Automated Warhead Characterization
Navy SBIR 2014.1 - Topic N141-007
NAVAIR - Ms. Donna Moore - [email protected]
Opens: Dec 20, 2013 - Closes: Jan 22, 2014

N141-007 TITLE: Automated Warhead Characterization

TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Air Platform, Ground/Sea Vehicles, Weapons


RESTRICTION ON PERFORMANCE BY FOREIGN CITIZENS (i.e., those holding non-U.S. Passports): This topic is "ITAR Restricted". The information and materials provided pursuant to or resulting from this topic are restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120 - 130, which control the export of defense-related material and services, including the export of sensitive technical data. Foreign Citizens may perform work under an award resulting from this topic only if they hold the "Permanent Resident Card", or are designated as "Protected Individuals" as defined by 8 U.S.C. 1324b(a)(3). If a proposal for this topic contains participation by a foreign citizen who is not in one of the above two categories, the proposal will be rejected.

OBJECTIVE: Develop an innovative and efficient low-cost means of measuring full-hemisphere, open-air, warhead fragment mass, geometry, and velocity information during munitions explosions.

DESCRIPTION: The present method of warhead characterization is costly, labor intensive, and produces only a piece of the required data. A warhead is placed in the center of an arena test bed consisting of blast-pressure gages and fragment catch bundles. Fragment catch bundles (composed of fiber materials, e.g. Celotex) are placed just above ground level and arc around the warhead at a large radius. While this large radius ensures bundle survival during blast-pressure impingement, bundles occupy only a small slice of the hemisphere. As such, only a fraction of the fragments are captured for inclusion in the subsequent warhead characterization analysis. Weeks of tedious and error-prone labor are necessary to locate, recover, weigh, and describe the geometry of each fragment entering the bundles. Many small fragments are not recovered and few if any individual fragments are mapped to their specific velocities. In order to complete the dataset for user consumption, analysts subject raw warhead test data to a series of assumptions including averaging and rotations to produce an approximation of the true warhead�s fragment mass and velocity field. Individual fragment masses or geometries remain uncoupled from their velocities and many of the smaller fragments are not included in the data collection.

All warhead characterizations and data reduction methods are conservatively-skewed to help ensure target kills. As such, true munitions lethalities are higher than their arena test scores. The differential presents a problem when accounting for collateral effects. Munitions must be selected to destroy a target and do no additional harm. Corrective measures, such as re-characterizing munitions are prohibitively time consuming, expensive, and potentially technically problematic.

An innovative combined sensor and software technology is needed whereby sensors can assess object movement within large hemispherical volumes (15 to 300 feet in diameter) at sufficient resolution to detect solid-masses (0.5 gram to 100 kilogram) traveling at high-velocities (5 to 9000 feet per second) with particles (numbering up to 30,000) originating near the center of the hemispherical test space and moving within that volume. The interrogation system must be suitable for open-air outdoor testing and sufficiently robust to handle blast overpressures ranging from 1,000 pound-force per square inch (psi) near the center of the hemispherical test space to 1 psi near the fringes. The proposed interrogation system must be insensitive to blast-flash obscuration, capable of mapping individual fragment masses to their respective velocities, and capable of estimating each fragment�s geometry. If the system lies within the lethal radius of the warhead, the system must be able to reliably operate in a high-shock environment. Proposed research and development (R&D) solutions are allowed complete flexibility with respect to sensor interrogation methods and data processing/archival methods. The focus is on developing a suitable and efficient interrogation system. The measurement method should be capable of characterizing warhead fragmentation over a full-hemisphere.

PHASE I: Develop and demonstrate feasibility of an interrogation method to complete warhead characterization.

PHASE II: Further develop the concept from Phase I and perform bench level testing to prove the concept worthy of full-scale pursuit.

PHASE III: Finalize testing and transition the technology to the appropriate platforms.

PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: Commercial applications involve tracking and identifying micro- and macro-devices and objects in real time. Various entities could benefit from the technologies developed through this SBIR including the Motion Picture Industry, Chemical Manufacturing, the Oil and Gas Industry or any other organization that utilizes high pressure vessels and is concerned about accurate characterization of flying debris or fragments from industrial accidents.

1. Battaglia, J., Brubaker, R., Ettenberg, M., & Malchow, D. (2007). High Speed Short Wave Infrared (SWIR) Imaging and Range Gating Cameras. Proc. SPIE, 6541, Thermosense XXIX, 654106. doi:10.1117/12.721747

2. Angel, J. (2009). Methodology for Dynamic Characterization of Fragmenting Warheads (ARL-SR-179).

KEYWORDS: munitions, warhead characterization, fragments, automated system, velocity mapping, tracking of flying debris

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