The Mayhem drone will aim to collect intelligence at hypersonic speeds
Although Mayhem may sound odd for a spy, it’s an excellent name for superfast jets. The Department of Defense was established on December 16. Award contractor Leidos $334 million to develop a hypersonic flying scout. Although technically the award is for the “Expendable HypersonicMulti-mission ISR (intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance and reconnaissance and strike program), it’s also known under the name Mayhem. It will not be manned–a drone.
Leidos stated that the Mayhem system will use a scramjet to generate thrust. This propels the vehicle over long distances at speeds greater then Mach 5. In a release.
Hypersonic refers to a threshold that is five times the speed sound. Many of the most recent developments in this area can be found here. Hypersonic technology They have been focusing on weapons such as Missiles To avoid detection and interception, they fly fast. Speed is extremely useful. a weaponEven without a warhead, the force of a rapid impact can be extremely deadly.
What is the difference? Mayhem apart The hypersonic Mayhem is not intended to be used for more destructive designs. It is more useful for discovering than flying around.
ISR stands for intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance. It is the Pentagon’s acronym for everything involved with monitoring, observing and discovering activity below. This mission is often associated with slow-moving vehicles. Drones like the medium-altitude Reaper and the ultra-long-endurance Global Hawk are designed to monitor activity below and inform soldiers, sailors, pilots, and other personnel below. Some missions can’t be accomplished at the slow speeds of Reaper or waiting for an overhead satellite.
It is possible that Mayhem will be most effective in those situations where the need is urgent but the information collection is risky.
The past is the future
The history of superfast spy aircrafts is a good way to understand the role that Mayhem may have played. The SR-71 Blackbirds and its single-seat, CIA-piloted predecessor the A-12, also known under the name Oxcart, are the most well-known of these spy planes. Both planes could take photos without being hit by anti-air missiles. These had improved in power and accuracy throughout the Cold War. To shoot down a Soviet Union plane, it used a ground to-air missile. U-2 Spy plane in 1960, while U-2s Fly today, still flyingCertain missions are better suited to a faster vehicle. Before it was retired, the Oxcart flew missions above North Vietnam for the US in 1967 and 1968. The two-seat Blackbird was capable of carrying a pilot and one person to crew the sensors. It was operational until the 1990s.
“The SR-71 was built to fly deep into hostile territories, avoiding interception by its incredible speed and high altitude. It could fly safely at Mach 3.3 at an elevation greater than 16 miles or 25,908 m (85,000 feet) above the earth’s surface,” notes The National Air and Space Museum.
The Blackbird was first introduced to service in the late 1960s and was retired in 1998. In April 1988Popular Science published a decade-old report on what the Air Force wanted in a replacement. It included a Mach 5 speed and a service ceiling of over 100,000 feet.
There is a distant predecessor to Mayhem: The D-21 supersonic drone. Launched by planes including The B-52Four D-21s were used between 1969 and 1971 to take photos of China. The limitations of the technology at the time meant that film cases had to be ejected from the drone and then recovered before they could be processed in a darkroom. The D-21 flew on a fixed path and was detonated at the end of its mission. The four flights over China did not produce any recoverable images so the program was abandoned.
Good news for those who aren’t married
Mayhem could be a better option than any previous attempt at a Blackbird replacement in 2022 because of a combination of factors that have all led to improved drone technology. The aircraft can operate without the restrictions of having to keep people alive by not having a pilot. This reduces its overall profile.
In the last decade, cameras, data processing and wireless data transfer all have improved dramatically. Finally, the era of aerial surveillance using film cameras has ended. This summer was overThis brings with it the limitations of having to collect and process film negatives. The drone sensors made possible by cameras like the Global Hawks far-seeing pods show an industrial community skilled in far-seeing sensors. However, taking clear pictures at high speed and clarity comes with its own challenges. The Blackbird had sensors for recording and listening to signals, such as radios and radar, which could also be integrated into a hypersonic drone.
Mayhem, like the D-21 before, can be expendable. The loss of the drone does not necessarily mean that it has lost the information it collected. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the drone must be destroyed after every mission. A drone that can be recovered and reused is a boon for military brass who are looking for ways to confirm reports via photography
“This program is focused upon delivering a larger class of air-breathing hypersonic systems capable of executing multiple mission with a standard payload interface, providing significant technological advancement,” is all that is provided by the An announcement of contract For what Mayhem will actually do.
Mayhem, however it develops, will fill the void that the Air Force has left open almost thirty years ago.