The United States has maintained its air superiority for far too long and they are now developing the weapons that will take them years ahead of others. With the ongoing development of sixth generation jet fighters, United State Air Force has started to facilitate their Next Generation Air Dominance program. The USAF provides aerial support to the ground forces and helps in recovering troops. Currently, the arsenal of US Air Force contains 5137 military aircraft consisting of jet fighters, bombers, electronic aircraft, cargo, UAVs, 63 satellites and 450 ICBMs.
The long-range strike bomber (LRS-B) like B-21 Stealth Bomber aircraft which are currently being developed, will give the service major surgical advantage. B-21 is meant to replace the famed B-2 long-range stealth bomber. It will be able to travel undetected from the US air base to another part of the world to launch a successful assault.
The future of air force is unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs and USAF is all set to take it to a next level. The conceptualized Lockheed Martin SR-72 which will be developed by Lockheed Martin for the air force which will succeed the famous Lockheed Martin SR-71 Thunderbird. It has been claimed that the SR-72 will be able to move at the speed of Mach 6 which has never been achieved previously by any military aircraft.
USAF has an arsenal full of modernized weapons but the weapons that are about to come next will increase their capabilities by manifolds. United States Air Force has enjoyed the superiority over other countries for a long time but with the rapid advancement of Chinese and Russian Air Forces US’s superiority has eroded a little. But the prototype weapons that are being taken into consideration and the upcoming weapons that are currently being developed will give shivers to others. Here is a list of USAF’s most promised weapons which are worth to look out for.
Railgun is an electromagnetic launcher of projectiles that uses rails or parallel conductors hence the name. Railguns are being thoroughly researched as a weapon for the defence of the country as it can reach a muzzle velocity that no other projectile launcher can thus give the projectile a paramount of destructive force.
United States Air Force’s Scientific Research wing is now developing the electromagnetic airborne Railguns which will be fitted to the C-5B aircraft manufactured by Lockheed Martin. They are also taking Airbus A380 Freighter into consideration for using the Railgun.
The C-5B aircraft can reach an altitude of 50,000 ft and can fire payload into space using the Railgun attached to it. The projectiles would be designed to have a mass ranging from 1 kg to 10 kg at most. The C-5B is ideal due to its ability to reach the upper parts of the atmosphere. For the payloads to reach the planet’s orbit, the Railgun must have a muzzle velocity over 7 Km/S thus the projectiles will experience immense thermal load if launched from the lower parts of the atmosphere. A 64 MJ Railgun will destroy any target in its way with an incredible speed of Mach 5 thereby bringing destruction upon the enemy.
2. Boeing X-37: The mystery weapon of USAF
Using the space to launch aggravated assaults or to fight the enemy had always been considered by the Air Force of the United States and this idea was realised with the Boeing X-37 OTV. Per the recent reports, the prototype flights of X-37 have produced astonishing results and the US Air Force is ready to use it for orbital space flight soon when needed.
It is a hypersonic reusable space vehicle which was designed to supply munitions anywhere on the globe within two hours. X-37 has been recognised as the smallest orbital airplane by the Guinness Book of World Records. Boeing X-37 uses reusable space technologies. It was designed to operate in the lower earth orbit or LEO. The aircraft was designed in such a way that it can operate in space for nine months at a stretch before re-entering earth. Since it is still in a development stage and is mostly a prototype, there are lots of speculations regarding its purpose. Well whatever its purpose may be, we cannot deny that it could truly be a weapon of next generation.
3. Lockheed Martin SR-72:
Lockheed Martin SR-72 is still a conceptualised aircraft which is being developed by the Lockheed Martin. It is meant to succeed the retired hero of US Air Force Lockheed Marti SR-71 blackbird. The proposed SR-72 is a hypersonic unmanned aerial vehicle or UAV which will be used by the Air force for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance as well as strike missions.
SR-72 is being designed to fill up the gaps in between the UAVs, surveillance satellites and manned aircraft for the ISR and striking missions. With the development of radar and anti-aircraft technologies, it is hard to get past without being detected but a hypersonic aircraft like SR-72 will move swiftly and attack enemy strongholds even before the enemies can intercept it. It was claimed by the Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force that SR-72 will be able to move at a speed 6 times faster than the speed of sound. Lockheed Martin is finding a way to use turbine conjointly with a ramjet supersonic combustion engine to produce turbine based combined cycle propulsion to achieve the Mach 6 feat. In other words, it will be able to achieve the Mach 6 feat which is not possible for the other jet fighters of Air Force’s arsenal.
4. Laser guns on fighter planes:
The invention of guns changed the face of warfare and later the art of warfare was revolutionised with the invention of aircraft. Now another revolution is about to come our way. The Scientific Research Laboratory of the US Air Force is currently working on equipping their fighter jets with fully operating laser guns.
But equipping a supersonic jet with laser guns will not be easy as the vibrations from the supersonic state make the working of laser very tough. It was revealed that a prototype test is currently in works involving the F-15 eagle. The fighter jets will use the solid-state type of laser technology which will emit laser beams by bombarding solid crystalline materials with energy. The laser weapons will be used as defensive measures to be used against energy vehicles or cell towers but it will not be used against the ground troops as per the reports from USAF.
5. Northrop Grumman B-21 Stealth Bomber:
To penetrate the enemy lines undetected after travelling thousands of miles from the home air base is an amazing feat that every Air Forces of every country desires to achieve as it will make them indispensable and this is just the thing that US Air Force is about to achieve. Northrop Grumman is currently working with the Scientific Research wing of the Air Force to develop a Long-Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) which has been named B-21.
B-21 stealth bomber will be replacing the famous B-2 stealth bomber, USAF’s first sleek long range bomber. B-21 is an intermediary name given to the conceptualised aircraft as any official designation has yet not been given due to the difficulties in building a stealth aircraft of such large wingspan. With, large Wingspan, it will make the low-frequency cross section negligible and the aircraft will be able to pass undetected by camouflaging itself under the noise created by UHF/VHF band systems. It will be far more effective against the UHF and VHF frequency bands than B-2 and will be able to pass undetected.
Both Air Force and the Northrop Grumman are maintaining absolute secrecy about the B-21 aircraft and are trying their best to avoid any detection thus the project is totally a mystery to the people. USAF has only released the concept art of B-21 as no prototype has yet been built.