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Conformal RF Interfaces for Gun-fired Munitions


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Electronics 

OBJECTIVE: Investigate and develop innovative solutions to enable integration of electronic warfare antennas on munition launched rounds. Antenna systems must be capable of surviving a typical mortar gun launch and maintaining their operational performance throughout flight. 

DESCRIPTION: Recent advancements in high-shock, munition-launched compatible electronics technology particularly have opened up a wide realm of possibilities for enabling long-range and inexpensive electronic warfare attacks of ground targets via relatively inexpensive munition launched systems and projectiles. To enable this mission, projectiles must be equipped the associated electronics and RF sensors. Due to the highly constrained volume and structural integrity requirements, these sensors must be conformal to the outer mold line with very minimal intrusion into the structural wall of the projectile. Surface area on these projectiles is also very limited; therefore, these sensors must be small, residing within the allotted payload space. It is also requisite that the sensor operates over several ISM bands, while providing omni-directional beam pattern coverage. All this must be performed at shock loads approaching 20,000 g’s. Army is looking for novel advancements in conformal antenna technology to enable this mission set on a range of prospective gun-launched platforms (e.g. mortars and artillery). Aperture designs should be innately scalable to accommodate different munitions with tuneable frequency characteristics and incorporate knowledge and understanding of relevant high-shock compatible materials and construction techniques. A critical aspect of the effort involves that the apertures are insensitive to large changes in response due to the large shock loads experienced during launch. Furthermore, designs should incorporate knowledge and understanding of miniaturization techniques, while still achieving the objective bandwidth and pattern coverage requirements. 

PHASE I: During the Phase I contract, successful proposers shall conduct a proof of concept study that focuses on the feasibility of designing the antenna apertures. Investigations should include analysis of potential aperture mounting configurations, achievable antenna performance (gain, bandwidth, pattern coverage), and materials capable of surviving the expected environments. Verification of RF performance shall be accomplished through simulation and prototype antenna measurements. A final proposed concept design, including a detailed description and analysis of both expected thermal and mechanical loads, is expected at the completion of the Phase I effort. 

PHASE II: If selected for a Phase II, the proposer shall fabricate and integrate the prototype antenna apertures into a nominal projectile form-factor. The proposer shall further their proof of concept design by performing component shock and thermal testing on critical components/connections of the aperture. Special emphasis on launch survivability will be required, including hard force and electromagnetic effects during testing to ensure the apertures can avoid failure or degradation. Upon evaluation of the design through a critical design review, the prototype hardware’s survivability shall be demonstrated through either air-, chemical-, or munition launches. Information and data collected from the flights will be used to validate operational electrical performance. 

PHASE III: Phase III selections shall ruggedized final design, fabricate it and integrate the prototype antenna apertures into nominal projectile form-factor to be identified by the Government. Live fire tests will be conducted and the antenna integrated with projectile form-factor will have to withstand shock load approaching 20,000g’s. Phase III selections might have adequate support from an Army prime or industry transition partner identified during earlier phases of the program. The proposer shall work with this partner (TBD) to fully develop, integrate, and test the performance and survivability characteristics of the design for integration onto the vendor’s target platform. COMMERCIALIZATION: Robust, high-shock antenna components are continually in demand by the aerospace and chemical / petroleum industry. Further commercial applications include civilian space-flight initiatives and application of the antenna technology for the design of low-cost, high-temperature, high-shock antenna sensors. 


1: Grzybowski, David M., Philip J. Peregino, and Bradford S. Davis. Development of a Telemetry-Enabled High-G Projectile Carrier. No. ARL-TR-6099. ARMY RESEARCH LAB ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND MD WEAPONS AND MATERIALS RESEARCH DIRECTORATE, 2012.

2:  US Army Test and Evaluation Command Operations Procedure, "Projectile Velocity Measurements" (Top 4-2-805)

3:  M120 Mortar System,



KEYWORDS: Antenna, Electronic Warfare, Projectile, Munition, Mortar, Artillery, Sensors 

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