6 Terrifying New Weapons Being Created by the Pentagon
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2. Hasta La Vista, Baby
In the 2003 science-fiction sequel Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, or T3, a metal monster from the future, a Terminatrix, is sent back to alter the present in order to ensure a future where machines rule the world and humans face extinction. Today, DARPA, the Air Force, and a couple defense industry heavyweights are seeking to change the future of munitions with a monster of their own -- “a high speed, long-range missile that can engage air, cruise missile, and air defense targets.” The name of the program? I kid you not: Triple Target Terminator (T3).
Designed to be fired by either manned aircraft or drones, the Triple Target Terminator seeks to “increase the number and variety of targets that could be destroyed on each sortie” by allowing an aircraft to engage in air-to-air combat or air-to-ground attack with the same armament. Just what future air force the U.S. military imagines itself attacking with this weapon is not the sort of thing you’ll find out from DARPA. Spokesperson Spearman told me that “sensitivities” again prevented him from explaining even the basics of the system or its future uses. “A good part of the program itself is classified,” he assured me.
Last fall, Defense Industry Daily reported that Raytheon had received a $21.3 million contract for the Triple Target Terminator (T3) program. This was followed, a few weeks later, by the same sum being awarded to Boeing for work on the project. These contracts constitute an initial one-year attempt to design a missile that meets “program objectives” and will set the stage for future efforts.
In a prepared statement provided to TomDispatch late last year, DARPA declared: “Depending on successful phase completion, follow on efforts will continue in two more phases with multiple-technology risk reduction demonstrations, including live fire from tactical aircraft. The program is structured to last three years, culminating in test demonstrations in 2013.”
3. Anti-Ship Shape
Once upon a time, broadsides and boarding parties typified warfare on the high seas. In the future, the U.S. military has its sights set on something slightly more high tech. To that end, DARPA is now developing a Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) that seeks to provide “a dramatic leap ahead in U.S. surface warfare capability.”
Designed to evade advanced enemy countermeasures, this would-be smart weapon is supposed to permit “high probability target identification in dense shipping environments, and precision aimpoint targeting for maximum lethality.” DARPA isn’t talking about this program either. LRASM, Spearman told me in December, was “in the final throes of getting all its contracts awarded. Until that happens and we have an official announcement, I can't set up any media engagements on that one.”
By mid-January when I followed up , the final throes had yet to cease, but just days later DARPA awarded two contracts, totaling $218 million, to military-corporate powerhouse Lockheed Martin for work on two different LRASM missiles. “Lockheed Martin is proud to offer our technology for Navy solutions,” announced Lockheed’s tactical missile honcho Glenn Kuller. “These LRASM contracts will demonstrate two mature tactical missiles for new generation anti-surface warfare weapons capability; one low and stealthy, the other high and fast with moderate stealth.”
4. Bullet Ballet
It’s the farthest thing from a fair fight. A man peers through an advanced telescopic sight. He zeros in on his prey, a figure without a sporting chance who has no idea that he’s being targeted for death. The sniper, who has lugged his 30 pound, .50 caliber rifle up a ridgeline in order to kill with a single shot, breathes slow and steady, focuses, waits, waits, and finally pulls the trigger. A breeze he never felt, somewhere in the 4,000 feet between him and his target, sends the round off course. The sniper doesn’t log another kill. The human target gets to live another day.