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Bullet catching missile

Launch missiles and catch bullets with them.
  (+3, -7)
(+3, -7)
  [vote for,

Modern missile technology is something fantastic. In milliseconds a missile can turn itself around and go the opposite direction, adjust course by hundredths of a degree, or drop and lock on to a target.

I propose the next level of sophistication in missile technology. Without relying on AI it should be possible to make a computer system that uses radar echo location and range finding to identify incoming bullets.

With simple "smart dust" sensors that radio out only their location it's also possible to identify local friendly fighters.

Combining these two technologies we have a computer that can, in combat, predict which bullets will hit which friendly targets with a high degree of certainty. Now we can launch this idea:

A missile capable of launching toward incoming bullets and either deflecting them or reversing course, near-matching speed, and snatching or bumping them out of the air.

If you want to get lazy you can just put a metal plate on an extremely fast robot arm but that's not nearly as fun.
Voice, Apr 30 2011

Phalanx CIWS http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phalanx_CIWS
The CIWS is designed to be the last line of defense against anti-ship missiles. (And there are newer ones than Phalanx.) [baconbrain, Apr 30 2011, last modified May 01 2011]

This idea has much better odds of succeeding The_20other_20Spiral_20Slug_20Stopper
[normzone, May 08 2011]

Phalanx http://en.wikipedia...ttack_in_Gulf_War_I
Never engaged against hostile fire eh? Never misses eh? [DrBob, May 11 2011]


       Do you have a link to this fantastic modern missile technology?
ldischler, Apr 30 2011

       It sounds like the opposite is more the case, and is in service: "The MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapons System (CIWS) is a fast-reaction, rapid-fire 20-millimeter gun system that provides US Navy ships with a terminal defense against anti-ship missiles that have penetrated other fleet defenses."
baconbrain, Apr 30 2011

       // In milliseconds a missile can turn itself around and go the opposite direction// Given the KE of these devices, the only way I can see that happening is by detonation.
AbsintheWithoutLeave, Apr 30 2011

       Just make your bullet-catching missiles, then lie to everyone by saying that they work (which they won't). <cough> Patriot </cough>.
spidermother, Apr 30 2011

       Shoot your missile toward the enemy bullet. Then turn the missile around to chase the bullet. Catch/grab, and vuwallaaaaaah! the bullet is now inside a missile which is headed precisely where the bullet was headed, but is now much larger and at least as fast. From the point of view of the defended party (from which point I would take a very dim view) how is this an improvement?
lurch, May 01 2011

       Perhaps a bullet-shooting bullet is better. Shoot your bullet-shooting bullet towards the enemy bullet. If it hits, you get some metal splattering some distance away. Huzzah! If it misses, you get shot, but there's an extra bullet heading vaguely towards the enemy. Meh!   

       Bun for the extremely fast lazy robot arm, as long as it makes stereotyped Asian martial arts movie sounds. And catches the bullets in chopsticks. OK, forget the chopsticks.
spidermother, May 01 2011

       This thing is already 99% baked: it's called Phalanx. See Bacon's link and above posts. When they first tested it, it was so good, it would shred an incoming missile and then shred the peices of the missile as they fell. Then when the targets were all gone, it would target its own outgoing rounds for a few seconds. Software patches corrected this behavior.   

       So, all we have to do is miniaturize it and mount it on ever soldier's shoulder, War Machine-style. It wouldn't even have to use particularly large bullets; .17 HMR, fired at, say, 6000 rpm, would still be overkill.   

       Of course, then there's the real difficulty: convincing the U.S. Senate that it's worth spending umpteen-million dollars per soldier to marginally diminish the chance of them being shot (don't forget, this is war; unpredictable, uncontrollable, and nothing ever works the way it's supposed to.
Alterother, May 07 2011

       //This thing is already 99% baked: it's called Phalanx// The Phalanx projectiles are ballistic, no? This is an idea for a missile capable of //reversing course, near-matching speed, and snatching or bumping// the target. Made possible by that fantastic modern missile technology.
mouseposture, May 08 2011

       [Alterother], that's fascinating and funny. And a reinforcement of what I said about the opposite of this idea being the case.   

       The idea is for a missile to catch a bullet. In Phalanx, bullets catch missiles.   

       // In milliseconds a missile can turn itself around and go the opposite direction //   

       No, it can't. A missile usually turns aerodynamically, on some little bitty fins or just off the lift provided side of the body. There is also thrust from the rocket motor of course, but that doesn't allow a snap turn. (There's a little more to it, but it ain't gonna reverse course in a millisecond.)   

       // adjust course by hundredths of a degree //   

       Maybe. The usual is to change a little bit, correct back, correct again (often with each correction in a millisecond). A few hundreds of a degree is needlessly precise.   

       Phalanx, by the way, can knock down incoming artillery shells.   

       Erm, I think if the technology existed to do something like the proposed, somebody in the military/industrial complex would have thought of it. There are thousands of those guys. Barking mad, some of them.
baconbrain, May 08 2011

       Cost of bullet?   

       Cost of anti-bullet missile?
MaxwellBuchanan, May 08 2011

       [Bigsleep] if only, if only. Phalanx' maximum range is a little over a mile, whereas (some) artillery can reach over twenty miles. It's what they call a 'last-line' system; if incoming fire actually reaches Phalanx, it means several longer-ranged defensive systems have already missed. But fear not, whoever fired that missile/shell/bullet is already the lucky recipient of thier very own Tomahawk cruise missile.   

       Oh, wait, I just realized you were talking about collateral damage; yes, Phalanx corrects for unintended targets. It's a very clever gun, you see.
Alterother, May 10 2011

       I understand your skepticism, but beleive me, it works. I won't claim to understand all of the technical details, but here's the Phalanx 101 rundown:   

       A) it only targets very fast-moving objects   

       B) it only targets objects that, according to many different linked detection and prioritization systems, should not be where they are   

       C) //the first few seconds miss//- it doesn't. It. Just. Doesn't. Miss.   

       D) the Navy spaces thier ships very far apart for a number of reasons, including this one.   

       The possibility always exists for the scenario you're describing. No weapon is failsafe. As far as I know (somebody correct me if I'm wrong), Phalanx has never deployed against hostile fire, so we won't know for certain unless this actually happens, i.e. an incoming target with friendlies in the l.o.f. But Phalanx is very fast, very accurate, and highly advanced.   

       In case anyone is wondering why I'm so gung-ho about it, my grandfather helped design the radar-tracking system that many of the CIWS systems are based on, including the Phalanx and the now-almost-obsolete Harpoon. So, yeah, I'm a little biased. Oh, and if anyone wants to try and call bullshit on me, his name was Leland Strom. You can find a lot of his work in publicly-available DARPA records, if you dig a bit (but I'm not going to provide links; anyone who wants to stuff me has to work for it).   

       Sorry, all, I'm a little bitter about somebody who was kind of rude to me a while back. I'm done ranting now.
Alterother, May 10 2011

       In respect of Phalanx I'll make that 'bullshit' call for you, Alterother! <linky>.
DrBob, May 11 2011

       I stand humbly and respectfully corrected. Thank you. That's exactly why I asked; sometimes I'm just too lazy or contrary to do my homework when firing out a quick anno.   

       Never shot my mouth off w/ a 20mm cannon before. This could represent a new high for me!   

       As far as the BS call, however, I meant my grandfather's work on the CIWS tracking system. For some some reason, the very idea that a relative of mine could have been on the design team of a piece of military hardware occasionally provokes disbeleif. Apparently, a lot of people think DARPA is run by robots and eunuchs (sp?).
Alterother, May 11 2011

       Yes, I figured that you probably knew your own family history better than the internet does!
DrBob, May 11 2011

       // C) //the first few seconds miss//- it [Phalanx] doesn't. It. Just. Doesn't. Miss.//   

       So why does it fire so many bullets against each missile then?   

       The wikipedia article "Phalanx CIWS" article contains this edifying sentence:
"While firing, the system tracks outgoing rounds and 'walks' them onto the target."
The article also documents two incidents where rounds hit a neighbouring ship.
Loris, May 15 2014


       Go buy your own bullets.
not_morrison_rm, May 15 2014


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