Technology may be suitable for USN’s new strike missile
The nearest target application for a pulse detonation engine (PDE) remains a US Navy requirement for a new strike missile with an objective speed of between Mach 2.5 and 4, which the service believes could achieve initial operating capability around 2011. “Given the appropriate funding levels, our development roadmaps are geared to a Technology Readiness Level 6 flight demonstrator engine that would be available in the 2008-9 timeframe,” says Gary Lidstone, divisional manager of Pratt & Whitney’s Seattle AeroSciences Center. Simeon Austin, the company’s director of advanced engine programmes, says “over the next two-to-three-year period we could do a flight demonstration and by the end of the decade we would be ready to do a development programme with a first application.”
Test success boosts stand-off missile
Lockheed Martin has bolstered the long-term funding outlook for its AGM-158A JASSM stand-off missile by completing two successful flight tests at the White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico late last month. Conducted using a Rockwell B-1B bomber on 25 January and a Lockheed F-16 fighter two days later, the launches come at a potentially critical time for the cruise missile programme, which is emerging from the threat of Congessional budget cuts and potential termination after earlier test failures (Flight International, 14-20 June 2005).
“We are now 11 out of 13 flight-test successes,” says Lockheed JASSM programme manager Mike Inderhees. The company has had $100 million restored for the procurement of Lot 5 missiles in the latest US defence budget, with another $67 million to fund research, test and development of an extended-range (ER) variant and beyond-visual-range datalink.
The January tests were part of a series of verification flights to check reliability and affordability improvements made following earlier problems, including with the missile’s wing-fold mechanism. They also for the first time evaluated the weapon’s electronic safe and arm fuze function.
The JASSM-ER, meanwhile, is scheduled to undergo one more captive carriage flight before making its first full free-flight test around mid-year, says Inderhees. The new variant is expected to make up a “large chunk” of the 4,900 missiles Lockheed plans to deliver through 2018, he says. Some 330 JASSMs have so far been delivered to arm the US Air Force’s B-1Bs and F-16s, with its Northrop B-2A and Boeing B-52 bombers next in line to receive the weapon.
Lockheed is also working with the USAF to develop a universal interface that will enable its Boeing F-15s to carry the type, Inderhees says.
n Lockheed has completed windtunnel tests on a proposed maritime interdiction development of the JASSM that it says could enter service around 2010-11 (Flight International, 10-16 January). Expulsion tests have also been conducted to demonstrate the ability to expel the warhead from the front of the stealthy airframe during the terminal phase of flight, after which it will use a rocket engine to impact its target at supersonic speeds. Lockheed is also testing algorithms to show how JASSM’s seeker could engage maritime threats, says Inderhees.
Lockheed eyes IR opportunity
More platforms identified for F-22A, F-35 technologies
Infrared-based sensors now in Lockheed Martin’s laboratory could have broader applications than originally thought, according to business development staff now unveiling alternatives to previously single-mission or single-platform sensors. A missile launch detector (MLD) developed for the US Air Force’s Lockheed F-22A Raptor could also serve as a powerful situational awareness tool, while the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s (JSF) electro-optical targeting system (EOTS) could be of use for stealth bombers and unmanned strike aircraft.
Programme officials are seeking to approach the US military and domestic and international aircraft manufacturers about potential new applications for Lockheed’s EOTS and MLD systems, both of which are starting to emerge in usable form. The first developmental EOTS for the F-35’s system development and demonstration programme will be installed in June on Northrop Grumman’s BAE One-Eleven avionics testbed and is scheduled to fly aboard the JSF for the first time in August 2008. The system will allow an F-35 pilot to passively search for targets in both air-to-air and air-to-ground modes, preserving the platform’s low-observable characteristics while locking on to a target.
In Lockheed’s view, that capability would also be of great utility to other stealthy platforms, such as the USAF’s Northrop B-2 bomber, and for US and international unmanned air vehicle programmes, says Don Bolling, business development manager for JSF EOTS. The B-2 is being upgraded with a Ku-band active electronically scanned array radar, but its emissions will be a source of concern for maintaining the bomber’s stealthy profile. Lockheed plans to brief the concept to USAF officials soon, but has not yet assessed the feasibility of using the B-2’s existing wiring and processors to incorporate the EOTS.
Another technical application with promise concerns infrared (IR) missile detection systems, such as the F-22A’s MLD. Lockheed has relied exclusively on IR-based technology for missile warners, including in its proposal for the USAF’s planned next-generation missile warning system.
The F-22A’s MLD includes six IR cameras positioned around the aircraft to provide full-circle coverage, with the company likening this technology to the F-35’s distributed aperture system. Each camera creates a video image of the surrounding environment, but this is not currently viewable by the Raptor’s pilot. The air force could integrate a new processor to transmit these images to a cockpit or helmet-mounted display, providing the pilot with a 360˚ view of the surrounding environment, says Lockheed.
The US Navy has already stepped forward as a potential early customer, it says, with the service having a requirement to equip its fighters with a directional infrared countermeasures suite that will also provide greater situational awareness. The company also views the US Army’s attack and utility helicopters as potential candidate platforms.
Agni-III ballistic missile ready for launch
Indo-Asian News Service
New Delhi, February 3, 2006
India's most powerful nuclear-capable ballistic missile with a range of about 3,500 km is ready to be launched.
A decision on its first test will have to be taken by the Government, the country's top defence scientist said on Friday.
Referring to the Agni-III missile, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chief M Natarajan said: "We have done all the technical tasks for a project of this nature."
"But when it will be fired, how it will be fired, and where it will be fired is a decision that has to be taken at a higher level," Natarajan said at the Defexpo 2006 arms fair.
Two other versions of the indigenously developed Agni missile - one with a range of 700 km and the other with a range of 2,500 km - have already entered service with the Indian armed forces.
It is believed the DRDO had completed preparations for firing the Agni-III - which is expected to have a range of about 3,500 km - almost a year ago and has been awaiting the green light from the political establishment to test it.
The Agni-III will be capable of carrying a one-tonne conventional or nuclear warhead. It will be propelled by solid fuels, facilitating swifter deployment compared to missiles using a mix of solid and liquid fuels.
DRDO has developed extensive expertise in launching long-range missiles from mobile and railway launchers. This allows the missiles to be scattered all over India before being moved to a launch site by road or rail.
Defence experts said it was unlikely that India would test the missile ahead of US President George W Bush's visit to India next month, in view of the political sensitivities involved with the issue.
The Agni series of ballistic missiles are the most advanced projectiles developed under India's integrated guided missile development programme that began in 1983.
Natarajan, who is also scientific advisor to the defence minister, said: "We wanted to be at a position where technically we can feel confident, and we have reached that."
The DRDO chief also disclosed that his organisation was involved in giving final shape to a low-cost but effective missile defence system.
"It is not possible to give details but progress has been satisfactory with its components," he said.
Certain technologies for the system meant to protect major cities and vital installations from enemy missile attacks had been developed through the indigenous missile programme and DRDO's work on advanced sensors, Natarajan said.
"We have to see how to build on these technologies and once we reach a threshold level, we can conceptualise the missile defence system," he said.
"The Akash missile programme has achieved success and the (missile defence system) will be a multiplication of the capabilities of the Akash."
Iran secretly tests new surface-to-surface missile
Saturday, February 04, 2006 - ©2005 IranMania.com
LONDON, February 4 (IranMania) - Iran secretly tested a new surface-to-surface missile (SSM) on January 17, seeking to establish the measurements needed for long-range missiles, the German daily Die Welt reported in its issue to appear on Saturday.
The test, conducted by members of the Revolutionary Guard led by Yahya Rahim Safavi, was successful, according to Western diplomats cited by the newspaper, which did not indicate the location where the test took place, said AFP.
On January 28, Safavi said that Iran would use its ballistic missiles if it was attacked.
"Iran has a ballistic missile with a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles)," he said on Iranian public television.
"We do not intend to attack any country, but if we are attacked, we are capable of effectively responding. Our position is defensive."
Safavi was referring to the Shahab-3 missiles that Iran possesses which can reach Israel and US bases in the Middle East.