US Military Technology

Gautam

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And some of these too.
Aren't those still prototypes ? But you are right, to defend Taiwan BMs are needed. If they come with hypersonic maneuvering warheads then even better.

What is the current US deployment of EW, ASW and AEW&C aircrafts around that region ? Where do they operate out of ?
 

BMD

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Aren't those still prototypes ? But you are right, to defend Taiwan BMs are needed. If they come with hypersonic maneuvering warheads then even better.

What is the current US deployment of EW, ASW and AEW&C aircrafts around that region ? Where do they operate out of ?
Don't know, but they have bases in Japan, Guam, Diego Garcia and carrier AEW.
 
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randomradio

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Raytheon confident SM-3 Block IIA can intercept ICBM warheads
Raytheon is “very confident” the Standard Missile-3 Block IIA -- a new ballistic missile interceptor developed with Japan to defeat medium- and intermediate-range threats -- can also knock down intercontinental ballistic missiles, delivering Washington and Tokyo more than they originally bargained for

@vstol Jockey, @Guynextdoor, @Bon Plan, @randomradio, @Gautam

Not unexpected. The SM-3 B2A had these capabilities.
 

BMD

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PAC-3 (non-MSE) shooting down a manoeuvring RV (Pershing II - Mach 9-10) two decades ago.

 

BMD

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SDA’s $11B Five-Year Budget Draft Not Likely To Fly

SDA’s $11B Five-Year Budget Draft Not Likely To Fly
"This is not going to be helpful over on the Hill," one former congressional staffer said of SDA's $11 billion, five-year draft budget. "In fact, it could put the final nails in SDA's coffin."
By THERESA HITCHENSon October 11, 2019 at 2:58 PM


The SDA’s draft five-year budget would include studies of space-based interceptors for missile defense

WASHINGTON: The Space Development Agency (SDA) ambitious $11 billion draft FYDP budget is getting “lots of eye rolls” from Pentagon budget staff and chances for it succeeding are practically nil.

The draft budget request is unlikely to make it out of the internal DoD budget process, sources involved in the debate say, much less past congressional scrutiny. Of course, we don’t think it likely Congress will get around to passing any budget legislation at all over the next year.

“There were lots of eye rolls” from Pentagon budget staff when new SDA Director Derek Tournear briefed them last week, one source said.

The enormous draft budget plan — going from $150 million this fiscal year to $11 billion over the next five years has raised more questions in the minds of those who are highly skeptical of SDA’s value. House defense Democrats have been particularly hard to convince, with appropriators cutting DoD’s $150 million fiscal 2020 request by 45 percent, down to $81.8 million. The House Armed Services Committee denied DoD’s request to reprogram $15 million in fiscal 2019 funds for SDA.

“This is not going to be helpful over on the Hill,” one former congressional staffer said. “In fact, it could put the final nails in SDA’s coffin.”

In particular, SDA’s missile defense related plans detailed in the draft budget, including its intent to launch studies on space-based interceptors (SBI), have hardened the beliefs of some skeptics that SDA’s “real” purpose is to serve as a “toy box” (a term more than one source used) for Mike Griffin, head of Pentagon R&E, to pursue his own long-standing interests. (Griffin was a strong advocate for President Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative back in the 1980s, including the push for SBIs.)

“MDA didn’t ask for money to study space-based interceptors in FY20,” one source explained, “and SBI is a bone of contention in Congress between the Democrats and the Republicans.”

Well informed sources say Griffin has little love for the Missile Defense Agency’s current direction, and that he made his August decision to cancel Boeing’s contract for a new ballistic missile interceptor, the Redesigned Kill Vehicle, without even consulting the MDA leadership.

Todd Harrison, head of the Aerospace Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and veteran space budget analyst, said that “if this leaked document is indicative of what ends up in the budget request next year, it sounds like they are actually including money to begin real programs for new communications and missile sensing capabilities.” However, he said, “The space sensor layer would seem to overlap with the sensor technology MDA has been developing, and the transport layer would seem to overlap with the satellite communications programs currently managed by SMC [Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center].”

Harrison further said that the budget plan “begs the question of why they are standing it up under OSD in the first place.” At this point, he said, DoD would be better off moving it as soon as possible to the proposed Space Force — in whatever form eventually approved by lawmakers.

The SDA budget plan, according to our colleague Tony Capaccio who broke the story, asks for $259 million for fiscal 2021; $1.1 billion in 2022, $1.9 billion in 2023, $3.67 billion in 2024 and $3.68 billion in 2025. By contrast, most of SDA’s 2020 budget request was for personnel.



RecommendedEXCLUSIVE Revolutionary SATCOM Vision Hits Raymond’s Desk: AFSPC
The vision itself isn’t the only thing that is needed, industry sources say. A concept of operations is required for how the Air Force will manage different user needs and interact with different industry providers. “The vision is out, but there is no concept of operations,” said one source.

By THERESA HITCHENS

According Tony’s story, SDA’s top priority is developing and orbiting by 2025 some 250 data “transport” satellites to link other DoD satellites to each other and the ground, at a cost of $3.5 billion. Tournear told reporters at the Air Force Association’s 2019 annual meeting in mid-September that SDA intends to demonstrate the new satellites in 2021, and launch the first 20 in 2022.

SDA spokeswoman Jennifer Elzea told Breaking D yesterday that the agency would not confirm the draft budget numbers, noting that it is extremely early in the Pentagon budget process so changes are likely. Indeed, few service or DoD agency draft budgets make it past the Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) office unchallenged. Once all the service/agency five-year Program Objective Memorandums (POMs) are approved, the entire DoD budget request is sent to OMB for approval and transmission by the president to Congress.

On a good year, the budget hits Capitol Hill in February. This isn’t likely to be a good year, given the impeachment process underway in the House. Congress has yet to pass the 2020 federal budget, with the government operating under a Continuing Resolution (CR, that keeps spending to 2019 levels) until Nov. 21. Several Hill watchers say odds are that Congress will fail to agree on DoD’s budget by that date, and yet another CR being passed.

“My fear is a we are looking at a year long CR,” said one former DoD official said. Indeed, as Breaking D readers are well aware, that fear is being echoed up and down the Pentagon’s vast hallways.
 

BMD

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Lockheed Martin to disclose hypersonic weapons development during AUSA 2019 – Defence Blog

Lockheed Martin to disclose hypersonic weapons development during AUSA 2019
Published 08:49 (GMT+0000) October 12, 2019


Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin


Pentagon’s No.1 weapons supplier Lockheed Martin will disclose new details of the development of land-based hypersonic strike prototype during upcoming the AUSA Meeting and Exposition that will take place from 14th October to 16th October at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington D.C., United States.

Hypersonic weapons provide a survivable and affordable capability that will overcome distance in contested environments using high speed, altitude and maneuverability. They amplify many of the enduring attributes of airpower – speed, range, flexibility and precision.

Robust experience in high-speed flight has positioned Lockheed Martin to be an industry leader in hypersonic technology, providing the most mature and cost-effective solutions for addressing increasing threats in the global security arena.

Lockheed Martin has invested in developing and demonstrating hypersonic technology for over 30 years. As a result of this investment, the company is at the forefront of operationalizing hypersonic capabilities, systems and engineering.

“Hypersonic development is advancing around the globe. We’re ahead of the game in advancing this next-gen technology,” Lockheed Martin said on its Twitter account.

Hypersonic systems are a game-changer for national security. Creating hypersonic technology presents several tough, complex engineering challenges. Hypersonic systems will travel at Mach 5 and potentially even faster.

Hypersonic strike weapons are a key aspect of the long-range precision fire modernization effort for the Army and the national security strategy to compete with and outpace potential threats.
 

BMD

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Is the US about to test a new ballistic missile?

Is the US about to test a new ballistic missile?
By: Aaron Mehta   5 hours ago

236
An unarmed Minuteman III ICBM test launch takes place Oct. 2, 2019, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. (Staff Sgt. J.T. Armstrong/U.S. Air Force via AP)
WASHINGTON — The U.S. may be set to test a new ground-launched ballistic missile in the coming weeks, the first test of that particular weapon since the country withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty earlier this year.

In March, Pentagon officials told reporters that they intend to test an intermediate range ballistic missile in the November time frame. At the annual Defense News Conference in September, Robert Soofer, deputy assistant secretary of defense for policy for nuclear and missile defense, confirmed that the Pentagon is roughly on track for that test.

“I do believe it is still the plan to conduct a ballistic missile test before the end of the year," he said then.

Asked about Soofer’s comments and whether those tests are still planned, Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Robert Carver could not “confirm or deny a test will take place in November. I am unable to provide any details on testing dates, times or locations.”



Watch the Pentagon test its first land-based cruise missile in a post-INF Treaty world
The test is the first time such a weapon has been launched by the U.S. since the INF Treaty went into effect.

By: Aaron Mehta

The test, should it happen as planned, is expected to involve a ballistic missile with a potential range of roughly 3,000-4,000 kilometers. Pentagon officials previously speculated that any deployment of such a weapon, potentially to Guam, would not be likely for at least five years.

The United States exited the INF Treaty on Aug. 2, following through on a decision made late last year that the agreement no longer benefited American interests. The INF Treaty was a 1987 pact with the former Soviet Union that banned ground-launched nuclear and conventional ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,000 kilometers. However, the United States and NATO allies have for years declared Russia in violation of the agreement. Russia has denied those accusations.

American officials have stressed they do not plan to build nuclear-capable systems that would have busted the INF Treaty’s limits, but Defense Secretary Mark Esper said his department will “fully pursue the development of these ground-launched conventional missiles as a prudent response to Russia’s actions and as part of the joint force’s broader portfolio of conventional strike options.”

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Among arms control advocates, the idea of post-INF weapons are worrisome. Kingston Reif, of the Arms Control Association, said the pursuit of conventional ground-launched intermediate-range missiles is “militarily unnecessary, would force difficult and contentious conversations with and among allies, and likely would prompt Russia and China to take steps that would increase the threat to the United States and its allies.”

“A 3,000- to 4,000-kilometer-range ballistic missile would pose a much more direct threat to the Russian and Chinese homelands,” Reif said. “It seems highly unlikely U.S. allies in Europe or Asia would host a missile that could strike deep into Russia and China in a matter of minutes. We could deploy such a missile in Guam, but their survivability wouldn’t be assured there, thereby increasing crisis stability.”

Tom Karako, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, countered that the focus shouldn’t be on the delivery system itself, nor if it could be done by an air- or sea-based system instead of by land.

“The better question is what posture and what cost-effective mix of capabilities can impose on our adversaries the most vexing set of problems, especially for their surveillance and targeting,” he said. “Up against Russia and China, the benefits of ground-based strike systems need to be part of the conversation for answering that question.”

The Pentagon is investing in several alternative ground-based systems, such a heavy focus on hypersonic weapons, including the Army’s Long Range Hypersonic Weapon program. Investing in several options for that force posture mix is important, Karako said, so that the United States can avoid getting locked into one solution which, if countered, would leave the country vulnerable.

“We can’t afford a force structure composed of a small number of silver bullets. It makes good sense to pursue a variety of delivery systems, trajectories, ranges, velocities, propulsion types and basing domains to support broad defense and deterrence goals,” he said. “The future form of future strike will almost surely include a mix of UAVs, cruise missiles, ballistics and hypersonic glide vehicles. An IRBM for ourselves and our friends may well have a place in that mix.”

Just what the test might look like is unknown at this time. Something like a land-based version of the Standard Missile-3 Block IIA, usually launched from a ship or during the first stage of an ICBM, would fit the rough range target. Another potential option might be modifying and launching a ground-based interceptor, part of the missile defense network; going down that path, Reif warned, would “raise all sorts of complications,” as that system was meant to solely serve a defensive purpose.

A cruise missile test in August involved a variant of the Tomahawk land-attack weapon launched from a Mark 41 Vertical Launch System. While the Mark 41 is the same launcher used in the Aegis Ashore missile defense system, the Pentagon said at the time that this was a different variation on the Mark 41 and does not mean that Aegis Ashore could be turned into an offensive capability — something Russia has long claimed in objecting to Aegis basing in Europe.
 

BMD

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A New Breed of Radar




A New Breed of Radar
They say if you want to stay off someone’s radar, blend into your surroundings.

That’ll be harder for ballistic missiles to do once the Missile Defense Agency’s newest radar is up and running.

On October 21, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) announced it awarded Lockheed Martin MST a $784 Million contract to provide a new S-band Long Range Discrimination Radar (LRDR). This radar will use precise tracking data to identify ballistic missile threats early in flight and discriminate lethal payloads from decoys and other objects during mid-course flight.

“The U.S. has a limited number of ground-based interceptors to detect threats, yet the number of potential missile threats - and decoys used to hide those threats - is growing,” said Carl Bannar, vice president of Lockheed Martin’s Integrated Warfare and Surveillance Systems business “Our offering meets the MDA’s vision for LRDR by pairing an innovative radar discrimination capability with proven ballistic missile defense algorithms.”

The LRDR is based on MST’s more than 40 years of work on solid state radar and ballistic missile defense; its experience in land-based radar design and construction; proven maintenance and sustainment approaches; and, its experience in S-band radar discrimination.



Lockheed_SSR_NJ.jpg



Lockheed_LRDR.png



SPY-7_SSR.jpg



“These experiences give us the unique ability to accurately track objects in real-time, with a framework that can be easily and quickly updated for evolving threats,” says Tony DeSimone, Ph.D., LRDR technical director. “We’ve already proven our abilities in the key requirement areas, making our solution extremely low-risk.”

LRDR builds on the weapons and technologies that Lockheed Martin provides for all three segments of the layered Ballistic Missile Defense System being developed and deployed by the Missile Defense Agency, including the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missiles and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system. Lockheed Martin develops and operates the Command and Control network for all the sensors and weapons in the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense System, as well as the new interceptor guidance system for the ground-based interceptors that will engage any incoming threat to the U.S.

The radar, which is now Lockheed Martin’s largest solid state radar program, will utilize gallium nitride (GaN) technology, based upon an Open GaN Foundry model, which leverages relationships with strategic GaN suppliers. The efficiency of GaN technology provides a larger detection area and improved early detection, while reducing the radar’s required size.


PAC-3 interceptor hits two ballistic missiles during test
The demonstration was meant to support the U.S. Army’s Field Surveillance Program by ensuring the reliability and readiness of PAC-3 missiles already field by the service.

www.defensenews.com
 
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BMD

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Leading Edge: NRL Steps Into the Hypersonics Realm

Leading Edge: NRL Steps Into the Hypersonics Realm
By Emanuel Cavallaro

Model of a morphing waverider. (Photo illustration by Jonathan Steffen)

If you have even a passing interest in the science of air travel, you’re probably already familiar with the concept of hypersonic flight. But unless you’re an aerospace engineer, you may be surprised to learn that it remains largely experimental. Even today, the hypersonic regime is the province of spacecraft and demonstration and test vehicles, which travel in the atmosphere at speeds between Mach 5 and Mach 10 for only limited spans of time, mere minutes in most cases.

There’s a good reason. Hypersonic flight is punishing. At hypersonic speeds, the molecules of air around the vehicle break apart and can produce electrical charge (ionization). Aerodynamic heating from the friction of the air causes the temperatures to climb exponentially; temperatures are so hot that literally all known aerospace materials, including the tiles once used on the Space Shuttle, cannot survive long. That doesn’t mean that hypersonic flight over extended periods is impossible to achieve; it just means it’s a very complicated problem to solve.

If we’re going to master reliable hypersonic flight, it’s going to take advanced research into new materials, new cooling systems, and ingenious new aerodynamic designs for hypersonic aircraft that can withstand extreme conditions and perform equally well across a range of operational regimes. At U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, that’s exactly what researchers have been working on.

Now the engineers at NRL’s Space Mechanical Systems Development Branch are looking to an innovation from the earliest days of manned flight, specifically one pioneered by the Wright brothers, as inspiration for their new design for a hypersonic aircraft. They’re calling it a morphing waverider.



Mechanical engineers Jesse Maxwell (left), Evan Rogers (center) and Austin Phoenix (right) stand in a space that will soon be home to a new wind tunnel dedicated to hypersonics research. (Photo by Jonathan Steffen)

Cooling the leading edge
In 2015, Jesse Maxwell and a team of mechanical engineers at the Space Mechanical Systems Development Branch were developing designs for leading edge cooling for hypersonic aircraft as part of a 6.2 Base Program, experimenting with different materials and cooling system architectures for the nose and wings of aircraft that would ensure their survivability under these extremely high temperatures.

“If [the material] can't survive the temperatures, you've got to keep it from heating up that much, and the way you keep it from heating up is by pulling energy away from it,” explains Austin Phoenix, an NRL mechanical engineer who has been developing the morphing waverider design with Maxwell.

Among the options the team conceived (that are pending patent) was one that uses the evaporation and condensation cycles of liquid sodium—a molten metal—to pull heat away from a leading edge. Liquid sodium is created by heating elemental sodium, a silvery metal, past its melting point of 98 degrees Celsius. According to Maxwell, the operating temperatures for these sodium heat pipes are 800 to 1,200 degrees Celsius.

(It should give some idea of the temperatures at hypersonic speeds that they chose using boiling metal to cool the aircraft’s leading edges.)

“[The system uses] a continuous cycle,” Maxwell explains. “We use a porous wick of metal, and the liquid sodium soaks its way toward the heat source, and then, when it evaporates, the vapor moves away from the heat source and re-condenses. Any voids left by that vapor, the liquid then just soaks back up.”



The underside of the morphing waverider model used in hyperconics research at the United States Naval Academy wind tunnel. (Photo by Jonathan Steffen)

But extreme heat can threaten the structural integrity of an aircraft on places other than its leading edges. Today’s conventional aircraft have wings that remain fixed during flight and for steering employ motorized flaps and ailerons that move on hinges. And while that’s proven to be a reliable and durable system for maneuvering aircraft traveling at subsonic speeds, when you get to hypersonic speeds, the physics are such that those hinges become something of a problem.

“If you have a flap or an aileron, you inherently have a hinge,” Maxwell says. “And any sharp change in hypersonic flow concentrates heating and pressure. [That hinge] adds to your drag and adds to heating. And heating is what really kills you at those speeds. Everything is in danger of burning up.”

That’s where the Wright brother’s innovation could prove useful. The Wright Brothers had observed that birds maneuvered in flight by changing the shape of their wings. With their power-driven, heavier-than-air design, the Wright brothers emulated that method of flight control with the technique of wing warping, pulling on cables to warp their aircraft’s wings to steer it. That’s how the brothers made history in 1903 by achieving controlled and sustained flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

Maxwell and his team are adopting that simple idea—altering the shape of an aircraft’s wing during flight—but they’re taking it a step further. They’re aiming to achieve a smooth, seamless control surface, one without ailerons, flaps or hinges—to which they can introduce small deviations through morphing—changing the aircraft’s shape, rather than just its wing. They believe that will allow them to control their waverider at hypersonic speeds.

“With the small changes in a surface to give you control capabilities, those small deviations are also smooth,” Maxwell says. “And so you avoid the intense heating that you get with normal control surfaces for low speed aircraft.”

Their designs involve morphing the geometry of the body of the aircraft, changing the shape of the underside of the vehicle to improve lift, reduce drag and provide control capabilities for the pilot, according to Phoenix.



The top of the morphing waverider model used in hyperconics research at the United States Naval Academy wind tunnel. (Photo by Jonathan Steffen)

Riding the shock
Back in 2015, when Maxwell was working on leading edge cooling, he was looking for a case study vehicle would allow him to analyze a wide range of conditions for heating. He discovered that the waverider design would serve as an ideal, simple case study vehicle for studying heating and flight conditions. That’s what led to his discovery of concept of a morphing waverider.

But what is a waverider? First proposed by professor Terence Nonweiler of the Queen's University of Belfast in the 1950s, a waverider is a design for hypersonic aircraft that uses the shock waves it produces during flight as a lifting surface, a concept known as “compression lift.”

While flying through the air, the shape of an aircraft moves the air around it, just as a boat moves the water around it. As it moves, air pressure waves form in front of the aircraft and behind it. When an aircraft travels at the speed of sound or faster, those pressure waves don’t have time to get out of the way. So they bunch together and compress into a shock wave on the aircraft, or just plain “shock,” as engineers like Maxwell and Phoenix like to refer to it.

If you have ever seen the cone of vapor that forms around the back of a high speed jet traveling at supersonic speed through moist air—that conical wave of vapor resembles the shape of a shock wave. The cone of vapor is often called a “Mach cone.”



XB-70A Valkyrie on ramp. (Source: NASA)

The shock wave will vary according to the speed of an object. For example, a bullet will produce an approximate cone shape, while an object traveling at a higher speed will produce a shock wave with an angle closer to its body.

“Imagine that you have a high Mach number, say Mach 5 or 10,” Maxwell says. “You've got a pretty narrow cone angle. You can design the [aircraft’s] leading edge to touch the surface of that cone angle to create a high-pressure pocket of air underneath the vehicle, which gives you a really great lift-to-drag ratio. You're riding the shockwave.”

To date, the only aircraft based on the design has been the Mach 3 supersonic XB-70 Valkyrie. Developed in the 1960s, only two prototypes were ever flown. Designed to cruise at Mach 3, the aircraft reached Mach 3 speeds a little more than a dozen times. Its triangular delta wing was a variation on the waverider concept, designed for compression lift, with wingtips that could face downwards during flight to trap the shockwave.

“That was the state of the art for the last half century,” Maxwell says. “It turns out that it didn't perform very well. So they stopped making them.”

Spanning regimes
The chief drawback of hypersonic designs, according to Phoenix, is that, they’re highly efficient, but only at a single operational regime—that is, at a certain altitude, speed and atmospheric density. Most hypersonic designs, Maxwell and Phoenix say, are designed to fly in the near space regime within low-density atmosphere.

“So they produce a lot of lift for that one configuration,” Phoenix explains. “But if they slow down or speed up, which is what most things do, they reduce their efficiency. The ideal morphing waverider would maintain the perfect geometry across the entire flight.”

Maxwell’s solution was simple: If your aircraft design employed a flexible bottom surface, you could push and pull on that surface to create the best geometry for each operational regime. In 2016, he approached Phoenix, who has a background in morphing structures, and asked him the obvious question: “Can we physically make this thing?”

“We had this model we believed was more efficient,” Phoenix says. “But we just didn't know whether it was feasible or whether the performance benefits would justify the additional complexity.”

For the last two years, they have been studying the viability of the idea. Over the summers of 2017 and 2018, they have conducted preliminary low-speed testing of models at the United States Naval Academy wind tunnel. For security reasons, they can’t yet release details on their results (indeed, Maxwell’s dissertation has yet to see public release), though they can say the results were consistent with their predictions.

They are envisioning a design that can travel at hypersonic speeds for extended periods over multiple operational regimes, from the conventional aircraft regime, to the near-space regime, where the atmosphere is low-density, and even into the space regime where spacecraft are orbiting at phenomenal speeds.

Such a design would of course have a number of applications, from hypersonic air travel to hypersonic weapons. But Maxwell’s team is concentrating their work on their design’s potential space applications, in the hopes that they might someday inform the design of a new kind of entry vehicle, or even the next space shuttle.

“Anything you send to or from space can benefit from a high lift body, and that's what we are primarily focused on,” Maxwell says. “Here's a vehicle that can span a wide range of speeds; it has an excellent lift-to-drag ratio, and you can use it to get to space and back with a sufficient propulsion system.”



X-15A 2 in flight with a dummy ramjet attached. (Source: NASA)

Hypersonic aircraft have already managed to reach space. In 1963, a rocket-powered aircraft called the North American X-15A-2 set a world record altitude of 354,200 feet (67 miles above the Earth), operating effectively outside the Earth’s atmosphere. (Four years later, the X-15 would go on to set a world record for the highest speed achieved by a manned, powered aircraft by reaching Mach 6.7, about 4,500 miles an hour.)

But getting into space is easy compared to staying there. According to Maxwell, it requires about 16 times the energy to stay in orbit than it takes to just reach the altitude: hence the use of office-building-sized rockets for space launches. Even so, Maxwell and Phoenix believe hypersonics could be another solution, a potentially cheaper and more efficient one.

The gold standard, as Maxwell calls it, would be a vehicle that could fly into space, reach orbit and then fly back.

“The way we do it right now is obviously brute force,” Maxwell says. “You just build a bigger rocket.”



Mechanical engineers Jesse Maxwell (left), Evan Rogers (center) and Austin Phoenix (right) stand in the 4,000 square foot space that will soon be home to a new wind tunnel. (Photo by Jonathan Steffen)

Building the tunnel
In 2017, they scheduled time at the United States Naval Academy’s wind tunnel—just a few days a month to conduct testing on models they had custom made at an external machine shop. Without much experience as experimentalists, they initially relied on an academy professor to walk them through experimental techniques.

“After a few iterations we got better and better at it,” Maxwell says. “We took some pictures, but a lot of the flow fields happen so fast that you only get to see the average—unless you have a really high speed camera.”

Eventually they found that, for their purposes, the range of conditions the tunnel could simulate was too narrow. They needed a wider range and the ability to test a larger model than the Naval Academy tunnel could accommodate. But wind tunnels are expensive—that’s what the team discovered when they conducted some preliminary trade studies.

Morphing Structures - Advanced Materials Q&A with Austin Phoenix
Austin Phoenix has been with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory since 2011. A North Carolina native, Phoenix was hired under a Karl's fellowship studying large space structures. From 2014 to 2016, he participated in NRL’s Select Graduate Training Program and went on to earn a PhD at Virginia Tech with his research in high performance morphing systems.

Full Article: Morphing Structures - Advanced Materials Q&A with Austin Phoenix

“Better assets are out there that can reach a wider range of conditions, but they are extremely expensive,” Maxwell says. “We went to see what other tunnels would cost, and in some case they're $20,000 to a $100,000 a day.”

Soon after, they began laying the groundwork for their own wind tunnel at NRL that would allow them to continue their research. Rather than designing the facility from scratch, they opted to go with a company with a pre-existing design. That would allow them to devote the remainder of their funding to essentials like the diagnostic computers, sensors and measurement systems.

“We pitched the idea of a wind tunnel [as a capital procurement project]—a small one and a large one,” Maxwell says. “NRL originally approved the small one in 2015 for the 2017 cycle, but they ended up asking us to wait a year and then doubled our budget so we could buy the big one.”

Work on the new tunnel has only just begun. Currently, it’s just a 4,000-square-foot laboratory that once served as the storage space for a standing machine shop and assorted parts. Over the next few months, the team will conduct the initial design reviews. Hardware is expected to arrive on site in September. Full initial operating capacity is forecast for the end of calendar year 2019.

According to Maxwell, the new wind tunnel being constructed will be ideal for studying models of waveriders that will change shape to adapt to a variety of operational regimes. It will have the ability vary pressure to simulate variations in altitude and wind speed in situ.

“So we can take the model and do control flap deflections; we can pitch up and down angle of attack,” Maxwell says. “We can accelerate and decelerate, climb and descend. We will be able to fly [simulations of] this vehicle anywhere from about sea level up to over 100,000 feet at speeds of Mach 1.3 up to at least Mach 5 early on—and eventually Mach 6 and a half.”

Rather than plotting disparate points noting factors like altitude, height, and speed, this new wind tunnel will give the team the ability to see those factors for a model’s performance along an unbroken spectrum—or as a “million little continuous test points” as Maxwell puts it.

Asked whether that’s a unique capability for a wind tunnel, he replies, “As far as we have found, no one else is capable of doing that.”
 

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Missile Shield: Romania Now Has America's Aegis Ashore

Missile Shield: Romania Now Has America's Aegis Ashore


David Axe

,
The National InterestDecember 5, 2019



Key point: Washington has wanted to expand NATO's anti-missile capabilities for a while now.

A key NATO missile-defense site in Romania on Aug. 9, 2019 completed a three-month upgrade process that had forced operators to take the system offline.

To fill the resulting gap in coverage, the U.S. Army in May 2019 deployed to Romania one of its seven Terminal High-Altitude Area-Defense missile-interceptor batteries.

The THAAD deployment was controversial.

The THAAD system set up within sight of the Aegis Ashore site in Romania. The Army and the U.S. Defense Department separately posted, then quickly deleted, at least one photo of the battery preparing for duty. Some websites preserved the photo.

THAAD antagonized the Russian government, just like Aegis Ashore has done. Russia "can’t understand what tasks the Aegis Ashore system will accomplish in the missile defense area,” Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said in late April 2019.

The Pentagon and NATO repeatedly tried to explain their reasoning for deploying THAAD. “At the request of NATO, the secretary of defense will deploy a U.S. Army Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system to Romania this summer in support of NATO ballistic-missile defense,” U.S. European Command announced in early April 2019.

“The THAAD, from the 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, will integrate into the existing NATO BMD architecture during a limited period of scheduled maintenance and updates on the Aegis Ashore missile-defense system in Romania this summer.”

As of early 2019 the Army had acquired around 200 THAAD rockets for its seven batteries and roughly 40 launchers. The U.S. Missile Defense Agency on its website describes THAAD as a “land-based element capable of shooting down a ballistic missile both inside and just outside the atmosphere.”

The U.S. Army mans THAAD batteries on the island of Guam as well as in South Korea. The Army in March 2019 deployed a THAAD battery to Israel.

Aegis Ashore is a land-based version of the U.S. Navy’s SM-3 missile-interceptor. The Missile Defense Agency by way of NATO operates Aegis Ashore sites in Poland and Romania. The sites help to defend Europe and the United States from limited missile strikes by a Middle East power such as Iran.
Looks very similar to the Prithvi missile sub-munitions.




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