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Daily Archives: Dec 9, 2008


SAAB, the developer of the Gripen is preparing a technology demonstrator known as ‘Gripen demo’, to be developed by an industry team led by SAAB, and include General Electric and Volvo, Honeywell, Rockwell Collins, APPH, martin Baker and Terma. Saab is seeking to expand he program to include more partners, thus strengthening it particularly in its export markets. The Gripen Demonstrator will be based on a new Gripen test flying platform and avionics rig to be called “Gripen Demo”.

The aircraft will be equipped with a Volvo derivative of the GE F414-GE400 engine, currently powering the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. The new engine will offer 35% more thrust, translated to increased range, better performance and increased weapons and stores carrying capability which, in turn will necessitate a new landing gear, to be modified by APPH of the BBA Aviation company. The new engine is more reliable than the F404 predecessor. Gripen’s new avionics suite will include an AESA radar – the specific type has not been determined yet. Other avionics include flight management computers, switching and data transfer units, video processors, head-up display and cockpit displays all to be delivered by Rockwell Collins.

Although Gripen Demo is a private initiative financed by the industry team, part of the expenses is backed by government commitments. In April 2007 Norway committed some US$25 million for future development of the Gripen. The Swedish government is also expected to make a decision soon.

Gripen’s Engine Surpasses 100,000 Flawless Flight Hours

The 100,000 flight hour mark recorded by the Gripen fleet last week also highlighted the flawless operation of its engine the Volvo RM-12 (a modified GE 404). Accroding to Volvo’s records, these 100,000 hours was surpassed without a single engine-related accident or incident. Since fielding the first RM12s in the 1980s, Volvo introduced many improvements in the engine, reducing operating costs and improving safety. These include a redesigned intake and improved afterburner flameholder which reduced maintenance overhead, and an FADEC (Full Authority Digital Electronic Control) system that optimizes operations, provides the possibility to reduce fuel consumption and is simultaneously used for trouble-shooting. Gripens are currently flying with the Swedish Air Force, Hungary, Czech Republic, South Africa and in the UK, where they are used for pilot training. Thailand will soon join as a sixth Gripen operator worldwide. In March, the first Gripen aircraft will be placed in active service in South Africa.


    Upgraded Missile Interceptors will be able to Handle Multiple Targets, Decoys with a New ‘Kill Vehicle’ Payload

    The Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle currently used with the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) Missile is designed to intercept medium and long range missiles fitted with a single warhead, discriminating the target from countermeasures. More advanced kill vehicles known as Multiple Kill Vehicle (MKV-L) are being developed to address more challenging scenarios, involving multiple warheads or countermeasures by using a single interceptor missile.

    During a missile intercept test conducted December 5, 2008 the Raytheon built Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV) carried by the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) missile, intercepted a ballistic missile target in space over the eastern Pacific Ocean. While communicating with ground sensors, the EKV detected, tracked and discriminated the target.

    This brief description gives only a taste of the complex process involving sensors deployed over half the globe, guiding a small spacecraft that rapidly acquires its own location by tracking the stars, track a hostile targets flying at a closing speed of 18,000 miles per hour and home in for a direct impact.

    GMD is designed as an interceptor of intermediate- and long-range ballistic missile, killing the targets in the midcourse phase of their flight, while they are arching in the “exoatmosphere” – the region of space just outside the Earth’s atmosphere. The most visible element of the system is the GMD missile interceptor, built by Boeing. This 54-foot-6-inch missile is merely the booster, lifting the EKV into space. This 152-pound “smart bullet” is equipped with thrusters that steer it into the path of the oncoming warhead, to destroy it by the kinetic energy released on impact. The U.S. military has 24 ground-interceptors in silos in Alaska and California, and 21 sea-based interceptors.

    The EKV is designed to intercept medium and long range missiles fitted with a single warhead, discriminating the target from countermeasures. In order to meet more advanced missile threats, fitted with multiple warheads and decoys, advanced kill vehicles known as Multiple Kill Vehicle (MKV) are being developed. During an actual hostile ballistic missile attack, the carrier vehicle with its cargo of small kill vehicles will maneuver into the path of an enemy missile, similar to EKV. MDA is probing two different approaches to multiple threat intercept.

    Two parralel approaches are being pursued – the MKV-L, employing a carrier ‘bus’ equipped with sensors and guidance, that releases and guides small kill vehicles at the targets. Using tracking data from the Ballistic Missile Defense System and its own seeker, a single the carrier vehicle will dispense and guide multiple kill vehicles to destroy any warheads or countermeasures. A different approach is MKV-R, employing multiple kill vehicles operating in an integrated ‘mesh’, each equipped with its own sensor, guidance and communications. One of the KVs assumes the role of ‘play maker’ while the others follow its commands.

    A full-scale prototype Multiple Kill Vehicle (MKV-L) was recently demonstrated on a test at Edwards AFB. Through the test the MKV 23 foot (7 meter) large vehicle flew for about 20 seconds, maneuvering while simultaneously tracking a target. “This test demonstrated the integrated operation of the MKV-L in near-earth flight,” said Rick Reginato, Multiple Kill Vehicle program director, at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company. “This represents a major step forward for the earliest operational payload designed to destroy multiple threat objects with a single missile defense interceptor.” The test was the first of several to prove MKV readiness for complex flight testing aboard the Ballistic Missile Defense System’s ground-based interceptor currently deployed in Alaska and Southern California.

    Additional part of the article: Missile Intercept Test Culminates a Successful Year for Missile Defense:


    Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) demonstrates system-wide integration

    The recent GMD intercept performed on December 5th 2008 demonstrated how the different pieces of the U.S. missile defense system could operate together spanning, over distances thousands of miles, cooperatively tracking, identifying, designating and engaging a ballistic missile target flying in space, eliminating it far above the atmosphere.

    As the interceptor flew toward the target, it received target data updates from the GMD fire control system, which collected and combined data from four different sensors, the most ever for an intercept test. The sensors were the Aegis Long Range Surveillance and Track system in the Pacific; the AN/TPY-2 radar temporarily located in Juneau, Alaska; the Upgraded Early Warning Radar at Beale Air Force Base, Calif.; and the Sea-Based X-Band Radar (SBX) in the Pacific. After flying into space, the interceptor released its exo-atmospheric kill vehicle, which tracked, intercepted and destroyed the target warhead. This end-to-end test of the GMD system was the most realistic and comprehensive performed to date.

    “Data gathered from multiple sensors gave us a clearer picture of the incoming threat, enabling GMD to achieve the shootdown of a complex target,” said Greg Hyslop, Boeing vice president and GMD program director. “Integrating sensors separated by thousands of miles is a major engineering challenge, but we overcame this challenge by working together as a team.”

    The intercept of the simulated ballistic missile target demonstrated the maturity of currently established Ground-based Mid-Course Defense system. The network supporting the intercept comprised sensors, located over several continents. First to detect the threat was Defense Satellite Program (DSP), which spotted the launch. As the missile began its ascent, the Raytheon AN/TPY-2 X-Band long-range Radar stepped in. It acquired the target shortly after lift-off. Operating in forward-based mode from Juneau, Alaska, the radar continuously tracked the target throughout the engagement. The Air Forces’ Upgraded Early Warning Radar (UEWR) located at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., also tracked the target during its flight downrange.

    Another sea based X-Band (SBX) Radar also participated in the test by tracking, discriminating and assessing the target. This radar is currently deployed in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Hawaii. Its final deployment is scheduled in the waters off of Adak Island, Alaska, optimizing the coverage of the northern hemisphere, tracking ballistic trajectories originating from North Korea. The agency has already deployed X-Band radar in Shariki, Japan while other locations are being established in Israel and the Czech Republic, tracking potential threats originating from central and western Asia.

    The Agency’s Track Interceptor, the Sea Based X-band radar (SBX) did the final tracking and was the primary sensor for the interceptor, to position itself for the intercept. It was the first intercept test in which data from SBX was combined with data from the other sensors to provide tracking-data and guidance aimpoint updates to the interceptor.

    “This test confirms all three radars’ ability to provide integrated information to the BMDS in support of an intercept.” said Pete Franklin, vice president, National and Theater Security Programs for Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems. All radars employed by the system were designed by Raytheon. The Battle Management Command and Control in Colorado Springs at Shriver Air Force Base managed the integration and intercept of this test as it would do against a real missile threat from North Korea.

    Additional part of the article: Missile Intercept Test Culminates a Successful Year for Missile Defense:


    Laser Packed 747 Prepares for Firing Demonstration

    The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA], industry teammates and the U.S.Missile Defense Agency have begun Airborne Laser (ABL) flight tests with the entire weapon system integrated aboard the ABL aircraft. On April 21, 2009 the team completed the functional check flight April 21 from Edwards Air Force Base with the beam control/fire control system and the high-energy laser onboard, confirming the aircraft is airworthy, ready for more airborne tests and on track for its missile-intercept demonstration this year.

    In December 2008 the entire Airborne Laser (ABL) weapon system was tested on the ground, abroad the specially configured ABL Boeing 747-400F platform. During the test at Edwards Air Force Base, the laser beam traveled through the beam control / fire control system before exiting the aircraft through the nose-mounted turret. The beam control / fire control system steered and focused the beam onto a simulated ballistic missile target.

    Since 2005 the program performed extensive testing series at Edwards AFB, including the demonstration of lethal levels of duration and power, in 2005; target tracking and measurements required for compensation for atmospheric conditions, and the delivery of a surrogate high-energy laser’s simulated lethal beam on the target. By September 2008 the program performed the first firing of a high-energy laser in flight, measured on board as the laser was fired into a calorimeter abroad the aircraft.

    Boeing is the prime contractor for the ABL program. Northrop Grumman delivered the chemical laser on board, with Lockheed Martin providing the beam control and fire control system. Boeing designed the battle management system for ABL.


    Additional part of the article: Missile Intercept Test Culminates a Successful Year for Missile Defense:


      Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) demonstrates system-wide integration, progress with Exo-Atmospheric, Multiple Kill Vehicle and airborne laser

      Recent testing activities conducted by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) culminated a busy year that marked substantial progress in the development of credible U.S. missile protection, both for tactical and strategic applications.

      Among the latest technologies being demonstrated by the program were advanced stages of the high power airborne laser and exo-atmospheric multiple kill vehicle and, a full demonstration of the currently operational capabilities – the sea based AEGIS system and Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD). The most recent test was performed December 5, 2008 demonstrating the entire system, including interceptors, sensor and battle management.

      This test represented a North Korean long range missile targeting the Northwest region of the United States. The test vehicle was a target missile replicating an enemy missile while the interceptors used existing missile defense systems that are currently deployed and operational today. For the sensors, the battle management, interceptor to the soldiers, manning the consoles that tracked, discriminated and terminated, the target was the same. In addition, two ballistic missile intercept capable U.S.Aegis ship were involved, as they would be stationed, in the Sea of Japan in case of a North Korean missile attack. This was the first time the Defense Missile Agency has synchronized its network of varied sensor types and frequencies to successfully track, report and intercept a single target.

      The intercept was performed by the Alaska based 49th Missile Defense Battalion, 100th missile defense brigade, based at Fort Greely, with Battle Management Command and Control performed centrally at Colorado Springs at Shriver Air Force Base where management and integration of the intercept would be performed, in realistic scenarios. The test combined an early warning radar system south of Sacramento, Calif., a mobile radar system temporarily posted in Juneau, Alaska, with two AEGIS ballistic missile defense ships, off the Pacific coast and a sea-based radar system.

      “The core of our missile defense system is the fact that we can operate in layers and have multiple systems working together,” explained Army Lt. Gen. Patrick J. O’Reilly, “The key to our protection and the effectiveness of the systems is to have all of these different sensors simultaneously tracking, and the system [knowing] exactly that it’s not multiple objects, it’s one object up there. What we showed today, is all those sensors working together,” he said. “At any one time, the system knew which sensor was reporting … and tracking it and it gave the warfighter a presentation of the target. It is the first time we have ever done that in an actual test and with our soldiers [and sailors and airmen] operating it.”

      The scenario was planned to be even more challenging, with the target-missile deploying multiple decoys, further complicating target-tracking and identification. Countermeasures could include the missile deploying chaff, decoys or replicas. While the system is designed to overcome such challenge, in this case, the target missile failed to deploy the decoys, thus leaving the demonstration of decoy and counter-countermeasures to future tests.

      “Countermeasures are very difficult to deploy,” O’Reilly said. “We have had trouble deploying them in the past.” Even though countermeasures didn’t deploy, the upper stage of the mock enemy missile was still in the area. “The interceptor saw two objects and had to understand the data sent from the sensors to discern which object to hit”, O’Reilly said.

      The following video prepared by Northrp Grumman outlines some of the technologies employed for ballistic missile defense in a fictitious scenario. (although the systems shown are not the ones used with GMD system):

      Additional part of the article: Missile Intercept Test Culminates a Successful Year for Missile Defense:

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