US20120068000A1 - Interception system that employs miniature kill vehicles - Google Patents

Interception system that employs miniature kill vehicles Download PDF

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Publication number
US20120068000A1
US20120068000A1 US12614695 US61469509A US20120068000A1 US 20120068000 A1 US20120068000 A1 US 20120068000A1 US 12614695 US12614695 US 12614695 US 61469509 A US61469509 A US 61469509A US 20120068000 A1 US20120068000 A1 US 20120068000A1
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Prior art keywords
interceptor
missile
system
certain
mkv
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US12614695
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Galya Goldner
Joseph Hasson
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Israel Aerospace Ind Ltd
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Israel Aerospace Ind Ltd
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    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F42AMMUNITION; BLASTING
    • F42BEXPLOSIVE CHARGES, e.g. FOR BLASTING, FIREWORKS, AMMUNITION
    • F42B12/00Projectiles, missiles or mines characterised by the warhead, the intended effect, or the material
    • F42B12/02Projectiles, missiles or mines characterised by the warhead, the intended effect, or the material characterised by the warhead or the intended effect
    • F42B12/36Projectiles, missiles or mines characterised by the warhead, the intended effect, or the material characterised by the warhead or the intended effect for dispensing materials; for producing chemical or physical reaction; for signalling ; for transmitting information
    • F42B12/56Projectiles, missiles or mines characterised by the warhead, the intended effect, or the material characterised by the warhead or the intended effect for dispensing materials; for producing chemical or physical reaction; for signalling ; for transmitting information for dispensing discrete solid bodies
    • F42B12/58Cluster or cargo ammunition, i.e. projectiles containing one or more submissiles
    • F42B12/62Cluster or cargo ammunition, i.e. projectiles containing one or more submissiles the submissiles being ejected parallel to the longitudinal axis of the projectile
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F41WEAPONS
    • F41HARMOUR; ARMOURED TURRETS; ARMOURED OR ARMED VEHICLES; MEANS OF ATTACK OR DEFENCE, e.g. CAMOUFLAGE, IN GENERAL
    • F41H11/00Defence installations; Defence devices
    • F41H11/02Anti-aircraft or anti-guided missile or anti-torpedo defence installations or systems
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F42AMMUNITION; BLASTING
    • F42BEXPLOSIVE CHARGES, e.g. FOR BLASTING, FIREWORKS, AMMUNITION
    • F42B15/00Self-propelled projectiles or missiles, e.g. rockets; Guided missiles
    • F42B15/01Arrangements thereon for guidance or control

Abstract

There is provided an interception system that employs miniature kill vehicles. According to certain embodiments of the invention, a small kill-vehicle (KV) accommodated within an interceptor missile together with additional at least one KV, each KV is equipped with an image acquisition sensor operable in the visible or near IR range, and adapted to be launched from the interceptor missile during exo-atmospheric flight and utilizing said sensor for tracking and homing at least one Re-entry Vehicle (RV) of a Ballistic Missile (BM).

Description

    FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • [0001]
    This invention relates to a method and system for employing multiple kill vehicles (KV) designated to kill multiple Re-entry Vehicles (RVs) that are launched simultaneously towards a friendly territory.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0002]
    Ground to ground ballistic missiles (BM) have become an efficient weapon which can cause significant damage to military and civilian infra-structures, and thereby they serve as a strategic tool in favor of states which attack their enemies (either offensively or defensively as a result of an attack originated by the enemy). In light of this ever increasing threat, an anti missile technology has been developed, such as the “Arrow” anti-missile technology (deployed and used by the Israel Defense Forces) and others. The Arrow system is capable of tracking the oncoming ground to ground BMs and launch, e.g. from a protected territory, an interceptor missile which flies along a flight trajectory which substantially intercepts that of the oncoming threat. The interceptor missile approaches the oncoming target (at a safe distance from the protected territory) and destroys it by using hit to kill mechanism or by activating an appropriate kill warhead which destroys at least the active warhead of the threat and reduces dramatically the damage to the protected territory.
  • [0003]
    Modern GTG may consist of multiple Re-entry Vehicles and include undistinguishable decoys. Note that the interceptor missile is in some cases unable to distinguish between real Re-entry Vehicle and decoy and accordingly any potential threat is classified as a real threat that needs to be destroyed, regardless of whether is it a true warhead or only a decoy.
  • [0004]
    A Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system may use Multiple Kill Vehicles (KV) to encounter these threats. Present Kill Vehicles (KV) are quite large, complicated and thus expensive. Modern KVs usually use an IR imaging electro optical sensor having a large aperture and cooled focal plane array. These sensors are quite large and expensive. High resolution is very important in these sensors, mainly for the final lethality maneuver performed close to hitting the target in order to hit the point in the target that will ensure maximum lethality. The high closing velocities between the interceptor and the target require accurate determination of the target's “sweet spot” (i.e. the point of impact in the target which will destroy the warhead(s) of the target). The multiple threats may be encountered by employing a plurality of interceptor missiles each designated to destroy a distinct threat.
  • [0005]
    An interceptor missile (having limited physical dimensions) needs to accommodate a plurality of Miniature Kill Vehicles (MKV) (designated to be launched towards multiple targets). This constraint prescribes that the size of each MKV would be relatively small (therefore designating the KV as Miniature KV). Due to the small size of each MKV, the aperture d of the IR imaging sensor fitted thereon cannot be large. Considering also that in the operational infra-red range the appropriate wavelength λ is relatively large (i.e. above 3 microns or in specific embodiments 3-5 or 8-12 microns) it readily arises that the diffraction factor (proportional to λ/d) is relatively large, giving rise to degraded resolution. Considering the small size of the MKV, the hitting point should be very close to the “sweet spot”, and this requires high resolution and accuracy of the aiming point measurement. The specified degraded resolution may result in missing the sweet spot thereby reducing the prospect of successful kill. In addition, the degraded resolution may lead to an undesired result of failing to identify that the “target” that the MKV tracks is in fact two (or more) real targets (since due to the degraded resolution the MKV cannot distinguish between the two) and therefore even if it succeeds in hitting one of the targets the other or others (non distinguishable) targets could leak and hit the friendly territory leading to dire consequences.
  • [0006]
    There is thus a need in the art to provide for an MKV with improved resolution which will increase the likelihood of destroying all imminent RVs (either warheads or decoys) that are launched simultaneously towards friendly territory.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0007]
    According to certain embodiments of the invention, the sensors that are employed in a Miniature Kill Vehicle (MKV) are in the visible or near IR spectrum instead of the IR part thus significantly improving the resolution for a given aperture by an order of magnitude. Visible or near IR sensors are also much smaller than the IR ones, they provide high resolution with a small aperture and they do not need cooled focal plane arrays. All this reduces the weight and cost of the sensor dramatically and it releases the requirements imposed on the divert system time constants allowing the MKV to maneuver more efficiently. Since the targets do not emit enough energy in the visible or near IR part of the spectrum, some illumination device should be added to the system.
  • [0008]
    In accordance with certain embodiments, the interceptor employs an illuminator system. Unlike each of the MKVs, the interceptor missile can carry relatively heavy sub-systems, and one of them will be an illuminating system. In accordance with certain embodiments, the illumination system includes a laser in the visible or near-IR range to supply high enough resolution for small-aperture detectors of the multiple MKVs. Relatively simple low-weight sensors measuring the signal reflected by the target allows homing and end-game of MKVs. In accordance with certain embodiments, the illumination will be switched between targets (one or more Re-entry Vehicle(s) [RV] associated with the Ballistic Missile), according to a predefined interception plan for each MKV.
  • [0009]
    In accordance with an aspect of the invention there is provided a small kill-vehicle (KV) accommodated within an interceptor missile together with additional at least one KV, each KV is equipped with an image acquisition sensor operable in the visible or near IR range, and adapted to be launched from the interceptor missile during exo-atmospheric flight and utilizing said sensor for tracking and homing at least one Re-entry Vehicle (RV) of a Ballistic Missile (BM).
  • [0010]
    In accordance with a certain embodiment of the invention there is provided a KV, wherein said tracking is performed in an autonomous manner.
  • [0011]
    In accordance with a certain embodiment of the invention there is further provided a KV, equipped with a gyro system to perform the tracking and homing.
  • [0012]
    In accordance with a certain embodiment of the invention there is provided a KV, further being equipped with accelerometers to calculate its self position.
  • [0013]
    In accordance with a certain aspect of the invention there is provided an interceptor missile for exo-atmospheric interception of a at least one Re-entry Vehicle (RV) of a Ballistic missile (BM), comprising: a plurality of small kill-vehicle (KVs) accommodated within the interceptor missile, each KV being equipped with a built-in image acquisition sensor operable in the visible or near IR range, the interceptor missile including:
      • sensor operable in the infra-red range;
      • illuminator operating in the visible or near IR range,
      • control coupled to said image acquisition means and illuminator;
      • said sensor is capable of sensing the RV and in response said control is configured to command said illuminator to illuminate the RV;
      • said control is further configured to comply with a mission plan and issue a command for launching at least one of said KVs that is configured to track and home the RV utilizing its built in sensor operating in the visible or near IR range.
  • [0019]
    In accordance with a certain embodiment of the invention there is provided an interceptor missile, wherein the interceptor sensor is operable in the wavelength range of 3-5 microns.
  • [0020]
    In accordance with a certain embodiment of the invention there is provided an interceptor missile, wherein the interceptor sensor is operable in the wavelength range of 8-12 microns.
  • [0021]
    In accordance with a certain embodiment of the invention there is provided an interceptor, wherein said illuminator being a laser designator.
  • [0022]
    In accordance with a certain embodiment of the invention there is further provided an interceptor missile, wherein said sensor is configured to sense at least two RVs of a Ballistic missile (BM), and in response said control is configured to command said illuminator to illuminate the RV;
      • said control is further configured to trigger a command for launching at least two of said KVs, such that each launched KV is configured to track and home the RV utilizing its built in sensor operating in the visible or near IR range.
  • [0024]
    In accordance with a certain embodiment of the invention there is still further provided an interceptor missile, wherein said control is configured to command said illuminator to switch illumination between at least two RVs that were separated from said BM.
  • [0025]
    In accordance with a certain embodiment of the invention there is yet further provided an interceptor missile, wherein said illuminator includes fast illumination beam direction system for fast switching of illuminations between RVs that were separated from said BM.
  • [0026]
    In accordance with a certain embodiment of the invention there is yet further provided an interceptor missile, wherein said illumination is modulated allowing said control to calculate range to the RV.
  • [0027]
    In accordance with a certain embodiment of the invention there is yet further provided an interceptor missile, wherein said illumination is unmodulated.
  • [0028]
    In accordance with a certain embodiment of the invention there is yet further provided an interceptor missile, further comprising communication means for receiving initial location of each RV in a cluster of RVs.
  • [0029]
    In accordance with a certain embodiment of the invention there is yet further provided an interceptor missile, wherein said control is further configured to divert the interceptor towards the center of the cluster.
  • [0030]
    In accordance with a certain embodiment of the invention there is yet further provided an interceptor, wherein the control is configured to trigger a command for launching a KV with or without an initial velocity towards a designated RV.
  • [0031]
    In accordance with a certain embodiment of the invention there is yet further provided an interceptor missile, wherein at least two KVs are launched towards the same RV with a time delay between planned interceptions to increase the kill probability.
  • [0032]
    In accordance with a certain embodiment of the invention there is yet further provided an interceptor missile, wherein at least two KVs are released towards different RVs which were separated from the same BM or from different BMs in a salvo, according to the divert capability of the KVs and the warheads dispersion.
  • [0033]
    In accordance with a certain embodiment of the invention there is yet further provided an interceptor missile, wherein at least additional KV is launched towards the same RVs in response to detecting a miss, provided the time budget and required divert of the KV allow an additional try.
  • [0034]
    In accordance with a certain embodiment of the invention there is yet further provided an interceptor missile, capable of performing kill assessment by the sensor.
  • [0035]
    In accordance with a certain embodiment of the invention there is yet further provided an interceptor, wherein said mission plan is communicated to the interceptor from a ground station.
  • [0036]
    In accordance with a certain aspect of the invention there is yet further provided a method for exo-atmospheric interception of Re-entry Vehicles (RVs) of a Ballistic Missile (BM), comprising:
      • a) providing a plurality of small kill-vehicle (KVs) accommodated within an interceptor missile, each KV being equipped with a built-in image acquisition sensor operable in the visible or near IR range;
      • b) sensing an RV of a Ballistic missile (BM) and in response illuminating the RV with a beam in the visible or near IR range;
      • c) obtaining a mission plan and issuing a command for launching at least one of said KVs that is configured to track and home the RV utilizing its built in sensor operating in the visible or near IR range.
    BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0040]
    In order to understand the invention and to see how it may be carried out in practice, a preferred embodiment will now be described, by way of non-limiting example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:
  • [0041]
    FIG. 1 is a block diagram of a system associated with an interceptor missile, in accordance with certain embodiments of the invention;
  • [0042]
    FIG. 2 is a detailed block diagram of interceptor missile's modules, in accordance with certain embodiments of the invention;
  • [0043]
    FIG. 3 is a block diagram of a Miniature Kill Vehicle (MKV) architecture, in accordance with certain embodiments of the invention;
  • [0044]
    FIGS. 4A-B illustrate a schematic front and rear views of an interceptor architecture, in accordance with certain embodiments;
  • [0045]
    FIG. 5 illustrates a typical sequence of operation, in accordance with certain embodiments of the invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • [0046]
    In accordance with certain embodiments, when a threat is launched towards a friendly territory a known detection and tracking system detects the object, tracks it and a battle management center (BMC) classifies it as a potential threat and in response launches one or more interceptor missiles towards the threat(s). The threats are one or more Re-entry Vehicles (RV) associated with the Ballistic Missile (BM).
  • [0047]
    Having launched an interceptor missile, it has, as is known per se, a bus system for controlling its flight and the mission plan (of destroying the threat or threats) based on a mission plan communicated thereto and being updated whenever necessary.
  • [0048]
    Bearing this in mind, attention is drawn to FIG. 1, illustrating a block diagram of an interception system architecture, fitted in typically (although not necessarily) in a ground station 10, in accordance with certain embodiments of the invention. As shown, the system includes a detection system 11 a Tracking system 12, a Battle Management Center (BMC) 13 b and Launch system 14, all designated to detect a target(s) (RV or RVs of a BM) aimed towards the protected territory, tracking the target(s) and in accordance with a mission plan launching an interceptor missile which accommodates Miniature Kill Vehicles (MKVs) fitted in the interceptor. As will be discussed in greater detail with reference to FIG. 2, the interceptor missile accommodates a plurality of Multi-Kill-Vehicles (MKVs) which are designated to kill the target, or if desired a plurality of Re-entry Vehicles which may be released from the target. The MKVs are accommodated in the interceptor, e.g. by being fitted therein or being mounted thereon.
  • [0049]
    Reverting now to FIG. 1, there is also shown a Battle Management Center (BMC) 14 which according to certain embodiments, plans targets' interceptions at different times using the Miniature Kill Vehicles and communicates with the interceptor whenever necessary. In accordance with certain embodiments, this plan has to enable a minimum time between interceptions to enable the interceptor's control system to switch its illuminator between the different targets.
    • In accordance with certain other embodiments, the mission plan that is communicated to the interceptor or interceptors prescribes that several interceptions can be performed simultaneously when the control system switches rapidly between the illuminations of the different targets, all as will be explained in greater detail below.
  • [0051]
    FIG. 1 further illustrates an interceptor missile 15 that communicates with various modules located e.g. in the ground control station 10. The interceptor 15 accommodates a booster engine system 16 that propels the interceptor and a bus system 17. The bus system controls, among the others, the launch of one or more of the MKVs (of which only 18A, 18B and 18C are shown in FIG. 1), towards the designated warhead (or warheads) of the target. Note that launch can be implemented in various manners such as eject or release.
  • [0052]
    Turning now to FIG. 2, it illustrates a block diagram of a bus system in the interceptor missile, in accordance with certain embodiments of the invention, The bus system includes a plurality of modules for controlling various functions of the interceptor missile. Thus, communication module 21 is designated to communicate between the interceptor missile and the launched MKVs as well as the BMC. INS 22 modules serve for navigating the interceptor missile and obtaining self location in order to divert the interceptor towards the threat(t), all as known per se. Gimbals 23 are used to point the IR imaging device and the illuminator device towards the target. Known per se Attitude control module 24 serves for controlling the attitude of the interceptor, and IR imaging system (being an example of a sensor) 25 as well as illumination system 26 serve for guiding the MKV to hit its designated target, all as will be explained in greater detail below. Power supply module 27 provides power to the various modules, in a known per se manner. The entire operation of the various modules of bus system 17 is supervised by module 27.
  • [0053]
    Turning now to FIG. 3, there follows a block diagram of a Miniature Kill Vehicle (MKV) architecture, in accordance with certain embodiments of the invention. The MKV is launched from the interceptor missile and flies towards a designated target (RV) in order to hit it in the sweet spot and consequently destroy or substantially damage it. The MKV includes an INS 31 for navigating the MKV as well as Divert system 32 that accommodates the motor module and Gimbals serve for pointing the sensor of the MKV towards the target (utilizing the Gimbals) and simultaneously activate the MK's divert system towards the target, all as described in detail in WO 2006/003660 entitled “Exo-atmospheric Intercepting System and Method”. The MKV communicates (through module 33) with the bus system of the interceptor missile e.g. for executing the mission plan as stipulated by the BMC. The MKV can be responsive to a mission plan change as stipulated by the BMC (e.g. targeting a different threat than that originally “assigned” to the MKV, etc.) and communicated thereto through the bus. The homing module 34 aims at homing onto the target utilizing a sensor that includes imaging means in the visible or near IR range, and generally homes onto the target in a known per se manner. As noted and in contrast to the prior art, the MKV employs a sensor operating in the visible or near IR range, all as will be explained in greater detail below.
  • [0054]
    The various MKV modules are powered utilizing power supply 35, all as is known in the art. In accordance with certain embodiments, the MKV generally operates in an autonomous manner.
  • [0055]
    Those versed in the art will readily appreciate that the system architecture of FIGS. 1 to 3 is by no means binding and accordingly other modules/systems may be employed in addition or instead of one or more of the specified systems/modules.
  • [0056]
    Turning now to FIG. 4, it illustrates a schematic front and rear view of an interceptor architecture in accordance with certain embodiments of the invention. On interceptor 40, there are mounted six MKVs 41 to 46. Each MKV has a propelling system fitted at the rear section, facilitating diversion of the MKV towards the target (not shown), after having been launched from the interceptor 40. The launch mechanism is generally known per se and therefore not expounded upon herein. Upon launch, the MKV flies towards the target utilizing sensor 47 (being, for example, a CCD camera operating in the visible or near IR range). The interceptor, in its turn, employs an infra red sensor and associated illumination device (such as a laser) operating in the visible or near IR range and serving for tracking and illuminating the target, as will be further discussed below. FIG. 4B illustrates a rear view of the interceptor, in accordance with certain embodiments of the invention. As shown, by this embodiment, each MKV is equipped with a propelling system having a flexible nozzle, e.g. 401 facilitating diversion of the MKV towards the target.
  • [0057]
    After the interceptor missile has been launched towards a BM (in response to appropriate command from the BMC 14), and after booster and shroud separation, the bus activates a high performance sensor e.g. IR imaging system (25 of FIG. 2) operating in the IR range above 3 micron (e.g. 3-5 micron or 8 to 12 microns). The generally known per se IR imaging system is a high performance system configured to operate with a high intensity and long range illuminator. The IR imaging system is capable of acquiring radiation emitted from the RV facilitating continuous tracking of its flight trajectory. Whilst tracking the RV, the bus of the interceptor is capable of commanding the laser illuminator module (26 of FIG. 2) to direct the laser beam towards the tracked RV. In other words, based on the IR imaging system measurements (identifying the real-time location of the approaching RV) the target is illuminated with a light in the visible or near IR range (say a laser beam). The underlying concept of utilizing an illumination beam in the visible or near IR range is to illuminate the target thereby facilitating clear view thereof by the MKV that will be launched towards the BM for destroying it.
  • [0058]
    Note that in accordance with certain embodiments, the illuminator device direction system (not shown in the figs.) is responsive to the bus of the interceptor (which in turn being responsive to the BMC 14) and is capable of directing the illuminating beam towards the designated RV.
  • [0059]
    In accordance with certain other embodiments, in response to mission plan guidelines communicated to the interceptor, the bus is configured to instruct the illumination device to switch the illumination beam between targets, e.g. directing the beam towards various RVs (that were separated from the BM) intermittently.
  • [0060]
    Unlike the prior art, the MKV employs a sensor for image acquisition of the target operating in the visible or near IR range, say one or more CCD cameras. The utilization (in the MKV) of a sensor operating in the visible or near IR range (for tracking and homing onto the target warhead) is only possible if the object is sufficiently illuminated and this is achieved by the illumination beam that is directed (by the illuminator device fitted on the interceptor) towards the oncoming threat. Had the object not been illuminated by the laser beam (but only be viewed by the IR imaging means of the interceptor), a CCD camera fitted on the MKV and operating in the visible or near IR range would not have been able to view the oncoming threat if the latter is launched during the night and not day. Thus, the utilization of the illuminator that is fitted on the interceptor facilitates usage of a camera operating in the visible or near IR range (fitted at the MKV) rather than operating in the Infra-red range, as is the case with the prior art. Note that utilization of a camera operating in the visible or near IR range improves the resolution of the camera which, as is well known, is proportional diffraction factor λ/d, where λ is the appropriate wavelength (0.4-0.7 micron for the visible or 0.7 to 1.4 micron for the near IR range, compared to the 3-5 or 8 -12 microns for the Infra-red range) and d is the camera's aperture. As may be recalled the camera's aperture d is relatively small since it must be a small camera as it is fitted to a small MKV. The MKV is obviously relatively small because few of them are mountable on or accommodated within the interceptor. Accordingly, the value of λ/d for a camera operating in the infra-red range is relatively large imposing a low resolution. Low resolution may lead to an undesired scenario of missing the sweet spot, jeopardizing thus the prospects of successful kill or in accordance with another scenario where two or more target Re-entry Vehicles (RVs) are flying in close proximity one with respect to the other and the MKV that is launched towards them fails to discern between the two targets and even if it succeeds to hit one, then the other (undamaged) RVs may leak and hit the friendly territory, which is obviously undesired. In contrast, utilizing a camera operating in the visible or near IR range, under the same physical constraints (i.e. small aperture d) would result in considerable smaller diffraction factor λ/d (due to the small λ value for the visible or near IR range), giving rise to enhanced resolution (compared to an infra-red camera equipped MKV). Thus, utilizing an illuminator fitted on the interceptor and directed towards the oncoming warhead, facilitates the use of an MKV equipped with a camera operating in the visible or near IR range, giving rise to an MKV with higher resolution specifications, thereby significantly enhancing the prospects of duly hitting the sweet spot and discerning between targets and hitting them, regardless of whether the targets were launched in daylight or during the night.
  • [0061]
    Note that in accordance with certain embodiments, the illumination may be modulated (pulsed or other) to allow range measurement. In this case MKVs after being released (or ejected) are dependent on data transfer from the platform during their flight. In accordance with certain other embodiments, the illumination may be unmodulated. In the latter case the range estimation is based on measurements received from an external source. Thus, the MKVs may operate autonomously with less dependence on the communication from the interceptor.
  • [0062]
    Note that in accordance with certain embodiments, the MKV is designated to collide with the RV, or, in accordance with certain other embodiments, to collide with the warhead section of the RV, or, in accordance with certain other embodiments, to activate the MKV's warhead in close proximity to the RV, all as required and appropriate depending upon the particular application.
  • [0063]
    In accordance with certain embodiments, every MKV may be equipped with accelerometers to calculate its own position or use the data passed from the interceptor or both. In case the MKV does not have a full inertial measurement system but only a gyro, the interceptor will measure MKV position in addition to threat position measurements and will communicate the calculated MKV location data to the MKV through the communication module.
  • [0064]
    In accordance with certain embodiments, the divert system of the MKV (whose structure is generally known per se), is capable of directing the MKV towards the threat, all as described in detail in the specified WO 2006/003660 publication. The MKV is launched with or without an initial direction correction by the interceptor. In case the interceptor did not launch the MKV in the required direction, the correction will be performed by the MKV divert system. In accordance with certain embodiments the interceptor may launch the MKV with an initial velocity in the right direction towards the threat.
  • [0065]
    Note that the mission plan logic does not necessarily fully divorce from the interceptor and accordingly in accordance with certain embodiments it may reside partially also at an interceptor module and/or partially at the MKV. Note also that the mission plan logic may employ one or more scenarios as the case may be. Thus by way of non limiting example one or more of the following mission plan scenarios may be utilized:
      • 1. Different MKVs may be directed toward different threats or toward the same threat, with a time delay between planned interceptions to increase the kill probability.
      • 2. Different MKVs may be directed to different threats which were separated from the same BM or from different BMs in a salvo, according to their divert capability and the threats dispersion.
      • 3. The interceptor may perform kill assessment (KA) by its IR sensor.
      • 4. The interceptor may send an additional MKV to the same target after a detected miss provided the time budget and required divert allowed for this additional try.
  • [0070]
    Bearing all this in mind, attention is drawn to FIG. 5, illustrating a sequence of operations, in accordance with certain embodiments of the invention.
  • [0071]
    51—The detection system detects the incoming ballistic missile and sends cuing to the tracking system.
  • [0072]
    52 The tracking system tracks the target and identifies the suspected reentry vehicles (RV).
  • [0073]
    53 The tracking system sends the target object map (coordinates and velocity vectors to all detected object (including the suspected reentry vehicles) to the interceptor through the BMC.
  • [0074]
    54 The BMC analyses the scenario and decides on the optimal interception plan for all RVs.
  • [0075]
    55 The BMC sends this interception plan to the interceptor.
  • [0076]
    55 The interceptor is launched and undergoes booster and shroud separation.
  • [0077]
    56 Knowing its own position and velocity, the interceptor calculates the coordinates of all objects relative to its coordinate system.
  • [0078]
    57 The interceptor launches the MKVs according to the interception plan and points the IR camera and laser to the different RV in the preplanned sequence.
  • [0079]
    58 The IR camera detects the target and corrects the pointing to ensure proper illumination by the laser.
  • [0080]
    59 Every MKV flies toward its target pointing its sensor to it and illuminates it.
  • [0081]
    501 Once the target is detected by the MKV it measures the line of sight angles to it in an inertial reference system and calculates the angular velocity of this line of sight.
  • [0082]
    502 The angular velocity of the line of sight around two defined axes is used in order to calculate the required maneuver for hitting the target utilizing for example proportional navigation all as known per se.
  • [0083]
    503 The required acceleration is achieved by changing the angle between the line of sight to the target and the thrust of the rocket motor as known per se.
  • [0084]
    504 If the MKV navigation system is not accurate enough the interceptor may measure the position of the MKV using its accurate navigation system and transmit it to the MKV through a communication channel in order to correct the MKV navigation system.
  • [0085]
    Note that the invention is not bound by the sequence of operation described with reference to FIG. 5.
  • [0086]
    Unless specifically stated otherwise, as apparent from the following discussions, it is appreciated that throughout the specification discussions, utilizing terms such as, “processing”, “computing”, “calculating”, “determining”, or the like, refer to the action and/or processes of a computer or computing system, or processor or similar electronic computing device, that manipulate and/or transform data represented as physical, such as electronic, quantities within the computing system's registers and/or memories into other data, similarly represented as physical quantities within the computing system's memories, registers or other such information storage, transmission or display devices.
  • [0087]
    Embodiments of the present invention may use terms such as, processor, computer, apparatus, system, sub-system, module, unit, device (in single or plural form) for performing the operations herein, This may be specially constructed for the desired purposes, or it may comprise a general purpose computer selectively activated or reconfigured by a computer program stored in the computer. Such a computer program may be stored in a computer readable storage medium, such as, but not limited to, any type of disk including optical disks, CD-ROMs, magnetic-optical disks, read-only memories (ROMs), random access memories (RAMs), electrically programmable read-only memories (EPROMs), electrically erasable and programmable read only memories (EEPROMs), magnetic or optical cards, any other type of media suitable for storing electronic instructions that are capable of being conveyed via a computer system bus.
  • [0088]
    The processes/devices (or counterpart terms specified above) discussed herein are not inherently related to any particular computer or other apparatus, unless specifically stated otherwise. Various general purpose systems may be used with programs in accordance with the teachings herein, or it may prove convenient to construct a more specialized apparatus to perform the desired method. In addition, embodiments of the present invention are not described with reference to any particular programming language. It will be appreciated that a variety of programming languages may be used to implement the teachings of the inventions as described herein.
    • As used herein, the phrase “for example,” “such as” and variants thereof describing exemplary implementations of the present invention are exemplary in nature and not limiting. Reference in the specification to “one embodiment”, “an embodiment”, “some embodiments”, “another embodiment”, “other embodiments” “certain embodiments” or variations thereof means that a particular feature, structure or characteristic described in connection with the embodiment(s) is included in at least one embodiment of the invention. Thus the appearance of the phrase “one embodiment”, “an embodiment”, “some embodiments”, “another embodiment”, “other embodiments” “certain embodiments” or variations thereof do not necessarily refer to the same embodiment(s). It is appreciated that certain features of the invention, which are, for clarity, described in the context of separate embodiments, may also be provided in combination in a single embodiment. Conversely, various features of the invention, which are, for brevity, described in the context of a certain embodiment, may also be provided separately or in any suitable sub-combination. While the invention has been shown and described with respect to particular embodiments, it is not thus limited. Numerous modifications, changes and improvements within the scope of the invention will now occur to the reader. In embodiments of the invention, fewer, more and/or different stages than those shown in FIG. 5 may be executed. In embodiments of the invention one or more stages illustrated in FIG. 5 may be executed in a different order and/or one or more groups of stages may be executed simultaneously. FIGS. 1 to 4 illustrate a general system architecture in accordance with certain embodiments of the invention. Certain modules in the figs. can be made up of any combination of software, hardware and/or firmware that performs the functions as defined and explained herein. Certain modules in the Figs. may be centralized in one location or dispersed over more than one location. In other embodiments of the invention, the system may comprise fewer, more, and/or different modules than those shown in FIGS. 1 to 4. In other embodiments of the invention, the functionality of the system described herein may be divided differently into the modules. In other embodiments of the invention, the functionality of the system described herein may be divided into fewer, more and/or different modules than shown in the Figs. and/or the system may include additional or less functionality than described herein. In other embodiments of the invention, one or more modules shown in the Figs. may have more, less and/or different functionality than described.
  • [0090]
    While certain features of the invention have been illustrated and described herein, many modifications, substitutions, changes, and equivalents will occur to those skilled in the art. It is therefore to be understood that the appended claims are intended to cover all such modifications and changes as fall within the scope of the claims.

Claims (22)

  1. 1. A small kill-vehicle (KV) accommodated within an interceptor missile together with additional at least one KV, each KV is equipped with an image acquisition sensor operable in the visible or near IR range, and adapted to be launched from the interceptor missile during exo-atmospheric flight and utilizing said sensor for tracking and homing at least one Re-entry Vehicle (RV) of a Ballistic Missile (BM).
  2. 2. The KV of claim 1, wherein said tracking is performed in an autonomous manner.
  3. 3. The KV according to claim 1 further equipped with a gyro system to perform the tracking and homing.
  4. 4. The KV according to claim 1 further being equipped with accelerometers to calculate its self position.
  5. 5. An interceptor missile for exo-atmospheric interception of at least one Re-entry Vehicle (RV) of a Ballistic missile (BM), comprising: a plurality of small kill-vehicle (KVs) accommodated within the interceptor missile, each KV being equipped with a built-in image acquisition sensor operable in the visible or near IR range, the interceptor missile includes
    sensor operable in the infra-red range;
    illuminator operating in the visible or near IR range,
    control coupled to said image acquisition means and illuminator;
    said sensor is capable of sensing the RV and in response said control is configured to command said illuminator to illuminate the RV;
    said control is further configured to comply with a mission plan and issue a command for launching at least one of said KVs that is configured to track and home the RV utilizing its built in sensor operating in the visible or near IR range.
  6. 6. The interceptor missile according to claim 5, wherein the interceptor sensor is operable in the wavelength range of 3-5 microns.
  7. 7. The interceptor missile according to claim 5, wherein the interceptor sensor is operable in the wavelength range of 8-12 microns.
  8. 8. The interceptor according to claim 5, wherein said illuminator being a laser designator.
  9. 9. The interceptor missile according to claim 5, wherein said sensor is configured to sense at least two RVs of a Ballistic missile (BM), and in response said control is configured to command said illuminator to illuminate the RV;
    said control is further configured to trigger a command for launching at least two of said KVs, such that each launched KV is configured to track and home the RV utilizing its built in sensor operating in the visible or near IR range.
  10. 10. The interceptor missile according to claim 9, wherein said control is configured to command said illuminator to switch illumination between at least two RVs that were separated from said BM.
  11. 11. The interceptor missile according to claim 5, wherein said illuminator includes fast illumination beam direction system for fast switching of illuminations between RVs that were separated from said BM.
  12. 12. The interceptor missile according to claim 5 wherein said illumination is modulated allowing said control to calculate range to the RV.
  13. 13. The interceptor missile according to claim 5, wherein said illumination is unmodulated.
  14. 14. The interceptor missile according to claim 5, further comprising communication means for receiving initial location of each RV in a cluster of RVs.
  15. 15. The interceptor missile according to claim 14, wherein said control is further configured to divert the interceptor towards the center of the cluster.
  16. 16. The interceptor according to claim 5, wherein the control is configured to trigger a command for launching an KV with or without an initial velocity towards a designated RV.
  17. 17. The interceptor missile according to claim 9, wherein at least two KVs are launched towards the same RV with a time delay between planned interceptions to increase the kill probability.
  18. 18. The interceptor missile according to claim 9, wherein at least two KVs are released towards different RVs which were separated from the same BM or from different BMs in a salvo, according to the divert capability of the KVs and the warheads dispersion.
  19. 19. The interceptor missile according to claim 9, wherein at least additional KV is launched towards the same RVs in response to detecting a miss, provided the time budget and required divert of the KV allow an additional try.
  20. 20. The interceptor missile according to claim 5 is capable of performing kill assessment by the sensor.
  21. 21. The interceptor according to claim 5, wherein said mission plan is communicated to the interceptor from a ground station.
  22. 22. A method for exo-atmospheric interception of Re-entry Vehicles (RVs) of a Ballistic Missile (BM), comprising:
    a) providing a plurality of small kill-vehicle (KVs) accommodated within an interceptor missile, each KV being equipped with a built-in image acquisition sensor operable in the visible or near IR range;
    b) sensing an RV of a Ballistic missile (BM) and in response illuminating the RV with a beam in the visible or near IR range;
    c) obtaining a mission plan and issuing a command for launching at least one of said KVs that is configured to track and home the RV utilizing its built in sensor operating in the visible or near IR range.
US12614695 2008-10-12 2009-11-09 Interception system that employs miniature kill vehicles Abandoned US20120068000A1 (en)

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