It turns out the Air Force's next-gen bomber really isn't much of a bomber at all. While the next iteration of stealth bombers is still but a sketch on the drawing board, the DoD and top Air Force command know what the wars of the next century will call for: intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), as well as the ability to deploy non-kinetic weapons to disrupt enemy operations, all while reserving the ability to drop the occasional ordinance -- and do it all at the same time with a single, stealthy super-weapon.
With a shift of its wing, the Pentagon's next attack drone goes from long-range endurance flyer to Mach-speed assassin
By Noah Shachtman
Posted 07.01.2006 at 2:00 am 1 Comment
For years, the U.S. military has wanted a plane that could loiter just outside enemy territory for more than a dozen hours and, on command, hurtle toward a target faster than the speed of sound. And then level it. But aircraft that excel at subsonic flight are inefficient at Mach speeds, and vice versa. The answer is Switchblade, an unmanned, shape-changing plane concept under development by Northrop Grumman.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.