The Air Force Wants A New Bunker Buster Bomb For the F-35

Ok, so I'm currently stranded in Caracas, Venezuela with Flight Global's Steve Trimble. It's a long story involving an emergency landing, a sick Haitian soccer coach and a flat tire. We were supposed to be in Brazil hours ago for a press junket after sleeping through the night on a red-eye from Miami. Instead, we're here, bleary eyed and unrested. Well, that's led to a rather hilarious headline on a post on Steve's Blog, The DEW Line, about a new penetrating weapon the Air Force is looking to put on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

All I'll say is that harder, faster and penetrate all made it into the header. What? He's just talking about a new rocket powered bomb built hard enough to penetrate deeply buried bunkers. Get your minds out of the gutter!

Here are the details of the weapon:

An Air Force Research Laboratory fact sheet with a 2011 time-stamp for public release approval tells us that a 2,000lb-class weapon with 5,000lb-class penetration capability could be available within three years.

"Future fighters will be able to deliver bunker-busting capabilities currently associated with the bomber fleet," the fact sheet says.

I found the fact sheet for the High Velocity Penetrating Weapon (HVPW) in the AFRL munitions directorate booth at the Air Warfare Symposium a few days ago. The document reveals the USAF has shifted its focus on next-generation penetrator technology on a couple of different levels.

Force is a function of mass multiplied by velocity. Mass is the key design point for the free-falling, 5,000lb GBU-28 bunker buster and the 30,000lb Massive Ordnance Penetrator.

For the next generation penetrator weapon, the AFRL appears to have shifted the focus to velocity. Packing a solid rocket propulsion system "with mission tailored boost and terminal velocities, intelligent fuzing and optimized explosive," the HVPW blasts into bunkers using speed in place of raw mass.

But the HPVW also may reflect a shift from previous interest in an air-breathing, high-speed penetrator, such as the Mach 3.0 Lockheed Martin revolutionary approach to time critical long-range strike (RATTLRS) demonstrator.

Like RATTLRS, the HPVW is designed to be carried inside the Lockheed Martin F-35's internal weapons bay, but will also enable "other fighter/bombers", the fact sheet says.

Here's the rest of his article in all its glory. Show Full Article

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