Secret rocket-ball weapon may be effective against WMD facilities
One of the major problems in attacking the WMD facilities of rogue nations is the destruction of these facilities may scatter the toxic materials over a wide area; a secret Pentagon weapon program aims to address this problem
As Iran gets closer to developing nuclear weapons, accompanied by testing of more and more sophisticated missiles, and North Korea slows down its nuclear disarmament, the search for means forcibly to defang rouge nations of their unconventional capabilities continues. David Hambling writes that the Pentagon has a new secret weapon to neutralize sites containing chemical or biological weapons: rocket balls. These are hollow spheres made of rubberized rocket fuel; when ignited, they propel themselves around at random at high speed, bouncing off the walls and breaking through doors, turning the entire building into an inferno. The manufacturers call them "kinetic fireball incendiaries." Published documents show that the fireballs have undergone tests on underground bunkers.
There are, of course, many types of bombs which could destroy a lab, and bunker-busting weapons can destroy or do serious damage to hardened underground facilities. Blowing up weapons of mass destruction is not a good idea, because using high explosives will likely scatter the toxic materials over a wide area. Two special high-temperature incendiary bombs -- named "CrashPAD" and "Shredder" -- were rushed into service for the use against WMDs few years ago. The filler for both is a combination of explosive and incendiary, which is more effective than explosive alone, but hardly safe. An explosion causes overpressure and releases a plume of hazardous material, but without explosives the incendiary will not be adequately dispersed. Hambling points out that the incendiary must also maintain the temperature for a prolonged period in order to ensure that anything dangerous is destroyed. Existing incendiaries are not suitable because they tend to burn fiercely but quickly.
One solution is replacing the standard explosive or incendiary with a load of kinetic fireballs, described in this proposal. Each fireball is a hollow spherical shell with a hole in it; when the inside is ignited, the hole acts as a rocket nozzle. The kinetic fireballs eject an extremely high-temperature exhaust which will heat up the surrounding volume to more than 1,000 F within seconds. Their random ricocheting around ensures that they will fill any space they occupy, and they are capable of diffusing throughout a multiroom structure.
The inventor of the rocket ball is Kevin Mahaffy, who was an engineer at Air Force Research Laboratory's Rocket Propulsion Division. He then spent three years as the chief of the Motor Branch overseeing solid and hybrid rocket propulsion. Mahaffy's company, Exquadrum Inc., has received contracts from the Pentagon's Defense Threat Reduction Agency, or DTRA, which is tasked with tackling WMD threats. Hambling notes that DTRA says that the fireball project progressed under an SBIR program completed in 2006, and resulted in a 2,000-pound BLU-109 bomb filled with a payload of fireballs, which was tested against a multiroom bunker.
Hambling writes that "The kinetic fireballs might be an effective way of dealing with chemical and biological WMDs safely. They might also be effective against nuclear facilities, as again they can effectively spread destruction throughout a complex without breaking it open and spreading radioactivity." He concludes: "[I]f you're running a chem/bio weapons lab and assuming they won't risk attacking you -- be afraid."
The newby is a nuclear deep penetrating bomb that has already been tested to below 150 feet with delayed detonation.
The first part of this was out very recently. The other is not out or hasn't made it out yet but no doubt will.