Feeds

Mole-cruiser planned to attack Iranian nuke bunkers

Pentagon's rum burrower-bomb revealed

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

The US military is looking for help in building a robotic subterranean mole-craft, intended to deliver burrowing kamikaze strikes against underground bunker complexes and suchlike.

Poster art for the 70s film of At the Earth's Core by Edgar Rice Burroughs

This is a bloody strange nuke bunker.

This news comes to us courtesy of a US government request for information, flagged up by the excellent Ares blog, in which the Defense Threat Reduction Agency - charged with reducing threats from enemy nuclear arsenals and so forth by whatever means come to hand - seeks help in building a "Robotic Underground Munition", or RUM.

The DTRA - the same organisation which is engaged in equipping America's batwinged stealth bombers with mighty bunker-piercing penetrators - says that the RUM mole-weapon should be an "air-delivered, highly mobile vehicle having certain characteristics similar to an unmanned ground vehicle".

The Fantastic-Mr-Fox-style digger droid is expected to be delivered by air, making an "accurate soft landing" - perhaps by the use of a precision-guided parachute system or something similar - before heading underground to reach its target. It must be capable of "autonomous underground navigation", and should also have an "underground communication system"*.

The RUM is to be able to "avoid, traverse, neutralize or defeat natural and man-made obstacles" - such as, for instance, the many metres of dirt, rock and reinforced concrete fortifications which protect such targets as the buried uranium centrifuge bunkers of Natanz in Iran.

It seems clear that the RUM would carry a conventional explosive warhead, which it would detonate once it had bored through or around the defences of a bunker complex, subterranean lair or whatever.

Nonetheless it would of course be simple to remove the warhead - presumably a pretty hefty one, in the range of tons like ordinary penetration bombs - and use the space instead to carry passengers. Thus the long-awaited mole cruiser would finally exist.

Ares chose to go with the Thunderbirds mole vehicle as a comparison. We ourselves would put up the "iron mole" from At the Earth's Core.

All that said, this is only a request for information by the Pentagon: they explicitly state that nothing may come of it. ®

Bootnote

*DARPA are currently working on just such technology, as it happens, based on geolocation by picking up "sferics" from lightning strikes far away coupled with low-frequency reference signals from a base station in a neighbouring country.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Simon's says quantum computing will work
Boffins blast algorithm with half a dozen qubits
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
The Heartbleed Bug: how to protect your business with Symantec
What happens when the next Heartbleed (or worse) comes along, and what can you do to weather another chapter in an all-too-familiar string of debilitating attacks?