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How cruise missiles are programmed?

yahya

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Can experts on the forum explain to a layman, how modern cruise missiles are programmed for a mission and with which software and hardware tools? How data including target and route are created and uploaded? Which modern systems allow mid-course reprogramming should a necessity arise, and how is this done?
 

yahya

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Some time ago I found a piece (also here) indicating that the current Syrian conflict prompted an upgrade to the Kalibr cruise missiles' electronics, which shortened the time to prepare the missile for launch, including the time needed to download the target coordinates and navigation waypoints. Does it mean that older versions of Kalibr used something slower than RS-232 to download the data prior to launch, and outdated onboard computers?
 
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Josh_TN

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For the BGM-109, it is an entire proprietary system from what I understand. And it has to be continually updated to account for changes to the missile guidance system. So for instance the new block V upgrade program also has as a component changes to the mission planning software to allow for capabilities against ships, etc. Block IV had to add options for switching targets once the the missile had a two way satellite link. As to how mission planning works or what is involved, I've no idea and I doubt anyone will publicly disclose such. I suspect that the modern versions can be given a set of coordinates and work off that alone in a pinch. There probably is a lot of local geographical information loaded into a missile at this point. The original non GPS TERCOM guided versions required the entire route of the missile to be mapped ahead of time and for relevant geographical referrence points to be loaded into memory for later matching; it was not a very flexible system. I believe the optical terminal guidance also needed satellite photos to use for matching.
 

sferrin

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Can experts on the forum explain to a layman, how modern cruise missiles are programmed for a mission and with which software and hardware tools? How data including target and route are created and uploaded? Which modern systems allow mid-course reprogramming should a necessity arise, and how is this done?
LOL
 

Josh_TN

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Some time ago I found a piece (also here) indicating that the current Syrian conflict prompted an upgrade to the Kalibr cruise missiles' electronics, which shortened the time to prepare the missile for launch, including the time needed to download the target coordinates and navigation waypoints. Does it mean that older versions of Kalibr used something slower than RS-232 to download the data prior to launch, and outdated onboard computers?
I suspect the longest lead time prepping a modern cruise missile is the actual thought and planning put into a mission and not the speed of the time needed to load the weapon with information. Again, I have never been involved in such things, but I would assume that you would want all of the weapons of a particular mission to arrive at the same time and that you often would want to take a less than direct route to the target in order to maximize your use of terrain, bypass defenses, avoid populated areas that could send an alert , etc. As such I would guess that modern mission planning software probably moves faster by being more intuitive or possibly filling in parts of the missile route for the mission planners, given basic parameters and priorities. IE, given a start point, end point, and time on target, can software guesstimate a route that maximizes effectiveness? I'm guessing for a given area extensive contour maps and population densities can be loaded, perhaps cross referenced with up to date known hostile emitters, and that several routes for missile(s) can be generated based on selectable criteria. I would assume older versions of mission software probably had a larger human component, especially if you go back a couple decades.

This is all supposition however.
 

yahya

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Thank you for your comments, Josh_TN. I also thought about less user-friendly programming in the past, which must have been laborious and required a lot of knowledge and manpower. I don't know if the flight plans for cruise missiles about 35 years ago could be very detailed, with many waypoints and different altitude presets, given the relatively non-sophistication of the then computers and avionics compared to modern times. But I may be wrong. What is certain, there were no Google maps then.
 

Michel Van

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For the BGM-109, you have another obstacle
USAF use "old" hardware like 8-bit computer terminals that were use since 1970s (with litte update to 16 bit)
you need that old hardware and there large floppy disk to store the Flight data and load them into autopilot of BGM-109

Floppy disk in this size...


I just kidding, you need 8 inch or 5 inch floppy disk for that...
 

yahya

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It was widely discussed on the media that such outdated computer technologies were used to program nukes, and that only recently these were to be replaced with something more contemporary due to the lack of old 8" floppies, etc. I did not know that the older BGM-109s used similar technology. Can someone confirm?
 

Josh_TN

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That was the case with US ICBMs. Tomahawks since ~1992 are exclusively conventional weapons and don’t have the issue of nuclear authentication or PALS.
 

Michel Van

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That was the case with US ICBMs. Tomahawks since ~1992 are exclusively conventional weapons and don’t have the issue of nuclear authentication or PALS.
They have to get there Target information and there authentication to switch on Armed before launch.
or are the Target coordinates hardware wired into autopilot of BGM-109 ?
other wise this here is possible

 
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