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back to article DARPA wargamer calls for US X-Men superplane fleet

A prominent US wargames and military crazytech expert has called for the Obama administration to build a large fleet of X-Men style stealth transport planes, able to deliver America's secret elite forces anywhere in the world regardless of the local government's wishes. Robert Martinage, a senior wonk at the CSBA thinktank in …

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Silver badge

'Ghost'

Don't remember the torture scene - was that before or after Demi Moore and the potter's wheel?

And 'supertroopers'? What are they; a low-key ABBA tribute band?

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Anonymous Coward

Batteries not included....

So I can understand the development of a robotic pilotless bomber, but to make a transport version (for Spec ops only) may not go down so well with the spam...

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Joke

Dodgy book...

I certainly wouldn't want to buy a second-hand copy of "Ghost". I'd have to spend ages getting the pages unstuck from each other before I could read it.

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Anonymous Coward

jump from any higher than 35,000 feet

Why not? Stick them in something resembling a bomb casing with its own heat and oxygen, pops open just before deploying the chute at a comfortable altitude and after the "bomb" has suitably slowed down a bit with a smaller drogue chute...

It'd fit in an unmodified (although large) bomb bay.

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X-Men?

Looks nothing like the Blackbird! Doesn't look that much like the earlier Stratojet either.

</Comic nerd>

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Nimrod jump?

What, from the rotary torpedo dispenser? Nimrod doesn't have a traditional bomb bay, and to be honest it would be rather snug in the torpedo stations and the potential to get jammed into the machinery is very significant.

Still, it would make for an interesting "jump"... rather than jumping from the ramp, being "deposited" from the belly of the plane by a machine! I'd love to see it on YouTube.

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Anonymous Coward

Solution from R A Heinlein

It sounds like what they really want is "cap troopers" that drop from orbit in protective capsules. The capsules are discarded once the trooper is at a safe altitude for conventional parachuting.

You could make the capsules smart-ish and fit them with guidence electronics and have them steer onto the drop zone at high speed (more aerodynamic than humans) before air-braking and deploying the parachutist. This would reduce the time from aircraft to ground.

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@JonB

Yes - some variant of the "ejection capsules" which were designed for aircrew ejection at supersonic speed/high altitude... though travelling for any time in one of those capsules would be a claustrophobic experience.

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Black Helicopters

OH JOHN RINGO NO

Anyone who's read _Ghost_, or wants to read _Ghost_, or is even *thinking* about reading _Ghost_, or wants to know why there's all this fuss about reading _Ghost_, should probably read this review first:

http://hradzka.livejournal.com/194753.html?format=light

BTW, the author himself agrees entirely --- he says that he wrote the book solely to make the idea in his head go away, so that he could then go and write something that wasn't depraved. Then his publisher bullied him into publishing it...

Black helicopters because... er... because.

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Black Helicopters

Crickey I designed that!

19 years ago for my Design GCSE. Worrying to see the US rummaging round my folks attic for ideas.

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Exit?

Looks like the 'Auroura' project revisited. For sure and there all sorts of exciting high tech possibilities for getting the supertroopers into someplace coventional transports & helos cant reach, but you still have to get them out, probably with angry locals running around waving portable SAM's all over the place. How is this thing supposed to do that?

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Anonymous Coward

@MikeG

That's the SAS these days, has to be velvet padding and an en-suite or it's whinhe, whinge, whinge.

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Crickey I bult that

in woodwork.

Yes deployable stealth drop capsules is what they want. With built-in chewing-gum dispensers.

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Yes, but...

> Robert Martinage, a senior wonk at the CSBA thinktank in Washington, describes himself as "an expert on defense strategy, military modernization, special operations, military revolutions, advanced technology and future warfare". He's spent fourteen years dungeon-mastering wargames for the Pentagon, written loads of learned wartech papers, and is a consultant to the renowned military bonkers-boffinry bureau DARPA.

But has he ever killed a man with his bare hands?

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They missed a requirement:

Must be able to take off and land in a basketball court.

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@Exit?

Time to revisits project Skyhook maybe? Yoink!

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Thank you...

@Shay - thank you! Everyone's gung-ho to get the troopers in the most dramatic way possible, but few people think of the extraction-phase.

When I was still operational, the rule was "Operators plan the mission" - not the Rambo-weenies in the back office, otherwise they'd have you skydiving in a storm at night over heavy cloud-cover - increasing the risk enormously that the mission would fail. Much simpler to infil/exfil via a local bus while dressed in mufti instead - but boy, do they pout when you point that out.

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Pirate

There is a better trick than blown flaps

There is a much better way than blown flaps, however for the time being it does not fit well with stealth.

An example is the AN72/74 (Cheburashka) which uses blown wing (Coanda effect). It can take off and land off 150m or so airstrip, carries a cannon and a couple of missiles to provide cover for the the spec-ops being extracted and is an aircraft that presently has no NATO analogue. It has one failing - it is not particularly stealthy. It is not particularly fast either.

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Joke

News Report : Sales of Ghost Skyrocket!

And in news today, sales of the novel Ghost rocketed after being mentioned on an IT news site. Online sales are up 500%.

I hope you guys get a percentage as i guarantee with a description like that, The reg crowd will be salivating at Amazon's (hypothetical) door!

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Stop

A good idea in some respects, but cutting the budget would be better

One, if only the US would wake up and realize it could balance its budgets by spending more money on diplomacy and encouraging democracy, and cutting defense spending.

Two, the plane that drops you off doesn't have to be the same type of plane that picks you up. Stealth is going to be more important for the drop-off phase where you are going to be "in country" afterwards. Plan the mission so that stealth is not important on pickup.

Three, how does this solve the problem of piracy?

Four, how does this solve the problem of non-state sponsored terrorism?

Solving the problem of state sponsored terrorism (where a government won't let us in) is irrelevant because our side (the good guys, our heros) do state sponsored terrorism through the CIA and various special forces: So we've given state sponsored terrorism our stamp of moral approval. If we want to reduce state sponsored terrorism, we could end 75% of it world-wide by simply cutting the budget.

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Capsules?

I'll admit right now that I'm happily ignorant about most of the murder-death-kill tech (machines and people) of the military. And I'll admit right now that I'm against most military action, and couldn't even imagine actually killing someone (fantasy is one thing, imagining a real murder is something else entirely). Having said that, I'm also a realist, and I realize that sometimes things need to get done, and I'm damn glad I'm not the one who has to get his hands dirty.

While I may personally disagree with their missions, I do have great for the people who get in, get the mission done, and get out with as little collateral damage as possible (as opposed to the televised bombings of an AQ mansion to kill one person inside). We need more people like this, and more support for them. I would gladly use my tax dollars to further the special forces as opposed to paying for countless unnecessary bombs, bombers, and "smart weapons" (I'm not saying they're all unnecessary, but we do tend to overuse them simply because we like to make things go boom).

I do have a question regarding some of these comments, though. At least a couple of people have mentioned having the specops people leave the plane in some sort of capsule, and then deploy from the capsule. Is this really such a good idea for a specops team? Those of you in the know, please correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't a specops team want to leave as little evidence as possible (preferably none)? A spent capsule lying on the ground would certainly indicate something out of the ordinary, and a capsule burning itself up would likely be noticed as well. With a standard parachute drop, the team can land, pack up their chutes, and leave no evidence.

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Linux

@ David Given

Thank you for the link. As a fan of things which are so bad they turn the corner and become so bad they are good, I shall now have to go and purchase this series of books. Simply because from the review they sound spectacularly bad and I therefor must own them so that I to can exclaim OH JOHN RINGO NO.

My depravity is such that not only did I pay money to see Hudson Hawk in the theater, but I did so two times in a row. For those of you not familiar with that piece of cinematic genius - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102070/

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You're fired

How about using an air gun, supertrooper sized to fire them out of the plane in a close fitting pressurised capsule, that would enable them to deploy from the aircraft at high ( barely sub-sonic) speed without hitting parts of the plane, which is recognised as generally being bad for the health of both troopers and aircraft.I have heard that SBS troopers are launched in a similar manner from the torpedo tubes of subs.

Using a timer, as soon as the capsule is clear of the plane a rotor could deploy to brake the capsule and allow it to drop to an altitude where it could be opened and a normal parachute descent made, obviously the capsule would need to be stealthed to some degree but I'm sure the massively brained Tefal heads at DARPA could figure that out.

I haven't figured how the airgun would work rapidly enough to eject say a troop or platoon of 30 into the same area, perhaps it would have to be magazine fed and fully automatic!

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Joke

Stealth transports need

Stealth parachutes, like this one http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/features/leonardo/parachute.html

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Reading Ghost

For those who want to read the aforementioned ghost please see

http://baencd.freedoors.org

http://baencd.thefifthimperium.com

to read that and many many more books by baen perfectly free and legally.

The series is called kildar and appears on three discs on either collection.

Discs 8, 11 & 16 - Ghost, Unto the breach & Claws that catch

But seriously if you have a weak stomach then please don't read ghost, pick some other books instead.

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What is El Reg coming to?

Where is the picture captioned "What the future super-stealth plane would look like" and showing an empty field?

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Pirate

Spec Ops

ChrisC said: " I do have a question regarding some of these comments, though. At least a couple of people have mentioned having the specops people leave the plane in some sort of capsule, and then deploy from the capsule. Is this really such a good idea for a specops team? Those of you in the know, please correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't a specops team want to leave as little evidence as possible (preferably none)? A spent capsule lying on the ground would certainly indicate something out of the ordinary, and a capsule burning itself up would likely be noticed as well. With a standard parachute drop, the team can land, pack up their chutes, and leave no evidence."

Chris, it depends on the mission itself, whether it's to be a silent or violent (aka covert or overt) mission. If the former, the idea is that the opposition never knew you were there; for the latter, it doesn't matter, so let's assume the former.

The speed one hits at terminal velocity during a jump is about 100-120 mph (varies with altitude/body-shape/etc), so it's not fast enough to burn up even a paper capsule by friction (we're not talking asteroid-velocity here).

Second, I don't see any gains in using a capsule, only negatives - why complicate the already-complicated? What's the benefit? Ah, to eject troopers from a high-speed aircraft, you might say. So why exactly does it have to be a high-speed aircraft? Because the mission is last-minute with no planning, perhaps? See where I'm going?

Too much Alien vs Predator, I think - jumping in full kit is already dangerous enough and is almost a last resort, not the first and preferred option. Simple is better - less cock-ups, so don't put Rambo in charge of planning operations if he ain't gonna be jumping himself.

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Pirate

Hmmmm

Keith T said: "Two, the plane that drops you off doesn't have to be the same type of plane that picks you up. Stealth is going to be more important for the drop-off phase where you are going to be "in country" afterwards. Plan the mission so that stealth is not important on pickup."

The exfil-phase may (or may not) require a different vehicle, but to say "plan the mission so that stealth is not important on pickup" tells me that you have no idea what you're talking about. A lot of missions wouldn't even start if they absolutely excluded the possibility of a quiet exfil - sorry, chum.

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Unhappy

what is all thin nonsense about ghost

what the helll is ghost

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@ Iam Me

We aim to please!

And don't talk to me about things so bad they're good --- I own a copy of _Dragon Lensman_. And I've *read* it.

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Boffin

Killers Encapsulated?

Like so many other things that make warfare the fun thing it is today - the Nazis did it already:

Search for 'Personenabwurfbehälter' on http://www.luftarchiv.de/ (especially nifty version with outboard motor for sea drops - v. James Bond)

Say what you like about the Nazis - but they certainly did produce a mother-lode of whacky-weapons ideas for the US military (oh - and wasn't there something about them being genocidal fucktards too?...I can't remember....)

Thanks

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Compressive garment suit

One useful innovation that might improve the viability of such an idea is the compressive garment space suit. There has already been a lot of interest and work done on these. Basically all it is is a form fitting suit that applies a uniform mechanical compression onto the wearer - about 1/5th of an atmosphere allows the wearer to breath pure oxygen and maintain the needed partial pressure. Something like a very strong lycra body stocking. This combined with a mask with oxygen supply is being seriously considered for extended space walks on future missions. It has significant advantages over the current mix of rigid member and flexible joints style suit. The main problems come from wearing it for a long time, problems in skin circulation, sky drying, etc. But for a very high altitude jump these are likely much less a problem. It might require that the wearer be able to don the suit whilst en-route to the jump point, rather than before leaving, but wearing it for a hour odd should not be an issue. Especially as most of the time would be in a pressurised environment. It is possible that it would actually result in a less bulky jump suit than the current more conventional one designed for lower altitudes.

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Coat

What Would Nile Etland Do?

Ghost -- book by John Ringo, published by Baen Books at www.baen.com

John Ringo: author with a habit of having his heroes kill the bad guys in industrial quantities

Baen Books do publish other stuff, and have a lot of free ebooks. If you want a competent hero and special forces action, I recommend the James H. Schmitz books.

OK, so Nile Etlund doesn't get helped by SEALs. Will giant otters with demolition charges do?

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Er, yes...

Midget subs are cheaper.

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@Keith T

"Stealth is going to be more important for the drop-off phase where you are going to be "in country" afterwards. Plan the mission so that stealth is not important on pickup."

What part of STEALTH did you misunderstand? The very notion of these missions is to make it so that nobody knows they were there. Planning an extraction in which stealth is not important will likely involve a lot of gunplay, something I'm pretty sure the specops team and the aircraft pilot would like to avoid (not to mention the diplomatic issues it would cause). While I don't agree with a lot of what our military does, let's not put them in any unnecessary danger.

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Zeppelins, that's the answer...

I think they should insert Special Forces by abseiling from Zeppelins at stratospheric altitude. Of course this will need very, very long SpectraLine rope.

Fit a winch and strop to the Zep, and presto, SpecForStropZep gives you a method of extraction, too.

As always with Zeppelin-based weaponrah (elevated sensor Zeppelins, electronic warfare Zeppelins, communications pseudolite Zeppelins), the vasty flanks of the dirigible can be used to sell advertising space, thus defraying some of the costs of wars we can't afford.

All the best,

John.

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@ John D Salt

Your mania for Zeppelin is weird and you should consider therapy........ but wait a minute! What better way to sell the arms you are using on a stealth mission than by advertising them on the side of the Zeppelin? It would even be possible to relay the helmet cams on to screens on the Zep'.

Imagine mission accomplished and millions of dollars in sales at the same time, of course that all depends on a successful mission.

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Joke

No need for super high drop

If your aircraft can't descend low enough for a normal HALO drop then you can't get the supertroopers home anyway so you might as well just drop suicide AI robot bombs.

Of course the really smart bombs never explode.

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Anonymous Coward

Capsules.

>What's the benefit?

Well, it's the issues raised in the article, did you read it?

>Ah, to eject troopers from a high-speed aircraft, you might say.

>So why exactly does it have to be a high-speed aircraft?

High speed and high altitude. Based on the article, there is a need to parachute troops into areas with modern and dangerous anti-aircraft defences, the best way of avoiding said defences is by going very high and very fast.

A capsule protects the occupant from being ejected at near supersonic speeds, and provides air for them to breath as they descend.

Further is that a bomb bay fitting capsule means that aircraft intended for bombing could drop troops without modification, or requiring a special aircraft to be moved to the area. Once the spec ops super plane is shipped into a forward air base, there might be some awareness of an impending raid.

As for stealth, if we must go all out Tom Clancy, then the capsule could be a plastic with a tub of solvent that just melts it, although they could just bury it like they do with the chutes.

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Anonymous Coward

Recovery...

I suggest the "extraction" folks should read up on Op Market Garden in WW2, the paras were supposed to hold their position until the heavier army had caught up with them.

There was an aborted plan during the Falklands war to destroy the Argentine Super Étendardes on the ground at the airfield, the SAS were planned to drop pretty much on the airfield, destroy the planes, and leg it to Chile. No extraction plan at all.

Finally, one of the main reasons for dropping spec ops troops in places with massive air defences is probably to destroy the air defences that are the problem in the first place. A little incentive for them there.

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Anonymous Coward

They *do* have a stealth craft...

It's called the TR-3B.

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Joseph Kittinger's jump

The video of his jump was used in the video to "Dayvan Cowboy" by Boards Of Canada (Diving Cowboy, geddit?) Fantastic piece of music and quite possibly my favourite music video of all time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lEsLcGB7Vo

If you have never seen this it's worth a look.

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Coat

Étendardes

"There was an aborted plan during the Falklands war to destroy the Argentine Super Étendardes"

Are those like the "commentardes" which frequent El Reg comments section?

...alerady getting my coat.

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Stop

What no one seems to have mentioned is....

.... what do the Chinese think of US planners trying to decide how to best get Special Ops teams into their country?

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Halo

Really Whats needed are Orbital Drop Shock Troops, ODST's.

Launch 'em in a stealth capsule from space, complete with all supplies. or maybe a couple of spartans, complete with thier Frikkin lasers. that'll get the job done :-)

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Gawd almighty...

@JonB: "High speed and high altitude. Based on the article, there is a need to parachute troops into areas with modern and dangerous anti-aircraft defences, the best way of avoiding said defences is by going very high and very fast."

No, the best way of avoiding them is to not fucking be dropped in the same place. You drop them off 30 clicks away and let them tab into position - you don't drop troopers on top of AA defences, capsules or no bloody capsules. You going to volunteer for that one? The Rambo-factor is strong in you...

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Joke

ExFil - Tom Clancy already did this...

In "Debt of Honor", the SpecFor was dropped off by helicopter, but left Japan as a Brazilian soccer team. By bus. Hell, we could cover them as Canadians, eh?

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OH JOHN RINGO NO

I didn't even know about Ghost, and now after reading that review, that phrase will stick in my mind for a long time.

About the stealth X-Men craft ... wouldn't capsule drops be a good alternative? I mean, caps that do stealth as well. That ought to be an interesting concept!

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Black Helicopters

@AC RE:TR3B

I saw one of those about 14 years ago. It was stationary (so not a stealth bomber), at high altitude near Walthamstow , on a clear summer day. Didn't know what it was back then, had no internet to look it up. Just described it to my mate as a 'black triangle with rounded corners'.

'Anonymous' post because I don't want to be labeled a UFO nut and told that what I saw was swamp gas or a weather balloon.

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