US military turns transport aircraft into Bombers: dropping bombs like dropping cargo

 US military turns transport aircraft into Bombers: dropping bombs like dropping cargo

On May 27, the U.S. Air Force announced that it had tested palletized ammunition, a system that allows air transport aircraft to launch a large number of precision guided ammunition, so as to quickly transform into weapon trucks when necessary.

According to a press release from the air force research laboratory, the Department conducted launch tests in Utah on January 28 in cooperation with the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command. During this period, one mc-130j released five ammunition pallets in three times, containing a total of six simulated ammunition.

Photo note: photo of transport aircraft releasing simulated palletized ammunition. The weight of simulated ammunition is the same as that of live ammunition, with streamline shape and four tail fins.

The aircraft tray separation and tray ammunition separation tests were successful. On February 27, two more launch tests were carried out on a C-17 transport aircraft, which was also successful.

Using transport aircraft as a strike platform is nothing new. For example, the Russian Air Forces Il-76 transport aircraft can mount several aerial bombs under the wing, cooperate with the tail gun, and clear the enemy targets at the landing site before landing. Iraq and other countries have also added bomb pylons to small and medium-sized transport aircraft.

The U.S. military has gone a long way. AC-130 gunboat was refitted on the platform of C-130 medium transport aircraft. In addition to the airborne artillery fire, it can also mount agm-114 Hellfire missile, gbu-53 / BSDB u2161 small diameter bomb u2161 and other guidance ammunition. Transform the transport aircraft into a more professional air strike platform.

Photo note: ac-130j carries agm-114 missile.

Because of the limitation of the design, the gunboat is mainly engaged in the traditional horizontal bombing task under the control of the air power, or as a means of delivering super large ammunition. For example, the gbu-43 / b fuel air bomb, known as the mother of bombs, weighs nearly 1 ton, and can not be mounted by other fighters due to its weight and size, so it needs to be launched by C-130 transport aircraft.

From the air force research laboratorys press release in May, as well as a request for information (RFI) issued by the same department on February 27 this year. First, the system uses roll on roll off design (i.e. pallets) and traditional airdrop infrastructure and technology. That is to say, the airborne ammunition will be put on the ramp behind the aircraft. The active C-130, C-17 or larger C-5 can be used as a carrier.

Photo note: from far to near, C-130, C-5 and C-17 transport fleet are in order. Mc-130j is selected for the first test because it has been used for many times to deliver super large ammunition and the relevant technology is relatively mature.

Secondly, the tray system should reduce the impact on ammunition and carrier structure as much as possible, so that it can be installed on various applicable aircrafts, and the previous release operation procedures can be used to reduce the modification cost. It is worth noting that the request for information also asks if it can be integrated into a civil aircraft.

Note: in the 1980s, the U.S. military put forward the concept of CMCA (cruise missile carrier), which is refitted with Boeing-747 body and can carry 50-100 cruise missiles. The ambitious plan did not come true in the end.

Finally, pallets are not required to be reusable. It is better to use the existing system tray, if necessary, new one can be developed. At the beginning of this year, the test used a standard combat consumption platform (CEP) or wooden pallet, which can be put into use with the existing roller system.

Photo note: Bomb transport tray of C-17 transport aircraft.

In addition, air force research laboratory hopes to provide a programmable intelligent pallet in the future. It can carry a variety of ammunition in a mixed way, and has the ability to update ammunition information remotely (such as re targeting, etc.).

In addition to loading common guided / unguided bombs, Air Force Research Laboratory said that more tests will be carried out next, involving the complete load of warhead and guidance system can be selected , and pointed out that the whole system adopts modular design, which can be compatible with existing or specially developed out of area missiles. So that transport aircraft can launch a large number of cruise missiles outside the coverage of enemy air defense system, and enhance the large-scale fire delivery ability of air force.

Photo note: palletized ammunition may be dropped by parachute. After the container reaches the launching state, it will be launched by the transport aircraft or other platforms under remote control. The picture shows mc-130 dropping blu-82 / b bombs.

The air force research laboratorys press release also mentions the ultimate goal of deploying networked semi-automatic weapons using palletized ammunition systems that will work with drones and manned aircraft.. These concepts are actually related to the research projects being carried out in this department.

In 2017, the air force laboratory began to work with Loma on a low-cost cruise missile system called gray wolf. The air force hopes that it has the semi-automatic network operation ability and can form a missile swarm operation after launching, so as to improve the ability to penetrate the enemys air defense system and attack the enemys target flexibly.

Photo note: gray wolf is a very experimental project, focusing on the accumulation of technology.

It is reported that the project will be cancelled in 2019, and the R & D achievements will be inherited by the project Golden Horde. Its goal is to connect all kinds of precision guided munitions and UAV groups. They operate as autonomous clusters after launch to optimize the attack effect. The project is still in the research and development stage.

With the enhancement of ammunition network capability, the sensor of ammunition itself can also be used as the observation equipment of combat damage effect. These observation data are input into the computer and processed by algorithm to evaluate the damage situation. After the purpose is achieved, other ammunition can be guided to other targets.

Note: the use of drone swarm operation is also one of the development directions of palletized ammunition system.

This means that the launching platform doesnt even need to specify the target before the ammunition is put into use. The net linked by the precise guided ammunition can be used to deploy ammunition to deal with different targets according to the priority level programmed in advance. If encountering a sudden target (such as point air defense system, etc.), the attack priority can also be changed autonomously, and the threat of concentrated attack is greater first.

For the modified delivery platform of transport aircraft, if the networked ammunition is used, it may reduce the improvement demand for the electronic equipment of the carrier, and only serve as the delivery platform, just like the usual air drop materials.

It can be said that the method of using transport aircraft to deliver a large number of precision guided ammunition is similar to the previous concept of arsenal aircraft, and the modified object is expanded from bomber to transport aircraft. In recent years, the air force attaches great importance to the expansion of the mounting capacity in the modification of B-52 and B-1B of the strategic strike force.

Note: the U.S. Air Force strategic strike department believes that the existing bomber fleet is not large enough, and has a strong interest in palletized ammunition. The picture shows the B-1B bomber.

As the launch platform of air long-range cruise missile, they are matched with b-21 stealth bombers with penetrating combat capability, and the stealth aircraft can also provide target information for these platforms. Therefore, the arsenal aircraft does not have to have stealth capability or high-altitude, high-speed performance, the most important is the greater load-carrying capacity, transforming the transport aircraft into a weapon truck has become a choice.

But there are also many problems with this project. For example, the transport, bomber and tactical fighter forces are under the command of different air force commands and need to coordinate the command mechanism. There are a large number of air transport needs in the wartime. Will the air transport task itself be affected if a part of the air transport unit is assigned to carry out combat tasks.

In a word, from the prospective function of the US military, palletized ammunition is still in the exploratory test at this stage, and the supporting ammunition and other subsystems are not perfect, and there may be more adjustments in the middle. Im afraid its to accumulate experience for the follow-up projects, carry out some technical verification, and how long it can become a reality remains to be seen.

(function(){( window.slotbydup=window .slotbydup||[]).push({id:u6056789,container:ssp_ 6056789, async:true });}) (); source of this paper: Tan Bing, Netease, editor in charge: Yao Wenguang_ NN1682