Google
 

Aardvark Daily

New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

Content copyright © 1995 - 2019 to Bruce Simpson (aka Aardvark), the logo was kindly created for Aardvark Daily by the folks at aardvark.co.uk



Please visit the sponsor!
Please visit the sponsor!

New hi-tech weapons

18 October 2021

Everybody enjoys a good explosion now and then, so long as nobody's standing too close when it happens.

As a result of this enjoyment of loud noises and pyrotechnics (as well as a desire to attain or maintain military superiority), many countries remain actively engaged in coming up with new weapons.

Only a fool brings a knife to a gunfight they say, and so it is in the league of world-wide military dominance. If you don't have the latest, greatest and most capable weapons you are at a significant disadvantage these days. What's more, simply being a member of the "nuke club" is no longer enough.

As a result of this, we've recently seen a raft of new super-techy weapons being announced and even demonstrated by superpowers and those nations which aspire to become a superpower.

On the weekend, Reuters reported that China demonstrated its new hypersonic missile, something which it is claimed has "caught US intelligence by surprise".

Well although there are many who would argue that the phrase "US intelligence" is an oxymoron, I still doubt that there was really any surprise involved. The US itself has been working on hypersonic cruise missiles for quite some time and although China may be a little ahead of them right now, it won't be long before Ratheon and a bunch of others step up to the plate with their offerings.

So why are hypersonic cruise missiles so important?

Well traditional ballistic missiles follow pretty much a parabolic trajectory. This means their path can be pretty easily extrapolated so that they may be intercepted by anti-missile missiles.

Hypersonic cruise missiles however, fly a path that can be programmed not to obey a simple ballistic path. This makes it impossible to figure out where they will be at any given moment in the future. Of course this is also true of a conventional cruise missile but because those craft fly at subsonic speeds they can easily be intercepted by much faster defense missiles.

Intercepting a hypersonic cruise missile however, is much, much harder -- some claim near-impossible. The combination of speeds in excess of 6,000KPH combined with a programmable flight path makes them all but untouchable by any existing defense technology.

Clearly, these missiles could be a game-changer, rendering an enemy's defensive capabilities all but useless and shifting the balance of air superiority.

US military officials will likely be calmed somewhat by the news that the Chinese version missed its intended target by almost 40Km. In an era where we're used to seeing GPS and laser-guided munitions being accurate enough to fly through the open windows of buildings, 40Km is pretty bad.

So why did it miss by so much?

Well odds are that it may not have been able to use GPS or the Chinese equivalent for its guidance. At the speeds we're talking, doppler shift can really mess up the accuracy of such satellite-based systems so new guidance mechanisms will have to be employed. Dead reckoning (inertial) systems lose significant accuracy over time/distance so visual systems may be what's required although even then, at low altitude and at high speed, even these systems will face challenges.

Another interesting new weapon is the Vision 60 robot dog with gun from Ghost Robotics. Just the thing to make all your Terminator nightmares come true.

Although military analysts repeatedly tell us that future wars will be won or lost based on air superiority, it seems that virtually every war ever faught (with perhaps the exception of the Battle of Britain) has relied to some extent on "feet on the ground". Robot warriors offer the prospect of engaging ground-based actions against soliders at much lower risk than before.

Ultimately we must step back for a moment and breathe a sigh of disappointment that so much money is being spent on weaponry when we have so many other problems to deal with. I guess human-kind is still far to aggressive and primative to recognise the benefits that would come from cooperation rather than combat.

Ah well, maybe one day... if we (as a species) survive that long.

Please visit the sponsor!
Please visit the sponsor!

Have your say in the Aardvark Forums.

PERMALINK to this column


Rank This Aardvark Page

 

Change Font

Sci-Tech headlines

 


Features:

The EZ Battery Reconditioning scam

Beware The Alternative Energy Scammers

The Great "Run Your Car On Water" Scam

 

Recent Columns

Do your job, get an award?
As someone who has been self-employed for pretty much their whole life...

They did what?
Oh no, I've been at it again! ...

Fight fire with fire
It looks as if things are getting worse in respect to the CV19 situation in Europe right now...

Electric aviation?
I just watched a video published by Rolls Royce...

Buy a piece of history
Regular readers will be well aware that I predicted the failure of the Martin Jetpack right from the get-go...

Pragmatism or principles?
I have to admit that recent developments in this whole pandemic thing and the government's response have left me torn...

Sometimes old is good
Today we live in a throw-away culture...

The danger overhead
The sky is falling...

The great chip glut of 2028?
Right now the world is suffering from an acute shortage of key semiconductor devices...

Do we have an EV bubble?
Telsa has become the world's sixth most valuable company, with a market captitalisation of over a trillion dollars...

Youtube infuriates users
When I write a column about the idiocy that sometimes drives decision-making at YouTube it does bad things to the daily stats for Aardvark...