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Revolutionary Approach To Time Critical Long Range Strike Project (RATTLRS)

RATTLRS is a technology demo program at this point and not a weapon development program. RATTLRS is part of the National Aerospace Initiative [NAI] construct. Responses to this announcement are sought to demonstrate and increase high-speed flight capabilities and performance for expendable supersonic vehicles. RATTLRS is a joint project between the Navy, Air Force, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and potentially other government agencies. There are two aspects to this project. The first, RATTLRS Flight Demonstration Project (RATTLRS FDP) includes concept studies, design, development, fabrication and test of flight vehicles.

The goal of the RATTLRS FDP is to conduct at least three demonstration flights, with the first flight thirty-six (36) to thirty-eight (38) months after contract award, and the project completed forty-eight (48) months after award. The second aspect is the optional RATTLRS Technology Development Project (TDP), focused towards developing and maturing technologies for inclusion in potential future high-speed flight demonstrations. The potential for additional flight demonstrations depends upon risk reduction, technology development rationale and funding availability. The maximum contract value of any individual contract could be up to $175M. The cost of the demo program to be $50M. There are two propulsion contractors in the market place that have the capability and prior experience to provide engines for RATTLRS.

The flight demonstration vehicle of interest to the RATTLRS project is of a size, weight and configuration that has potential to develop into a tactical weapon system. The flight demonstrator vehicle must have the following attributes:

  • The demonstration vehicles must use a turbine engine as propulsion.
  • The demonstration vehicles must be capable of acceleration from a subsonic speed to a minimum cruise condition of Mach 3.0 (~3,000 km/hr) using only turbine power, at a minimum acceleration rate of 0.25 g through the transonic flight region (in level flight).
  • Maintain a cruise speed of Mach 3.0 or greater for a period of at least five (5) minutes [implying a range of about 250 km].

It is desirable that the flight demonstration project allow for growth opportunities (via RATTLRS TDP) for the design in areas such as:

  • Increased cruise speed (Mach > 4.0, ~4,000 km/hr)
  • Increased acceleration (> .5g)
  • Longer cruise time (> 15 minutes), implying a range up to 1,000 km.
  • Optimized vehicle configuration for payload, range, or endurance
  • Improved efficiency in multiple speed regimes.
  • Reduced cost
  • Multiple-launch platform capable

The flight demonstration vehicle shall have a size, weight and configuration that has the potential to be developed into a tactical weapon system. Examples of the potential tactical weapons include (1) an air-launched (compatible with the F/A-18 E/F, F-22, and/or Joint Strike Fighter as a launch platform) medium range weapon with a maximum vehicle weight of 1800 lbs including 500 lbs payload or (2) a ship-launched/sub-launched Vertical Launch System (VLS) compatible long range weapon with a maximum weight of 3400 lbs including 750 lbs payload (includes vehicle and any booster required for VLS launch), or one vehicle compatible with multiple launch options if trade studies indicate an advantage to such a configuration. The higher weight would include the booster required to launch the missile from a vertical tube.

On March 1, 2004 the Office of Naval Research awarded the Revolutionary Approach to Time Critical Long Range Strike (RATTLRS) Program to Orbital Sciences Corporation, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Raytheon Company and McDonnell Douglas Corporation. This is a five year (base and options) IDIQ contract with a ceiling value of $175 million.

There are two aspects to this project. The first, RATTLRS Flight Demonstration Project (RATTLRS FDP) includes concept studies, design, development, fabrication and test of flight vehicles. The goal of the RATTLRS FDP is to conduct at least three demonstration flights, with the first flight thirty-six (36) to thirty-eight (38) months after contract award, and the project completed forty-eight (48) months after award.

The second aspect is the optional RATTLRS Technology Development Project (TDP), focused toward developing and maturing technologies for inclusion in potential future high-speed flight demonstrations. The potential for additional flight demonstrations depends upon risk reduction, technology development rationale and funding availability.

On 01 February 2005 the Office of Naval Research awarded Lockheed Martin a phase two contract N00014-04-D-0068-0003 for $157,443,201 including options. RATTLRS, part of the National Aerospace Initiative, is a demonstration program to increase capabilities and performance for expendable supersonic vehicles. Lockheed Martin is teamed with Allison Advanced Development Company to develop technologies that will provide an advanced Mach 4+ integrated propulsion system in an operationally traceable airframe. The Allison YJ102R developmental engine provides more than six times the specific thrust of the engines in the SR-71 reconnaissance aircraft in a simple and inexpensive design suitable for an expendable missile.

In October 2006 Lockheed Martin completed penetrator warhead sled tests to successfully conclude the high-speed payload employment testing component of its Revolutionary Approach To Time-critical Long Range Strike (RATTLRS) effort. A simulated nose and inlet structure of an air breathing cruise missile demonstrated warhead penetration performance and survivability against hardened bunkers. During the tests, the RATTLRS airframe was accelerated to supersonic speeds of greater than Mach 2. The warhead penetrated cleanly and completely through the concrete barriers. Recovered hardware shows that the warhead remained structurally intact. This testing validates that lightweight penetrator warheads, when coupled with high-speed vehicles, provide the penetration depth of significantly heavier penetrators. With this third demonstration, the RATTLRS program has shown that integrated aero-propulsion technologies enable enhanced performance capability for a variety of missions including mobile, time sensitive targets and buried targets. The sled test program was part of the overall risk reduction effort for RATTLRS, culminating in flight demonstrations in late 2007.

As of February 2008 a flight demonstration of a Mach 3+ cruise missile vehicle was planned to include payload integration and high Mach turbine capable of transonic acceleration and 15 minute Mach 3+ cruise duration. One full scale powered flight was scheduled for February 2008.

In January 2009 Rolls-Royce announced it had successfully completed an initial test of its advanced, high-specific thrust YJ102R engine at the Indianapolis, Indiana facility. This test was the first of a series to be performed by LibertyWorks, the company's research unit, and is designed to validate critical performance criteria under its High Speed Turbine Engine Demonstration (HiSTED) contract with the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). LibertyWorks, known officially as Rolls-Royce North American Technologies Inc., has a long history of service to the US military. Based in Indianapolis, Indiana, US, LibertyWorks - previously known as Allison Advanced Development Co. (AADC) - has contributed technology to the F-35 Lightning II LiftFan and F136 engine; IHPTET (Integrated High Performance Turbine Engine Technology) programme; and the RATTLRS supersonic missile. HiSTED is a joint DARPA/Air Force initiative to design, fabricate and ground test a high Mach expendable turbine engine. The engine is also expected to power Lockheed Martin's Revolutionary Approach to Time-critical Long Range Strike (RATTLRS) vehicle. The RATTLRS program is a supersonic, science and technology missile flight demonstrator effort sponsored by the Office of Naval Research. Additional engine testing is scheduled to demonstrate its ability to achieve transonic acceleration and Mach 3+ cruise speed. The success of these tests will lead to a first flight demonstration of the RATTLRS vehicle.

The missile system, in the same class as the Russian Granit and the Indo-Russian BrahMos is expected to have the following characteristics: it will use a turbine engine, accelerate with 0.25g from subsonic speed to at least Mach 3, and cruise at Mach 3 for at least 5 minutes. Lockheed Martin's RATTLRS vehicle will be air-launched by a fighter aircraft, and will be powered by an Allison YJ102R turbojet engine. The YJ102R covers a speed range similar to that of the 1960s' J58 used in the SR-71, but is much smaller and lighter than the older engine and uses less fuel. e.g., no afterburner will be necessary to accelerate RATTLRS to Mach 3.

If RATTLRS is to be further developed into a tactical missile, performance goals include a speed of Mach 4+, 0.5g acceleration, and 15+ minutes cruise time (implying a range of 1000+ km). A typical payload for such a weapon would be a penetrating warhead which can use the missile's speed to particular advantage.

As of May 2009 plans called for completing the RATTLRS flight test program by the end of 2009. [as of early 2010 this flight seems not to have happened]



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