Ship Killers

Elon Musk made a post that proved to be part of an interesting thread. The current intelligence disaster has revealed concerns about Chinese hypervelocity vehicles and that they are preparing to go all out against the U.S. Navy. No shit.

This is a party that’s been going on a while, and yes the Chinese are very serious about this. Far more so than our Navy appears to be at this time. Before the Chinese were the Soviets, and the object that was labeled a “mini-Shuttle” and often presented as a scale model test.

Just one problem with that: it really didn’t scale up/could not be scaled up according to a number of analysts. Then, when you looked at the tests of the vehicle, well, they had a naval component and didn’t seem to fit a “space” profile per se. To a number of people, including me, it really seemed to fit the profile of a Hypervelocity Kill Vehicle (HKV)/Hypervelocity Ship Killer (HSK).

Add in the fact that defending against objects moving at those speeds can be a bit of a challenge, and that if something that size hit a carrier at speed it could go through it long-ways. Except that it and the carrier would probably be a rapidly expanding fireball by that point. Even a near-miss could have potentially catastrophic results for both the carrier and any ships nearby.

There was a lot of “never happen” and the concerns were poo-pooed in the usual quarters, but at least a few people paid attention. Would that I thought any current GOFO or civilian military leadership was doing so today. For all that some are claiming hypervelocity delivery vehicles and such are over-hyped, they truly are a game changer, even when they don’t carry explosives.

Just a thought to brighten your day.

6 thoughts on “Ship Killers”

  1. Re explosives, when the velocity gets hyper enough explosives become not only irrelevant but counterproductive, contributing lower density mass where higher density non explosive mass would increase the energy transfer to the target, and potentially spreading out the impact where a point impact would get that energy deeper. At hyper-enough velocities the mass delivered goes to heat really darned fast, so explosively disassembling that mass in the microseconds around intersecting with the target does mostly nothing useful.

    1. Though I should note something along the lines of a ginormous shaped charge warhead correctly timed to deliver a giant plasma jet at hypersonic velocities is something truly frightening from any ship damage control viewpoint.

      1. Yes indeed. Thanks for giving me yet another bit of insomnia. 🙂 I share some of this to give it to ya’ll, not get it back. 🙂

        1. That (detonating a big badda boom conventional shaped charge at correct effective distance for a delivery vehicle approaching at hypersonic velocities) is actually a fusing problem that might be beyond current tech, with the “how far am I now?” question dependent on sensing said distance from a hypersonically heated vehicle’s nose cone through the heated bow shock. IR wouldn’t see much, nor visible. Radar? That could be EW’d, and I am not sure all the RF bits would still be happy in a vehicle operating at those temps, to say nothing of whether radar-transparent radome materials wouldn’t get all melty.
          But eventually? Totally an engineering problem, not a physics impossibility, so solvable. Heck, you might be able to get a “good enough” detonation timing solution just with inertial.

  2. “Penetration is accomplished with velocity.”

    That, and “mass cannot be destroyed……but it can be converted.”

    Pretty basic stuff, kinda amazing that it’s been ignored by so many for so long……but, not “everyone”……

    We shall see what develops. In other news, Berlitz has announced renewed interest in Mandarin lessons and the publisher is re-issuing Julia Childs’ cookbook “Advensturesome Recipes for Rice.” ….


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