Feeds

Northrop offer supersonic robot stealth raygun cyber-bomber

Bells and whistles cupboard emptied in one

High performance access to file storage

Needless to say, the new cyber bomber would also be able to deploy a fearful panoply of meatspace missiles or smart bombs, up to and including the deep-bunker busting fifteen tonne Massive Ordnance Penetrator.

It would also be able to act as the command ship for an air/ground robot armada, perhaps including the US Navy's planned robot strike fighters, reconnaissance drones, cruise missiles and whatnot.

There is a real opportunity for NGLRS and [upcoming unmanned stealth fighters] to operate in unison, collaboratively finding and fixing targets then sharing them ... the netted “wolfpack” could extend to non-airborne weapon systems ... This “netting” of systems allows rapid transmission of intelligence and targeting data, reducing the kill chain.

As first delivered, the cyber bomber would have stealth - possibly "fourth generation" or "ultra" stealth, as opposed to the measly Stealth 2.0 found on today's B-2. The NGLRS would start out boringly subsonic and human-crewed, but "upgrades might lead to supersonic and unmanned variants" according to Haffa and Isherwood.

But a mere supersonic, uncrewed stealth cyberbomber doesn't satisfy Bill Sweetman of Aviation Week. He is of the opinion that Northrop is already building a secret, or "black" prototype along these general lines, and he reckons that the uberplane would also need to feature a directed-energy weapon - a raygun - for the purpose of knocking down or blinding those pesky double-digit missiles. He asked Isherwood, presenting the Northrop paper, about that possibility:

Today's laser-based infra-red countermeasures (IRCM) systems can blind an IR-homing missile; tomorrow's [rayguns] will be powerful enough to negate a radar-guided missile, Isherwood says ...

Which seems to be everything you could possibly ask for - a robotic wolfpack-leading supersonic stealth cyberbomber, with a frikkin laser on it. And/or a possible electropulse cannon for the radar missiles, although American boffins are already working on ways to make radars electropulse proof.

So - how much would one of these babies cost, exactly?

Haffa and Isherwood, like all good salesmen of big-ticket items, are reluctant to talk price too soon. Indeed, they even admit that Boeing and Lockheed together might be able to put together an NGLRS contender to rival theirs - the US airmen don't have to buy it from Northrop. Provided the air force orders enough planes to get a discount, they breezily say that "the NGLRS should be affordable". ®

* That is SA-10 and later weapons, as opposed to antique SA-5s, SA-7s etc.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Video games make you NASTY AND VIOLENT
Especially if you are bad at them and keep losing
Russian deputy PM: 'We are coming to the Moon FOREVER'
Plans to annex Earth's satellite with permanent base by 2030
Solar-powered aircraft unveiled for round-the-world flight
It's going to be a slow and sleepy flight for the pilots
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Honeybee boffin STINGS OWN WEDDING TACKLE... for SCIENCE
Not the worst place to be stung, says one man
India's GPS alternative launches second satellite
Closed satnav system due to have all seven birds aloft by 2016
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.