From Aviation Week… Boeing’s Phantom Works is designing tiny UAVs that can be launched in clusters, at supersonic speed, hover around a target area for up to two days, and autonomously aerially refuel from another UAV (!):
After one weapon identifies a target, all those flying in the area could swarm to the target if it’s designated a priority. Or some weapons may be directed to continue the search while only a few attack. For such operations, the gateway UAV would be an important element. “It would be the tie to whatever network this system of vehicles becomes part of,” Avila said. The Air Force is conducting studies on the optimum tactics for ganging up on targets such as a moving column of tanks.
The weapons-carrying versions of the air vehicle would launch up to two skeet-like explosive submunitions and would then strike a third target in a suicide attack. Each vehicle would also carry an onboard sensor such as a flash laser radar (ladar) and a network data link–probably Link 16.
The refueling and gateway aircraft would likely be about 50% larger than the other UAVs in the cluster.
It reminds me of Jerry Pournelle’s idea for the Thor Orbital Weapon System. That is orbiting tungsten rods with guidance packages and a reentry rocket attached. Strike anywhere on Earth, with very short response time.
The test vehicle there was a B-2. Who needs a B-52? Just sortie a Stealth Bomber out of Knob Noster and it’ll decapitate an entire country. Jeezus, could you imagine if those bombs had been actually carrying high explosive? They were just practice duds, but you could just see the accuracy there.
Well I kinda agree with the loveable Easterbrook (who also writes Tuesday Morning Quarterback) except for his laughable line about the JSF being “nearly as good at interceptor missions.” Please, the JSF will be about as good with interceptors missions as the A-10. That is to say… possible, but definitely not what it should be doing in its spare time.