News

Low Cost Cruise Missile Defense (LCCMD) Program

LTC Ed Gjermundsen DARPATech 99, June 1999

1. If you attended the last DARPA Tech Conference, you heard about the studies we were pursuing in the Low Cost Cruise Missile Defense or LCCMD Program. This briefing will provide you with an update that focuses on the specific technologies we have chosen to pursue.

The LCCMD program is an ongoing DARPA program to explore low cost approaches to defend against large raids of cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs.
  • The focus of the program is on the design, development, and demonstration of low cost seekers for use on low cost interceptors
  • Seekers are significant cost drivers in an interceptor system

    2. This briefing covers five areas:
  • The motivation for the program
  • The cruise missile and unmanned aerial vehicles threats that drive the program
  • The program history and schedule
  • A description of the six interceptor seeker approaches being pursued
  • And a brief summary

    3. The most fitting historical case that illustrates the potential of the LCCMD threat is the German V-1 program over 50 years ago during World War II.
  • The V-1 was the first cruise missile
  • It was a very simple, cheap, and effective weapon
  • Its cost of $3K/unit was about 2% the cost of the B-17 bomber
  • 30,000 V-1s were produced in 3 years and 10,000 were actually launched
  • The V-1 was responsible for 45,000 casualties
  • Its primary military impact was in the huge resources that the Allies diverted to stop the V-1
  • It is estimated that the cost of defending against the V-1, excluding damage, was 4 times the cost of entire V-1 program

    We potentially face a similar threat today.
  • There are over 70,000 cruise missiles in the world today
  • Most cruise missiles are anti-ship but can be converted to land attack relatively easily
  • Cruise missile cost vary widely - from $150K to $1M
  • UAVs can be significantly cheaper - from tens of thousands to several hundred thousand dollars
  • There are a number of high technology resources available to our potential adversaries for use in cruise missiles and UAVs
  • GPS and inertial navigation systems for guidance
  • Advanced propulsion systems
  • Advanced airframes
  • Chemical/biological weapons for payloads
  • And satellite photography for mission planning

    The bottom line is that a proliferated low cost delivery system is a strategic option available to other countries. Today's V-1 is much more capable and effective - more precise, more survivable, longer range, and with potentially devastating payloads.

    To estimate the impact on the US if faced with such a threat, we need to look at our current air defense system

    4. Our current air defense system consists of surveillance, fire control, and engagement assets. Among the engagement assets in our current inventory that could be used to defeat a proliferated air threat today are:
  • The Air Force AMRAAM Missile
  • The Navy Standard Missile
  • And the Army Patriot, Stinger, and Avenger Missiles

    Our current engagement assets, when properly cued, can defeat low cost fliers and low cost cruise missiles in most instances.

    But proliferating and expending our current inventory of engagement assets against large raids is expensive. It also takes these engagement assets from the more heroic threats they were originally designed to defeat - ballistic missiles and platforms employing sophisticated countermeasures.

    5. Let's take a closer look at the potential threat we face.

    There are 75 cruise missile systems in service and 42 more in development worldwide. Over 82 countries have cruise missiles in their inventories. These systems are capable of delivering conventional weapons and chemical/biological agents.

    The LCCMD program is concerned with the low technology cruise missile threat that can be produced cheaply and in large numbers. Their characteristics include long range, low altitude, high subsonic speeds, moderate observables and limited countermeasure capabilities.

    The cruise missile systems depicted are the Russian KH-58, which costs approximately $150K and the French Armat, which costs approximately $275K.

    6. There are 74 different UAV systems in service and 51 more in development worldwide. These systems have similar capabilities as cruise missiles and additionally can be used to conduct jamming or surveillance missions - termed information dominance on this chart.

    The UAV systems depicted are the South Korean DAEWOO, the Bulgarian Yastreb-2S, and the Italian Mirach.
  • The DAEWOO is an agricultural sprayer that could be used to disperse chemical or biological agents and costs approximately $40K.
  • The Yastreb is a communications jammer and costs approximately $100K
  • The Mirach is an example of a UAV that has been converted to a cruise missile and costs approximately $400K.

    7. Now let's turn to the LCCMD program. The LCCMD program was initiated 2 years ago.

    In FY97, we began to explore a wide range of architectural solutions to lower our cruise missile cost-per-kill. Our conclusion was that a low cost interceptor that made maximal use of the planned air defense infrastructure offered the greatest promise.

    Based on these study results, we initiated a program in to explore a concept to modify the DARPA Miniature Air Launched Decoy or MALD to perform as an interceptor. We also initiated concept exploration studies for six novel seeker approaches with low cost potential.

    We have recently completed laboratory testing of our seekers concepts. Based on the results, we plan to select a subset of these seeker concepts for further development to include ground, captive flight, and live fire testing over the next 4 years

    8. The Concept of Operations for the LCCMD interceptor is to use our planned air defense infrastructure to the maximum extent possible.
  • The low cost interceptor will be capable of being either ground launched from a patriot battery or air launched from a fighter aircraft
  • The interceptor will be launched on a surveillance cue and be provided midcourse updates
  • The interceptor will have the capability to loiter while waiting for a more accurate cue from a fire control asset
  • The fire control radar will provide updates to the interceptor and determine target location within a cubed basket

    So the requirement we have placed on our interceptor is to find and destroy a threat target whose location is known to be in a basket provided by the fire control radar, in a range of environmental conditions, at the lowest possible cost.

    9. The baseline airframe for our interceptor system is a modified version of the MALD being developed by the DARPA Tactical Technology Office and the Air Force.

    In our system architecture study we concluded that the MALD could be converted to an affordable interceptor by:
  • Adding a booster adapter interface for a ground launch capability
  • Modifying the engine and flight control section and adding strakes for added maneuverability
  • Strengthening the mid-section and wings to withstand higher G-forces
  • And adding a warhead and a seeker

    I will now briefly describe the 6 seeker and antenna concepts being pursued under this program. These concepts achieve low cost through a combination of 3 approaches.
  • Eliminating the costly seeker gimbal
  • Extensive use of commercial parts
  • And trading performance for cost

    10. The first concept is a LADAR Seeker
  • The LADAR is an Active Laser seeker
  • It uses a commercially based transmitter to send out laser pulses
  • It employs a novel fiber optic based receiver, that requires no moving parts, to replace the traditional gimbal

    The next concept is the Infrared or IR Seeker
  • The IR seeker is passive uncooled strapdown infrared seeker
  • It is the same sensor that will be used commercially in the Cadillac 2000 Deville
  • With its enormous commercial potential comes very low cost potential

    11. The Optically Controlled Antenna is a Ka-band radar seeker.
  • It represents a novel method to steer a beam and eliminate a gimbal
  • A Ka-band beam is transmitted through a semiconductor
  • The semiconductor is illuminated by an array of Light Emitting Diodes
  • The portions of the semiconductor that are illuminated, free electrons locally, and do not allow the beam to pass
  • Portions of the semiconductor not illuminated allow the beam to pass
  • By generating different patterns of light and dark on the semiconductor, the beam can effectively be steered

    The UHF Antenna represents an unconventional approach where the interceptor body itself actually serves at the antenna
  • A series of conformal rings, each consisting of two elements are situated on the surface of the interceptor
  • By measuring the phase and time delay of the return signal, range and angle to target are calculated
  • This concept frees the front end on the seeker for other uses

    12. The MEMS ESA seeker is an active Ka-band radar seeker that employs Microelectromechanical Systems or MEMS technology to produce low cost, low loss phase shifters, for use in an Electronically Scanned Array or ESA.

    This chart depicts the buildup from the critical phase shifter, to a subarray, to an ESA, and finally to a complete seeker.

    We recently fabricated and demonstrated a 3-bit MEMS phase shifter with average insertion losses under 2dB. This phase shifter will allow us to build an ESA with the requisite antenna gain and cost savings.

    13. The last seeker concept is the noise radar. The noise radar is a radical departure from traditional pulse-doppler radars. The design is made possible by recent advances in high speed, low power processing.

    The noise seeker is an attempt to off-load the cost of a seeker to the processor.
  • The noise seeker transmits a very wideband random noise signal
  • It makes a copy of what it transmits and correlates it with the return signal
  • In order to function, the seeker processor and converters must clock at 1 GHz speeds

    The noise seeker has some unique capabilities:
  • Its high bandwidth provides high range resolution and high processing gain
  • And the random noise pulse eliminates range ambiguities and is resistant to certain advanced countermeasures

    The challenge of the noise radar is the processor. As part of the program, we will develop and demonstrate a high speed, low power processor to perform noise signal correlation and doppler processing using electronics technology developed by the DARPA Microsystems Technology Office.

    14. The extremely wide bandwidth of the Noise Radar provides range resolution of up to 6 inches.

    This chart shows a range-doppler snapshot of the noise radar looking at the blast from a shotgun during a 1997 proof-of-principle demonstration. As the charts shows, the high resolution permits the radar to discern individual pellets from the blast.

    This unambiguous range-doppler imaging capability can be used in aimpoint selection for terminal seekers.

    15. Our most promising low cost concepts will proceed to captive flight testing and live fire testing.

    Captive flight testing will mount one of our low cost seekers to the nose of a Navy A-3 or other test aircraft. Target options include the Air Force Falcon 20 test aircraft, a small aircraft, or drones.

    Live fire testing will mount one of our low cost seekers on a MALD derivative rather than the Navy A-3 aircraft for more tactically realistic testing.

    16. In summary,
  • The LCCMD program addresses a threat that is an enticing option to any country wanting to challenge the high tech arsenal of the United States. Unlike the previous cold war threats, this threat can emerge very quickly.
  • The program is currently pursuing six promising and novel seeker concepts for use on a MALD derivative aircraft.
  • And finally, we are continually looking for more novel approaches to achieve a low cost cruise missile defense capability, including technologies that enable multi-mission capability.