Thursday, May 08, 2008

Go Boom

So Wired's defense blog has posted an interesting article on the reactive materials revolution, followed immediately by the usual posts questioning exactly how revolutionary this is, and whether it would really work.

Whatever the case, it has to be said that this is pretty damn science-fictional. Picture your basic 5000-pound bunker-busting bomb, of which only 800 pounds is explosive, and the rest the steel casing. Then replace the steel casing with explosive that only goes off under certain circumstances. So instead of delivering 800 pounds of explosive to the target, you get two and a half tons of stuff that goes boom, perhaps in the form of a shaped charge designed to blast through, well, pretty much anything.

This applies to any form of munition: artillery shells, grenades, small-arms ammunition, and the parts of a rocket that aren't concerned with propulsion or guidance. Plus this may prove a boost to the Navy's rail-gun program.

You have to get a little worried when it comes to small-arms ammo, though. All that investment in body armor and armored vehicles, all gone, and our biggest tanks turned to swiss cheese by some guy with a medium-sized machien gun.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Michael Bernstein said...

I'd expect the technology to provide a boost to reactive armor, as well.

5:03 PM  
Blogger Christopher Weuve said...

There's another, complementary trend that's just as important -- the precision revolution. A lot of times explosives are a way of turning near-misses into hits. The other way to get a hit is to simply not miss to begin with. During OIF practice bombs (filled with concrete vice explosives) were used to target anti-aircraft installations placed in neighborhoods, and the joint Small Diameter Bomb will have much smaller amounts of explosives than we've traditionally seen. (This has another benefit: less explosive = smaller bombs = more bombs per sortie = fewer sorties.)

Viva la GPS!

8:33 AM  

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