Lockheed Martin's Design Simple, Effective
Lockheed Martin Corporation has been awarded a US
patent for an innovative, three-axis flap control system that
promises to revolutionize the steering of rocket-launched,
hypersonic and supersonic reentry vehicles/projectiles.
The advanced design enables a single, simple, low-cost control
system to steer the reentry vehicles in all three axes (pitch, yaw,
and roll). The three-axis flap control system provides quick
response and increased capability and controllability for difficult
aerodynamic maneuvers, as well as increased accuracy and weapon
effectiveness. The patent is number 6,502,785 B1.
"This is a significant technological breakthrough," said Roger
Teter, director of Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM) Reentry Systems at
Lockheed Martin Space & Strategic Missiles and one of the three
principal inventors of the system. "The three-axis flap control
system represents a major step toward achieving low-cost, highly
maneuverable reentry vehicles for many different high priority
precision strike military missions such as defeating hard and
deeply buried targets."
The control system employs four aft flush mounted
movable flaps (or control surfaces) of uniform design, which
decreases machining and manufacturing costs. The flaps are
positioned on the vehicle orthogonally, but offset from the vehicle
centerline. By actuating various combinations of flaps into the
airstream, any desired vehicle orientation may be achieved. The
flaps, which are all independently controlled, may be extended
(deployed) from the stowed, non-deployed, position to any desired
deployed position, providing a variable control system for
rocket-propelled projectiles and reentry vehicles.
A demonstration of the flap control system was conducted in
October 2002. A prototype three-axis flap control system was
fabricated and integrated into a full-scale, fully instrumented
Navy Mk 4 reentry body and successfully flown from a Trident II D5
FBM during a routine operational test flight. The three-axis flap
control system performed flawlessly during the mission and
precisely navigated the reentry body to the intended target.
Further tests of the three-axis flap control system are planned for
the near future.
In addition, the U.S. Navy now intends to incorporate this new
technology development into its Enhanced Effectiveness (E2)
Demonstration Program, which will demonstrate a near-term
capability to steer a Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM)
warhead from a Trident II D5 missile to Global Positioning Systems
(GPS)-like accuracy. This program is scheduled to start in FY