Kinetic Bombardment Is the Future of Warfare

Thursday, 14 December 2017 - 11:09AM
Thursday, 14 December 2017 - 11:09AM
Kinetic Bombardment Is the Future of Warfare
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Image credit: YouTube
Imagine a bomb that doesn't require any kind of explosive fuel in order to explode; one which damage a military's enemy, and even take down buildings, but which comes with no dangerous ingredients, and leaves no fallout or other environmental hazard in its wake.

Kinetic bombs have been in use for a long time now, providing the US military with a relatively safe and clean form of ranged murder. Sure, these things are still deadly weapons, but traditionally, they've utilized the power of gravity, rather than any other kind of explosive, in order to get the job done.

These bombs were originally put into use during the Vietnam War, and while still messy, it's hard to argue that they were a lot less morally questionable than some of the stuff the US was firing at their opponents. Planes would fly over targets and unload payloads filled with hollow metal bombs which, when they hit the ground, would shatter into pieces, sending shrapnel flying.

The results weren't pretty, but they were certainly less horrific than napalm.

Now, years later, the US army is testing a new weapon that similarly makes use of kinetic bombs to destroy targets with zero fallout.

This time around, the tool that's used to fire the bombs is a large electromagnetic rail gun, which shoots incendiaries far into the sky with a burst of energy.

The US has been testing this weapon over the past month, and it looks like real progress is being made. According to weapons developer Matt Weingart:

Opening quote
"[For traditional bombs] the violence comes from the chemical explosive inside that bomb sending off a blast wave, followed by the fragments of the bomb case. But the difference with kinetic energy projectiles is that the warhead arrives at the target moving very, very fast - the energy is there to propel those fragments without the use of a chemical explosive to accelerate them. The more mass, the more violence."
Closing quote

Of course, the real reason for the US military wanting to switch to kinetic weapons is that they're potentially a lot cheaper.

Gunpowder or other forms of explosive fuel come at a cost, and the army's in-development rail gun would manage to achieve the same effect with nothing more than a large electric battery that would generate a magnetic field to shoot chunks of ordinary metal at targets.

The fact that this death machine is better on the environment will provide little comfort to the victims that get in its way, but then, they were probably going to have a bad time no matter what weapon the US fired against them.

There's a hope, though, that outside of military use, this form of technology might provide some interesting research into electric battery capacity. A lot of DARPA's recent projects have had intriguing civilian applications, and it'll be interesting to see how the US military's research into electromagnets could benefit the average citizen.

Railguns have long enjoyed popularity in science fiction, so it's interesting to see the military taking them seriously as a potential tool for destruction and warfare.

At the same time, this technology also forms the basis for hover trains and cargo movement in a wide variety of speculative fiction, so with any luck, as research continues, we'll all draw closer to the kind of life promised to us in pulp novels about the space age.

Alternatively, at least this new form of explosives will look cool when it shows up in the next Call of Duty game.
US Military Perfects Kinetic Bombs Fired by Railguns