Last year, it was fixed at a meager amount of half-a-trillion dollars, out of which, the American defense budget witnessed $75 billion being set aside for R&D purposes. Formerly, such budgets gave us the Internet and the GPS; this time, we may expect something that shall defy the laws of physics.
The first one in this aspect is definitely the hypersonic stealth aircrafts (SR-72), doing 4,000-mph at real high altitudes (100,000 feet) with transcontinental ranges. It’s predecessor, the SR-71 (1964-1998), did 2,200 mph at 85,000 feet, almost 900 miles more than the Concorde.
But researches regarding the hypersonics are not confined to aircrafts anymore; the X-51 WaveRider (the hypersonic, flight-test vehicle) proved that all the more. The FT Vehicle is also being mad strong enough to cope with hypersonic shock waves; it’s the shape of the X-51 that shall allow it maximizing those waves to channelize compressed air into the scramjet engine. This also opens up a whole new prospect for missiles that shall by no means, miss a fleeting target. But then again, the X51 needs competing with the Death Rays, a gift from the laser weapons technology.
Directed energy weapons are a section that’s undergoing the second decade developments and till now, there have been nothing much worthwhile that has taken place. However, this time, the focus is on solid-state lasers that are soon to reach the 100 kilowatts barrier after gaining moderate success in the 67-kilowatt mark. The quest is also on for fiber and liquid lasers for developing more compact devices, while Free Electron Laser is supposed to become a reality by 2020. That is, unless the world vaporizes before with chemical lasers drawing massive amounts of energy from chemical reactions. Chemical lasers have been already under use in Boeing 747 to destroy ballistic missiles; if the fighter aircrafts now start using them for even minor warfare, the day is not far away when burger giants start stuffing the bread with fried meat procured from the surroundings. Does technology promote economy? You bet.