Warplanes: October 11, 2000


behind the American plane.--Stephen V Cole 

The focus of US aerial war doctrine in the future will be using relatively small bombs (250 pounds or 500 pounds) with precision GPS guidance to replace the current 2000-pound bombs. This would allow aircraft to carry more bombs and attack more targets on each sortie. Tougher targets would be attacked by two small smart bombs rather than one larger bomb. The current design theory for the Small Smart Bomb is a weapon six inches (152mm) in diameter and six feet (1.8m) long. It will be fitted with a "multi-event hard fuze" that can count how many rooms it has penetrated and detonate at a pre-determined level. Fitted with wings from the Joint Direct Attack Munition, the Small Smart Bomb would be released from about 33,000 feet to attack targets that were 35 nautical miles ahead of the aircraft, 20 miles to either side, or 10 miles behind. There might be a version that gives up penetration to extend the range to 50 nautical miles; this might be used against air defense batteries. New technology is needed to ensure that the weapon strikes the target at the required 90-degree angle, as otherwise it might break in half rather than penetrate. This may involve using explosive bolts to detach the wings at the last second. The weapon will also need a self-operated terminal-guidance system, possibly a laser radar with its own computer to recognize the shape of the target. The goal is for 95% of weapons to land within 3 meters of the target. The Air Force says it will need improved intelligence to carry out these precision-strike missions. They note that it took four thousand pounds of explosives to destroy one-third of the Oklahoma City federal court house but only seven pounds of precisely-placed explosives to bring down the


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