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Agent Defeat Weapon - Navy/DTRA

The US Defense Threat Reduction Agency and US Navy were involved in an advanced concept technology demonstration of an 'agent defeat' weapon that used a high-temperature incendiary 'thermo-corrosive' filling, along with penetrating rods. Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Indian Head teamed with Lockheed Martin Corp. to develop a special warhead that would destroy biological and chemical manufacturing and storage facilities. The Agent Defeat Warhead project was one of the Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (ACTD) projects selected by the Department of Defense in March 2002. The ACTD program focuses on rapidly placing maturing technologies in the hands of war fighters.

The Navy's Agent Defeat ACTD demonstrated a high temperature incendiary air-delivered weapon system to defeat chemical and biological manufacturing and storage facilities. This weapon system was designed to be capable of destroying the chemical and biological agent at an extremely high rate due to the unique characteristics of the high temperature incendiary fill employed in the weapon. The fill produced a very intense heat source of long duration with low overpressure. This low overpressure performance was intended to prevent the dispersal of chemical and biological agents. The fill also produced a disinfectant chlorine gas as a byproduct of the fill reaction that provides enhanced biological agent defeat.

The Navy's Agent Defeat delivery system was to be either the BLU-116 penetrator with GBU-24 guidance system or the BLU-109 penetrator with JDAM guidance system. Either would be modified to contain the chemical and biological agent defeat payload. Bomblets containing explosively-backed copper plates initiated by a thermal detonator would also be incorporated into the warhead. The copper plates were dispersed at high velocity to create holes in chemical and biological tanks to facilitate their destruction. Both the fill and bomblets were dispersed by an expulsion charge within the target facility after the tail section was cut from the warhead. The sequence of the tail section cutting and component expulsion was triggered by a time-delay fuse.

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) developed weapon concept(s) to defeat enemy biological and chemical facilities without causing significant collateral effects (that is, without releasing live agents into air). DTRA developed a group of high temperature incendiaries (HTI) that were efficient in killing dry spores when properly mixed. HTIs were shown to react from heat or shock inputs. In nominal weapon-target interaction configurations, both types of HTI reactions were shown to create enough mixing between HTI reaction products and dry spores to kill most of the spores.

All these pointed to a promising technology. However, for a weapon to be successful, it needs to be effective against a variety of targets in various adverse conditions, without causing undue collateral effects. There were different types of target structures (above-ground, cut-and-cover, or deeply buried), different types of agents (dry spores, vegetative cells, viruses, toxins, chemical agents), different types of containment of agents (plastic, steel, large, small), etc. Then there were uncertainties of target configuration (doors, windows, stand-alone containers, stacked containers, dividing walls), and issues of accuracy of weapon functioning, etc.

New and innovative technologies and approaches were desired to address these requirement. These might include new types of energetic materials that can create hostile environment (e.g. more caustic reaction products) to the agents effectively (e.g. effective mixing by tailored blasts or effective heat transfer by slower burning). These might include devising better ways of killing all agents mentioned above. Or, these might include designing effective weapon concepts against a variety of targets. These still might include creative approaches to efficiently validate the weapon concepts against a variety of parameters.

A successful proof-of-concept test of an agent defeat weapon was conducted based on earlier efforts. Potential commercialization applications include environmental site remediation.

The overall objective of the Agent Defeat Technology Program was to develop and demonstrate warhead technology capable of destroying, disabling or denying use of chemical and biological (CB) agent munition production facilities and stockpiles with minimal collateral damage (minimal agent dispersion.) The ADWD program objective was to develop and demonstrate a warhead with a payload specifically tailored for use against fixed ground targets associated with the development, production, and storage of chemical (C) agents, biological (B) agents, and CB weapons (CBW).

The ADW as to be effective , as a minimum, against one of the following relevant target categories: hardened chemical targets, soft chemical targets, hardened biological targets, or soft biological targets. Effectiveness shall be understood to imply both the ability to achieve widespread physical damage within the target, and to limit collateral damage resulting from the unintended release of CB agents. Candidate kill mechanisms for achieving the desired results included, but were not limited to, thermal effects derived from high temperature incendiary (HTI) materials, low blast fragmenting warheads or submunitions, neutralizing chemicals, and other mechanisms which may be identified during the ADWD program. The ability of the ADW to deny the enemy access and/or use of the target and/or its contents was considered desirable, but only as a fallout capability occurring in conjunction with wide spread physical damage within the target structure. A hybrid warhead payload that employs a combination of the referenced kill mechanisms may be required to achieve program goals. Kill mechanisms that were not considered appropriate for the ADWD include those employing nuclear fizzle material or radioisotopes.

The ADW would, within acceptable tolerances, be designed to same external dimensions and closely approximate the mass properties as those for the 2000-lb class BLU-109 warhead. The ADW would be designed for physical and functional compatibility with the following Air Force guidance kits: GBU-24, GBU-27, AGM-130, and GBU-31 (JDAM). The intent was to allow those weapon delivery systems, when equipped with the ADW, to hold a wide variety of CBW targets at risk, thereby minimizing the additional cost and operational burdens required to realize such a capability. Accordingly, the ADW shall also be compatible with existing Air Force ground handling, storage, and transportation equipment used to handle the 2000-lb class warhead common to those delivery systems.

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Page last modified: 05-09-2013 13:09:52 ZULU