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Short Range Air Drop Target System (BMDO)

Grey Havoc

The path not taken.
Senior Member
Oct 9, 2009
Reaction score
May 1998

2.2.1 System Description

The Air Drop Target System would consist of a target vehicle, pallet and sled
assembly, support equipment, parachutes, and a flight termination system.

Target Vehicle. The Air Drop target vehicle consists of a re-entry vehicle, a
guidance and control module, an interstage assembly (Minuteman il 2/3
interstage), an SR-1 9-AJ-1 rocket motor, and an aft skirt assembly
(fabricated from a Minuteman 11 1/2 interstage) (Figure 2-2). The target
vehicle is 28 feet long with a maximum diameter of 60.5 inches. The vehicle
weighs approximately 20,000 pounds. The launch vehicle includes a
guidance and control system, an inertial navigation system, a global
positioning system (GPS) receiver, and a telemetry system. The vehicle
contains ordnance in the form of a solid-rocket motor propellant, parachute
reefing cutters, Flight Termination System (FTS), and 11 explosive bolts.
The rocket motor is the second stage of a Minuteman II missile. These
rocket motors, stored at Hill Air Force Base (AFB), Utah, were developed for
other missile programs. The SR-19-AJ-1 (modified) rocket motor contains
approximately 13,600 pounds of propellant (ANB-3066) consisting of 73
percent ammonium percholorate (NH4CIO4), 12 percent carboxy terminated/
polybutadiene, and 15 percent aluminum.

Pallet and Sled Assembly. The target vehicle would be attached to a pallet
and sled assembly for buildup, loading, and dropping from the aircraft. The
pallet is 24 feet long and weighs 2,264 pounds. The vehicle is supported on
the pallet by a sled assembly. The sled assembly is secured to the pallet by
several turnbuckle angle brackets bolted to the pallet and sled assembly. The
vehicle is secured in the sled by steel straps. The pallet and sled weigh
4,350 pounds.

Support Equipment. Additional support equipment would consist of a
palletized airborne support equipment (PASE) and an optimal Buffer Stop
Assembly (BSA). These components would be situated in the C-130 cargo
bay. The PASE would provide pre-launch power, and would check the
vehicle and telemetry, transmit GPS and trajectory information, and engage
the mechanism for the explosive bolts just prior to drop. The PASE consists
of a rack of equipment with three crew stations mounted on the 8-foot pallet
(Figure 2-3). The BSA would provide additional protection to the crew. The
BSA would be mounted on its own 4-foot pallet, and would be situated
between the sled assembly and the PASE.

Parachutes. A 28-foot-diameter ring slot parachute (referred to as the
extraction parachute) attached to the sled assembly pallet would be released
at the appropriate time and would extract the load from the C-i130. As the
target missile falls away from the pallet, the two 43.5-foot-diameter main
parachutes would be extracted from packs on the sled assembly, stabilizing
the Air Drop target missile. The parachutes are 70 percent reefed for
6 seconds to reduce the shock of the parachutes opening on the vehicle.
Explosive bolts would separate the parachutes from the target missile
2 seconds prior to rocket ignition.

Flight Termination System. The rocket motor is fitted with an FTS to
terminate the flight if unsafe conditions develop. The FTS would detonate an
explosive charge to rupture the rocket motor casing and terminate the thrust
of the rocket. The FTS consists of a charge, detonators, and safing and
arming devices.

Ordnance. The Air Drop Target System contains ordnance in the form of
rocket motor solid propellant (DOD Class 1.3 explosives) explosive bolts,
initiators, detonators, ignitors, and squibs. To stabilize the Air Drop target
missile, thrust vector actuator (TVA) and roll control (RC) squibs would be
utilized. The FTS contains a linear-shaped charge (LSC), flexible confined
detonating cords (FCDC), and safe and arm detonators. The main parachutes
contain reefing cutters (DOD Class 1.3 explosives) that cut the reefed lines.

2.2.2 Launch Operations

The Air Drop Target System could be used at any range with existing
capabilities to support a C-1 30 and missile launches. Such ranges are
present in the continental United States (CONUS), Alaska, the Hawaiian
Islands, and U.S. Army Kwajalein Atoll (USAKA) in the Republic of the
Marshall Islands (Figure 2-4). In addition, a number of ranges in broad ocean
areas that could be used are not shown in Figure 2-4. System range-specific
environmental documentation would be prepared to support the range
selection process. The range-specific environmental documentation would
consider the transportation, assembly, and integration, as well as the
operations of the Air Drop Target System.
The Proposed Action considers the following launch scenarios:

* Using an Air Drop target launch for a test confined to an existing
military range using ground sensors to track the target missile.
* Using an Air Drop target launch in extended test range scenarios.
For example, launching the Air Drop target from the open ocean
adjacent to the test range for intercepts within an existing test
range, using mobile sensors to track the target missile outside the

* Using an Air Drop target launch in reversed extended test range
scenarios. In this scenario, the Air Drop target would be
launched from within an existing test range for intercept in a
temporarily designated and cleared open ocean area lying outside
the limits of the existing test range; mobile sensors would track
the target missile outside the range.

* Using an Air Drop target launch for a test occurring in broad
ocean areas using mobile sensors to track the target missile.

Launch Preparation. The rocket motor would be shipped to the launch site
from Hill AFB, Utah, by truck or air. Other components, such as the ground
control system, aft skirt and fins, and the pallet and sled assembly, would be
shipped to the launch site from other contractor locations. Components
would be shipped by truck to sites within the contiguous 48 states and by air
to locations outside this area (e.g., Hawaii, Alaska, USAKA). When the solid
rocket motor and other components arrive at the launch location, the motor
would be transferred to a missile or booster assembly building for installation
of the FTS and integration of the other components. The target vehicle
would be attached to the pallet and sled equipment. Before launch, the Air
Drop launch vehicle, pallet/sled, and support equipment would be loaded onto
the C-130.

As an alternative, a build-up site in the contiguous 48 states may be used for
overseas launch sites. The target would be completely assembled and then
shipped by aircraft on its sled pallet to the participating launch site or
designated staging area.

Hazardous materials would include the solid rocket propellant and materials
associated with the target assembly process including small quantities of
Class C ordnance, solder flux, and solvents such as isopropyl alcohol and
lubricating oil. No chemical simulants have been identified for use by the Air
Drop program. Specific simulant requirements would be analyzed in
subsequent environmental documents if required for specific intercept testing

Launch and Intercept. The loaded C-1 30 would fly in existing restricted
airspace to a predetermined drop point. At about 15,000 feet above MSL
and speed of 140 knots, the Air Drop assembly would be extracted from the
C-1 30 by the extraction parachute through the open rear door of the aircraft.
Soon after, explosive bolts would release the Air Drop target from the pallet.
As the Air Drop target falls, it would extract two main parachutes from packs
on the sled assembly. The pallet would descend with its extraction
parachute to.the ocean or land.

Approximately 86 seconds after extraction from the aircraft, when the
vehicle would be approximately 5,000 feet above MSL, the parachute release
timers would set off the explosive bolts to release the parachute harness.
The two main parachutes and sled assembly would descend to the ocean or

At approximately 5,000 feet above MSL, the launch vehicle would ignite and
follow the predetermined trajectory to the aim point within a terminal hazard
area. Just as in tests using ground-launched target missiles, test plans using
Air Drop targets will also calculate hazard areas for the defensive missiles
used in the tests and for the debris from the planned intercepts. Air Drop
target launch trajectories extend to a maximum range of 580 km (360 miles).
As an example of a representative mission, an Air Drop target might be flown
on a launch point-to-aim point flight path of 320 km (200 miles), with a
maximum altitude of 220 km (140 miles) and with a total flight time of
approximately 8 minutes, 20 seconds. Re-entry velocity would be
approximately 3,800 miles per hour (1.7 km per second), with a re-entry
flight path angle of -63.5 degrees (angle with the Earth's surface). The air
drop and flight path of a representative target are conceptually shown in
Figure 2-5.

A launch hazard area (LHA), a terminal hazard area (THA), a target debris
circle, an expended booster drop zone, and a test area would be designated
for the target flight and intercept. For the purpose of the environmental
analysis, the hazard zones and impact areas for a representative launch
profile are illustrated in Figure 2-6. These hazard areas would be evacuated
and restricted during a test to control access and reduce the potential risk of
falling debris. Range clearance and access control would be in accordance
with existing range procedures.

The LHA would be designed to contain all Air Drop debris in the event it is
destroyed before 40 seconds of flight. The parachute and pallet drop zones
would be within the LHA. The LHA covers an 18.9-km (11 .5-mile) radius
area from the launch point, and extends 56.7 km (34.5 miles) downrange
from the launch point along the target flight path.

The location and configuration of the target debris circle would be dependent
on the interceptor test program. As depicted in the representative launch
scenario in Figures 2-5 and 2-6, the circle would have a diameter of
approximately 9.7 km (6 mi). The expended booster drop zone is an ellipse
approximately 72.4 km (45 mi) long. The THA is based upon the fixed point
of target impact. For analysis purposes of the representative Air Drop target
trajectory, the THA is a 28.4-km (17.3-mile) by 56.7-km (34.5-mile) ellipse
centered at the target impact point.

For currently planned launches, the Air Drop test area would consist of an
approximately 320-km- (200-mile) corridor up to 74-km- (46 miles) wide area
along the entire target flight path. All Air Drop hazard and test areas would
be evacuated and restricted from access during the test period.

After 40 seconds of flight and before rocket burnout at 67 seconds, the
probability of missile failure is significantly reduced. An Instantaneous
Impact Prediction (liP) computer model would be used to calculate a target
debris area from the launch area to a THA. If and when the lIP indicates that
debris would endanger protected areas, the Missile Flight Safety Officer
would issue a command destruct message to the Air Drop vehicle.

Debris Recovery. Potential debris from an Air Drop target launch could
include the target debris after a failed launch or after a successful launch.
Other items would include the pallet with its attached extraction parachutes,
and the two main parachutes used to stabilize the target in its descent, and
that separate from the target prior to rocket ignition. Target debris could
include fragments of unburned propellant, and pallet debris could include
metal fragments.

When deployed over an open ocean area, the pallet and attached parachute
impacting the open ocean would sink and, therefore, would not be recovered.
However, the two main parachutes may need to be recovered from ocean
drops. Debris impacting land areas may be recovered, consistent with range
operational procedures. If required, on-land debris recovery may involve the
use of helicopters and off-road vehicles. Recovery of Air Drop target debris
from successful intercepts, and recovery of missile and missile components
after unsuccessful launches, would be conducted in accordance with the
applicable range procedures. If the potential exists to disturb biological or
cultural resources during debris recovery activities, recovery efforts would be
coordinated with applicable range representatives and agencies to develop
appropriate mitigation measures to avoid impact to sensitive resources.

Sorry, can't properly extract images from the report at the moment. I may try again later.