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The Pentagon's Supersonic, Shape-Shifting Assassin 489

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the this-switchblade-illegal-to-carry-also dept.
grammar fascist writes "CNN reports that Northrop Grumman is under contract to build a new supersonic, shape-shifting bomber by 2020. The main innovation is in its single, rotating wing. From the article: '[It] will cruise with its 200-foot-long wing perpendicular to its engines like a normal airplane. But just before the craft breaks the sound barrier, its single wing will swivel around 60 degrees (hence the name) so that one end points forward and the other back. This oblique configuration redistributes the shock waves that pile up in front of a plane at Mach speeds and cause drag. When the Switchblade returns to subsonic speeds, the wing will rotate back to perpendicular.'"
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The Pentagon's Supersonic, Shape-Shifting Assassin

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  • Re:Stability? (Score:5, Informative)

    by evanbd (210358) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @04:44PM (#15597610)
    The reason it's hard is that now all the control moments are linked -- you can't roll the plane without causing pitch and yaw changes too. So you need to control all the surfaces in unison. This makes it complicated and hard to fly, but not necessarilly unstable. That's why there's a computer flying it, not a person -- once they get a good model of how it behaves, applying all the corrections at once isn't a hard thing for a computer.
  • Re:Wizard Weapons (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 24, 2006 @04:48PM (#15597631)
    Note to mods: this actually deserves the Funny mod because of the Team America: World Police reference. (See the movie if you haven't, if only for the parental advisory: "Rated R for graphic crude and sexual humor, violent images and strong language - all involving puppets.")

  • by Baldrson (78598) * on Saturday June 24, 2006 @04:55PM (#15597653) Homepage Journal
    This was known in 1951 [aerodyn.org]:
    The first to prove that such a wing has minimum wave drag was R.T. Jones (1951). More recently, inviscid CFD calculations proved that the best performances are obtained with a wing of aspect-ratio 10:1 with a cruise CL=0.068. The best yaw angle would be 68 degrees, and the wing would have the flying operation shown in Fig. 1 below.
  • by n76lima (455808) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @04:57PM (#15597660)
    I recall seeing a NASA test plane with a swiveling wing at the EAA OSHKOSH airshow back in the early 80's. It was one place, jet powered, and was flown in the airshow with the wing rotated to a fairly steep angle several times. It was a proof of concept to explore control issues and to prove that the wing need not be swept BACK on both sides to improve aerodynamics at high speeds. They referred to is as the AD-1", an oblique wing aircraft [fi.edu].

    --
    We don't need no stinkin' sig!
  • by TopSpin (753) * on Saturday June 24, 2006 @05:04PM (#15597680) Journal
    Here is a link [nasa.gov] to the NASA page on the AD-1

  • Re:What a great idea (Score:2, Informative)

    by MightyYar (622222) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @05:16PM (#15597722)
    Last time I checked, the US literacy rate was 99%. Our neighbor to the north - spending considerably less on it's military - has something like 97%. So much for that correlation. I think it's safe to say that the US military budget would not go towards education in any case.

    Do all hippies think that we don't need a military?

  • Re:What a great idea (Score:5, Informative)

    by someonewhois (808065) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @05:21PM (#15597740) Homepage
    While I don't disagree with your point, I'd like to point out that Canada's literacy rate is 99% [cia.gov], not 97.
  • Re:Budget Priortites (Score:4, Informative)

    by TheCodeFoundry (246594) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @05:25PM (#15597758)

    We clearly see where the priorities of this adminstration are. Forget the rising unemployment rate, the balooning deficit, and the fact that medicare is getting slashed to the bone.

    Let's continue to invest in war, because as we all know, war is good business, right?


    Rising unemployement rate? No, national unemployment is down to nearly 1999 levels.
    See http://data.bls.gov/PDQ/servlet/SurveyOutputServle t?data_tool=latest_numbers&series_id=LNS14000000 [bls.gov]

    Medicare is getting slashed? Congress just passed the largest increase in Medicare spending in decades (Prescription Drug Program).

    Were you just posting the Daily Kos talking points without thinking? Just because you keep quoting these talking points as facts doesn't mean they will automagically become facts.

    Yes, the deficit is rising and the gov't is spending more for craptastic social programs. Military spending is still ~4% GDP, so I really don't have a problem with that. Of course, I don't have a problem with our gov't safeguarding us and preventing another 3,000 of our citizens from being killed by terrorists, but I guess I'm not blinded by hatred of our President. Win at all costs, that's the mantra of the Kossacks, isn't it?
  • Re:Stability? (Score:3, Informative)

    by LWATCDR (28044) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @05:25PM (#15597763) Homepage Journal
    There doesn't seem to be any. Nasa flew a test plane using this type of wing back in 1979.
    http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/news/FactSheets /FS-019-DFRC.html [nasa.gov]
    Not really a new or untried idea at all.

  • by couchslug (175151) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @05:34PM (#15597785)
    It is also out of service. Not due to the swing wing, but the maintenance cost of its aging systems.
  • by sbaker (47485) * on Saturday June 24, 2006 @05:35PM (#15597786) Homepage
    Hmmm - NASA had one of those flying back in 1982!

    http://www.time.com/time/archive/printout/0,23657, 949473,00.html [time.com]
  • Re:Shape shifting? (Score:3, Informative)

    by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @05:42PM (#15597819)
    "So, having one part of the plane change its angle is now shape shifting?"

    No. Rotating the wings so that the entire shape of the plane makes it a shape shifter. This one goes from looking like a plane to looking like a knife, as opposed ot F-14 that just changes to look more like a dart.

    Though I agree with your underwhelmment over the name and the description, cripes, your examples suck. Understand what you're poo-poo'ing.
  • by ceejayoz (567949) <cj@ceejayoz.com> on Saturday June 24, 2006 @05:47PM (#15597839) Homepage Journal
    With the upgrades done over the years, it still the the best carrier fighter we have.

    With the upgrades done over the years, it still the the best carrier fighter we don't have.

    Fixed that for ya. They've been decomissioned since March.

    It has range, computer power, ability to lock onto six different targets at the same time and shoot them all down, and doesn't need to be pointed at the bogeys after the missles are fired. The F-18 Hornet is a short range fighter, and has to keep itself pointed in the general direction of the bogeys until the missles hit.

    Incorrect, to my knowledge. Fire-and-forget is based on the weaponry, not the platform firing it. Just about every air-to-air weapon - the only exception being the AIM-7 Sparrow, which is being phased out for the AMRAAM - the F/A-18 launches is fire-and-forget and doesn't require external guidance from the launching aircraft. It can carry more payload, too, if Wikipedia is to be believed.
  • Re:What a great idea (Score:4, Informative)

    by AhtirTano (638534) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @05:52PM (#15597860)
    Last time I checked, the US literacy rate was 99%. Our neighbor to the north - spending considerably less on it's military - has something like 97%. So much for that correlation.

    According to the Human Development Reports [undp.org], the US and Canada are basically tied on the educational front. Both have such high literacy rates that they don't bother to collect detailed national statistics, so UNESCO gives both a 99% rate. On the other hand, Canada's life expectancy from birth is 80.0 years, and the US's is 77.4 years.

    I think it's safe to say that the US military budget would not go towards education in any case.

    Agreed. That doesn't mean it shouldn't go there though. Or, why not put it towards healthcare and get our life expectancy rates up?

    Do all hippies think that we don't need a military?

    Can't speak for hippies, having not talked to many in my life; but some of us regular people think we could reduce spending to a mere $100 billion, spend the other $400 billion on health, education, infrastructure, etc., and still have more than enough power to defend our country from anyone else in the world. We outspend the next 20 countries combined---we don't need to spend that much.

  • Re:What a great idea (Score:2, Informative)

    by kop (122772) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @07:38PM (#15598199)
    Please quote a source for your numbers
    My sources tell a different story:

    National Defense $423,098
    Education, Training, Employment and Social Services $91,817

    From budget 2005:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_budget_ process#Structure_of_the_Budget [wikipedia.org]
    http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/fy05/browse.html [gpoaccess.gov]

  • Unemployement (Score:5, Informative)

    by TubeSteak (669689) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @09:15PM (#15598566) Journal
    The unemployement rate is... semi-useful.

    Unemployement can go up, while the unemployement rate goes down.

    Basically: Unemployment statistics indicate how many (unemployed) people are seeking employment for pay. This number is only tangentially related to the number of people who do not have jobs.

    I'd encourage you to read more about it here [wikipedia.org]

    As for Medicare, a quick Google search would show you that the Gov't has cut spending in the past (Feb. 2006-ish) and is currently trying to cut it again.

    Last but not least, military spending as a percentage of GDP is much less relevant than military spending as a percentage of government spending.

    P.S. Kossack is generally spelled with a "C" Ie "Cossack"
  • Re:What a great idea (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 24, 2006 @09:35PM (#15598624)
    It's funny that you list Iraq and it's oil as example. The US military still has to import gasoline to Iraq, because national underground fighters and terrorists destroyed and will continue to destroy the pipes and other installations.

    The outcome of the Iraq war is a miserable image of the USA (torture etc.) in the whole world, a higher oil price and the Iran, taking the US by the nose, building nuclear weapons, because they know, the USA cannot fight them - I mean, theoretically the USA could, but the outcome would be much much worse, than the desaster we've now.

    In short: The military force plays a role, but much less than you think.
  • by Seraphim1982 (813899) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @11:17PM (#15598910)
    Not to be a total jackass, but I really do have to rub this in your face: the Scandinavian countries have historically had the lowest unemployment (historically lower than that of the United States) and STILL have the largest welfare system of all of Europe. If that doesn't provide a counterexample to your nonsensical "Everyone benefits from a dog-eat-dog world" blind faith in Capitalism-as-God, I don't know what does. I don't think you have any idea what your talking about. If someone was sitting around doing nothing but leaching off the govenernment would they be counted as unemployed in Scandinavia? Generally you have to activly search for a job in order to be counted as unemployed, thats how you prevent things like stay-at-home parents from screwing up your unemployment numbers. So in summary, without any other information those numbers could be a sign of people having no motivation to find a job.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 25, 2006 @12:24AM (#15599082)
    Popular Science had an article on a supersonic airliner with a scissor wing (one wing tip forward and the other back) in the 1970's. It was a very interesting idea and it is also known as an oblique wing, and you can find a lot of NASA references to it as oblique.
    Here are some pictures of the flying prototypes:
    http://www.dfrc.nasa.gov/Gallery/Photo/AD-1/ [nasa.gov]
    http://www.dfrc.nasa.gov/Gallery/Photo/AD-1/Medium /index.html [nasa.gov]

    It even inspired an Estes model rocket design where the wing would deployafter boost and glide back to Earth.

    http://www.acsupplyco.com/estes/estes_scissorwing. htm [acsupplyco.com]
  • Re:Budget Priortites (Score:2, Informative)

    by Ruarris (838330) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @01:10AM (#15599214)
    No, the mentality of the few radicals we are fighting doesn't apply to all radicals in the world. I don't know of their motivations, but heres a little translation of something Osama said http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/meast/10/29/bin.lade n.transcript/ [cnn.com] Heres a quote: Contrary to what [President George W.] Bush says and claims -- that we hate freedom --let him tell us then, "Why did we not attack Sweden?" I've seen better transcriptions but i can't find them now

Asynchronous inputs are at the root of our race problems. -- D. Winker and F. Prosser

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