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SUBJECT: Thermobaric (TB) Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (ACTD) 

OPERATIONAL NEED: Improved operational capability to defeat critical mission equipment in complex tunnel targets.  This ACTD is responding to requirements derived from the following: 

  1. Special CINC and Joint Staff requests for a tunnel defeat weapon.
  2. Capstone Requirements Document (CRD) for ┬"Hard and Deeply Buried Target Defeat┬" (HDBTD) approved by the JROC Jan 01 and signed by the sponsoring CINCs, USSTRATCOM and USSOCOM.
  3. USFK Mission Need Statement.
  4. ACC-USSTRATCOM Mission Need Statement (CAF 317-92).
  5. Joint Warfighter┬'s Capability Objective of the Joint Warfighting Science and Technology Plan

OPERATIONAL SPONSOR: US Forces Korea is the proposed CINC sponsor for this ACTD.   

Technical manager: DTRA TDSH is the proposed technical manager for this ACTD.   

SERVICE SPONSOR: The USAF is the proposed service sponsor for the TB weapon system. The program will be closely coordinated with Navy explosive payload development activities. 

ACTD OBJECTIVE:  The objective of the TB ACTD is to leverage existing concepts and work in energetic payloads technology to weaponize, demonstrate, and deliver within three years an improved weapon system for the functional defeat of tunnel targets. 

TECHNICAL APPROACH:   The TB ACTD will be co-managed by the DTRA Technical Manager and the USFK Operational Manager.  The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head will lead the payload development technical efforts.  The Air Force Air Armament Center, Precision Strike System Program Office will conduct required aircraft/weapon system integration.  The following paragraphs provide summary of technical approach. 

Requirements Definition: Operational and functional requirements for the thermobaric weapon system will be formalized.  Operational metrics will be quantified to judge selected weapon fills and delivery concepts.  For example, a key operational measure of merit may be the number of weapons required to functionally defeat a specified target.  The derived functional requirement may be to double the range of lethal effects for the thermobaric weapon in a specified target/environment. 

Concept Development: Trade studies supported by analytical computations will be accomplished to define the trade space, estimate performance of potential warhead fills, and address basic concepts for delivery, dispersion, fill initiation, etc.  This early analysis will be used to define the weaponization concept/approach and select a limited number of candidate fills.  

Candidate Payload Development:  Experiments will be conducted to quantify the performance of each selected payload.  These initial experiments will validate the earlier performance calculations and provide substantial data for future modeling of thermobaric weapon effects in tunnels.  Additional sub-scale testing will be accomplished using scaled weapons fabricated to simulate the selected weaponization concept.  Data analysis will support decisions for narrowing the field of candidates.  Two to three candidates will be selected for full-scale static emplacement tests at a selected tunnel facility.  These tests will be used to validate calculations and performance models, quantify scaling issues, and collect critical data to validate thermobaric weapons effects and equipment fragility.  From these full scale tests, a single payload concept will be selected for full integration into the thermobaric weapon system.  Risks associated with the ACTD payload development will be reduced by close coordination with other parallel energetic materials technology development efforts by DTRA and the Services, and DOE.  

Weapon System Integration:  Warhead integration will be accomplished by the Air Force sponsor.  To minimize the timelines and reduce operational impact, modification of inventory weapon systems such as the GBU-24, 27, 28, 15, and AGM-130 will be considered as primary candidates.  Required ground testing and flight testing will be accomplished to provide a realistic combat capability.  Steps include necessary safety certification, development of required technical data for transport, storage, assembly, loading, and employment, sled testing, and flight testing.  Operational flight clearances will be issued to support the employment of the residual assets. 

Planning Tools:  Planning tools will be developed and delivered to support weaponeering and operational planning of the new thermobaric weapon system.  The approach will be to update the existing Integrated Muntions Effects Assessment (IMEA) weapons database and tunnels module.  

Operational Demonstration:  Operational concepts will be developed in concert with the operational sponsor for employment of the thermobaric weapon.  Delivery tactics, techniques, and procedures will be developed for effective employment and will consider coordinated attacks with other weapon systems.  These tactics will be operationally demonstrated during three test events at White Sands Missile Range.  These operational demonstrations are the foundation for the sponsoring CINC┬'s Military Utility Assessment of the thermobaric weapon system and the final validation of the operational planning tools.  Data will also be collected during the operational demonstrations to support identification of unique signatures to support Bomb Damage Assessment. 

DELIVERABLES:  The following capabilities will be delivered and transitioned to the warfighter/ acquisition community at the end of the TB ACTD program.

  • 10-20 residual assets ┬- thermobaric filled warheads with required technical data to support storage, transportation, assembly, loading, and employment of the weapon system.  Guidance kits and other inventory hardware is not included.
  • Unique target planning tools necessary to effectively weaponeer and employ the modified weapon system.
  • Validated operational tactics to employ the TB weapon system.
  • Transition Plan for follow-on service acquisition program.


              FY02   FY03  FY04  FY05   FY06

DTRA RDT&E (PE xxxx) 14.0M* 15.0M  7.0M  1.0M  1.0M

    - Management/Integration (DTRA)

    - Weaponization/Qualification (Air Force)

DTRA PDW (residual assets)     1.0M

Navy RDT&E (PE xxxx)  7.0M*   6.0M  3.0M

DUSD(AS&C) RDT&E  1.5M   2.5M  5.0M  2.0M  1.0M

TOTAL   22.5M  23.5M  16.0M  3.0M  2.0M

    * Funding provided under PBD 803 

RECOMMENDATION:  Approve the TB ACTD for an FY02 start. 

AUTHENTICATION: Lt Col Tom Ward, (703) 325-1235, DTRA/TDSH, 25 July 2001

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