Author Topic: McDonnell Douglas GRM-29 SSTO global strike spaceplane  (Read 10437 times)

Offline Blackstar

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Re: McDonnell Douglas GRM-29 SSTO global strike spaceplane
« Reply #60 on: 04/12/2024 01:23 pm »
Just saw this, which is slightly relevant:


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Offline Emmettvonbrown

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Re: McDonnell Douglas GRM-29 SSTO global strike spaceplane
« Reply #61 on: 04/12/2024 07:06 pm »
I have Dan Sharp book about the BAC MUSTARD (triamese, 1966) and it is a very good reading.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: McDonnell Douglas GRM-29 SSTO global strike spaceplane
« Reply #62 on: 04/14/2024 11:43 pm »
For the record there's an useful article about the TAV program from the June 1984 Air Force Magazine available online https://www.airandspaceforces.com/article/0684bold/. Shows some of the thinking behind this at the time.

I just read this article and it is... interesting. (Sidenote: "interesting" is such a useless word when you really think about it. Does it mean anything at all?)

While reading it, it is worth keeping in mind that it was written 40 years ago. In that article, some people talk as if space warfare, including shooting down from space to destroy stuff on Earth, is imminent. It was going to happen really soon. And then there are descriptions of things that sound really cool, but which still have not happened four decades later. For instance, the description of taking out radars with high-velocity needles. Nope, not really. Even today we pretty much smack them with an explosive, although that explosive may be surrounded by tungsten balls.

But the article also includes some notes of caution where people say that implementing stuff like the TAV will probably be really expensive, so it may not happen, and if it does, it won't happen until sometime in the 1990s. And the thought-provoking aspect of that is: we can ask ourselves, if the Cold War continued, would the TAV have happened? The answer is probably no.

Overall, I found that the article seemed to confirm my existing puzzlement and skepticism about the whole TAV idea. It seemed like a concept in search of a purpose. It was not going to be clearly superior to existing systems, or alternatives, nor would it necessarily be all that useful. After all, even a handful of TAVs would not carry enough weapons to be decisive, and they would be really expensive.

One other thing that was in the back of my head while reading the article was stealth. When the article was written, the stealth program was top secret. I think this was even before the leaks about the F-117. If stealth had been public at that time, it would have made that conversation a lot different. One could ask "Why do we need the TAV when we have aircraft that are mostly invisible to radar?"


Offline Emmettvonbrown

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Re: McDonnell Douglas GRM-29 SSTO global strike spaceplane
« Reply #63 on: 04/15/2024 09:10 am »
Stealth versus speed has been a perenial debate since the late 1960's at least. When the spooks considered ISINGLASS RHEINBERRY while developing the semi-stealth D-21 and AQM-91 drones.

Then there is the case of the SR-71 successor. Everybody and his dog has been fantasizing about Aurora or Blackstar, but the "official" SR-71 successor black project in the 1980's was actually that: a super stealth drone... not manned, not hypersonic.

https://www.secretprojects.co.uk/threads/aars-lockheed-quartz-tier-iii-frontier-systems-w570-arrow-shadow.511/

Which was then much scaled down into this.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_Martin_RQ-3_DarkStar

The attached document has a good summary of AARS.
Long story short, from 1974 the Soviets fielded road and rail mobile ICBMs (SS-16, SS-20, SS-24, SS-25) which were a true nightmare to search and destroy inside the Warsaw Pact and even more inside USSR. SR-71 was fast but lacked endurance and survivability. Satellites were chained to their orbits. What was needed was a stealth drone with dozen hours of endurance, that could fly ahead of B-2s and help them destroying the elusive missiles - through a satellite downlink.

The program ended "gold-plated" and eye-watering expensive: somewhat like the B-2 and Lacrosse satellite.
« Last Edit: 04/15/2024 09:19 am by Emmettvonbrown »

Online LittleBird

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Re: McDonnell Douglas GRM-29 SSTO global strike spaceplane
« Reply #64 on: 04/15/2024 10:19 am »
For the record there's an useful article about the TAV program from the June 1984 Air Force Magazine available online https://www.airandspaceforces.com/article/0684bold/. Shows some of the thinking behind this at the time.

I just read this article and it is... interesting. (Sidenote: "interesting" is such a useless word when you really think about it. Does it mean anything at all?)

While reading it, it is worth keeping in mind that it was written 40 years ago. In that article, some people talk as if space warfare, including shooting down from space to destroy stuff on Earth, is imminent. It was going to happen really soon.


The enthusiasts seems to come from Systems command and the contractor companies, and seems to divide into those advocating satellite protection, essentially ASAT:

Quote
For example, Gen. Robert T. Marsh, Commander of AFSC, had long asserted that USAF “should move into warfighting capabilities in space — that is, ground-to-space, space-to-space, and space-to-ground capabilities.”


Space Plan lays the doctrinal groundwork for all that. In its acknowledgment of USAF’s need to be able to fight not only in but from space, it goes well beyond the 1982 long-range planning document, “Air Force 2000.” The new Space Plan (in its unclassified version) has this to say:

“To prevail in theater conflict, the Air Force must seize the initiative and quickly achieve both air and space superiority.

“Air Superiority will require the capability to effectively attack and neutralize enemy airfields, destroy aircraft before they can employ their weapons, and destroy surface-to-air weapons.

“Space superiority is required to ensure that our space-based assets are available to support theater forces. Superiority in space will require a robust force structure and the capability to destroy hostile space systems.”

and those advocating conventional strike from orbit (or at least from space to ground, leaving as an exercise for the wargamers an explanation of how this would avoid a Soviet response):

Quote
Protecting such space assets and many others on benign but classified missions against the amply demonstrated Soviet antisatellite (ASAT) capability is the goal of USAF’s ASAT program. Arms-control developments or political pressures may slow or undo that program. From philosophical and national security standpoints, however, the safeguarding of US satellites seems to have widespread acceptance as a justifiable, solely defensive measure.

There is a big difference, however, between using force only to protect space assets and applying force from space to shoot down bombers or ballistic missiles and even to shoot up runways and armor. This distinction is drawn — and thus inferentially underscored — in USAF’s Space Plan.

It subdivides its candidly outlines “combat” category into tow parts: “space control” and “force application.” As defined by Maj. Gen. Neil Beer, Space Command’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans: “Space control is synonymous with space superiority.” Under this heading fall such strictly defensive weapons as USAF’s F-15-launched, rocket-boosted, heat-seeking Miniature Vehicle (MV) ASAT weapon, now in the very early testing phase, and whatever directed-energy or other ASAT devices may ensue from AFSC-Space Command technology programs.

Force application is something else again, something far more portentous. Whereas space control means “counterspace operations” and “space interdiction,” as state in USAF’s Space Plan, force application means “ballistic missile defense” and — strikingly — “space-to-earth weapons.” And that, in turn, strongly implies future strategic and tactical missions from space.


Quote
And then there are descriptions of things that sound really cool, but which still have not happened four decades later. For instance, the description of taking out radars with high-velocity needles. Nope, not really. Even today we pretty much smack them with an explosive, although that explosive may be surrounded by tungsten balls.

But the article also includes some notes of caution where people say that implementing stuff like the TAV will probably be really expensive, so it may not happen, and if it does, it won't happen until sometime in the 1990s. And the thought-provoking aspect of that is: we can ask ourselves, if the Cold War continued, would the TAV have happened? The answer is probably no.

The main note of caution comes from a rather important voice, the AF under secreatary Pete Aldridge who as DNRO at that moment. He is thus speaking directly to extant policy, and the need perceived by calmer heads to avoid endangering the existing crucial White AF and NRO assets:

Quote
“Let me add a word of caution.” Says Secretary Aldridge. “There are lots of implications here, in putting vehicles into space that can attack targets on the ground, that we haven’t thought through as part of national policy and national security objectives.

Quote
Overall, I found that the article seemed to confirm my existing puzzlement and skepticism about the whole TAV idea. It seemed like a concept in search of a purpose. It was not going to be clearly superior to existing systems, or alternatives, nor would it necessarily be all that useful. After all, even a handful of TAVs would not carry enough weapons to be decisive, and they would be really expensive.

One other thing that was in the back of my head while reading the article was stealth. When the article was written, the stealth program was top secret. I think this was even before the leaks about the F-117. If stealth had been public at that time, it would have made that conversation a lot different. One could ask "Why do we need the TAV when we have aircraft that are mostly invisible to radar?"

It's interesting that one of the articles EvonB has uploaded, from Ramon Chase at ANSER in the late 90s, explicitly  uses the Nighthawk analogy. The TAV Chase studied [see grabs Below] is compared to a Nighthawk but with a US base. Make of that what you will.

PS was also interested to see that the ANSER study was for an uncrewed TAV, if I read it correctly
« Last Edit: 04/15/2024 10:57 am by LittleBird »

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