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Wed Feb 14, 2018, 07:14 AM

The Air Force's 'rods from god' could hit with the force of a nuclear weapon with no fallout

The 107-country Outer Space Treaty signed in 1967 prohibits nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons from being placed in or used from Earth's orbit. What they didn't count on was the US Air Force's most simple weapon ever: a tungsten rod that could hit a city with the explosive power of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

During the Vietnam War, the US used what it called "Lazy Dog" bombs. These were simply solid steel pieces, less than 2 inches long, fitted with fins. There was no explosive — they were simply dropped by the hundreds from planes flying above Vietnam.

Lazy Dog projectiles (aka "kinetic bombardment" could reach speeds of up to 500 mph as they fell to the ground and could penetrate 9 inches of concrete after being dropped from as little as 3,000 feet. The idea is like shooting bullets at a target, except instead of losing velocity as it travels, the projectile is gaining velocity and energy that will be expended on impact. They were shotgunning a large swath of jungle, raining bullet-size death at high speeds.

Instead of hundreds of small projectiles from a few thousand feet, Thor used a large projectile from a few thousand miles above the Earth. The "rods from god" idea was a bundle of telephone-pole-size (20 feet long, 1 foot in diameter) tungsten rods, dropped from orbit, reaching a speed of up to 10 times the speed of sound.

The rod itself would penetrate hundreds of feet into the Earth, destroying any potential hardened bunkers or secret underground sites. More than that, when the rod hits, the explosion would be on par with the magnitude of a ground-penetrating nuclear weapon— but with no fallout.

SOURCE: http://www.businessinsider.com/air-force-rods-from-god-kinetic-weapon-hit-with-nuclear-weapon-force-2017-9

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Arrow 22 replies Author Time Post
Reply The Air Force's 'rods from god' could hit with the force of a nuclear weapon with no fallout (Original post)
BigBearJohn Feb 2018 OP
Fullduplexxx Feb 2018 #1
SWBTATTReg Feb 2018 #2
7962 Feb 2018 #3
RainCaster Feb 2018 #5
DetlefK Feb 2018 #8
global1 Feb 2018 #4
DetlefK Feb 2018 #10
ProfessorGAC Feb 2018 #11
panader0 Feb 2018 #13
ProfessorGAC Feb 2018 #17
Dave Starsky Feb 2018 #15
ProfessorGAC Feb 2018 #16
Dave Starsky Feb 2018 #19
ProfessorGAC Feb 2018 #21
KPN Feb 2018 #6
HopeAgain Feb 2018 #12
Cartoonist Feb 2018 #14
RainCaster Feb 2018 #7
lapfog_1 Feb 2018 #9
Hortensis Feb 2018 #18
NewJeffCT Feb 2018 #20
Javaman Feb 2018 #22

Response to BigBearJohn (Original post)

Wed Feb 14, 2018, 07:16 AM

1. Thor's hammer

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Response to BigBearJohn (Original post)

Wed Feb 14, 2018, 07:17 AM

2. Interesting article, a replay from years past...

I had seen this somewhere before, called perhaps 'Vulcan'? This was proposed as a tank-killing countermeasure in Europe if need be. Years and years ago.

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Response to BigBearJohn (Original post)

Wed Feb 14, 2018, 07:19 AM

3. But if its just a "tungsten rod", how would you control where it hits?

Sounds like a bunker buster for sure.

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Response to 7962 (Reply #3)

Wed Feb 14, 2018, 07:26 AM

5. Control fins

Kinetic weapons are an amazing thing, if you have any interest in physics, they are very cool.

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Response to 7962 (Reply #3)

Wed Feb 14, 2018, 07:29 AM

8. That's the biggest problem, I guess.

Maybe they would attach moving fins to the rear-end, to steer it.

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Response to BigBearJohn (Original post)

Wed Feb 14, 2018, 07:24 AM

4. Wouldn't They Burn Up As They Entered Earth's Atmosphere....

at that fast a speed?

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Response to global1 (Reply #4)

Wed Feb 14, 2018, 07:33 AM

10. That's why they chose tungsten: It has the highest melting-point.

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Response to DetlefK (Reply #10)

Wed Feb 14, 2018, 08:28 AM

11. Also, Has The Highest Density. . .

. . .of any naturally occurring element. Around 18 g/mL. That's about 2.25x that of stainless steel and around 3x that of aluminum.

That makes them really heavy but with minimal volume, so the surface area to mass ratio is suited for this application too.

All that said, seems like it would be REALLY expensive.

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Response to ProfessorGAC (Reply #11)

Wed Feb 14, 2018, 08:40 AM

13. A bundle of tungsten poles 20 feet long and 1 foot in diameter?

That's a lot of tungsten, a rare metal.

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Response to panader0 (Reply #13)

Wed Feb 14, 2018, 09:13 AM

17. Not To Mention, Getting Them Up There 3,000 Miles

They wouldn't put one up there. Can you imagine the number of rockets that would be needed to put a bunch of those into orbit?

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Response to ProfessorGAC (Reply #11)

Wed Feb 14, 2018, 09:10 AM

15. Platinum and osmium are in the 20s.

But they are even more rare than tungsten.

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Response to Dave Starsky (Reply #15)

Wed Feb 14, 2018, 09:12 AM

16. Thanks Dave

I must have missed that on the table. I didn't see anything higher than 18. Careless reading on my part.

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Response to ProfessorGAC (Reply #16)

Wed Feb 14, 2018, 09:17 AM

19. I had to Wikipedia it.

Because I was convinced that uranium was the most dense. So we both learned something this morning!

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Response to Dave Starsky (Reply #19)

Wed Feb 14, 2018, 09:22 AM

21. I Remember Having An Engineer. . .

. . .look into getting tungsten milled into rotameter floats back in the 90's because you could put that, stainless and tantalum floats in and get three very different, accurate ranges on a multiplex reactor system.

We never did it because the floats were really expensive and we would have needed about 700 of them across the network.

We oversized the tubes and used aluminum, 316SS and tantalum. Tantalum was pretty expensive too.

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Response to BigBearJohn (Original post)

Wed Feb 14, 2018, 07:27 AM

6. Rods from God? There's a

misnomer if there ever was one.

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Response to KPN (Reply #6)

Wed Feb 14, 2018, 08:31 AM

12. Fitting of the military mentality though... nt

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Response to KPN (Reply #6)

Wed Feb 14, 2018, 08:46 AM

14. Sodom busters

God had the idea first.

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Response to BigBearJohn (Original post)

Wed Feb 14, 2018, 07:28 AM

7. Shape, size and material

Because they are small in diameter, long in shape and made of very high temperature materials they will survive. Not 100% intact but certainly enough to do the job.

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Response to BigBearJohn (Original post)

Wed Feb 14, 2018, 07:30 AM

9. Classic Science Fiction

"The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Robert Heinlein

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Moon_Is_a_Harsh_Mistress

published in 1966.

A Lunar colony wages war on earth by using a "rail gun" launching system to send moon rocks (big ones) wrapped in a minor amount of metal (for the rail gun) and send them via gravity well to targeted locations on earth.

The hard science part of this novel was pretty solid.

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Response to lapfog_1 (Reply #9)

Wed Feb 14, 2018, 09:16 AM

18. My immediate thought exactly. Throw rocks at earth. :)

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Response to lapfog_1 (Reply #9)

Wed Feb 14, 2018, 09:17 AM

20. I read that book recently

and that was my first thought when I read the article. Science Fiction come to life

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Response to BigBearJohn (Original post)

Wed Feb 14, 2018, 11:32 AM

22. and the best part, the very best part...

is that nation on the receiving end of this won't know that's its NOT a nuke and will launch a nuke in reply. YAY!

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