Military wants programmable bombs that can blow up only particular things

Pilots could set damage control with smarter bombs.

Ok, this one sounds a little ambitious. The US Navy today will offer a $10 million, five-year contract for researchers to build bomb technology that would let pilots in particular select a damage radius that a weapon would generate, or possibly even the type of effect the explosive would have on a specific target.

In particular the Navy wants to develop and demonstrate technology that will enable a 500lb class bomb with 2 or more cockpit selectable output modes (make one little boom and make one humongous explosion I guess).  The Navy said one output mode will have lethality comparable to current 500lb bombs known as BLU-111s. Then a second mode would have as small of a collateral damage radius as possible enabling pilots to target specific buildings, enemies on the ground or other targets with as much lethal potential as the first option, the Navy said.  

Such bombs would use the current military communications system known as MIL-STD-1760 which defines how a combat aircraft communicate with external devices or weapons.

The Navy says currently no technology has been proven to be available that can deliver repeatable and predictable damage.  Current warfare scenarios require some targets to be immediately neutralized with minimal effect to the surrounding area. Targets vary from personnel in buildings, to personnel in the open, and to personnel located in complex urban settings. Current cylindrical steel-cased blast fragmentation warheads distribute fragmentation in a circle in all directions from the detonation point. Often, many fragments travel far beyond the intended target. These fragments can create collateral damage hazards, (and death for anyone unfortunate enough to be collaterally located), the Navy stated

The Navy went on to say an existing system that can deliver multiple types of explosives at different times known as a dispenser submunition system is not what it is looking for.  "The dispenser submunitions system has many potential disadvantages for this application. The complexity normally associated with submunition systems would generally tend to increase costs, decrease reliability, and pose greater safety and unexploded ordnance concerns. In addition maintaining target penetration capability would generally be more challenging with a dispenser submunition approach." The Navy stated.

Developing a new weapon could improve tactical flexibility and effectiveness by maximizing the number of kills per sortie and reducing the timeline necessary to prosecute a wider spectrum of targets, the Navy stated.

A key element of any new explosive technology will be that it would not accidently function in a higher collateral damage mode than desired or commanded. It is currently desired that the end product retain the overall aerodynamic shape and mass properties of the existing 500lb bombs in order to maintain compatibility with existing precision munitions guidance kits.

Layer 8 in a box

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