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Ballistic Missile Defense Weather Management


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Electronics 

OBJECTIVE: Define the requirements and process for a Ballistic Missile Defense weather vulnerability assessment system applicable to air missile defense mission planning. 

DESCRIPTION: It is well known that atmospheric particulates such as rain and ice affect missiles and high speed projectile performance, but because of the inability to predict how much performance is affected, flight test and engagement launch operations tend toward blue sky conditions. Even during missile tests where the launch window is flexible, launch under clear sky conditions is not always possible. During engagement, the choice of environmental conditions is even more limited. The problem is further exacerbated in ballistic missile defense (BMD) where response to threats must be swift regardless of environmental conditions. A lack of understanding of the effects of weather on BMD assets translates to a lack of operational response capability. The purpose of this effort is to identify the process for end-to-end BMD mission planning and engagement response in adverse weather conditions. Part of the current gap in state of the art weather-capable technologies is in assessing and predicting real-time environmental conditions in theater. While satellite data is globally available, spatial and temporal resolutions may not be appropriate for short range systems. Conversely, in forward operating areas, high resolution weather data from weather radars may not be readily available. This topic seeks solutions for the acquisition of appropriate, fieldable weather data sources of character appropriate for BMD systems. To predict system weather vulnerability, weather information will be required at future times. Modern physics-based forecasting requires specialization in skill and resources, and is not practical in forward operating areas. This topic seeks pragmatic, validated forecasting solutions that will run in resource constrained environments. Ballistic missile defense strives for the earliest possible intercept requiring systems to go faster and farther [1]. Increased speed and prolonged time in precipitation environments increases risk to the system hardware and, hence, the mission. The problem is largely a materials issue where the combination of aeroheating, aerodynamics forces, and impact of atmospheric particulates removes material from radomes and control surfaces [2]. The resulting effect is a reduction on sensor and flight stability performance. As flight speeds increase beyond the capability of ground testing facilities, modeling and simulation is required to fully understand the performance effects of realistic flight conditions and fill the gap between ground data and flight test data [3]. The work in this SBIR effort should identify a modeling and simulation solution resulting in a weather vulnerability assessment model appropriate for BMD systems in an operational setting. Phase I should identify a process for validating the vulnerability models. Proposed solutions to the BMD weather vulnerability assessment process should consider the end user and how the final product will be used. The Phase II effort should conclude with an Army relevant demonstration showing mission planning and engagement scenarios such as weapon place placement, asset selection, optimal intercept path, and probability of kill prediction. 

PHASE I: Identify an approach to quantify the effects of atmospheric particulates (e.g., rain, snow, ice, atmospheric sand/dust, volcanic ash) on radome materials such as IRBAS and fused silica in all flight phases below 65,000 feet. Identify the process for computing the effects in an operational setting, and how outputs will be used in tactical mission planning. Develop a plan for implementing the approach in Phase II. 

PHASE II: Implement the Phase I approach plan. The expected outcome of the Phase II effort is a prototype demonstrating the tools and technologies required for weather vulnerability assessment in tactical mission planning. Validation should be performed where possible and feasible under the Phase II. Where validation is not performed, define the requirements and develop a plan for validating the technology in a Phase III. 

PHASE III: The Phase III effort should focus on military and industry partnerships to proliferate the technology in support of Army systems. The development of a weather capable tracking sensor for BMD has applicability across several programs including PATRIOT, AEGIS, and MEADS. Environmental characterization may extend beyond precipitation to atmospheric sand and dust conditions as well. 


Defense Science Board Task Force, 2011. Science and Technology Issues of Early Intercept Ballistic Missile Defense Feasibility

Harris, Daniel C. Materials for Infrared Windows and Domes: Properties and Performance. SPIE-The International Society for Optical Engineering, 1999

Fetterhoff, T.; Kraft, E.; Laster, M.L., Cookson, W. High-Speed/Hypersonic Test and Evaluation Infrastructure Capabilities Study. 14th AIAA/AHI Space Planes and Hypersonic Systems and Technologies Conference. Canberra, Australia

Tattleman, P, and D.D. Grantham. Northern Hemisphere Atlas of 1-Minute Rainfall Rates. Air Force Survey, Air Force Systems Command, Air Force Geophysics Laboratory, Meteorology Division, 1983


KEYWORDS: Weather, System Performance, Ballistic Missile Defense, Materials 

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