bait and will sink billions upon billions trying to do something that /should/ work.

    /Star Wars 3.0 will involve convincing the Russians that fusion can be used as a weapons platform, that ought to do the trick

    //Wait a second, I thought they weren't commies any more.....

  • U.S., meanwhile, has been investing in its Waverider program since 2004, and the last test of the X-51A scramjet-powered missile failed after just 15 seconds

    So with the Russians just starting on hypersonic engine design, looks to me like they are only 15 seconds behind the US :)

    • by ModelX (182441) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @03:20PM (#41170695)

      So with the Russians just starting on hypersonic engine design, looks to me like they are only 15 seconds behind the US :)

      Or maybe not, according to wikipedia they were doing something 20+ years ago:

      First working scramjet "GLL Holod" in world flies on 28 November 1991 reaching speed mach 5.8. However, the collapse of Soviet Union stopped the funding of the project.

      After NASA's NASP program was cut, American scientists began to look at adopting available Russian technology as a less expensive alternative to developing hypersonic flight. On November 17, 1992, Russian scientists with some additional French support successfully launched a scramjet engine "Holod" in Kazakhstan6. From 1994 to 1998 NASA worked with the Russian Central Institute of Aviation Motors (CIAM) to test a dual-mode scramjet engine and transfer technology and experience to the West. Four tests took place, reaching Mach numbers of 5.5, 5.35, 5.8, and 6.5. The final test took place aboard a modified SA-5 surface to air missile launched from the Sary Shagan test range in the Republic of Kazakhstan on 12 February 1998. According to CIAM telemetry data, first ignition of the scramjet was unsuccessful, but after 10 seconds the engine was started and the experimental system flew 77s with good performance, up until the planned SA-5 missile self-destruction (according to NASA, no net thrust was achieved).

      Some sources in the Russian military have said that a hypersonic (10-15M) maneuverable ICBM warhead was tested.

  • by MiniMike (234881) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @02:28PM (#41169925)

    The Russians want their plane operational by 2020, which doesn't seem particularly realistic — we are talking about five times the speed of sound here, and Russia is just starting engine development. The U.S., meanwhile, has been investing in its Waverider program since 2004, and the last test of the X-51A scramjet-powered missile failed after just 15 seconds.

    Maybe they'll be funding computer hacking/espionage methods instead of scramjet or hypersonic airplane development- that way, they'll have a hypersonic bomber (plans, at least) soon after we do, at a fraction of the development costs.

    Or maybe they'll just think they have the plans [wikipedia.org].

  • by aardwolf64 (160070) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @02:29PM (#41169939) Homepage

    Of course, that timeline depends on them discovering alien technology in 2019 and not destroying it until 2020.

  • by gmuslera (3436) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @02:36PM (#41170037) Homepage Journal
    Please, don't do it with rounded wings, not sure how much it will cost to build it, but the lawsuit could be in the order of billons of dollars.
  • Considering that the Tu-95 is a turboprop and thus not even capable of ordinary supersonic flight, that'd be a pretty neat trick!

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