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The Canadian Government Is Researching "Guided Bombs"

The Canadian military's R&D division appears to be looking into a smart, guided bomb system for aerial war.

by Patrick McGuire
Dec 9 2014, 4:07pm

Via ​Canadian Forces.

​A new post on the Canadian government's buy and sell website, where requests for products like body-worn cameras for police​ officers are advertised by government agencies, is calling for new research that will examine "Mod​eling and Simulation of Nominal and Degraded Guided Bomb" in the form of a request for proposal (RFP) from interested, private defense contractors.

The ambiguous posting calls for research into several facets of the effectiveness of bombs that have built-in tracking systems to accurately hone in on their targets. The Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC), the agency in charge of, you guessed it, research and development for the Canadian military, said when reached for comment: "In order to ensure the integrity of the tendering process, we will not be in a position to provide you with any information in this regard until a contract is awarded, which is expected at some point in the new year."

Fair enough, but what can we glean from their posting right now? The text of what is essentially their want ad for brand-new bombs is accompanied by a glossary for intense weaponry terms like "KA - Kinetic Attack," "Pk - Probability of Kill," and "HOB - Height of Burst."

Judging from the posting, on which the DRDC is unable to comment, the agency is looking for "specialized technical support in the area of modelling and simulation (M&S) of air weapons." The implication is that the Canadian government is looking to develop a new, smarter aerial bombing system. The RFP also states that part of the research will include "simulations experimentations" to test the efficacy of this hypothetical guided bomb system.

One of the "optional tasks" posed by the DRDC to its future weapons partner is to develop "Simulation analysis of the dual mode [Guided Bomb Unit] survivability against kinetic attacks (KA)." This would imply that the DRDC is concerned about a so-called kinetic attack taking down one of its new, as-yet undeveloped, smart bombs. Military jargon is often hard to translate, and in this case "kinetic attack" could refer to just about anything.

The word kinetic has been used by DRDC in the past to ​describe non-lethal, physical weapons, like batons, but the term "kinetic attack" has also bee​n applied to cyberattacks that result in physical damage to the machines they target. The Stuxnet attack, for example, saw the US and Israel targeting Iranian nuclear computers with malware so strong that it caused physical damage to the computers it infected. The DRDC could be worried about a cyberattack causing physical damage to their fancy new smart bombs.

The DRDC is also looking to determine "simulation analysis of maximum reachable target speeds," which is important information to get when you're trying to destroy things from the sky.

Given the air war being waged against ISIS by the US and Canada, it's not surprising to see our government looking into how we can make more focused and powerful air bombs. Add to this Canada's increas​ingly notable role as an arms exporter, and you have the perfect situation for an agency like the DRDC to start developing new airborne bombs. 

The Hypersonic Falcon bomb project, via ​DARPA.

Outside Canada, however, the race to create hypersonic missiles (that travel at five times the speed of sound) is escalating tensely between America, Russia, and China. Just a few days ago, the Chinese military tested a hypersonic weapon that could "dodge" American milit​ary defence systems. Meanwhile, Russia is ramping up their own efforts to d​evelop the new wave of airborne weaponry. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the United States has been hard at work developing their own hypersonic weaponry, but are running into problems controlling these powerful and unbelievably fast bombs, likening it to an intense auto race: "Imagine trying to s​teer around a pothole in the highway while traveling 3.6 miles per second."

While the efficacy of smarter bombs is always going to be a subj​ect of intense debate (civilians aren't impervious to bombs just because they're "guided"), Canada is obviously taking another step forward into the modern battlefield, where cyberattacks against physical bombs are a threat, and being more precise from the sky is one of the main tasks at hand.

​@patrickmcguire