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Enabling Technologies for Forward Looking Interceptor Seekers/Sensors


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Materialssensors, Electronics 

OBJECTIVE: Identify and mature technologies for electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) and radio frequency (RF) seeker/sensors for high Mach, endo-atmospheric flight. 

DESCRIPTION: This topic seeks to develop technologies to enable a forward-looking seeker/sensor that operates in a high Mach, endo-atmospheric flight regime. The aerothermal environment for a hypersonic interceptor is very severe at the interceptor's nose tip. The seeker/sensor concept should survive high heating rates (>250 W/cm^2), high pressures, flow-field density changes, distortion, and look through shock waves. Enabling solutions may include: high temperature, transparent materials, distributed apertures, cooling methods, fast-steering mirrors, shock mitigation, thermal management devices, phase change materials, etc. In the response, proposers should describe the forward-looking seeker concept and identify how the proposed technology enables a forward-looking seeker/sensor. Proposers should estimate size, weight, and power (where applicable). 

PHASE I: Conduct a design study that shows the feasibility of the concept, backed with low-fidelity, proof-of-concept testing. Provide estimated performance and reliability characteristics. Demonstrate an understanding of the seeker/sensor design and the fundamentals of the technology enhancement proposed. 

PHASE II: Continue development through detailed design and analysis followed by fabrication of prototype hardware and developmental testing to anchor modeling results. The proposer should consider appropriate environmental testing, such as temperature variation, random vibration, flight shock, etc. Update the design based on test results. Provide performance and reliability characteristics, as well as a manufacturing approach and estimated costs. 

PHASE III: Work with missile defense integrators to transition the technology into existing missile defense programs. Dual use applications of specialized technologies include commercial aero-optics and thermal management of electronics. 


1: Pue, Alan J. "Missile Concept Optimization for Ballistic Missile Defense." JOHNS HOPKINS APL TECHNICAL DIGEST, VOLUME 32, NUMBER 5, pp. 774 – 786. 2014.

2:  Cantrell, M., VanHorn, T., Muras, A. "AIAA 92-1215 – Endoatmospheric LEAP. 1992 Aerospace Design Conference.

KEYWORDS: EO/IR, Infrared, Transparent Materials, Seeker, Sensor, Thermal Management, Mirrors, Apertures, Aero-optics 

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