I got to this months Popular Science and got to reading an article on Pulse Detonation Engines(PDE's)....
Seems the US is the furthest ahead, many countries haven't even begun testing stages.
Currently, Pratt and Whitney will be releasing a prototype missile(unknown whether it will be A-A, AGM, Cruise, or SAM) that will be able to travel at
speeds in excess of Mach 6 in mid-2005. General Electric is also introducing a prototype PDE in 2005, but this as a test demonstrator, possibly for
missiles. P&W's goal is to have a PDE missile market in 20 years by which time they will then be able to start producing aircraft PDE engins.
Although Pratt and Whitney is nearly 9 years ahead in research, GE has made some amazing strides.
Now, if these PDE's start to show up on lets say, US missiles, such as the Patriot, AMRAAM, and Tomahawk, will this give the US a distinct edge or
just a moderate edge? Considering that the current PDE's use 1/2 as much fuel as a conventional turbofan, this should increase the range of the
tomahawk significantly. It would require much reworking of the AMRAAM and the assembly for a PDE, but imagine an AMRAAM with a 300+km range, although
I see many problems with a missile with that much range, mainly the data-link unless the missile goes active immediately and has near "infinite"
tracking and agility abilities.
Also, does anyone think a PDE for a AShM should be the first priority missile for the US if this technology shines? If what P&W says is true, an AShM
could fly at Mach 6 at sea level with no problems. This would give the US their first supersonic AShM, and give the US some serious firepower against
ships. A M6 missile flying at sea level might only give the defending ships 10-20 seconds to react once acquiring the target.
Yes, this is all hypotheticals, I'm just really curious at the possibilities of this technology. Could really give the US what they need to take a
"light year" jump ahead of many nations. Although I see this technology being heavily military influenced, imagine getting on a Boeing XXX in 30
years, you're traveling from NY to LA. A trip that now takes about 5.5 hours only taking 35-45 minutes.