Good news, given the latest news on the Iranian front and their continual charging ahead on their nukular program:
The Iranians are making advances in super-hard new types of concrete, leading to the possibility of nearly-invulnerable underground bunkers. Now, Raytheon has announced a new bunker-busting cruise missile warhead specially tailored to deal with these kinds of structures.
Normal bunker busters, which rely on sheer impact force, might not fare well against something much harder than standard concrete, with the risk that they might glance off or even break up. Raytheon’s new, two-stage weapon uses a shaped charge to punch a precursor hole through the concrete, before the explosive warhead follows. According to Flight International:
In a recent static test, the warhead fell just short of its goal of blasting through a 6.1m (20ft) thick block of ultra-hard high-pressure concrete. Raytheon plans another ground test, and is working with the US Navy towards a flight demonstration using a Tomahawk cruise missile, says Harry Schulte, vice-president strike weapons.
The technology has been around for a while — it was first put forward by BAE (the former British Aerospace) under the name BROACH — “Bomb Royal Ordnance Augmented CHarge” — as a cruise missile warhead. BAE teamed with Raytheon and it was evaluated as a possible warhead for the AGM-86D bunker busting cruise missile but lost out to Lockheed-Martin’s kinetic AUP-3, which can go through twelve feet of concrete. Curiously, though, the AGM-86D was retired soon after it went into service — in spite of having been successfully used Iraq. (Stephen Trimble’s DEW Line blog has the full story.) The new Raytheon penetrator just demonstrated is sized to fit the stealthy AGM-129 advanced cruise missile — also a Raytheon product — which is carried on B-52s. The Air Force have not yet showed any interest.
“We think this is the biggest ever built,” says Schulte, describing the 24-inch shaped charge. Well, it might be the biggest precursor warhead ever made (it’s a small field) but there have been bigger shaped charges. As far as I know, the record holder is the WWII German Mistel, an experimental unmanned suicide aircraft with a colossal 3800 kg shaped charge intended to take out battleships. Also known as the Beethoven Device, it was supposedly capable of piercing sixty feet of concrete.
Combine that nifty piece of hot damn with this dreamy creation doing the scout work….