Development of Airborne Armament 1910-1961


Crazy Researcher
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19 December 2006
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I finally got the microfilm in the mail of all four volumes of this study; and had them scanned by a local company.

First up, the magnificient maidien known as the Valkyrie:

During March, Air Force headquarters published a "Preliminary B-70 Operational Concept (Tentative)," which defined the 1964 to 1975 time period for operations and established requirements for an unrefueled range of 6,500 nautical miles (with 11,000 desired), cruising altitudes ranging from 65,000 to 88,000 feet, bombing from altitudes between 500 and 80,000 feet, and a Mach 3 speed. Weapon loads for the B-70 were to be varied, including thermonuclear bombs and air-to-surface missiles.

The bomber was to be capable of operating in accordance with the SAC "alert concept": aircraft comprising one third of a unit's strength were to be airborne on a combat mission "within 15 minutes after receipt of the order of execution."

Insofar as defensive equipments were concerned it was anticipated that "no new or peculiar electronics equipment" would be installed in the B-70, Air Force headquarters, which originated the requirements, envisioned a five-element defensive system embodying active and passive warning devices, threat evaluation equipment, electronics countermeasures, infrared countermeasures, and chaff dispersing rockets.

This section of the operational concept concluded with the statement "When an active defense system against air-to-air and ground-to-air missile threats becomes available, it will be incorporated into the system."

Concurrent with the issuance of the operational concept, North American prepared and circulated a set of preliminary performance specifications for the defensive subsystem. The contractor defined its function as "to sense and interpret external electromagnetic and thermal emissions, program all radiation subsystems of the air vehicle to prevent mutual interference, and initiate appropriate counter-measures against hostile environments," including early warning radar, ground-based and airborne intercept radar, ground control "intercept complexes," and infrared search and track devices.

The defensive system as then conceived was to consist of, but not be limited to, a Central Intelligence Control (CIC) encompassing a defense computer plus controls and displays, an electronic countermeasures section (to include electronic counter-measures and electromagnetic surveillance), thermal surveillance and countermeasures, and chaff countermeasures. Penetration aids and active defense ingredients were covered by a statement that specifications for such equipment would appear at a later date.

The Central Intelligence Control was intended to integrate and control all "electromagnetic radiating systems" of the aircraft to prevent mutual interference, to establish operational priorities for the several radiating subsystems, to record and process data on all electronic activity, and to control the "quantity and rate" of countermeasures. Frequency surveillance equipment was to discover when the vehicle was being illuminated by radiation and to define the character and origin of the signals. Thermal surveillance equipment was to perform essentially the same function with respect to heat-emitting sources that might constitute a possible threat to the vehicle; the heat sensors were also to indicate the "intensity, azimuth, elevation, intensity rate of change and angular rate of change of the target [i.e., the approaching threat] . . . ."

Equipment performing the countermeasures function was to be capable of noise jamming, of confusing 30 radars operating simultaneously, and of track breaking against 10 simultaneous radars. It was to be designed for use against virtually all radar in the 50 to 16,000 megacycle spectrum. Thermal and chaff countermeasures were to be effective against appropriate threats.

Notwithstanding such problems, North American obtained and evaluated a considerable quantity of information on the most advanced active defense subsystems then in development. Consideration of a bomber defense missile was an important facet of the study. The contractor surveyed three basic types of missiles for possible use in conjunction with the B-70 -- a "Lenticular Defense Missile," a "Cylindrical Defense Missile," and a modified GAR-9. The Lenticular Missile, a highly unorthodox lens-shaped device that resembled nothing so much as a flying saucer, was an element of the Defensive-Anti-Missile System (DAMS) then being developed under Wright Air Development Center auspices. The Cylindrical Defense Missile was a more conventional device of canard configuration designed to follow a programmed launch course and to employ command mid-course and terminal infrared homing guidance. The GAR-9 was essentially a highly advanced conventional missile with a delta planform and radar homing guidance. Of the three, the cylindrical missile appeared to be most attractive for defense of the B-70. It weighed less than either of the others, had more range, and employed superior guidance techniques. Moreover, it was attractive because it was "not a radical departure" from existing programs and because "little risk would apparently he attached to its development ....." North American had predicated defensive measures on the assumption that only forward-hemisphere attacks against the B-70 would be possible. In that event, the cylindrical missile would adequately serve the purpose. Should an enemy interceptor with better than Mach 3 speed appear, however, spherical coverage "might become justified." The lenticular missile, with an appealing growth potential, seemed deserving of further study, particularly on this score.

North American concluded that the threats against which an active defense mechanism would be required to operate were, in order of probability, a Mach 3 interceptor carrying a GAR-9 type missile, area-defense surface-to-air missiles, and point-defense surface-to-air missiles. Multiple intercept seemed probable, implying the need for "a multiple target capability" and "some capability against salvo attack."

In evaluating these and related factors, the contractor determined that carriage of five to eight missiles could provide a "sizeable improvement in survival if the system could be installed with no range penalty." As it happened, however, installing either the cylindrical or the GAR-9 missiles would invoke a 675-nautical-mile range loss, while with the lenticular missile the range degradation could go as high as 780 miles. Using 99 percent kill probability and 90 percent reliability figures, North American estimated that bomber defense missiles would add about 10 percent to the B-70's penetration effectiveness. "This improvement," said the report, was "too small . . . to warrant . . . the addition of an active defense system at this time." The contractor added, however, that if means could be devised for realizing the projected kill probability and reliability rates without incurring a significant range penalty, "there would be a significant increase in survival probability and penetration effectiveness," particularly for deep penetrations. It was this potential improvement in penetration effectiveness that encouraged North American to recommend continuing study of active defense systems for the B-70. Realism on the matter of range penalties and "target reaching capability" plus "a question of optimism in kill probability and reliability" combined, however, to tell against the addition of active defense to the B-70 "at this point in time."

Reading further; North American was very dead set against Active Defense in any form for the B-70; which isn't that unreasonable; the monograph discusses the requirements for an active defense system -- you would need a ranging system capable of providing decent ranging accuracy out to 100 nautical miles; and the monograph mentions a specific weight -- about 1,000 pounds for a decent-ish active radar system.

Additionally, it mentions that there really was no place to put it -- the nose is already taken up by the bomb/navigational radar; and this is the 1950s/early 1960s, you can't do a multi-mode air to air/bomb nav radar in one. While you can have a second installation for air to air radar tasks; it has to be able to see a decent field of view forward, etc; and the only other good location on the B-70 for that that doesn't interfere massively with aerodynamics, etc is already taken up by the aerial refuelling equipment.

And with the present technology then available (Pye Wacket, Cylindrical Defense Missile, GAR-9), you would have had a range reduction of 500 to 700 nautical miles; and this is at a time when North American was struggling mightily to achieve the range and performance goals for the B-70; and probably really resented the efforts of people who wanted to hang their own pet projects onto the B-70; adding weight and making NAA's job harder -- Compression Lift was a nice boost; but the B-70 still needed a lot of careful design work to meet it's goals.

By the way, North American's own internal studies for the Bomber Defense missile postulated a missile with a 0.75 kiloton warhead and a miss distance of 65 feet.

From Page II-357 on DAMS:

In July 1957, General Electric, Crosley (which had been independently working in this area for some 10 months), and the Stavid Engineering Company received contracts for a series of studies on the radical technique, now termed the Defensive Anti-Missile Sub-system (DAMS). The new concept, nurtured for years within the Weapons Guidance Laboratory's Weapons Defense Branch, was based on the contention that the most urgent defensive target was the intercepting aircraft's missile and that the committed missile could be deflected or destroyed by a lethal barrier thrust into its path at a safe distance from the bomber. The barrier could contain a large number of high energy particles or pellets which could be shot from the rear of the bomber in a number of ways.

[Chemical agents, which could "erode" the approaching target, or pellets of some sort which could penetrate or shatter the target seemed feasible tools.]

Forward hemisphere protection would rely on a guided missile, capable of dispensing the same ingredients anywhere in the forward hemisphere.

In combination with passive surveillance (12 to 15 nautical miles to the rear and 20 to 25 nautical miles forward) passive tracking, automatic threat evaluation, and the automatic selection and programming of defense measures, such a defensive weapon would provide bombers with spherical coverage against missiles without involving the intricate, heavy equipment associated with fire control systems. The ultimate objective was an integrated bomber defense sub-system. The advantages inherent in this approach were very promising. Here was one unconventional look at the problem of bomber defense.

A huuuge section on it:

In November, General Electric was eliminated from the competition for a lack of originality in their program. By this time, Stavid and Crosley had been issuing monthly study reports. Crosley was concentrating on tungsten particles delivered with high velocity and the "granite state" application, a new field of science based on the use of liquid metals which, when applied in various combinations, even in the minutest quantities, would cause structural failures of the metals contacted. Stavid took an equally fresh tack. The company felt that highly corrosive chemical agents could be used to erode any surface. These two concepts were to be pursued with equal vigor until one or the other proved superior.

By the end of 1957 the laboratory had received approval to continue the studies, but wanted additional funds for expansion and technique examination. On 18 December, at Eglin, tungsten pellets were shot (at about 3,000 feet per second) at a stationary GAR-1 missile from about a 30 degree angle. Twenty three hits were made and approximately 10 particles penetrated the missile skin. Results, however, were inconclusive. The pellets had not penetrated to the anticipated depth and they had been exploded at approximately one half grain in size, whereas the laboratory expected one grain pellets to have been formed in the detonation. If the pellets had been formed in the anticipated size, the general consensus was that better results would have been obtained. In any case, half grain particles fired at a moving target would most certainly—whether they penetrated deep enough or not—have deflected the target from it's course.

Early in 1958 pellets, ranging in size from two to five grains were fired at Eglin against static Falcon missiles. Results were moderately successful. By September, a series of pellet firings against Sidewinder missiles launched at Mach 2 from a sled at Hurricane Mesa, Utah, had commenced. Results here were more conclusive. The pellets, fired from a tube, had impacted with sufficient force against the nose of the missile to destroy the guidance system. By the end of the year, additional data had been gathered and the laboratory was prepared to estimate that pellets of 2 grains in size could destroy the guidance system of any missile if impact occurred at a closing rate of 5,000 to 6,000 feet per second. All in all, the laboratory felt that the technique had been established.

Although a dearth of funds had forced cancellation of further work on the use of corrosive chemicals for bomber defense in mid-1958, the granite state theory remained under investigation and in September tests were under way at Hurricane Mesa. Here, metal particles containing the liquid metal fluid (designed to destroy the granular structure of material it could penetrate) were fired against Sidewinders. Results were satisfactory in so far as the action of liquid metal was concerned but the techniques for its application had not been proven. In any case, the program was terminated by the middle of 1959.

Further work on the effectiveness of pellets was also brought to an end by mid-1959. With the effectiveness of the technique established—at least in so far as the laboratory engineers engaged in the program were concerned—the laboratory had previously attempted to gain approval for a large development program leading to an engineering model of a limited anti-missile defensive subsystem. The result would be a system initially developed around a 30 millimeter version of the T-171 20 millimeter Gatling gun, firing 45 to 50 rounds against an attacking missile in a prescribed cone at the rear of the bomber. Each round was to contain approximately 150 pellets. The Dardick breechless, multi-chamber weapon, firing at a rate of 2,000 rounds per second, was to be later substituted for the T-171. However, adequate funds for such a program were not available and when the sub-system was not approved, work on pellet techniques was terminated. Project Mongoose was an attempt to salvage the program by linking it to the B-52 and using product improvement funds.

In February 1958, the pellet program—and all other lethal portions of DAMS—had been lumped together under the title "Barrier Defense Techniques." Within this category, the laboratory began working on the lenticular missile, shaped like a flying saucer. Whereas by 1958 the laboratory had classified the pellet program in the category of "limited" defense against missiles, the Lenticular Defense Missile was to provide total defense against missile attacks from any quarter. The Air Proving Ground Center at Eglin Air Force Base undertook development of the "lenticular shaped rocket", under Project Pye Wacket.

The laboratory had the task of providing the guidance and control necessary to turn the device into a "defensive missile with omnidirectional launch capability," and was supporting the use of a warhead based on the "neutron dudding" technique as the most efficient method of countering an attack.

When North American, in March 1959, investigated missiles potentially applicable to defense for the B-70, the lenticular missile was one of three devices reviewed. North American found that its "unique shape and light weight" gave it under certain conditions, performance capabilities which the more conventional missiles are hard put to equal. It can be launched in any direction since the drag is, in effect, the same no matter what its orientation is to the relative wind. While a conventional missile must be launched with its nose pointed forward and turned to attack a target in the rear hemisphere, the LDM [Lenticular Defense Missile] may be headed in the right direction at launch and all of its boost used to propel it toward the target.

The saucer was 70 inches in diameter, nine inches deep, and was powered by two solid propellant rockets producing 10,200 pounds of thrust. An infrared tracking unit with a "jettisonable cover for initial phases of the flight . . . was installed in its nose." Range was approximately 72 nautical miles, weight was 510 pounds and maximum velocity 6,700 feet per second. Headed in the proper direction at launch, it would generally follow a pre-programmed inertial trajectory until burnout. During this phase the missile nose was not necessarily pointed at the target "since the best path is a function of the velocity vectors," but at burnout "spoilers" were to be "differentially actuated to turn the LDM so that the target will be within the cone of view of the IR seeker. The bomber could alter the aspect of the seeker head by controlling a set of gimbals and retained, to this point, an overriding authority. Once the target had been acquired by infrared, the seeker head directed the balance of the flight.

The proving ground had already (by early 1959) conducted some tests with the device and had found that at 70,000 feet the angle of attack remained zero and drag in pounds went from 250 to 500 as the Mach number increased from three to six. Other studies, including wind tunnel tests, led North American to believe that "there may be sizeable improvement in performance through development of this type of missile." The contractor held, however, that "insufficient results" at that time prevented establishment of a defined configuration and evaluation of "performance improvements which may be possible through alterations to the configuration tested." "Doubtful areas" were "stability, and drag versus angle of attack data."

In addition, although North American was impressed with the "center post mounting and ejection method of the LDM," the company was concerned about the "very uniqueness" of the system and wanted "further detailed study." The mounting method was designed to "fully exploit the unique stacking quality of the shape and also to position the missile properly at launch." Two posts were mounted vertically in the bomber bay and the missiles screwed on them "by means of the center threaded hole which engages an Acme-type thread in the post." The post rotated to accept the missile. Two rows of five missiles each could be formed.

At launch, the inner threaded post will rotate to translate the missile downward to the launch position, whereupon the entire shaft will rotate to turn the missile into the desired launch heading. The door will then open and the missile will be ejected by means of a percussion ejector. Rocket motors will not be ignited until the missile is safely clear of the aircraft.

The ejector piston will run the length of the center post with the breech at the top. A rotating, revolver-type magazine will contain all the charges needed to eject the full load of missiles and will revolve automatically for each shot.

Contoured about the missiles will be a fuel tank which will occupy any remaining usable volume. Capacity is estimated at 1500 gal.

The missile umbilicials will be routed through the center post. Since the outer portion of the post is used as a sliding guide to diametrically position the missiles, some leeway in shape is possible. Accordingly, a cavity will be formed in this outer shell to accommodate the umbillcals. Some twist will be necessary in the umbilical, but since maximum rotation of the missile to launch will be 180 degrees, the umbilical design problem is somewhat reduced.

Although the Lenticular Missile was not selected for the B-70, the program continued at Eglin and Wright Field. The laboratory tried to secure the services of a contractor for guidance and control work in fiscal year 1959, but was unsuccessful. Crosley finally did receive such a contract in March 1960, and by that time Eglin was negotiating with Convair for development of airframe and propulsion systems for the vehicle. Both contracts were to last for nine months. Following contract termination the laboratory and Eglin planned wind tunnel tests of various shapes, sled tests of promising models, and a full scale flight test program of the resultant missiles with guidance and control equipment.

By the time the contract with Crosley had been consummated the Navigation and Guidance Laboratory program for development of techniques had blossomed out in a number of other directions. The laboratory was considering devices to defend boost-glide vehicles and space systems, and had begun to investigate the possibility of developing a radiation weapon.

Under Project 5155, Vehicle Defense Techniques, the laboratory was attempting to "develop system component techniques, instruments, and equipment for defensive systems which will allow military air, near-space, and extraterrestrial vehicles to protect themselves from any enemy attack and natural body obstructions under the expected environments at all times."

And the real reason we don't care about Soviet/Russian claims of Plasma Stealth:

Page II-369

Non-lethal defense was under study by General Electric. Using the "novel and unique ... 'Fuzzball' technique," the contractor was striving for a way to camouflage or reduce radar reflectivity "by establishing an ionized atmosphere around the vehicle, having absorptive and refractive, but non-reflecting characteristics." In addition, it was possible that studies in this field could lead to the creation of an "ionized cloud with primary reflective characteristics for decoying use."
Really interesting stuff for me in particular as I am researching the British F155T aircraft which are closely contemporary with the earlier stages. Thanks Ryan.
Volume I of Airborne Armament is now up; it consists of about 180~ pages covering Bomb/Navigation systems from the first crude bomb sights to the AN/ASQ-28(V) of the B-70.

LINK to Volume I

If you want to see the actual one; you can get a 6 MB binary (2-color) PDF of the microfilm scan HERE.

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