The Dual Range Missile effort is developing and demonstrating guidance and control technologies for enhancing the close-in combat capability of air-to-air missiles. It is also pursuing terminal seekers with extended acquisition range, and advanced propulsion for extended flyout ranges, and technologies for a highly maneuverable missile capable of performing both short and medium range missions. This program is developing and demonstrating guidance and control technologies for enhancing the close-in combat capability of air-to-air missiles. It is also pursuing terminal seekers with extended acquisition range, and advanced propulsion for extended flyout ranges. Enhancement of air-to-air ordnance package performance requires that the target detection device and warhead burst point calculations use all information available to the missile. Effective coupling of the warhead energy onto the target requires improvements in directing the kill mechanism so that as much of the kill mechanism as possible investigation of such concepts as guidance integrated fuzing, advanced fuze sensors, and advanced guidance and control technologies. Technologies such as reaction jets will reduce the need for missile fins, providing compressed missile carriage which will double missile loadouts for a given carriage volume.
Improvements in enemy aircraft technology and the proliferation of advanced aircraft have resulted in nations possessing fighter aircraft nearly equal to American systems. The weapons suite for these aircraft is in some areas (e.g., aerodynamics) superior to current US systems. In 1990, Air Force Research Laboratory's Munitions Directorate engineers realized the importance of developing revolutionary air to air missile flight control technologies to counter a new breed of highly effective, very maneuverable international weapons being fielded by potentially unfriendly nations.The program started in 1992 to explore current and future missile technologies with the goal of greatly improving air to air missile effectiveness against highly capable threats. Extensive trade studies, wind tunnel testing, and manned air combat simulations were completed to select the highest payoff missile control techniques to be incorporated into this next generation missile.
In June 1997 McDonnell Douglas received a contract in June to develop technology for a new air-to-air missile. The award was made under the U.S. Air Force's Air Superiority Missile Technology (ASMT) program. During the five-year, $22 million program, the company will design, develop and demonstrate an advanced flight control system that will allow a single missile to perform both close-in and beyond-visual-range air-to-air missions. The dual-range capability of the missile results from a hybrid combination of flight control and propulsion technologies for both short and longer range missiles.
The missile's advanced electronically steered seeker allows quick target lockon at extremely large offboresight angles. Pilots are able to launch missiles 'overtheshoulder' at trailing adversaries, while maintaining straight and level, high speed flight, enhancing their survivability. The ability to quickly capture and maintain angles of attack exceeding 90 degrees enables the missile to turn to the rear only two seconds after launch. Not only does this quick turn rapidly orient the missile toward the target, but it allows the majority of the missile's fuel to be used to accelerate toward the target.The new flight control system combines small, side-thrusting reaction jets integrated into the aft section of the main rocket motor with small (reduced-span) tailfins. The jets, which bleed propulsive gas from the rocket motor, are used when high levels of agility are required to engage a threat.