SpaceX Starship Hypersonic Bomber Will Give US Decades of Air Dominance

The US Military Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) will have a first free-flight testing within the calendar year. They are developing critical technologies to enable an effective and affordable air-launched hypersonic cruise missile.

Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Technologies have each tested advanced air vehicle configurations that promise to achieve and sustain efficient hypersonic flight. They want to show hydrocarbon scramjet-powered propulsion and thermal management techniques to enable prolonged hypersonic cruise, in addition to affordable system designs and manufacturing approaches.

Russia and China both deployed crude hypersonic missiles that were boosted by regular rockets.

India and other countries are also developing hypersonic missiles.

In December 2019, Russia deployed a few of its Avangard missile. The Avangard is a strategic intercontinental ballistic missile system equipped with a hypersonic boost-glide vehicle and is capable of flying at over 20 times the speed of sound in the dense layers of the atmosphere. Only two Avangard-equipped UR-100NUTTH (Variants of the RS-18A ICBM missile are deployed.)

The Avangard has a total mass of about 2 tons.

SpaceX will be making hundreds of reusable SpaceX Starships. Those vehicles will be able to go mach 15 to 30 and will be able to carry 100 tons of payload. SpaceX can throttle and turn the engines on and off. This will enable SpaceX starship to be a far more capable hypersonic platform.

The Starship by itself will be able to have a range of about 8000 miles. It will be able to fly over and over again, day after day and get reloaded with missiles that would be carried to hypersonic speeds. It will be able to act like a massive hypersonic bomber.

The cost will be lower and the payload will be larger and it will fly sooner than the other US hypersonic systems.

It will totally outclass the Russian Avangard and the Chinese DF-17.

SOURCES- DARPA, Eurasian Times
Written by Brian Wang,

54 thoughts on “SpaceX Starship Hypersonic Bomber Will Give US Decades of Air Dominance”

  1. Definitely not soon if ever. The directed energy weapon would have to have an energy efficiency that rivals that of a nuclear bomb. A nuclear-pumped directed-energy-weapon might come close, but you still have to deal with c limit. A nuclear bomb is almost 100% efficient in terms of mass. The only directed energy weapon that could possibly change this is one powerful enough to induce an efficient nuclear reaction on the target. Until then the directed energy weapon can be deflected by an incoming nuclear bomb with shielding, and for example in space combat the inertia of your ship is going to matter quite a bit, you don't want the bomb getting close to your ship and good luck vaporizing it with a laser before it gets there, let alone through the atmosphere of Earth.

  2. As Brian pointed out, Avangard is already doing that. 

    Starship hypersonic weapons would be unmistakably non-nuclear if no nuclear warheads are built for that delivery system.

  3. Starship and Orbital kinetic bombs would survive directed energy weapons that make all manned aircraft obsolete. Not only further away and more robust but Starship is able to spin and tumble to prevent a beam from staying on any target long.

  4. In a world connected by trades the fastest way to deliver a nuke is to put it in a container and send it in a freight ship. Developing a network of corrupt/blackmailed custom officials is way easier than develop hypersonic weapons and orbital platforms. Then you store it in an appropriate warehouse with a dead switch signal.

  5. That all we need is a big, non-stealth craft, all lit up due to the plasma sheath caused by the hyper-sonic velocity that can be destroyed by shotgun pellets.

    Hypersonic is all hype. If I can see you, I can kill you, no matter how fast you are going. Because all I have to do is disperse a cloud of pellets in front of you.

  6. The problem is they are not that dynamically responsive to intercept something on a suborbital trajectory, particularly something that can maneuver.

  7. I was very serious for the first paragraph indeed. Proven technology.
    For that second paragraph, yes 🙂 this was intentionally provocative. It's far-fetched science fiction for now, but with serious physical hypotheses as a basis, that might or might not be experimentally proven in a not so distant future.

  8. All the Air Force, or I suppose Space Force, needs, is a protected launch silo. Maybe strap on solid fueled thrusters to actively negate wind loads for a few seconds, until the Starship is traveling significantly faster than top wind speed.

    Launching a Starship in anything short of a hurricane is definitely a feasible goal, if you spend money like the government.

  9. Well, smoke and mirrors in the case of Russia. China is certainly capable of deploying smoke and mirrors, but they're not as dysfunctional as Russia.


  10. MHD enables avoidance/reduction of shock formation with the concurrent energy deposition in leading edges. Also, enables energy extraction from induced cold plasma flow, can reduce flow velocity, and raise flow density without need of inlet shock diffuser. 

    MHD allows manipulation of a boundary plasma sheath to generate cross-path range of an otherwise nominally ballistic reentry design. Energy extracted from control of hypersonic plasma flow can be diverted to power electrically driven accessories requiring megawatt power sources, unless returned to augment the flow velocity at an engine exhaust nozzle, or increase the velocity of plasma boundary flow aft.

    There are other possibilities available, some of which might be public ally assessable.

  11. And, I think people have totally overlooked the military applications of the Hyperlink satellites. There are just too many for the Russians or Chinese to knock out.

  12. You are mistaken my dear. Hot plasma surrounding high speed re-entry objects, as well as engineered cold plasma shields already render current and next-gen DEWs useless against such objects, as they absorb EM radiation effectively.
    Plus gravitational nonequilibrium pumped metamaterials creating artificially repulsive antigravity white hole in near future will require infinite rocket thrust to reach the horizon. This is the ultimate shield making most powerful weapons including nuclear warheads or post next-gen DEWs such as grasers useless.

  13. I wonder how effective lasers will be against something designed to survive very high temperatures. I imagine that weaponized particle beams would be better, if they existed.

  14. I'm thinking that Musk would probably want to focus on commercial space and his vision for Mars. Getting in bed with MIC may be profitable, but it is an ugly business and puts his platform squarely in the critical defense resource category. He may want to launch from Brazil one day. If Starship becomes a bomber that is less likely to be permitted.

  15. Makes possible boost phase defense also, it would flip the whole script being that it shoots down at incoming not having to outrun the booster so those interceptors would be on the right side of the energy curve. Catching them in midcourse would be just the interceptor portion of our current ABM systems.

    Yep many many uses payloads over platforms. 

    Starship at deployment will own the high ground. Eyes, spears, shields. The standing power of a naval ship, the striking power of the airforce, and the surviveability of orbit.

  16. Well if when that day comes a starship with a reactor in the belly and such a weapon would be even more of a threat. 

    Regardless it just becomes a math problem how many ordinance can said weapon at a time and how long of burn times are needed on each one to overwhelm. Then we got EW etc…

  17. The better solution here is having a few of these things consistently "on" to provide anti-ICBM defense. Want an end to the global nuclear threat rather than using MAD to prevent great-power war? Render the BM and ICBM nuke threat technologically irrelevant because one nation's strategic asset can be easily countered by another's tactical-level unit, until eventually DE defenses simply make it all academic ancient history.

  18. You do know that nothing can cruise in the dense layers of the atmosphere at Mach 20 – not event half of that value – without a "special trick" that only we Russians have mastered, don't you?

  19. If you're right, then using Starship for both passenger flights and weapons delivery sounds like a great way to get a passenger flight shot down.

  20. Starship can provide the “Third Offset” the US military wanted. They can buy they own independent system of ocean spaceport bases, Superheavies and Starships. As long as they don’t try to meddle too much in the design, they’ll get this capability handed to them cheap.

    Pearl Harbor, Okinawa, Guam, Bahrain, Puerto Rico, USSF Starship bases.

  21. Same tool, same manufacturer, different customers, so not exactly.

    However, that may be a pretty good summary of what could happen with the first country to develop a really strong AI, and not a shot will need to be fired.

  22. Hypersonic weapons launched by Starship don’t need to be more than grid fins and a protected guidance module. Strap them onto a steel tube full of concrete and you got a hypersonic “bomb”.

    Starship + Superheavy is an orbital kinetic bomber. It can repeatedly overfly the target area for no extra charge being in orbit. No crew at risk. As cheap as B-52s. Over anyplace on the planet ready to strike in an hour.

  23. Building a weapons platform that could conceivably be mistaken for a nuclear ICBM seems like a spectacularly bad idea..

  24. I think that spaceship will be a big and nice target for any defensive system. More or less like a flare to the radar scanners.

  25. The Heavy would be able to skirt air defenses with just a small payload reduction it theoretically could take 80-100 tons to 1500km up in orbit. I do not know of any air defense system that would be able to handle something at that far up. Place a solar powered, very high power radar on one that looks down, keep it up there and then use another as a AA platform that releases missile pods hypersonically downwards on air targets. Make missile pods to de-orbit that open up and launch multiple guided SCRAM jet missiles in atmosphere for air defense. That way its also an interceptor.

  26. Jet passenger liners scrub flights because of bad weather. Hasn't stopped the military using jet aircraft.
    Because a 0.1% chance of a crash is (reluctantly) acceptable in a war, but totally unacceptable for civilian use.

    Admittedly, jet airliners currently have a higher weather tolerance than a SpaceX launch.

    But what about a NASA launch? They also demand good weather. And yet they are using rockets that have been accepted for military use for decades.

  27. I don't understand this take. Giving the U.S. a decades-long advantage in space and near space activities and therefore an advantage in any other domain can only lead to positive PR in the US.

  28. Russia and China have hypersonic orbital bombers? That's news to me. s/

    Russia is ahead with their Avangard, which caught the US off-guard, and are now racing to catch up. But having a Space Force Starship fleet, would decimate any challenger.

  29. Directed energy weapons will soon render every flying asset obsolete.
    Massive kinetic impactors will survive a while until the energy weapons outgrow them too.

  30. Wake me up when SpaceX stops scrubbing launched because of breezy weather.

    Military launch systems need to be able to launch even in less than ideal weather.

  31. I'm not sure how Musk will react to this angle.

    Probably he'll take the money and make some big fat missile carriers for the military guys. The guy isn't anything if not pragmatic.

    But that's just bad PR. I mean, that's not the message you want to send with the first orbital passenger liner and all the "send humanity to Mars" fluff.

    At least they should spin it into a different brand or image.

  32. In otherwords, as the Chinese and Russians get closer to matching us, we quickly pull away, and wave to them thru the rear-view mirror. 🙂

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