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Electronics & Test

Army's Rocket-Intercept System Hits the Mark

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Beth Stackpole
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Blogger
Another level of protection for the troops
Beth Stackpole   5/22/2012 9:15:35 AM
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This technology seems like it could really save a lot of lives. Heartening to hear that initial tests show it hits its mark. What's the time gap between subsequent rounds of testing and when it can actually hit the battlefield?

naperlou
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Blogger
Going to the next level
naperlou   5/22/2012 9:21:44 AM
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Elizabeth, this is an amazing feat.  I worked on SDI many years ago and we were developing technology like this to intercept ICBMs.  The fact that such small and extensive systems can be developed to protect from things like artillery shells is truly taking that technology to the next level. 

Come to think of it, if we can do this, maybe SDI is not such a stretch after all.

gsmith120
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Platinum
Rockets Systems Technology
gsmith120   5/22/2012 7:45:36 PM
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Elizabeth I really enjoyed this story.  I designed parts of the fuze portion of the Patriot missile.  This is some good technology and so many advancements are continuing to be made and discovered.

Charles Murray
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Blogger
Re: Going to the next level
Charles Murray   5/22/2012 8:12:57 PM
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SDI was the first thing that I thought of, too, Naperlou. Obviously, there are differences in the types and altitudes of the targets, but the basic concept seems to be there.

Greg M. Jung
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Platinum
Yesterday's Dreams...Today's Reality
Greg M. Jung   5/22/2012 9:46:52 PM
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I also remember how people scoffed at SDI when it was first proposed.  Amazing how small the rockets are (like a Patriot missle in the palm of your hand).

On a side note, I wonder if the radar tracking system could be fooled by any chafe ejected by the incoming object.

TJ McDermott
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Blogger
What do these three things have in common?
TJ McDermott   5/23/2012 3:18:19 AM
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1999 - Mars Climate Orbiter lost because of a metric / US units mixup.

2003 - NOAA N-Prime weathe satellite dropped because one team borrowed retaining bolts without telling the other.

2011 - F22 Raptor pilots losing consciousness due to an as yet repaired oxygen generator problem.

What do these three things have in common?

Lockheed Martin and its culture of lack of procedural discipline.  The first two incidents should NEVER have occurred.  It will be interesting to learn what is really wrong with the F22 oxygen generators.

The company has a history that they can't seem to shake, and it costs taxpayers.  I want this rocket intercept system to work; it's a bloody good concept.  But I don't want design bugs fixed when the Army purchases the next upgrade.

"Bloody typical. They've gone back to metric without telling us."  I think of this quote from Bob Hoskins' character from the 1985 movie Brazil every time I see Lockeed Martin in a headline now.  They've earned it.

BRedmond
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Silver
Hitting Targets
BRedmond   5/23/2012 9:25:13 AM
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The headline and lead paragraph are somewhat misleading.  The rest of the article explains that the targets hit so far are theoretical and programmatic.  They haven't actually launched any ordnance yet.  SDI is pretty old school by now but I'm sure that looked good in simulation too.  The proof comes when you have an actual missile in the air and the system shoots it down.  Somebody else said that we're talking smaller distances but we're also talking about smaller targets and maybe higher speeds.

Watashi
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Platinum
Re: Yesterday's Dreams...Today's Reality
Watashi   5/23/2012 9:48:25 AM
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Artillery ammunition isn't currently that sophisticated.  It is unlikely that an adversary would waste time trying on-projectile counter measures as any additional payload would require a reduction in warhead size. Ultimately an arms race in this niche would result in expensive artillery rounds that were less effective than they were originally - a win-win for us!

GlennA
User Rank
Gold
Re: Hitting Targets = wishful thinking ?
GlennA   5/23/2012 9:57:50 AM
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Yes, if you read the article it has only been successful as a simulation.  Until real-life targets and real-life countermeasures work it is still pie-in-the-sky.  And collateral damage has to be zero = no non-targets destroyed.  It's too early for the posted enthusiasm.

Watashi
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Hitting Targets
Watashi   5/23/2012 10:06:21 AM
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Closing speed in this application is an order of magnitude less than BMD (the current progeny of SDI), and BMD has proven fairly successful.

Current systems like the CIWS can detect, track, and intercept artillery rounds with unguided 20mm DU or tungsten rounds.  Although it shoots 3000 rnds/min to accomplish the task, this new system uses a guided interceptor to reduce the amount of ammo expended for defense.

Lock Mart has had some issues in other areas in the past, but also a long line of successes in the missile realm (PAC-3, THAAD, ATACMS, GMLRS, Hellfire...).  Although it is ballistically launched, a guided weapon is a guided weapon.

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