Thursday, November 29, 2018

Boys and their highly explosive toys

The Aviationist brings us this video of weapons tests at China Lake.

Located in California’s Mojave Desert, China Lake is home to NAVAIR’s Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD).

NAWCWD is responsible for supporting NAVAIR programs by:

  • Performing research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E), logistics, and in-service support for guided missiles, free-fall weapons, targets, support equipment, crew systems and electronic warfare
  • Integrating weapons and avionics on tactical aircraft
  • Operating the Navy’s western land and Sea Range test and evaluation complex
  • Developing and applying new technology to ensure battle space dominance
Among the services NAWCWD provides, there is also Missiles and Free-Fall Weapons Research and Development. This means that China Lake develops explosives and propellants, and conducts basic and applied research in science and technology of weaponry.

Weapon systems regularly developed at China Lake include Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM), High-Speed Antiradiation Missile (HARM), Hellfire, Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW), Penguin, Phoenix, Sidewinder, Sea Sparrow, Standoff Land Attack Missile (SLAM), SLAM-ER, Standard Missile, Tomahawk and Vertical Launch Anti-submarine Rocket (VLA).

There's more at the link.

Here's the video.

Frankly, I'd rather be far away from any weapon that accurate.  During my time under fire, back in the 1980's, projectiles and bombs were aimed by ye good olde Mark I Eyeball, or by relatively primitive radar bombing systems.  They could get within 100 yards of their targets most of the time, but not always, and direct hits were a relatively small percentage of the weapons launched.  These things . . . basically, if someone puts the crosshairs on you or your vehicle or your building, you're toast.  No fun on the receiving end.



LL said...

They also launch and analyze foreign military weapons at China Lake. It's interesting to compare the contrast.

Bob Gibson said...

Again with the annoying soundtrack . . .

SirHamster said...

> No fun on the receiving end.

When is it fun to be on the receiving end of any ordnance?

Is there a ranking?

Massed British EF aimed fire (WWI) vs. MG42 (WWII) vs. Afghanistan snipers (modern) vs ...

pigpen51 said...

I remember the video of the shock and awe of the first gulf war, with the missiles flying right into the window of the target houses.
It does make one afraid of just how sophisticated weapons systems are now. Even conventional weapons are getting just as scary as nuclear weapons. MOAB's, and the like, destroy nearly as much as some of the smaller nuclear devices that we had at one time.
Of course, war is always a hard thing to not only start, but to stop. I would hope that we never see another world war, but honestly, I can't count on luck or intelligence to keep us safe. For that reason, I am glad that we continue to develop weapons. It is cliche' but the old saw peace through strength is a strategy that works.

Old NFO said...

Just remember, THESE are the ones they are willing to show you...

Nuke Road Warrior said...

Why do they hate pickups? LOL

Unknown said...

Imagine being the driver of the vehicle towing the trailer with the target on it. "Yes, he's from the Brown Pants division."

Sherm said...

My BIL's job there is to test weapons to failure and figure out why it broke.

TwoDogs said...

While today's smart weapons supposedly make war more humane by getting the bad guys with less collateral damage among the innocent, there's a lot to be said for reducing millions of the enemy population to cinders or homelessness when it comes to breaking their will to fight. You didn't see much in the way of IED's or guerilla warfare in Germany or Japan after they were militarily defeated AND had their civilian populations pummeled into submission. I don't know that we have the stomach for that sort of thing anymore and if we don't we're doomed to defeat until we once again do.

pigpen51 said...

I understand exactly. When the people only see the war as something taking place "over there", it has no effect on them. If a nation were to drop bombs on down town LA, or Chicago and the board of trade, Then perhaps people would wake up, and understand that nationalism is not a bad thing, but rather an important part of our defense. Unless you have people who love this nation, you will not get people willing to fight anymore, and you will end up with people like me, age 58, willing to go and fight and be cannon fodder, if necessary, to try and protect my loved ones, and my country, which has given me so much.
Plus, once we start to see a blitzkreig like during the war, with London being pretty much destroyed, that will also stir action by Americans to fight. I just hope that if it happens, then we have a president in office who is strong enough to be able to make the hard decisions.

drjim said...

The company photographers I worked with at Boeing had some astounding videos of weapons tests at China Lake, Point Mugu, and "other" sites.

Some of the failures are just as amazing.

Old_NFO is right....this is just the stuff they've cleared for mass consumption.

Sambo said...

One of the targets looked like a 41 ft. Coast Guard boat we used at my base

Silent Draco said...

Hellfire is developed and periodically upgraded by the Army. NAWCWD works with Army on the joint programs and efforts.

Those are not pickup trucks. They're different varieties of technical vehicles, which is the approved term for four [you name its] in the cab, eight of their buddies in back, and a goat.

These are precision-guided weapons; they will hit where an external designator or on-board sensors and INS tell them to go. Accuracy mean having the correct place to aim or target, and then being precise enough to impact within, oh, XX feet. They are definitely not the same things. These glamour shots are also the ones shown without physical countermeasures and probably without ECM present. One of the reasons for high cost is doing analysis and tests for countermeasures, and then doing more analysis, simulation checks, and physical retests for the odd results that leave tester and designer reaching for that special Whiskey, Tango Foxtrot.

takirks said...


The metric is pretty well set; you want to defeat the enemy more than we did Germany in WWI, and (perhaps...) somewhat less than we did to them in WWII. My belief is that the reason we had such problems in most of the wars since then is that we tried to be "humane", and that simply doesn't work.

You want a situation where you're not having to re-fight the battles, then that means killing and breaking as much as we did in Japan and Germany during WWII. That's the gold standard, and if you're not willing to do that, then... Don't use the military in the first place.

Shell said...

takirks said: "My belief is that the reason we had such problems in most of the wars since then is that we tried to be 'humane', and that simply doesn't work."

I agree. So did Churchill, who said, "Having made the decision to go to war, it is folly to proceed by half-measures."

HMS Defiant said...

The 'old man' was the project officer for the missile in early days after Vietnam and was the one who coined the name for the Helicopter fire and forget missile (HELLFIRE). It was a cabal of a handful of Majors.

pigpen51 said...

I think that we pretty much reinforced the lesson during the first gulf war. We should have gone right to Baghdad, and been forceful enough that they never again got out of line. Instead, we tried to be peaceable, and we see what that brought us.

And we should never be fighting these wars that only have humane rules of engagement. If it is not worth doing all the way, then we should not do it at all. Robert E. Lee said "“It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it."

I hate war. But if we do send our troops into harms way, it should always be with the rules of engagement that they are to win.