'Micro' Drones, 'Arsenal' Plane, Railguns Funded in Defense Budget

A couple of decades ago, the Navy had an idea for an "arsenal ship" that went nowhere, but Defense Secretary Ashton Carter did the service one better Tuesday with his surprise proposal for an "arsenal plane."

Nobody knows yet what an arsenal plane would look like, or what its potential missions would be, other than that it would fashioned from an existing large aircraft platform -- maybe a B-52 bomber -- and it would be crammed with all manner of munitions. It might be manned or unmanned.

The arsenal plane concept was the most striking in a range of ideas for new weapons and military technology Carter unveiled in a speech to the Economic Club of Washington in a preview of Pentagon's proposed $583 billion fiscal 2017 budget.

Other new systems included anti-missile railgun projectiles for Navy ships and Army artillery, "swarming microdrones" for battlefield intelligence, and mini-cameras for precision-guided munitions.

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