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Secret Drone Technology Barred by “Political Conditions”

16 comments, 384 views, posted 6:05 pm 22/03/2012 in Military by bradpitt
bradpitt has 3017 posts, 1695 threads, 0 points

Secret Nuclear Powered Drones Lauded, Cautioned.


A certain technology that could extend the mission duration and capabilities of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) was favorably assessed last year by scientists at Sandia National Laboratories and Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation. But they concluded regretfully that “current political conditions will not allow use of the results.”

The assessment was carried out to explore the feasibility of next generation UAVs. The objective was “to increase UAV sortie duration from days to months while increasing available electrical power at least two-fold,” according to a June 2011 Sandia project summary.

And that objective could have been achieved by means of the unidentified technology, which “would have provided system performance unparalleled by other existing technologies,” the project summary said.

“As a result of this effort, UAVs were to be able to provide far more surveillance time and intelligence information while reducing the high cost of support activities. This technology was intended to create unmatched global capabilities to observe and preempt terrorist and weapon of mass destruction (WMD) activities.”

But it was all for nought.

“Unfortunately, none of the results will be used in the near-term or mid-term future,” the project summary stated. “It was disappointing to all that the political realities would not allow use of the results.”

Not only that, but “none of the results can be shared openly with the public due to national security constraints.”

On close reading, it seems clear that the Sandia-Northrop project contemplated the use of nuclear technology for onboard power and propulsion.

The project summary, which refers to “propulsion and power technologies that [go] well beyond existing hydrocarbon technologies,” does not actually use the word “nuclear.” But with unmistakable references to “safeguards,” “decommissioning and disposal,” and those unfavorable “political conditions,” there is little doubt about the topic under discussion.

Furthermore, the project’s lead investigator at Sandia, the aptly named Dr. Steven B. Dron, is a specialist in nuclear propulsion, among other things. He co-chaired a session at the 2008 Symposium on Space Nuclear Power and Propulsion at the University of New Mexico.

Interestingly, opposition to flying nuclear power sources in this case was internalized without needing to be expressed, and the authors were self-deterred from pursuing their own proposals. “The results will not be applied/implemented,” they stated flatly.

Meanwhile, integration of (conventional) unmanned aircraft systems into the National Airspace System will proceed, as mandated by Congress. On March 6, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a request for public comments on the pending designation of six UAS test sites around the country.

Last month, the Electronic Privacy Information Center and other public interest organizations petitioned the FAA “to conduct a rulemaking to address the threat to privacy and civil liberties that will result from the deployment of aerial drones within the United States.”

Comments

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6:20 pm 22/03/2012

backroom

Sandia National Laboratories is a nuclear testing facility.

Does anyone really think it is a good idea, regardless of "current political conditions" to have nuclear powered aircraft?

I think it likely that it was just a catch phrase used to detract from the fact that it is a technology without a practical application. The scientists knew it, so instead of saying "we have wasted years working on a technology that we know will never be implemented"
we get what basically amounts to "it's not our fault that all that time and money was wasted."

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6:47 pm 22/03/2012

z0phi3l

We've had nuclear powered Subs and Ships for decades, why would a drone be any more "dangerous"?

4
6:51 pm 22/03/2012

backroom

Quite simple...
Nuclear ships and subs do not crash on land.
(do you need the danger spelled out any further?)

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6:52 pm 22/03/2012

Flee

Mobile nukes! YES!

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7:03 pm 22/03/2012

z0phi3l

Quote by backroom:
Quite simple...
Nuclear ships and subs do not crash on land.
(do you need the danger spelled out any further?)



REALLY? How often do we loose a drone? 1-2 in the last decades? This new generation would fly higher and be all around safer than current tech, but I assumed wrongly you were smart enough to figure that out on your own

Also for MANY years we had planes carrying nukes in the air, never heard of any of them blowing up, have we?

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7:33 pm 22/03/2012

backroom

Safety is not a measure of what has happened.
It is a measure of what can happen.
FYI: There have been reports of 3 shot down in the last 90 days.
Now lets imagine they are actually put into use. During a mission one takes a hit... does not come down right away but is crippled. As it is returning home it crashes a couple miles downwind from a US military installation.
Will you volunteer to clean up the bodies of your comrades?

Quote by z0phi3l:
This new generation would fly higher and be all around safer than current tech,


Really?
Nuclear is safer than JP-1 or electric?
Interesting. Wrong... but interesting.

I would expect that as a former member of the military that you would understand the difference between a nuclear weapon, such as those carried by B-52's, and a nuclear reactor.
My bad.
Weapons are relatively stable until detonated by conventional explosives.
Reactors are live not needing an outside force to be hazardous.

Start with Palomares Spain in 1966 and work out in both directions.

Quote by z0phi3l:
all around safer than current tech


Now that is just downright funny.
I would point it...
But I do not think you want that much attention drawn to what is possibly the stupidest thing you have said on this forum.

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8:07 pm 22/03/2012

Quaektem

I'm sure glad we have backroom here to tell us how dangerous the power cell in the drone is! I don't know where you got the schematics of the device but would you be able to share them so we can all see how horrible the design is?

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8:08 pm 22/03/2012

Flee

Quote by Quaektem:
I'm sure glad we have backroom here to tell us how dangerous the power cell in the drone is!


How about a nuke power cell that has been rigged to overload on demand turning it into a rather lovely dirty bomb?

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8:25 pm 22/03/2012

Quaektem

You don't think the designers would have considered such things prior to the first test-launch? If backroom (or anyone else) has more than mere speculation about the design I would be very interested in learning more.

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8:34 pm 22/03/2012

Flee

Quote by Quaektem:
You don't think the designers would have considered such things prior to the first test-launch?


thats exactly why I think the military would weaponize the power cell. If it can be used as a weapon, the military will use it as one.

It makes sense to weaponize it....just in case.. the UAV has taken damage and is going down over enemy territory.... Its an ideal time to weaponize it.

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8:40 pm 22/03/2012

bradpitt

Quote by Flee:
Quote by Quaektem:
You don't think the designers would have considered such things prior to the first test-launch?

thats exactly why I think the military would weaponize the power cell. If it can be used as a weapon, the military will use it as one.

It makes sense to weaponize it....just in case.. the UAV has taken damage and is going down over enemy territory.... Its an ideal time to weaponize it.

agree, just think being able to deploy indefinately over any number of enemy cities at once, the threat would be a game changer.

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8:40 pm 22/03/2012

Flee

Found the name...

The Terror Drone! Fuck with us and we'll cut the engines!

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8:51 pm 22/03/2012

Quaektem

Quote by Flee:
thats exactly why I think the military would weaponize the power cell. If it can be used as a weapon, the military will use it as one.



Good point. The only issue with dirty bombs like this is they typically take decades to kill the population who will now be very pissed off at you. A dirty bomb is used as a means of terrorizing and inflicting long lasting harm to a population rather than wiping them out.

If you think about it, why use a dirty bomb? They can already incorporate a small nuclear warhead in a drone.

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9:04 pm 22/03/2012

Flee

Quote by Quaektem:
dirty bomb is used as a means of terrorizing


Hence the name I gave them.
The dirty bomb would not be a first strike weapon, as the drone would have missles, etc, but instead of just crashing on enemy territory, make use of the power cell for some extra damage.

If I was making these drone, I would do this.

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11:16 pm 22/03/2012

Weedenski

You guys are also forgetting that Iran recently hacked a US drone in the air, and made it land at a place of their choice!!
probably another good reason not to power UAV's with that tech.

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3:10 am 23/03/2012

Quaektem

See, now that's a good reason!

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