The Air Force Research Lab has reached out to industry to come up with ideas for a new bunker buster bomb. AFRL officials describe the High Velocity Penetrating Weapon Flagship Capability Concept as a 2,000-pound-class air-delivered weapon that the F-35 strike fighter could carry internally, according to their broad agency announcement. They envision this weapon boosted by a solid rocket and capable of penetrating as far as today’s 5,000-pound bunker busters. Work under this concept would reduce technical risk by maturing subsystems and components to a level that would enable a potential technology demonstration project to commence in Fiscal 2014. AFRL has asked for white papers that identify critical technologies in areas like guidance, explosive fill, and propulsion. The BAA states that the trend in the construction of hardened and deeply buried facilities “has been to increase complexity in depth and hardness, thereby making it more difficult to locate and destroy” them.
Reports of production troubles on the SpaceX rocket that could contend for military cargo deliveries happened to coincide with a different company’s concept receiving an early nod—one that might not require a rocket at all.