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Aerospace Relay Mirror System (ARMS)

The Aerial Relay Mirror System (ARMS) is a powerful strategic laser system using a high-altitude airship as a platform for a relay mirror. The system, being developed by Boeing, has been delayed because it was tied to the development of High Altitude Airships and the Airborne Laser.

The Department Of Defense (DOD) announced on 08 July 2003 an interest in receiving proposals for a high altitude airship (HAA) based laser relay mirror (RM) demonstration in the MDA Pacific Test Range. The envisioned mission is to relay a ground (MAUI) based illuminator beam through a relay mirror on the MDA HAA ACTD airship to actively track space or mid-course objects, perhaps objects that are part of the Integrated Flight Test (IFT) series.

The demonstration will provide risk reduction for a variety of laser relay and HAA missions. The active track mission directly demonstrates the ability of an RM to enhance active tracking of mid-course or space objects. In addition, the demonstration, although envisioned at low power (500W), obviously demonstrates the ability to relay a high power beam for various high energy laser (HEL) kill missions. The approximate program budget is $30M over 3 + years.

There are at least two approaches to achieve the above objectives:

Approach I would augment an existing Air Force program known as the Aerospace Relay Mirror System (ARMS) to achieve the objectives. ARMS is a relay mirror demonstrator with two 75 cm apertures currently being developed by Boeing/SVS in Albuquerque for approximately $20M. Under this scenario, the ARMS test bed would be provided GFE to the winner of a BAA competition. The competition would be for all or the appropriate parts of the upgrade of ARMS, currently a low altitude dual line of site demonstrator, to fly at high altitude (65,000 ft) and perform the active track mission. The upgrade would probably include lightweight telescopes, a sidecar LWIR acquisition system and an upgraded IRU. Integration of all components and testing at low altitude would be carried out. Next, the enhanced ARMS would be integrated with the MDA HAA ACTD and tested in the Pacific test range with a GFE illuminator laser (current laser is the 500W HiBrite laser).

Approach II would build a stand-alone new platform to achieve the program objectives. For this approach, the design information obtained in the current ARMS program would be made available, but a totally new platform would be built for the MDA mission. This approach would have the benefit of providing a separate platform and leaving the ARMS testbed available for other investigations. A key question is can this be done within the envisioned schedule and a budget of $30M. This request for information sought industry input on alternate approaches to this initiative.

The objective of the ARMS program is to design, fabricate and integrate a subscale (.75m) relay mirror system, demonstrating utility and characterizing performance in laboratory and field experiments. The ARMS statement of objectives is defined below. 1. Demonstrate dual line-of-sight (DLOS) acquisition, tracking and pointing with mrad precision against augmented and un-augmented space objects. 2. Demonstrate and characterize relay optical capture of an illuminator and/or surrogate HEL beam with source-to-relay cooperative tracking and alignment. 3. Develop mode logic and fire control processes that demonstrate autonomous control of relay functionality and mission timeline. 4. Deliver a relay mirror test bed that can accommodate growth enhancements for advanced experiments in adaptive optics, HEL operation, discrimination and surveillance. 5. The delivered testbed should be compatible with and accommodate an upgrade to fly on a High Altitude Airship (HAA) with minimal component obsolescence.

While ARMS, as currently constituted and funded, is for a low altitude demonstration (possibly on a crane) of the above objectives, it has been designed with operation on a High Altitude Airship (HAA) as an ultimate goal. For instance, with the addition of lightweight telescopes, ARMS should be able to meet the 4000 lb weight goal. With the telescope upgrade and with the addition of high altitude processors ARMS should meet the performance requirements.

ARMS completed a PDR in May 2003 and was scheduled for a CDR in October 2003. Lab testing was to be complete in February 2005 with field-testing complete in June 2005. Therefore, if method I was chosen by the government, it was expected that parallel development of the high altitude package will take place in 2004 and integration of the high altitude components with ARMS would take place after the planned field tests in 2005. This would allow high altitude component integration and test to be completed in time to integrate the package on the MDA HAA in the latter half of 2006.

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