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Some Advanced Air Force Research Projects

The following narratives are intended to provide an abbreviated description of the twelve prospective research areas mentioned in the ABSTRACT. These descriptions are not meant to be exhaustive, but rather to challenge the reader to create and submit truly creative proposals that have the potential to dramatically shift existing air delivered munition paradigms. Further, these twelve topics are not intended as an all-inclusive list. There are many other areas that may provide a fertile field for revolutionizing future Air Force weapons. However, any submitted white paper or proposal must be grounded in achievable technology goals. Proposals requiring yet-to-be be discovered/developed technologies are discouraged.


The goal of this work is to develop a means to allow the user to be able to precisely find and identify any target, no matter how well it is obscured, buried, camouflaged, or hidden. This may require more than one sensing technology. This technology may be integrated into discrete munitions, or it may be incorporated within other platforms. The purpose of this research is to make a future battle space more transparent to air delivered munitions so that targets will be easier to locate. Mr. David Gray AFRL/MNGI (850) 882-3910, ext. 2373 gray@eglin.af.mil


The goal of this work is to develop warheads that are more flexible with regard to the targets they can destroy. One of the main constituents of a warhead is the explosive. Explosives may vary with energy release per unit weight and with ignition sensitivity. Ideally, an explosive should remain insensitive to ignition until it is properly fuzed. After ignition it should be able to provide the equivalent energy of other more sensitive (volatile), high-energy explosives. The purpose of this research is to develop an explosive that has high energetics along with characteristics that prevent inadvertent ignition. Binary explosives that, when separated, can be stored as non-explosives are also of interest. Flexible or innovative use of energy stored within the warhead (DC voltage or high explosive) is also of interest. Further, a propulsion unit that may double as a general-purpose warhead is also of interest. Dr. Alex Cash AFRL/MNMI (850) 882-0391 cash@eglin.af.mil


It is MN's belief that the traditional "stove pipe" approaches of the past will not facilitate the leap forward in technology required in future conflicts. Intelligent weapon systems need to become highly integrated, both at the component and system level, to afford the capability and autonomy required of future tactical weapons. We define integration here as the interaction and interconnection of functions or components in a system, whereby the effectiveness of the system is enhanced by the combining, complementing, and sharing of the various functions of the system. It is the overarching goal of this research to develop new and novel ways to enhance weapon system effectiveness through higher levels of guidance, navigation, control, and estimation integration, from the sub-system component level all the way up to the operation level. One example of this is the loosely coupled, tightly coupled, ultra-tightly coupled evolution of GPS/INS systems for tactical weapon navigation. Dr. Rob Murphey AFRL/MNGN (850) 882-2961, ext. 3453 murphey@eglin.af.mil


The goal of this work is to develop means or methods to efficiently impart increased velocity and maneuverability to air delivered munitions. This capability can manifest itself as translational speed or as an enhanced ability to change direction. Many traditional approaches such as integrated jets or rocket motors have drawbacks, not the least of which are added cost and weight. There may be innovative ways to construct the jets and rocket motors so they are less expensive and lighter in weight. Or, there may be other methods to increase munition speed. Innovative ways to increase maneuverability other than conventional fins or reaction jets may also exist. Methods may be developed which increase a munition's velocity somewhat less than that associated with a rocket or jet motor. But these methods may cost far less than those motors and thereby be practical for greater employment. The purpose of this study is to develop an inexpensive, lightweight means to impart greater velocity to direct attack munitions. Dr. Michael Valentino AFRL/MNAV (850) 882-2220, ext. 3331 valentin@eglin.af.mil


The goal of this work is to develop methods and means to increase the combat radius of a munition after it has been released from the parent aircraft. Traditionally, this has been accomplished by the incorporation of some type of rocket or jet motor. Alternately, the integration of some high lift/low drag wing has also been used. Both methods have disadvantages. The rocket and jet motor are expensive and add significant weight to the munition. Conventional, fold out wings may also be expensive and cumbersome. In addition, time to target increases linearly with standoff making mobile targets more difficult to engage. Innovative advances in jet or rocket motor technology could make them lighter in weight and less expensive. There may be ways to generate airframe lift by novel means that are less bulky and less expensive than current methods. Reducing drag of the vehicle could also affect range. The purpose of this study is to develop innovative methods to efficiently and inexpensively increase munition stand off distance. Dr. Mike Valentino AFRL/MNAV (850) 882-2220, ext. 3331 valentin@eglin.af.mil


The goal of this work is to develop manufacturing technologies, design technologies, materials, assembly methods, assemblies, or subassemblies which individually or combined, reduce the number of component parts that comprise an existing or possible future munition. The assumption is made that fewer parts translates into a finished product that may be less expensive to build, lighter in weight, more resistant to malfunction, and easier or quicker to maintain or repair. Also, a parallel goal of this work is to reduce the size of the munition's component parts. This contribution to overall size reduction would have inestimable value in both aircraft combat loadout and with regard to logistics. The purpose of this effort is to develop innovative methods to reduce a munition's component parts (both in numbers and size) while lowering its production cost and increasing its mission?ready rate and combat effectiveness. Mr. Charles Cottrell AFRL/MNAV (850) 882-2220, ext. 3472 cottrell@eglin.af.mil


The goal of this work is to develop an efficient, secure means to share real time data among individual munitions, parent aircraft, surveillance assets (airborne or space borne), and command facilities (airborne or ground based). This information may include such things as suspected target location, threat location, friendly force location, asset assignment, and possibly post strike battle damage assessment. The purpose of this information networking is to more efficiently coordinate scarce combat resources to successfully conduct a military campaign. Dr. Rob Murphey AFRL/MNGN (850) 882-2961, ext. 3453 murphey@eglin.af.mil

MUNITION KNOWLEDGE (ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE) The goal of this work is to develop an artificial intelligence based "knowledge" that may be applicable to munitions including submunitions. This artificial intelligence may be applicable to self-diagnostic maintenance, to optimal target selection, to a mid-strike analysis by remaining submunitions, real-time for path planning, or any other method which could enhance individual weapon or coordinated sortie effectiveness. A munition that could modify its attack profile just prior to target engagement in order to optimize its impact effectiveness would represent an important advance. A munition which could adapt its ingress path to the target to increase the number of targets and the probabilities of these detections and classifications, while simultaneously avoiding threats and jamming would also represent an important advance. The purpose of this study is to develop a munition based artificial intelligence capability, which would enhance dependability and efficiency. Mr. David Gray AFRL/MNGI (850) 882-3910, ext. 2373 gray@eglin.af.mil


The goal of this work is to develop damage mechanisms that destroy or seriously degrade a target without resorting solely to blast, fragments, or high-speed projectile impact. Advances in several scientific fields may offer suitable avenues for development. The combining of one or more unconventional damage mechanisms along with conventional blast, fragmentation, and/or projectile impact mechanisms may prove to be appropriate for optimizing a future munition's effectiveness. The purpose of this study is to develop unconventional damage mechanisms, which may be used independently or in concert with existing mechanisms to enhance munition effectiveness. Dr. Alex Cash AFRL/MNMI (850) 882-0391 cash@eglin.af.mil


The goal of this work is to develop non-lethal technologies that are compatible or potentially compatible with existing or future air delivered munitions and are likely to be effective in situations where deadly force is not the best solution. These non-lethal technologies can be used for facility denial purposes and/or for degrading the combat effectiveness of enemy vehicles and dismounted personnel. Particular emphasis shall be placed on two areas: hard and deeply buried facility denial and usefulness in an urban environment against hidden or barricaded combatants. It is understood that future air delivered weapons which employ non-lethal munitions may have to be deployed from unconventional platforms such as cargo planes and helicopters, though deployment from existing attack aircraft is preferred. The purpose of this study is to develop a capability in this area for the Air Force. Mr. Charles Cottrell AFRL/MNAV (850) 882-2220, ext. 3472 cottrell@eglin.af.mil


The goal of this work is to develop low cost, innovative methods to quickly determine the affect an air-delivered munition has had on its intended target. This is especially important with regard to deeply buried targets where post-attack visual cues may be difficult to perceive. An onboard munition data link may be appropriate for obtaining an indication of damage to this type of target. Such a data link might be dependent on a trailing wire, or it might be completely wireless. Conversely, the battle damage indicator might be totally independent of the penetrating munition. The purpose of this study is to develop a low cost, efficient, and reliable means to quickly provide the warfighter an accurate determination, or at least a reliable estimate, of the damage inflicted on a target - particularly a hardened and/or deeply buried one. Dr. Alex Cash AFRL/MNMI (850) 882-0391 cash@eglin.af.mil


One of the goals of the Munitions Directorate is to develop "Green Munitions" concepts. These concepts would result in weapons that would not cause pervasive adverse environmental effects and would use environmentally friendly manufacturing materials and techniques. The objective of this work is to develop processes, materials, recycling, or disposal methods that would minimize the amount and hazardous nature of pollutants in munitions concepts. Concepts could span a wide range of topics from the development of composites with non-hazardous constituents, devices to detect underground unexploded ordnance, to recycling materials such as coolants and metal alloys. Revolutionary proposals, for example, would be those that reduced the need for hazardous materials, recycled hazardous by-products, or reduced operational costs by using recyclable components. Dr. Alex Cash AFRL/MNMI (850) 882-0391 cash@eglin.af.mil


The Directorate wishes to emphasize innovative research that may support the following four topics. These topics are of particular interest in that several synergistic revolutionary guidance and ordnance technologies may be combined to lend support. Perhaps two or more of the twelve prospective research areas listed above could be combined in some fashion.


The modern Air Force runs on energy. The service has been using various forms of chemical energy to accomplish its objectives for the 50 plus years of its existence. Recent advances in physics are opening the door to a new realm of energy usage based on the famous E = mc2 relationship. Mass conversion to energy provides the densest source of energy known. Exploration of the possibilities of applying this source of energy storage to solving the Air Forces' problems is important and primary to accomplishing future goals. Whether in the form of antimatter research (positron production, containment and conversion) or in the area of advanced energetics, new, innovative, and efficient sources of energy are a must for future war fighting. Mr. Ken Edwards AFRL/MNAV (850) 882-8876, ext. 3387 kenneth.edwards@eglin.af.mil


The goal of this work is to develop technologies to support a "micro-bot" system that can, depending on its payload and operational requirements, act as means of attacking, tagging, tracking, and/or observing enemy operations. The technology developments required to realize the micro-platform concept include advancements in sensors, micro-fabrication, micro-power, munitions, and communications. The goal is to develop a micro-scaled device capable of satisfying three basic functional requirements regardless of operational function: (1) mobility ? the ability to move about autonomously or in coordination, (2) navigation - the ability to determine the appropriate direction of motion, and (3) payload delivery - the ability to autonomously, or in coordination, deliver its payload dependent upon its mission. The purpose of this effort is to develop a micro-scaled platform capable of efficiently acting as a means of observing, tracking, tagging, and/or attacking mission targets. Ms Carrie Fowler AFRL/MNAV (850) 882-8876, ext. 3383 carrie.fowler@eglin.af.mil 3. COOPERATIVE ATTACK The goal of this work is to develop a means whereby discrete weapons or submunitions can coordinate their attack. The Directorate expects that many future weapons will be equipped with autonomous target acquisition (ATA) algorithms. However, even with ATA, each munition selects a target based solely upon its own information. The result is that many targets are completely missed, while more munitions than necessary to achieve a kill attack the highly visible targets. The major objective of this research is to develop the technologies that will enable a group of autonomous munitions to communicate, cooperate, and adapt to battlefield dynamics such that the search and attack strategies are optimal. Dr. Rob Murphey AFRL/MNGN (850) 882-2961, ext. 3453 murphey@eglin.af.mil


The Air Force is increasingly interested in servicing targets that are located underground and are often deeply buried. Traditionally, these targets have been attacked with large, heavy-cased gravity bombs. However, future weapon systems may be somewhat smaller in size and may be able to intelligently maneuver from the surface to a specific underground location. A few of the issues that must be addressed include the means of underground navigation, the method of locomotion, the locomotive energy source, and the types of onboard payloads. Further, subterranean platforms may possibly be used as a means to accurately and surreptitiously place sensors that may monitor a given location.