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HIFEX Rocket Sled Test  (Source: U.S. Air force)
New bomb release system is made up of an array of microjets allowing munitions release at high supersonic speeds

While the U.S. Military has had fighter aircraft capable of supersonic flight for many years, such fighters typically had to slow down to lower speeds to deploy munitions correctly.  The bane of every warfighter, the attack sequence is most stressful and vulnerable point during a sortie. 

Bombs released at supersonic speeds cannot effectively exit a conventional bomb bay. Air vectoring can actually push the bomb back towards the aircraft at very high speeds.

Boeing and the U.S. Air Force have announced a new technology called High Frequency Excitation Active Flow Control for Supersonic Weapon Release (HIFEX) that enables the safe release of munitions from a weapons bay at high supersonic speeds. The demonstration of the HIFEX technology was performed using a rocket sled. The active flow control technology itself consists of a tandem array of microjets upstream of the weapons bay that disrupt the high-speed airflow enough for munitions to exit the bomb bay.

"As it was, the active flow control microjets reduced the unsteady pressures inside the weapons bay and modified the flow outside the bay to ensure that the test vehicle went out of the rocket sled nose up," said Bill Bower, Boeing Phantom Works program manager for HIFEX.

The sled the tests were performed on was powered by two pusher sleds and achieved 438,000 pounds of thrust for about 5.9 seconds on the first stage, 575,000 pounds of thrust for 3 seconds on the second stage and 115,000 pounds of thrust for 3.6 seconds on the third stage.

The JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) test weapon was released from the sled at a velocity of about 2000 feet per second. Additional full-scale tests of the HIFEX system will be conducted by Boeing and the U.S. Air Force 846th Test Squadron in 2008.

This technology could lead the way or new fighter aircraft like the F-35 being able to drop smart munitions from supersonic speeds, allowing them to coast miles to the target greatly reducing the threat to U.S. soldiers.

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Confused by headline?
By Sahrin on 11/29/2007 4:44:38 PM , Rating: 3
I read the headline and thought "They're called bullets..."

RE: Confused by headline?
By Polynikes on 11/29/2007 5:31:58 PM , Rating: 2
I read it and thought "There's a lot of missiles that are already supersonic. The sidewinder, for example. It's gotta be able to catch a jet fighter." Apparently it just wasn't a specific enough headline.

RE: Confused by headline?
By rcc on 11/29/2007 7:08:03 PM , Rating: 2
Actually though, bullets are not suitable for supersonic speeds. Back in the early days of high speed flight there were several instances of aircraft literally shooting themselves down by running through the rounds they had just fired.

Now, if they put baby rockets on the cannon rounds...... Gyrojet anyone?

By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 11/30/2007 2:25:10 PM , Rating: 4
The article is not about putting jets on weapons, it is about using "jets" of air to disrupt airflow under the aircraft to prevent perturbation of the munitions when they enter the supersonic airstream from the relatively calm air of the bomb bay - without affecting the flight of the aircraft, I presume. They only tested it on a sled, here.

Previously they had to slow the plane to subsonic speeds in order to release the munitions, which made the plane vulnerable to attack. This system allows the pilot to maintain supersonic speeds and still release the weapon, whether that weapon is powered or not. That is all.

RE: Confused by headline?
By MacGyver1138 on 11/30/2007 3:46:31 PM , Rating: 2
No way a jet ever ran through it's own bullets. "An obejct in motion tends to stay in motion, unless acted upon by an outside force." The bullets would be travelling at the same speed as the jet when fired, and accelerate from there. Unless these arodynamically efficient rounds somehow came to a dead halt in midair, a jet wouldn't catch them before their trajectory dropped well below that of the aircraft. Bullets are most definitely suited for supersonic flight, considering you can buy subsonic rounds.

RE: Confused by headline?
By Upset Nerd on 11/30/2007 5:16:26 PM , Rating: 2
love them acronyms
By codeThug on 11/29/2007 9:07:43 PM , Rating: 2
High Frequency Excitation Active Flow Control for Supersonic Weapon Release.....and stuff.

RE: love them acronyms
By HaZaRd2K6 on 11/29/2007 9:40:22 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah... And shouldn't the acronym then be HiFExAFloCSWeR? Doesn't quite rolls off the tongue though :P

RE: love them acronyms
By spluurfg on 11/29/2007 10:46:56 PM , Rating: 3
Yeah, I think the British really had it right when they came up with Advanced Short Range Air-to-air Missile.

i.e. ASRAM.

Stop giggling.

Fighter Pilots will love it
By FITCamaro on 11/29/2007 5:24:40 PM , Rating: 2
No more having to worry about slowing down over enemy territory for tactical munitions to be used. Just zip all the way along, drop the bomb, and go home. Only have to slow down to turn around. Score another one for the US military.

By Master Kenobi on 11/29/2007 8:48:58 PM , Rating: 2
F-22 on supercruise can probably handle it no problen. Coast in at mach 1.5, release both munitions, bank and go home...

By l3ored on 11/30/2007 5:49:37 PM , Rating: 2
now if only we could develop a technology that would help people get along.

RE: peace?
By lco45 on 12/3/2007 7:17:57 AM , Rating: 2

Still, i do like to see a nice explosion.


Other first thought
By TimberJon on 11/29/2007 5:17:20 PM , Rating: 2
"Bring the Rain"

My thoughts went to the increase in damage potential, reload rate, and decrease in processing time for targeting software if the 40mm and 105mm cannons that the C130 Gunship has were to be upgraded with ammunition that had microjets in the rounds. Basically I thought of "Hyper Velocity" rounds, but they already have those. I'm not sure if they have them for those guns or not, but that would be nice. You could, potentially, bring more "rain" and the armor piercing capabilities would be increased as well.

Yeah, it mus be really "stressful"
By lco45 on 12/3/2007 7:16:04 AM , Rating: 2
It must be a real pain having to slow down to just 600MPH before you can loose off a rocket into someone's tent from 60,000 feet. We really need to fix that.

Most weapons we've got nowadays seem to be waaay overkill anyway, get back to me once you've got a suit like Iron Man...


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