Send comments to:   We have space for most, but not all comments.   Let us know if you want us to include your organization and e-mail address.  Some letters may end up as content elsewhere in G2mil.  Avoid political comments, this is a weapons, warfare, and tactics website.

Good Job

     As a former Marine Corps officer myself, I found your October 2001 article very interesting.  I agree with your 10 step process 100%.  Today was my first time on your web site, but I can assure you it will not be my last.  BZ, keep up the good work!

                                                                                          Scott Patrick

Don't our troops protect minorities and Arab oil?

      Not only am I writing to express my respect for your web site, but to express my gratitude that there is a place where one can read a unique perspective on things.  I agree with about 75-85% of your opinions, but I'm compelled to respond to the few differences. 

     For example, you question the need for the "no-fly" zones in Iraq.  Aren't these zones are important to keep the ethnic minorities alive (e.g. Kurds) in the extreme north and south.  I would think that without the zones, Iraqi aircraft would be quick to bomb these people into nothingness.  You also question our presence in Saudi Arabia.  Not only were we INVITED there by the Saudi Kingdom, but I enjoy driving my car every day, and I'm glad that we're insuring our oil interests.  I don't understand why any American driver would question that.

     Here's wishing you continued success with your e-zine. I really do enjoy it.

                                                                                         Bob Kohl, Jr.

Ed. Saddam and his Republican Guard easily crushed the ethnic minorities with tanks and artillery just after DESERT STORM ended in 1991, he didn't need airplanes.  Most of them were Islamic fundamentalists who oppose Hussein since he funds engineering rather than Islamic studies, and lets women attend school, drive cars, and dress like Westerners.  Unless we want Iraq become a warring Lebanon and breeding ground for terrorists, someone has to maintain order, which is why Bush Sr. didn't "take Saddam out" back in 1991.  If an ethnic minority took up arms in New Mexico, I'm sure Bush Jr. would blow them to bits.  The Kurds in Northern Iraq are also  troublesome to the Turks, so Turkey bombs them often with American supplied weapons, and even sent 35,000 troops into Iraq to kill Kurds last year.  Iraq cannot send up MIGs to protect its Kurd citizens because American fighters would shoot them down.  Since Turkey is our good ally and considers Kurds terrorists, maybe American warplanes will join in bombing Kurds as part of Bush's new anti-terrorist campaign.  If this is confusing, see the movie "Catch 22".

    Meanwhile, the US military bombs Iraq every week because it needs an excuse to maintain forces in the region and wartime budgets.  This angers the common Arab, and despite new excuses for the "no-fly zones" there is no proof that Iraq sponsors terrorism or is developing sinister weapons.  Defense contractors and oil executives must have nightmares in which Saddam dies and democracy takes hold in Iraq. 

      American forces were reluctantly invited by the Saudi dictatorship only after Dick Cheney  personally promised "no permanent bases" back in 1990.  (back up to my December editorial)  Arab dictators who cooperate with Western corporations by buying American weapons, putting oil profits into western banks, and collude to keep oil prices high are called "King", or "Emir" or "Sultan", those that don't are called "Saddam" or "the Colonel" referring the Sandhurst educated leader of Libya.  If Egypt doesn't start showing more support for the current war  "President Mubarak" may suddenly become the brutal dictator "Hosni" on CNN and lose the billion dollars in military aid the US inexplicitly gives him each year.  Saudi Arabia also imprisons people for teaching Christianity or carrying Bibles, not just the Taliban.  Meanwhile, the only democratic state in the region (Iran) is often cited as a potential American enemy.  Obviously, this area is ripe for chaos which is why the USA must distance itself from this mess rather than fanning flames.  They managed with no American troops or bases before 1990, and whatever dictators take control, they all want to sell oil.

The Army must protect America

      I am only a retired enlisted member, but I have always taught my children that it was the Army's duty to protect and defend the United States of America.  We do that first, above all else.  According the the US Army's own website, the mission of the US Army is:  "Preserve the peace and security, and provide for the defense of the United States, the Territories, Commonwealths, and Possessions, and any areas occupied by the United States"

      Over the last couple decades, I have to admit, the Army and DOD have seem to have gone their own way, as if they were unattached to America.  There were many of us that expressed grave reservations concerning the posture the Army and the other services were taking.  And, like myself, we expressed concern that the CSA and the Chairman were only paying lip service to the threat migration towards the United States.  It was to no avail.  General Officers do not take the time to listen.  They have their own agenda.

    I want to say that when you wrote this, it rattled a lot of mind sets.  You did America and those that believe in a strong "DEFENSE" a great service.  You were a little harsh, but you spoke the truth.  You were a bit hard, but it was honest.  Please keep up the fight.  Hopefully, one of those Secretaries of Something is listening.

     Back in 1996, when terrorist hit the Khobar Towers, the (then) SECDEF said: "He also said the United States should take the offensive against terrorists."  And everyone knows that under 50 USC 401a, the principle tool in the detection, exploitation and neutralization of terrorist activity is Counterintelligence.  Again, in 2000 and the attack on the USS Cole, the DOD report said: "Furthermore, an increase in counterintelligence (CI) resources dedicated to combating terrorism and development of clearer CI assessment standards is required."

     This report was presented by the very top brass.  Yet they did not do this.  I believe they lied to Congress, or, at least mislead Congress into believing that the US Army (et al) was going to realign its CI assets and focus them on that  threat.  The clear implication was that the DOD was going to take its CI assets out of dormant postures where they had no mission, jurisdiction or venue and focus those assets in either Defensive Source Acquisition Programs to detect terrorist activity and migration - or - conduct Offensive CI Operations to collect intelligence to penetrate or disrupt terrorist operations.  It is my belief that Generals Shelton, Shinseki and LTG Noonan mislead the Congress as to their true intention and openly ignored the threat.

     Well, like I said, food for thought.  At the time of the 9-11 attack, nearly half of the US Army Counterintelligence assets were not in a unit that had jurisdiction, mission or authority to target either a hostile intelligence service or a terrorist organization.  Keep up the fight .

                                                               Rocco Rosano

The Islamic Threat

     I'm largely with you on Defend America and anti-Imperialism. 

      Bin Laden and al-Qaeda are on everyone's mind.  It's now time to take these people's manifestos seriously.  As the first step I've been studying them, bin Laden and his activities in the last few years.  I don't like what I see, either.  Our problems are infinitely larger than finding this guy in Afghanistan.

    Bin Laden is aiming at a worldwide Islamic guerrilla insurgency patterned after the National Liberation Front/Viet Cong.  In place of the secular religion of communism/nationalism there's Islam/ and the Islamic 'State' or new Caliphate.   He's trained TENS OF THOUSANDS of Islamics from everywhere Islamics are in the last few years.  Most of these have already been dispersed.  These guys are not soldiers but leaders, cadremen and technicians similar to the 12,000 Hanoi sent south in 1958-1960.  The coming months will disperse most of the rest from Afghanistan.  Afghanistan itself is simply a local 'liberated province' such as often came and went over the years in South Vietnam.
    They are already at Phase II, Terrorism, in my assessment.  But it's terrorism in the style of the VC in the early years of Vietnam and quite unlike previous Arab terror groups.  The earlier groups invariably featured a hostage situation, demands and media coverage designed to highlight the Zionist enterprise and Palestinians' plight.  The current events feature none of this, not even any claims of responsibility.  This is just like the early years of VC terror which featured no demands or directly linked propaganda.  We'll see lots more, big and small, directed against economic targets, assassinations, on and on.  The purpose is revolutionary destabilization.
    Afghanistan itself is not going to prove the bog everyone is predicting.  This campaign is shaping up fast like the Ia Drang Valley campaign of late 1965.  New Improved intelligence, recon and other tech is going to surprise lots of people.  And like the Ia Drang, and unlike other invasions of Afghanistan, the US is not coming to occupy.  It's going only to engage, destroy and leave.  This is what happened between the 1st Cav and the NVA.  They slugged it out and then both disengaged to regroup for later operations.
    Carrying the analogy further, the WTC/Pentagon attacks compare to the spring 1965 VC assault on the US advisors' compound at Pleiku.  This plus Saigon's deteriorating position is what triggered LBJ to send ground forces.  The scale now is far larger.  I'm pretty certain bin Laden will not allow himself to be trapped in Afghanistan.  He's too young and his ambitions extend far past any local liberated zone.  He conceives of himself as something very comparable to the Islamic Ho Chi Minh.  And when he's not found, I suggest looking for him in China.  I seriously suspect China is ultimately behind this.  Although adapted for Islamic thought the organization and tactics of al-Qaeda have a strong Oriental mindset to them.

                                                               Mark Gallmeier

Thinking Citizens

     A friend forwarded your site to me and I feel so much better knowing that an intelligent person of extreme military knowledge is out there.  Is it possible to use your knowledge,  expertise and creativity to influence the  people who are ultimately going to be making the big decisions?   I hope there is and I hope you are working on it.  Thanks again for giving me something more intelligent to think about than how to fashion blueberries, strawberries, and whipped cream into an American Flag cake.

                                                              Arlaina Tibensky

Anglo-American Rule

     I totally agree with you in your October Issue and love reading your thoughts and information on the military.  American (and British to an extent) imperialism has gotten so big that America believes itself to be impregnable to attacks, it is because of this reason that such attacks happen. To be honest, it is wrong that British and American forces are in Saudi Arabia, a lot of Saudis oppose it.  Is the expenditure of billions of dollars for bombing a few tents really worth avenging 6000 lives? Similarly, is the expenditure of billions of dollars in enforcing sanctions really worth the cost of 500,000 lives of children? I think not...

     It is argued that the British SAS would be better to find bin Laden as they could pass off as locals, but I would have thought that their primary mission is to seek and destroy military targets, while leaving the capturing of bin Laden to organisations like the CIA, FBI and MI6.

                                                                             Shaun Fernando

Imperial Attitude

     In general the American attitude towards the world is imperialist without a doubt. With our standard of living, our technology, our military prowess; we have a tendency to believe that what we do world wide is, "what-ever we want".  You are a very straight forward and honest person, your 10 Commandments are the gospel if there ever was one.  But the problem with your plan is that the United States of America would have to treat the rest of the world equal to itself. This would mean the end of exploitation, there are no cocoa beans grown in America !!  


                                                              Name Withheld  

Ed.  I considered my editorial to be politically incorrect and expected much hate mail, like after my May editorial when I accused US Navy Admirals of  provoking the China incident.  Surprisingly, I got just one negative message, just a childish profane sentence.  I guess Americans are not so ignorant they believe Bush's line that they hate us for our freedom and prosperity.  If that were the case, why don't they attack Japan or Sweden?

Time to pull out of Kosovo?

    I read your most recent editorial and policy recommendations.  I was curious why you did not include recommending the pull-out of US forces from Bosnia and Kosovo as well?  After all, it appears clearer and clearer each day that these have become NATO protectorates for Osama B.L. and his drug running Albanians that produce a cash cow for terrorist  activities, and a destabilizing effect on the entire region. That is, the terrorist activities in the Balkans then feed drug profits to the international terrorist network, and are ironically being bought and paid for by the US citizen. This must stop, should it not?  We are literally shooting ourselves in the foot.

                                                                            Robert Mitrocsak

Ed.  I thought about that since our NATO allies want to help, but they don't have the will to fight in Afghanistan.  However, they have two million ground troops, so they can  cough up 5000 to replace American soldiers in the Balkans.  Unfortunately, the Balkans is the US Army's new force structure racket to justify a large peacetime army, so they want to stay.  My editorial had already become too long, so I left this out.  Back up to my February 2001 editorial for more info on why the US Army wants to stay in the Balkans permanently.  An even better option is for all  NATO "peacekeepers" to pull out.  Democratic Yugoslavia chose a new government and expelled Milosevic, let the Yugoslav Army return, its their country.

The Bio-Chemical Threat 

     I really appreciate your magazine since I understand it is not "controlled" by any group with a specific agenda to address, and that as an American citizen you can speak openly and freely about any area -particularly regarding weapons.  What is your take on the "newest" weapons-biological warfare?  After reading all the news about the attack in Florida, it seems like it would be very easy to use "anthrax" to quickly eliminate a large portion of Americans-quickly.
It sounded like it  is fairly easy to get and to distribute.  What do you know about it? 

                                                                              Jean Jennings

Ed.  I served a tour as a Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical warfare (NBC) officer, and later read several books about the subject as part of a Gulf War illness investigation and the Anthrax shot scam.  As a result, my list of future articles includes an editorial debunking the Bio-Chem threat.  Many excellent articles about this scam appeared earlier this year, but certain corporations hyped the threat in hopes of big government contracts.  They are now getting their money because of these very minor incidents, even after many experts appeared on TV to refute the media scaremongers trying to boost their ratings.  A terrorist would be much more successful putting rat poison in communal coffee machines, but I don't think the nation should panic whenever someone reports that coffee tastes funny or that someone suspicious was seen near a coffee machine.  You are far more likely to die from a bee sting than a  Bio-Chem  attack.

Rocket Rifles in World War II

       The "rocket rifle" used against aircraft in world war 2 was the
fliegerfaust - not really a rifle, the rounds were 20mm cannon shells attached to rocket motors. Idea was to give a nasty surprise to a diving Mustang or Hurricane. Rocket rifles against helicopters is a quite different target, as you point out.

                      Phil West    

Infantry Rockets

      I don't think that the rocket rifle concept is very new as I remember seeing some development notes from WWII about a similar concept using massed rockets in a pepperbox configuration for use against attack aircraft.  Purely from a technical standpoint this is the easiest configuration to employ as it removes any moving parts except for the rocket itself and the resultant propellant gas.  From a practical standpoint I think it would work, but the entire concept is flawed.  

     The first assumption I must challenge is utility to hit opposing aircraft.  Is the average infantryman able to hit targets like a moving helicopter at the maximum range of 2000 yards, 1000 yards or even less?  At what point does the weight and bulk of this system benefit the average infantryman in the field?  I do not feel that the average infantryman will benefit from this system as his hit probability is going to be low and his kill probability even less.  It is simply safer to hide from the ground support aircraft instead of invoking their wrath of these aircraft after launching a number of highly visible unguided rockets.  

     The second assumption I must challenge is the utility of engaging light armored vehicles with this same system.  To keep weight at a practical level these rockets will have a large motor and very little payload (an argument that you make with the US Navy and their 5" Rocket Assisted Projectile), these projectiles will very simply not be lethal enough for that purpose and if they are light armored vehicles will easily be up-armored to withstand the threat as they will become useless on the battlefield if they cannot.  Do I feel that the concept of the rocket rifle is entirely without merit?  No, the rocket rifle is the next evolutionary step in infantry weapons versus other infantrymen.  

     The next  projectile on the battlefield must be able to penetrate the DOJ level IV standard of protection to be effective.  The only way to accomplish this is with a rocket round of some sort.  I can see it at or about .44 to .50 caliber using solid fuel scramjet propulsion using a dual stage system so as not to affect the firing infantryman, it would use what I would call a "semi-cased" design and feed and load as a conventional self loading rifle currently does, however since the bulk of the round goes downrange manufacture would be simplified as the would be fewer impact extrusion steps with  metallic cartridges or perhaps none at all if plastic were used.  Keeping with traditional self loading design would reduce design time and effort as most if not all principles of these weapons are already understood.  The biggest  challenge is scaling down in economical fashion the rockets to replace conventional bullets?

     With this said, I do believe there needs to be a rocket based heavy weapon at squad level.  However I see this weapon being much like the RPG-7.  It is not limited by bore size as the warhead is outside the barrel, it would have a much larger warhead and hence greater blast effect.  I can see a proximity fused fragmentation warhead being used for this as well as a conventional HEAT based warhead.  I am also convinced development of new ammo types
would be accelerated as only the rocket would have to be engineered.  Right now the RPG-7 series of rockets is rather slow but I feel that this can be overcome with some design changes/compromises (maybe the blast  fragmentation will trade some warhead for more motor, or just increase the mass of the rocket).  The pump shotgun approach removes any growth room for this weapon and in the end will be about as useful on the next battlefield as the anti-tank rifle.

     Do we need to develop the next version of the infantryman rifle, yes. Body armor is becoming more common and in time current infantry firearms will be ineffective (or at least must less effective).  There are two solutions to this problem, either increase the kinetic energy of the projectile, or make the projectile explosive.  The latter complicates close in shooting (6 feet or less, where a good deal of hitting people with pistols takes place) and violates the Hague Conventions by using exploding ammo to directly kill enemy combatants.  However increasing the kinetic energy also has its complications, namely the effects of recoil on the shooter, the answer in my estimation is the use of very small rockets to get enough kinetic energy on target without beating up the user too badly.

     As near as I can tell the last research was done in the '70s by MB Associates.  The one thing I cannot find is any data on their propellant types, I am assuming they were using a nitrocellulose based propellant as these were available to civilians.  I am thinking that a HMX or RDX based propellant would solve the relatively slow speed and acceleration drawbacks of this type of weapon, at least for the start up period for the "micro" scramjet ( which for simplicities sake would have to be a solid propellant of some sort).  As far as I know HMX based propellant is already used with the H&K G-11 series caseless rifle as this explosive is very heat tolerant and will not cook-off as nitrocellulose will.

                                                             Rich Gozynya

Ed. As you know, helicopters can most effectively employ their weapons in a hover mode.  You've seen the video of Apaches standing off and shooting up helpless Iraqi infantrymen outside small arms range. 
I think one squad member needs to carry a rocket rifle.  This would equip a rifle company with 12 rocket rifles, which could unleash a volley of 96 rockets to engage distant helicopters or light armor and probably get a few lucky hits and cause damage. 

      I agree with the RPG.  American infantry rifle companies rely on machine guns as their primary weapons, and lack powerful firepower, like RPGs or rocket rifles for urban warfare or anti-light armor.   If you look at the tens of billions of dollars going into R&D, almost nothing goes toward infantry weapons.  Two other readers mentioned that rocket rifles were tested during World War II, I think after 50 years of tech progress it is worth a few million to see what may work.

Air Guns

      Maybe you know that the term sabot (French for shoe) originated with attempts to make the air rifles of the ~1500/1600s or so into somewhat viable weapons.  By increasing the bore size, there is more power available from the relatively weak compressed air, and that was used in conjunction with a lightweight wad to accelerate a much smaller projectile to a better speed.  I am generally negative on air guns for combat, as I see it involving a great deal of overhead weight to handle the compressed air, in return for basically very low power.  It might be useful for certain tactical operations involving the need for quiet.  

     On a ship you could employ the guts of the ship below deck to support the pneumatic guns lobbing many small shells quietly, like you said.  (Funny, how our thoughts tend to come back around to ship firepower?)  But maybe visualize it this way: in a normal gun, the metal and structure are designed to just barely be able to withstand the pressures, and that involving a simple mechanism already in place to relieve the pressure because the whole thing would come apart if it didn't.  So it gets much yuckier for an engineer to design an air-sealing and unlocking mechanism which can withstand those kinds of forces (and a lot of steel to hold the compressed air reserve).  I don't think one has ever been seen at all for higher powered rounds.

                                                                  Rosser B. Melton 

Ed.  David Maker also wrote that small bores are less effective with pneumatics.  Perhaps a 300mm pneumatic gun could fire a 155mm projectile as a "sabot".  Another gun concept used by the World War II Germans were "tapered" bores.   For example, put a 120mm cased round into a chamber and fire a 90mm arrow projectile down a 90mm tube.  These are  interesting ideas, unfortunately all the American R&D money pours into missiles and almost nothing into guns. 

Huge Pneumatic Gun 

      I like the concept of pneumatic guns very much, especially for SP artillery/naval guns.  Never understood how you build up chamber pressure without the projectile starting to move down the barrel.  Is it a dual chamber or do you use a magnetic lock to hold the steel round in place?  Obviously, it cuts down on cost per round and increases (by at least 30%) how much ammo you can haul per FAASV or HEMTT.  It would certainly help with the Artillery ammo problem discussed a few issues back. You need a compressor somewhere on the SPH and the fuel/weight for it, but nothing extra in the NSN inventory, since the Armed Forces have compressors already.

How would you ignite compressed air in a projectile to make it burst?  Or would you use a standard fuze to ignite compressed air mixed with a volatile compound, like Triex/Quadrex or propane?  Probably need a separate compressor on the FAASV for that duty, but not a major problem.

Still have some barrel erosion, because compressed air is hot.  But no powder residue to worry about, which is nice.  Also, no need to burn excess powder increments when you leave a firing point.  One less thing to worry about levavong for the bad guys to use against you.  Probably increase the rate of fire by 3-4 rpm.  I think it was FN or H&K with a caseless rifle whose ammo that was ignited by compressed air; sometime in the late 80s/early 90s?  

But talk about decibel reduction, especially for tank cannon, and increasing the on-board round capacity of an M1.  You effectively put two projectiles in each slot where a tank cannon cartridge used to fit, and increase the number of slots, since the size of the projectile is several inches smaller than the cartridge base.  Put the slots on a downward angle to let the loader grab the projectile base; when the first projectile is withdrawn, it trips a release that lets the second projectile slide forward.  With no powder to explode if the tank is hit, safety goes up dramatically.  Now, there would be a need to convert to a diesel engine to run the compressor and the M1, but that logic has already been discussed in another issue.

Vehicle/ship mounted automatic weapons are a natural for the pneumo concept.  Compare the size/weight of the bullet/projectile to the total cartridge and you could have an ability to create a veritable wall of steel from a single weapon. The vehicle/ ship engine runs the compressor, so you need more fuel, but the increase in the numbers of projectiles is well worth it.

It strikes me that any nation with a modest industrial base which can keep AFVs functioning might want to look at this as a force multiplier against Western armed forces.  It reduces costs and makes their forces more formidable.  It's almost an asymmetrical warfare approach to conventional forces.

                                                             Larry A. Altersitz

Ed.  I recently discovered a Popular Mechanics article about pneumatic guns, although this one is huge as it is designed to launch satellites, as David Maker suggested in his July G2mil article.  Others sent in short ideas to boost the pressure of pneumatic guns: 1) use compressed steam instead of air; 2) add an explosive gas to spike the air and give more boost; 3) use very long gun tubes, one each side of a ship running lengthwise with a hydraulic aiming arm in the center; 4) seal the barrel and extract the air to create a vacuum prior to firing.

      I didn't offer any specific pneumatic design since I'm not a mechanical engineer, so I'll stick my neck out here.  I think there are no physical limits to how much pressure can be created.  Correct?  I envision a huge chamber, like two standard 55 gallon drums end to end.  The gun barrel would be attached to one end separated with a gate valve, and a huge piston on the other.  Heavy duty commercial compressors would quickly fill the chamber to over 1000 PSI, then the hydraulic piston would slide down the chamber to crush the already compressed air for the correct range.  For very long ranges, the compressor could fill the chamber with an explosive fuel mixture, like fuel injectors in piston engines.  Perhaps common jet fuel could power the air compressor and provide the fuel-air mist to be compressed.  Then the huge hydraulic piston crushes this explosive mixture, and a spark plug type device ignites it on command, forcing open the gate valve and sending the projectile far, far away.  Much easier, cheaper, and safer than the powder bag method.

Gun Science

Ed. This letter is long and technical, but may interest artillerymen and ballistic scientists.

    Your recent articles emphasizing the potential of battleship firepower and other possible cheap alternatives to expensive fin-guided munitions, intrigue me but have also raised a glaring question for me: so why haven't they developed real rocket-assisted shells?  It seems to me that the stability inherent in a spinning-projectile trajectory could be exploited with a rocket that goes far beyond the new "base bleed" rocket assist motors.  You are interested in ramjet shells, so you might find that some of the following analysis applies to them as well.
    As someone who has only been formally trained in computer science and two years of calculus-based physics, I would imagine that the traditional inaccuracy comes from two main sources: 1) the relatively unpredictable burning and burn-out time characteristics for a solid-propellant motor would vary the throw of the projectile, and 2) uneven burning inside the case could move the center of gravity away from the center line, giving the projectile a severe wobble.  Neither of these factors concern guided missiles, since they do not spin and are controlled as an aerodynamic surface.  But other than this, maybe, the spinning condition of the shell would hopefully tend to cancel out any thrust-vector error away from the centerline.
    Another limiter for this sort of approach is the need to keep the projectile well within the atmosphere (50-100K feet), so aerodynamic force can keep the shell pointed where it is going, to prevent a disorderly re-entry.  The combination of that constraint and not having any aerodynamic control surface to keep the shell in the air longer, probably makes the spinning rocket idea only marginally better than a sabot round as far as range is concerned, except that I seemed to be getting significantly higher payloads over the same distances (~100 miles) in my computer simulation with the rocket-rounds. (And that's with 45 deg-max firing since this is about battleships.  Incidentally, my computer simulation was straight on (<3% error) for standard 16-inch rounds as far as range specs.  That's not too bad considering the error would have been ~60% for no air drag and ~25% if it didn't take into account the gradient density of the atmosphere with altitude.)
    To visualize this problem, consider that if the spinning projectile is only permitted to reach a height of 10-20 miles max, it is going to be difficult to produce a gravity-dominated trajectory, firing from <45 deg., that goes further than about 100 miles, unless the spin is taken out of it and a control surface gives the body an angle of attack to keep it in the air.
    Now the issue of control: first, the throw of the projectile.  In the literature they always say a solid propellant motor can't be shut down.  I say maybe it can.  A controlled detonation around the back of the case would lower the pressure and exhaust velocity of the gas and therefore the efficiency of the motor.  Then properly spaced detonations around the case could further reduce the motor into something that is easier to get away from the shell.  Then, in quick succession, a detonation to heave the remainder of the motor away from the shell.  So maybe the motor can be shut down if we don't limit ourselves to asking it nicely.  In the Saturn V space vehicle, the transition from stage 1 to stage 2 involved blasting the huge cylindrical inter-stage piece a distance of about 15 feet across the nozzle(s) with only a clearance of something amazing - like less than 4 inches.  So I think this sort of precision throwing, as well as demolition, can be done with a relatively small amount of explosives.  But precision breaking down of the case and burning propellant would probably be much more difficult, from an engineering standpoint, than blowing out the back of the rocket, and doing that at a precise time which is calculated to best correct the throw of the rocket by dampening its burnout performance. 
    (As to the problem of uneven burning inside the case, I guess the only solution for my concept would be to try to engineer the best motor possible with the compounds that are available, even if at expense to energy yield.  Also a spherical rather than pointed windshield might help keep the shell from destabilizing, if that cuts down contrary aerodynamic effects.  A drag coefficient of 0.5 rather than ~0.38 might not be too much of a loss.)
    Second, the control of the remaining projectile.  Likely the aforegoing would not impart all the accuracy that we need into the throw energy.  Enter a high-bleed base motor that has much less thrust and can be shut down much more precisely, in the rude manner just mentioned.  Thus the base motor, carefully timed, would compensate for the throw error of the main motor.  (The flat base could also assist in pushing away the case of the main motor, as its thrust would be greater than the decayed main motor at that point.  This might preclude having to do anything other than the completely safe and simple detonation of the base of the main motor at a controlled point during its burnout phase.)  Also it might be possible to use this phase to somehow re-stabilize the projectile if wobble has been introduced by the main motor (with some variable directionality placed on the exhaust holes? or a wider ring of smaller sealed holes that can be selectively blown out to temporarily vector the thrust so that it corrects the wobble - when completed, the opposite hole(s) on the ring are blasted out to maintain proper orientation. Sensor electronics not discussed here would be needed to support this feature).
    There is the possibility that a simple electro-magnetic inertial sensor, spinning on the centerline of the projectile, and giving operable data only for the axis=trajectory, hooked into an 8088-8087-level (in other words, generically dirt cheap) microprocessor and clock with 64K of RAM, could properly time the electrically fired explosions all through the sequence of the rocket-assist phase.  The sensor core would be set in grooves inside the coil so that it spins with the shell from the start - so nothing gyroscopic internally.  The sequence of detonations, from the base of the main motor to the last of the shell corrections (to be mentioned in a moment), could be managed through a stepper motor/rotor and single power transistor circuitry, since there would never be any need to detonate out of sequence, except for the bleeder correction holes, if any, which could be skipped over.  Thus you have the prospect of a simple and mostly 100% solid-state partially- or fully-guided long-range munition.
    Third, the control of the shell itself.  Raytheon has reportedly demonstrated the feasibility of using thin lines of explosive strip to successively correct the trajectory of 40mm ammunition. If our (spinning!) shell had a sensor that could tell it where the horizon is, electronics in the shell could correctly time the bursts at the correct moments in its rotation.  And if the course correction explosives turn out to be not enough to give the full correction to the trajectory desired while keeping the round intact, owing to the size and weight of the round, there is still the possibility that by salvoing many projectiles at once into a pocket of designated targets which are close to each other, the guidance control can arrange for each projectile to converge on its nearest closeable target.  Of course at this point, if we go any further, we are taking about big money for an on-board guidance system which I was intending to avoid.
        For a more advanced project perhaps the high-cost guidance system could be mostly offloaded onto the battleship.  With contemporary advances in cell-phone technology, digital communication by air-wave over long distances has become more and more miniaturized and powerful.  Suppose we put just enough smarts on our spinning shell, that our "8086-8087" :) shell can set up about ten or so burst corrections in its course, if only it were given a periodic update of its exact position in space.  I think it could do it easily on a lot less than 64K of RAM, and on top of that, with something that is fifty times more archaic than the $100 video card many of us have in our desktop computers.  Don't all the big-money weapons corporations jump at once at this sort of idea!
    Enter a guidance control center on our battleship, which would be able to use radar and its own GPS, or some similar set-up that doesn't involve putting too much electronics on the shell itself, to track the exact positions and velocities of the volley of projectiles that have been sent into the air.  (During the correctional part of its course, the shell might even put out a high signature, as a frequency-hopping pattern preset in its EPROM, to aid the  surrounding equipment in getting a lock on it.)  Then the control center relays digitally-encoded transmissions to each projectile in turn regarding its exact state at some recent moment in time.  Prior to firing, each shell would be programmed in its EPROM with digital passwords for each update so it would know which communications were authentic, and also which ones were missed. Since the communications are "bursted" and well spaced, enemy jamming might not be a problem, if a charging capacitor bank could be used to boost the power during actual transmission.  Communication spikes would be issued rapidly but at random time intervals in order to evade any enemy jamming that might be trying to synchronize to it with a similar capacitor discharge system.
    Too, such a shell would be over the clouds for much of its course, and that might open the way for satellite update info for the shells, maybe using electro-magnetically aimed laser or pulse technique to evade jamming while updating the shell.  Again, such a satellite would service dozens of projectiles at once.  The basic idea here is that it would be very hard to have all of the guidance system at home, simply relaying "point-blank" "detonate-now" instructions to each shell.  But you can maybe put enough smarts on the shells, that if you give them just enough cues, they can overcome the problems of time-synchronizing information through a receiver over such long distances.  The shell is given occasional information about some exact condition that has happened at an exact time in its recent past, and with its own internal clock and computer can figure a great deal about what it needs to do next. 
    Or perhaps "point-blank" instructions to detonate could be complied with, if the shell reacts by detonating at the prescribed rotational angle in its spin, during its next available revolution.  Negligible error would be introduced there, I think, as convergence would occur almost as fast.  Then the shell would only need a microprocessor, clock, revolution sensor, receiver and digital port, and not even a floating point processor.  Also, if conditions make it infeasible to guide the munition during the advanced part of its course, at least the initial point-blank instructions could be highly successful in controlling the throw of the rocket-projectile.  At that point you could discard the revolution sensor and/or inertial sensor. 
    The obvious hazard problem of a shell which ejects heavy pieces of itself while traveling over friendly space, would be minimized in the naval fire-support situation in many cases and by verifying that no friendly boats are directly in line with the trajectory along the surface, as least as regards the relatively small hazard zone(s).  That is relatively easy to do. The battleships could initially stand off at a range which would always involve the spent casing falling into the ocean, and yet still allow up to ~50 mile range inland.  Then as the amphibious assault begins and the land operation advances inland, they could begin to circle in and around so as to fire from a position that they know is not going over friendly forces under the hazard zone(s), achieving much greater ballistic range into the enemy territory.  And when the battleships come up close to the land, the first burnout of the shells would not occur until well after 1/3 of its course, with the bleeder shutdown happening maybe 1/2 to 2/3 into the course.  Thus considerable land operation could be realized while the battleships pound targets extremely distant inland with the rocket rounds, and intermediate targets with sabot or standard rounds. 
    So far in my simulation tests I have not seen fit to use more than 50% propellant by weight for 2240 lb. rocket shells, seeking to give the rounds as much strength and payload as possible for practical ranges.  Up to this point I have been matching my concoctions to the specific weights and velocities of existing rounds, since I do not have the internal ballistics to tell me the muzzle velocity for weights and powder charges of my choice. 
    I am hoping to sometime put some accurate internal ballistics (which concern what happens inside the gun during firing) into my simulation so as to better evaluate the matter of sabot rounds versus rocket-assist, and both together.  Perhaps my guidance concepts are sound, but the rocket-assist should be discarded in favor of sabots.  My digital experiments this far have also involved delayed ignition of the rocket-assist, to conserve energy from air drag at lower altitudes and save it for the upper trajectory, since for this case the atmosphere places a ceiling on the trajectory, I think.  It might be possible to place increasing inhibitor into the main rocket propellant such that the secondary "bleed" control could be built into the rocket-assist, by blasting up to two or three successively larger holes in the back of the case at precisely controlled times calculated during flight.  That would greatly lower the amount of trash being thrown around to just the nozzle apparatus and two succeeding plate rings of metal from the back of the round.  There might not need to be a separation of the shell from the rocket-assist, especially if a secondary "bleed" could go to work through the spent case of the main motor.
     I've gotten hold of some material to help me with studying the feasibility of using explosives to correct trajectories.  Also, the higher accuracy and lighter weight of sabot rounds could make it the better choice for minor trajectory correction using explosives.
                                                                       Rosser B. Melton 

Scramjet Anti-Ballistic Missile Rounds

Ed.  David Maker e-mailed me that long-range 16-inch scramjet gun rounds would be interesting for National Missile Defense, too bad they would burn out in the upper atmosphere.  I agreed, until I realized the obvious and e-mailed him: "Yes scramjets would burn out in the upper atmosphere, but if they are going MACH 7, with little air resistance, how far could they continue to travel on course with their kinetic energy?  Sounds like a math problem."   He wrote back:

     For vertical flight in a ballistic (i.e.,unpowered) trajectory it could travel another vertical 290 kilometers~180miles(=h),  indeed putting it in exoatmosphere (use v(2)=2ah, a=9.8m/s(2), v=mach7=2.4km/sec, solve for "h", added height gained (need ~mach24 to orbit). If such an ekv had small thrusters for controlling the direction of motion it might even target something I presume. This is still marginally exo but extremely interesting.  The scram jet wouldn't have to carry oxygen, could be fired pneumatically so that no heavy jet turbines are needed (It goes to scram-ram jet mode immediately), would give high speed ballistics an order of magnitude more range and height.  I am coming at this with an interest in human space flight  so my hope is that pneumatic propulsion with ram-scram jet mode (or even just an assisted launch X-33) would make to orbit space travel cheap.
                                                                                            David Maker

Ed.  I later realized this would be a great low-orbit anti-satellite weapon, it could even bag a high flying MACH 3 recon jet like the SR-71.  I shared this information with some others in DOD and have heard the idea is quickly making its way to the top.