Chinese test of Fractional Orbital Bombardment System

Flyaway

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Incredibly hard to predict and very difficult to defend against, I think any current US anti-ballistic missile system would struggle with FOBS. A hypersonic glide vehicle and FOBS is probably the ultimate in nightmares for the western defence system.

A report from Financial Times' Demetri Sevastopulo and Kathrin Hille states that China has tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic glide vehicle that goes into space and traverses the globe in an orbital-like fashion before making its run through the atmosphere toward its target. There would be huge implications if such a system were to be operationalized, and according to this story, which says it talked to five officials confirming the test, the U.S. government was caught totally off-guard by it.
The trial flight is said to have occurred around August, with the boost-glide vehicle being lifted into space by a Long March 2C rocket. The launch of the rocket, the 77th of its kind, was undisclosed by Beijing, while the 76th and 78th were—the latter of which occurred in late August. The Financial Times says that the tested hypersonic glide vehicle missed its target by a couple of dozen miles, but that is hardly reassuring considering the capabilities that are apparently in development here.
The foundation of this Cold War-era conceptis commonly referred to as a Fractional Orbital Bombardment System, or FOBS, but instead of carrying a traditional nuclear-armed reentry vehicle, this Chinese system would carry a hypersonic glide vehicle that would possess immense kinetic energy upon reentry. As such, it could make a very long maneuvering flight through the atmosphere at very high speeds to its target.
The FOBS concept has long been a concern because of its potential to bypass not just missile defenses, but even many early warning capabilities. Compared to a traditional intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), a FOBS can execute the same strikes but from highly unpredictable vectors. Range limitations also become a non-factor and the timing of an inbound strike is also far less predictable. But at least with a traditional FOBS ballistic missile system, some sort of projections could be made if the mid-course "orbital" vehicle can be tracked, although that could still be a real challenge.


That is not the case at all with a hybrid design like the one being claimed to have been tested here, which would be totally unpredictable.
 
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dark sidius

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ITs time to USA to stop sleeping and wake up, instead of putting billions of dollars in F-35 and slow stealth platform, it is time to change strategy and embrace hypersonic technology before losing the advance over China, there was a lot of program with no money like Darpa Falcon , combined cycle technology, canceled Blackswift, it was very bad ideas to don't support it.
 

Archibald

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Interestingly enough, back in 1966-73 China was developing a 3-stage DF-5 FOBS variant called DF-6; it was canned in 1973.
In a sense, it was "reborn" as the varied 3-stage Long March variants:
since they are DF-5 developments, too, although civilian.
- one with a solid-fuel kick stage
- the other with a LH2 stage
- another with an hypergolic stage 3... as planned on the DF-6
 

Dilandu

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Incredibly hard to predict and very difficult to defend against, I think any current US anti-ballistic missile system would struggle with FOBS. A hypersonic glide vehicle and FOBS is probably the ultimate in nightmares for the western defence system.
That's for sure. The ability of sending the rocket around Antarctic would be a major headache for any anti-ballistic defense.
 

Dilandu

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and embrace hypersonic technology before losing the advance over China
Er, are you sure you HAVE advantage to lose? Currently US hypersonics are lagging behind Russian; it is not clear what exactly Chinese have (they are quite secretive), but they quite probably on pair with USA. After all, if North Korea started to toy with hypersonic glide warheads...
 

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muttly

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Didn't the U.S say that that hypersonic weapons were too expensive ?
In the treaty with Russia, did we agree not to use or not to use against
each other?
 

Flyaway

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This is a pretty decent article about the history of FOBS & the possible US responses to this development.

 

Forest Green

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Didn't the U.S say that that hypersonic weapons were too expensive ?
In the treaty with Russia, did we agree not to use or not to use against
each other?
It's the FOBS part that it was agreed not to use and also space-based WMDs, because the warning time is too short to make any other response besides immediately destroying such an orbital weapon and launching a counterstrike viable.
 

tequilashooter

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Pretty sure there are undisclosed US and Russian satellites with unknown purposes that can be related to FOBS. Launching a barrage of nuclear warhead scramjets underwater 15-20 miles away from a coast offer less warning time where you have 10-15 seconds to intercept it before it enters any territorial land when a nuclear warhead has the option to detonate 30-40kms above everyone's heads.
 
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uk 75

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We have been here before in the 60s and 70s.
The reality is that any use of a nuclear weapon by a nuclear power against the territory of another nuclear power unleashes the whole arsenal including SLBMs.
Common sense aka the beancounters will bring them back to the negotiating table to reduce their arsenals.
ABM/Star Wars cannot defend US territory against inevitable annihilation.
Nuclear powers will continue to fight their wars using proxies and assymetric methods of subversion.
Kruschev and Kennedy were not prepared to unleash Armageddon over Cuba or West Berlin. Nixon and Breshnev flinched in 1973. Xi and Biden will learn the same lesson.
 

antigravite

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Well, well, well. Spear and shield back at it again, 21st century style.

Then we shall expect a flurry of ground based or space based combined laser and beamed energy ABMs, maturing decade-old A. Kantrowitz (US) and P. Kapitsa / R. Avramenko (USSR) beamed-energy ABM concepts. Combined discharge systems would likely be most efficient; an optical discharge created by a ultra-short impulse laser would trigger a weakly ionized "plasma" seed expanded (grown) by means of a paired MW energy device. This combined discharge system may help to avoid or limit special "issues" such as thermal blooming effects normally appearing along the way (i.e. along the laser channel path, which is not good to putit simply). Some of this may build upon (Andrzej) Ziolkowski's EM bullets and so many other "theoretical" soliton-like EM weaponry.

A.
 

edwest2

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Although unconfirmed, a space sensor layer of satellites to detect such warheads is likely operational. The U.S. has at least two types of beam weapons: lasers and particle beams. Placing the warhead in an asymmetrical heat overload situation would be effective.

The United States decided that nuclear weapons could not be used in the early 1950s. Kennedy and later Presidents confirmed this. The fact that such weapons still exist is the result of not finding a non-nuclear replacement weapon. Inevitably, such a weapon will be developed but nuclear weapons will still be held by the major powers. Any statements regarding annihilation against anyone cannot be confirmed because highly classified information is still highly classified. The threat alone, however, is too great to ignore.
 
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trose213

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ITs time to USA to stop sleeping and wake up, instead of putting billions of dollars in F-35 and slow stealth platform, it is time to change strategy and embrace hypersonic technology before losing the advance over China, there was a lot of program with no money like Darpa Falcon , combined cycle technology, canceled Blackswift, it was very bad ideas to don't support it.
The BFR is already solidly along.

Pretty sure there are undisclosed US and Russian satellites with unknown purposes that can be related to FOBS. Launching a barrage of nuclear warhead scramjets underwater 15-20 miles away from a coast offer less warning time where you have 10-15 seconds to intercept it before it enters any territorial land when a nuclear warhead has the option to detonate 30-40kms above everyone's heads.
FOBS is a lot slower because it has to reach orbit and then de-orbit.
 

publiusr

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Gives you more time to snipe out it. Space Based Missile Defense is key. You’d have to be in Vladivostok for Ground Based boost phase to work..or nearer…and even then it’s a tail-chase with the liquid out pacing the solid.
 

bloody sky

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We have been here before in the 60s and 70s.
The reality is that any use of a nuclear weapon by a nuclear power against the territory of another nuclear power unleashes the whole arsenal including SLBMs.
Common sense aka the beancounters will bring them back to the negotiating table to reduce their arsenals.
ABM/Star Wars cannot defend US territory against inevitable annihilation.
Nuclear powers will continue to fight their wars using proxies and assymetric methods of subversion.
Kruschev and Kennedy were not prepared to unleash Armageddon over Cuba or West Berlin. Nixon and Breshnev flinched in 1973. Xi and Biden will learn the same lesson.
Xi and Biden?
Not Xi and Harris?
I think the outcome will be exciting,interesting but worst.
 

Forest Green

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Pretty sure there are undisclosed US and Russian satellites with unknown purposes that can be related to FOBS. Launching a barrage of nuclear warhead scramjets underwater 15-20 miles away from a coast offer less warning time where you have 10-15 seconds to intercept it before it enters any territorial land when a nuclear warhead has the option to detonate 30-40kms above everyone's heads.
There's such thing as sonar networks though.
 

TomcatViP

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Double posting:
FOBS:
665541

View attachment 665541

 
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Grey Havoc

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The Outer Space Treaty has been deader than a doornail for quite sometime now. (For the second time in it's existence, it was pretty much discredited by the late 1970s, but got a new lease on life for a while after the end of the Cold War, though things were beginning to look dodgy once again by the second half of the 1990s, so by the 2000s it was increasingly running on hopes and dreams.)
 

Flyaway

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I suppose with the China denial you can say they would say that wouldn’t they!
 

Archibald

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FOBS is much less flexible, and a lot more predictible than an ICBM, because unlike suborbital flight, orbital flight is heavily constrained. Any plane change cost a crapton of propellant and energy.
 

uk 75

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I really dont see the point of these "first strike weapons".
UK and US SSBNs would ensure the end of both Russia and China as viable nations if they were stupid enough to try to remove the Minuteman silos.
Limited nuclear war as a military option sounds great in a simulation (bit like Covid herd immunity) but when people start vanishing under mushroom clouds neither side will want to back down, use it or lose it becomes the only rationale.
On the positive side arms control agreements tend to reappear when the fightening cost of all these weapons hit home.
 

Forest Green

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FOBS is much less flexible, and a lot more predictible than an ICBM, because unlike suborbital flight, orbital flight is heavily constrained. Any plane change cost a crapton of propellant and energy.
Can't see how that's true at all. A ballistic aim point has to be centred on one spot that you decide at launch, and you get a footprint around that spot determined by the warhead bus and its propellant. With FOBS you can fire off warheads anywhere along the orbit and if the warheads themselves are hypersonic glide vehicles, the footprint is huge.
 

Dilandu

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I really dont see the point of these "first strike weapons".
Knock out main command/communication/control facilities, thus paralyzing possible response.

UK and US SSBNs
Need to be ordered by someone to launch. USA did not have analogue of our "Perimeter" system, and if enough C3 facilities were destroyed, the retaliation would inevitably be stalled.

Limited nuclear war as a military option sounds great in a simulation (bit like Covid herd immunity) but when people start vanishing under mushroom clouds neither side will want to back down, use it or lose it becomes the only rationale.
The question is how exactly to use. The attackers need to be determined, the exact goals of his attack need to be determined. It's not that simple.
 

Dilandu

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FOBS is much less flexible, and a lot more predictible than an ICBM, because unlike suborbital flight, orbital flight is heavily constrained. Any plane change cost a crapton of propellant and energy.
Yes... but Chinese put a hypersonic glider on it. Which means, that the maneuvering could be done by using atmosphere.
 

uk 75

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Dilandu I accept that the idea is the "knock out blow" but UK and US SSBNs have orders designed to cope with just that contingency..It may be delayed but St Petersburg and Shanghai will get a Trident strike.
 

Fluff

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I really dont see the point of these "first strike weapons".
Knock out main command/communication/control facilities, thus paralyzing possible response.

UK and US SSBNs
Need to be ordered by someone to launch. USA did not have analogue of our "Perimeter" system, and if enough C3 facilities were destroyed, the retaliation would inevitably be stalled.

Limited nuclear war as a military option sounds great in a simulation (bit like Covid herd immunity) but when people start vanishing under mushroom clouds neither side will want to back down, use it or lose it becomes the only rationale.
The question is how exactly to use. The attackers need to be determined, the exact goals of his attack need to be determined. It's not that simple.
Dont the UK subs captain have a letter, from the PM, with one word. begins with M

So no C3 needed.
 

Archibald

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FOBS is much less flexible, and a lot more predictible than an ICBM, because unlike suborbital flight, orbital flight is heavily constrained. Any plane change cost a crapton of propellant and energy.
Yes... but Chinese put a hypersonic glider on it. Which means, that the maneuvering could be done by using atmosphere.

So it is a bit like Dynasoar, X-23 / PRIME / ASSET then ?
 

Conspirator

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now this is why we need missile/projectile detecting Long Range radar in a low earth orbit over the united states. multiple of course. how we could make this work i have no idea. but we need a early warning system for orbital bombardments.
 

Michel Van

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I think the truth lies in the middle

That China teste a hypersonic vehicle for space program on reusable Shuttle craft / X-37 / BOR analogs.
but with back option to use it as a FOBS, if China and USA goes to war
 

edwest2

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I really dont see the point of these "first strike weapons".
UK and US SSBNs would ensure the end of both Russia and China as viable nations if they were stupid enough to try to remove the Minuteman silos.
Limited nuclear war as a military option sounds great in a simulation (bit like Covid herd immunity) but when people start vanishing under mushroom clouds neither side will want to back down, use it or lose it becomes the only rationale.
On the positive side arms control agreements tend to reappear when the fightening cost of all these weapons hit home.

Having studied attack/response scenarios since the 1980s in open but generally ignored by the public military publications, the thinking is a bit more complicated. A first strike is designed to eliminate the majority of the enemy's response capability, and is assumed by too many as an option that only a madman would consider. If the Russians were confident they could have done it during the Cold War, they would have. Fortunately, a suitable opening did not present itself. The other problem is deeply buried installations that would have launched additional missiles up to a year later. Of course, the details are highly classified.
 

edwest2

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I think the truth lies in the middle

That China teste a hypersonic vehicle for space program on reusable Shuttle craft / X-37 / BOR analogs.
but with back option to use it as a FOBS, if China and USA goes to war

China can afford to lose the manpower but not the rest of the country. The only reason to build and test hypersonic glide vehicles is because the 'other side' has them, or soon will. The arms race continues.
 

Desertfox

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This is much ado about nothing. FOBS delivers less payload than an equivalent ICBM, and HGVs deliver less payload than equivalent ICBMs. Pair the two together and you significantly reduce the payload you can deliver per missile. Since the US ABM system can't deal with current MIRVed Chinese systems, this doesnt buy them anything they don't already have at a significant cost in payload. All it buys you is uncertainty about the target, which you dont really want in nuclear war since it is quite destabilizing.
 
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