U.S. Navy engineers at the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division recently designed and flew a prototype ramjet missile in just six months. The engineers not only met their deadline, they flew the missile using off-the-shelf equipment, items so inexpensive they were paid for with a credit card. The result is a missile that could join the fleet in 3-4 years.
The United States military is currently in the midst of a major strategic shift. The post 9/11 era has seen the armed services concentrate on fighting insurgencies and anti-terrorism operations. While American involvement in such conflicts will persist for the foreseeable future like it or not, the U.S. must also contend with an increasingly aggressive Russia and China. Deterring conflict with such “near peer” competitors will require smart, fast, highly responsive weapons capable of striking targets at great distances.