reply to post by arbiture1200
...continued... I would love to see the face of the dude who see's an aircraft, ship, name it actually change shape in front of him. Way beyond
primitive "variable sweep wings", but adaptive structural topology. Who knows what may be lurking out there... The Air Force can take a lesson from
the Navy. Super heavily armed, with assault troop capacity, multi-role and theater capacity "arsenal ships" have recently been launched.
These surface ships, like most newer ships were built with stealth in mind. Newer versions should have tremendous increase in speed and
maneuverability and will look seriously radical. And why there is less need, in concept for adaptive topology for a surface ship, it can be done and
could have many advantages. I can think of a lot off the bat.
SSBN's, our ballistic missile carrying boats (subs) had to be de-commissioned by treaty and have their strategic nuclear Trident D2-3 missiles
removed. The ones that were mentioned were of the Ohio class (some, not all of them, just the ones we had to remove from strategic nuclear patrol)
What we did with the older Ohio's was to adapt them to carry SEAL teams, special sensor, perhaps innovative weapons (a whole lot of 'em) and
certainly vertical launched cruise missiles. The options near endless and its nice for a change to see good use of US taxpayers money. Still superb in
their capacity and the second largest (I believe) SSBN's deployed (the biggest of course is the Russian Typhoon, that bastard is big enough for its
own zip code...)
With the end of the cold war the SSN attack subs, the newest the Seawolf and Virginia class, they had to adapt and were designed as were the arsenal
ships to be modular and have compartment and equipment "swap out" capability. Very nice. The issue of what the Air Force does with the available
aircraft is more problematic. Take the B1B bomber. For its day it employed very limited stealth concepts, but thats early 1970's technology for
airframe shape (very important, as well as coatings which we keep improving.) and the "shape" is something we have a lot harder problem
Given the B1B was designed as being manned, that of course can change... But ideally we could build a limited number of airborne "arsenal like ship"
aircraft. The ones that are manned, or need to be must be very capable of adaptive shape, capability, and modular. And we don't need nearly as manny
manned as we can get away with with "robot-hawks". One would not want to be in (or near) an airplane pulling 50+ G's.
Then there is the entirely amazing area of super-maneuverable and unmanned attack aerospace planes. For someone operating in a micro-gravity
environment often referred to somewhat incorrectly as "zero G" at very high altitude, in low Earth orbit for example, ultra brain splattering
maneuvers can be more abrupt in space because they don't have the problem of atmospheric friction.
And even in the air, you can have incredible attitude change (flying rings around who ever) with no control surfaces, wings, stabalators, etc with
advanced thrust vectoring. I have heard, again rumor of air-to-air missiles using just that and having no "wings" etc. They could easily go 4,000mph
at least or hypersonic+. Range might be limited, or not, depends on the design. A very fast missile could also have considerable range with certain
propulsion designs. So for something like a true aerospace fighter, that could handle the atmosphere and space would always be a bit of a trade off.
In space it will not look like Luke Skywalker's X-Wing, but something closer to an area rule lifting body, perhaps with deployable wings for the
atmosphere might make sense.
But to build that AND have it keep a crew man alive defeats the very ability of having no one one board. Not that "a few" that would be manned make
sense. But again more akin to a version of a "mini-arsenal ship", and that would be more then capable of doing a number of things and might be
capable of if a manned version having a crew of say 6-to-8 like a carrier based duel turboprop E2 Hawk Eye AWACS. But with teeth, if needed.
But when it comes to the classic "job descriptions" of bombers and fighters, that actually changed a long time ago. But it was more of using a crow
bar to adapt a dedicated airframe from say strictly a fighter, largely by hanging ECM "pods" from wings, to what many fighters are often outfitted
to do, be ECCM/ECM "spoof" aircraft. A changeable physical shape, and modular mission specific swap-outs would go way beyond anything commonly seen
now. And when you start talking about the interesting world of the "other" (military) space program, it gets very interesting. Frankly, I don't see
how we can afford to do this any other way.