Military Robotics

DARPA Awards FALCON HCV Contracts

Posted 23 Jan 2004 at 19:58 UTC by steve Share This

According to a DefenseLINK article, DARPA has awarded contracts for phase one of the FALCON hypersonic cruise vehicle (HCV) development program. That's FALCON as in Force Application and Launch from the Continental United States. The FALCON will be an autonomous robot plane that can take off from a conventional runway in the US and strike targets up to 9,000 miles away with its 12,000 lbs weapon payload in 2 hours or less traveling at speeds of Mach 6 or higher. Eventually, a single, reusable robot plane will do the whole job. But because DARPA anticipates the need to blow up a few things before the final "Version 2" vehicle is available, their plan (PDF format) calls for developing a "Version 1" FALCON that's made in two parts: a rocket powered small launch vehicle (SLV) that will accelerate a Common Aero Vehicle (CAV) into low Earth orbit (LEO). The autonomous CAV will then glide towards the target at hypersonic speeds.

What for...?, posted 24 Jan 2004 at 13:15 UTC by earlwb » (Master)

What the heck do we need this for? We pretty much won the cold war. Who are we suppose to nuke now? An alien invasion scenario? Granted there are terrorists, but this is sort of way overkill for them. I cannot even see using it, in case some terrorist group was to sieze a nuclear missile compex in the former Soviet Union. What are they going to do, drop a 1 megaton nuke on a missile complex in another country to wipe out some terrorists?

Of course the idea and concept is good. A vehicle like this would enter the atmosphere not using engines, thus it would be harder to detect. It's on a hypersonic "dead stick landing" approach. he vehicle is a great step towards highperformance autonomous aircraft.

My question is why not go to a sub-light-speed inertial weapon. if you have a 2,000+ pound iron object travelling 60,000+ mph on impact, who needs nukes? Same nuclear bomb effect, no toxic radiation problems. Plus it's a lot simpler. they could park them in orbit way up there and just fire them off when needed. Virtually undetectable until they hit the atmosphere and you see the streak, but it's too late then.

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