Getting weapons on target, at least getting a conventional weapon on target, has usually involved a delivery platform that includes an aircraft or a missile/rocket engine that is limited in speed, range, time of flight and/or payload and usually involves a somewhat lengthy planning process to execute the mission.The Air Force (and the Navy in an unrelated program) are looking at speeding up that weapon delivery process by looking at a scramjet powered weapon that can achieve speeds up to Mach 6.5 or more than 4,000 miles per hour.This sort of future capability could result in a significant change in the "time-critical strike" realm where a target of importance is identified and needs to be taken out in the shortest possible time. "Targets of opportunity" that intelligence assets find are becoming more and more prevalent in this 21st century battlespace, especially the ephemeral front that makes up the current war on terrorismHaving a capability to execute either a long range strike in minutes or to have this capability in theater rather than take the many hours it would take in the traditional strike-planning arena would be a change for the good. Further, having to maintain airborne strike platforms that many times include myriad support elements (tanking, airborne early warning, threats of enemy air defenses, etc) can be minimized with this ability to reach out and touch someone from afar in a relatively short time and adds a significant strike option to the Joint Force Commander's tool kit.
"Faster is always better in air power," says Brig. Gen. Jim Poss, the Air Force's director of intelligence for its Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base, Va. "What we've found from combat experience is that people realize very quickly you have to move to survive on the modern battlefield. And the best way to counter that is to get there with the appropriate weapon in the appropriate size very quickly."From the Christian Science Monitor, read the whole article here.--Pinch Paisley