The advancement of hypersonic weapons forced to the foreground

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OCTOBER 28, 2021 – The trip from Los Angeles to New York by passenger jet takes just over five hours. Hypersonic flight at Mach 20 less than 10 minutes.

High speed exploits like this are not theoretical propositions. This is because NASA and space programs in other countries reach these speeds with every spacecraft that reaches Earth orbit. However, Russia is developing new missiles capable of reaching speeds of 6,000 mph or more, and China claimed in 2019 to have operational hypersonic glide vehicles with similar capabilities.

In 2020, the Department of Defense (DoD) listed hypersonic weapons and counter-hypersonic capabilities among its top technology modernization priorities, and the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren (NSWCDD) division is on an accelerated path to developing technologies. offensive and defensive hypersonics for use by the fighter.

Dahlgren is no stranger to hypersonic technologies and has a long reputation for excellence in supporting similar projects that “apply directly to the development of naval hypersonic weapons,” according to the assessment of Craig Phillips, an engineer. aerosciences of the NSWCDD who worked on these programs. In a post-war project inspired by captured German technologies, Dahlgren conducted a historical investigation and feasibility study of hyperspeed guns to defend against future supersonic bombers and guided missiles. They explored concepts that included rocket-assisted sabots and projectiles as well as electromagnetic cannons. In 1950, Dahlgren developed the first six-degree-of-freedom trajectory simulation, a breakthrough that enabled the successful development and deployment of guided ballistic missiles. Early efforts included performing trajectory and guidance analyzes of the Jupiter hypersonic missile for the Army Ballistic Missile Agency in 1954-55.

Over the following decades, Dahlgren developed the computer programs used to target, prepare, and launch hypersonic ballistic missiles launched from Navy submarines. Additionally, Dahlgren developed the Polaris preset process and solved the Poseidon missile guidance issues. In the early 1970s, Dahlgren designed a ramjet launched by an 8-inch cannon that could reach a near hypersonic speed of Mach 4. In recent years, Dahlgren has modeled, designed, prototyped and piloted the Navy’s hyperspeed projectile, which is a guided shell capable of reaching hypersonic speeds when launched from high speed cannons. In the 1990s, Dahlgren brought his expertise in materials, design and systems engineering to support precise demonstration flight of the Light Exoatmospheric Projectile (LEAP). In addition, subsequent research related to the Navy’s theater-wide AEGIS LEAP interception and large-scale ballistic missile defense programs resolved issues related to the transition of control, successful staging at large speed under a range of dynamic pressures and aerothermal loads, as well as naval guidance and control. first stage of exoatmospheric missile with thrust vector and attitude control.

Since 2016, the NSWCDD has conducted integrated air and missile defense analyzes focusing on hypersonic missiles. The analysis has ranged from medium-term single-vessel studies to long-term force-level analyzes that identify capability gaps and possible solutions available through scientific and technological efforts. Recently, Dahlgren’s efforts have broadened to include key roles in the development of offensive and defensive hypersonic missile systems.

NSWCDD Strategic Plan for 2021-2025 Puts Advancement of Hypersonic Weapons at the Forefront with the Purpose of Establishing Dahlgren as the Surface Navy’s Leader for the Integration of Offensive and Defensive Hypersonic Weapons Systems . The United States faces fierce competition with its adversaries to develop offensive hypersonic weapons and the countermeasures to defeat them.

The surge in hypersonic technology will foster and develop a sustained workforce of hypersonic technology. “We come to work every day to find ways to put new capabilities in the hands of our fighters,” said Adam Jones, leader of the Advanced Hypersonic and Guided Munitions Division of the NSWCDD. “Offensive and defensive hypersonic weapons will give our Navy the advantage it needs to maintain its naval superiority against our adversaries.”

Dahlgren’s hypersonic activities have led staff to collaborate with other DoD agencies, industry leaders, and academic experts through the Naval Surface Technology and Innovation Consortium and the Navy Engineering Education Consortium. “The NSWCDD has over six decades of expertise in the development, testing and evaluation of advanced materials for systems operating in extreme thermal and ablative environments, as is the case with hypersonic and re-entry vehicles,” it’s in our DNA, ”said Dr Pearl Rayms. -Keller, Chief Scientist, Department of Strategic and Informatics Systems, NSWCDD. “Leveraging the expertise of our private sector collaborators to maximize our skills and capabilities and expand our investment funds is a must. Rayms-Keller added that “we are entering into collaboration and research agreements with key partners such as the Johns Hopkins University Extreme Materials Institute and the 3D Printing Systems and Atomization Johnson & Johnson Center at the University of Miami.”

Recent internal investments at Dahlgren totaled more than $ 4 million in 22 hypersonic Naval Innovative Scientific Engineering (NISE) projects.

“These investments have allowed us to advance the hypersonic capabilities of the Navy, accelerate the transition to the fleet and train our workforce to maintain the cutting edge of technology in this critical area,” said Jennifer Clift. , Chief Technology Officer of NSWCDD. These NISE projects include the development of advanced materials enabling hypersonic flight, aeroscience modeling and simulation, engagement analysis to close the fire control loop, advances in hypersonic testing and evaluation, and control. weapons, and threat analysis. Steve Malyevac, the Navy’s Distinguished Scientist for Surface Engagement, said, “Dahlgren began modeling engagement and mission-level modeling of hypersonic vehicle trajectories using tools at the mission level. system to ensure the usefulness of these new weapons in combat.

Dahlgren applies his in-depth knowledge of advanced gun systems, guided projectiles and telemetry to support hypersonic research and development. For example, scientists and engineers are developing advanced guidance and control for future hypersonic systems. The NSWCDD recently conducted the first of several planned tests by launching a conical projectile, dubbed Hypercone, to collect aerodynamic and aerothermal data relevant to hypersonic flight conditions. Dahlgren also put a lot of effort into accurately modeling the flow around a hypersonic vehicle. Recently, Dahlgren’s hypersonic efforts have expanded to include roles in offensive accelerated-slip missile weapon development and other collaborative efforts across the DoD.

Dahlgren brings specialized modeling, simulation and ground testing capabilities to assess the lethality and effectiveness of weapon systems used in hypersonic engagements. Additionally, the sheer size of the hypersonic defensive design solution space has led to an integrated system-of-systems-level modeling and simulation toolkit that enables rapid exploration of design space and minimizes area. requiring intensive and detailed analysis. “The toolkit enables high-level assessment of an interceptor’s design space much faster than industry standard,” said Blake Van Winkle, Dahlgren engineer.

These initiatives support the DoD’s goal of providing the nation with reliable, efficient, and scalable hypersonic solutions to a range of existing weapon platforms. “We are building a family of conventionally armed air, land and sea hypersonic strike weapons,” Pentagon senior director for hypersonics, Michael E. White, said in a recent DoD News report. “These weapons will be designed to defeat critical coastal and inland maritime targets on a timescale relevant to the tactical battlefield.”

“Dahlgren has a well-established history of hypersonic work,” said Mike Libeau, chief hypersonic technology engineer at NSWCDD. “We are working on the challenges of integrating hypersonic flight and weapon systems, and we will lead the development and commissioning of naval defensive and offensive hypersonic systems to keep our Navy the best in the world.”

Inquiries about hypersonic efforts at NSWCDD can be directed to [email protected]

NSWCDD Public Affairs


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