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Agent Defeat Weapon
Agent Defeat Warhead (ADW)

Proliferation of hazardous biological and chemical warfare agents has resulted in the need to develop countervailing compositions, methods and devices for destroying, or at least rendering ineffective, such agents. One important consideration in developing such compositions, methods and devices is that the chemical and biological agents must be destroyed in such a way so as to preclude or minimize the dispersing of the chemical or biological agents into the environment to thus avoid collateral damage.

Achieving such specialized target effects requires energetics experts, informing systems engineering. They must analyze the target and develop energetic materials for intended effects. For example, naval energetics experts determined that high explosives cannot destroy stored biological agents. High explosives lack the heat to burn off biological agents, and shock pressures can disperse any remaining agents. Thus, they developed an effective agent-defeat munition that produces fiame temperatures above 6,000 degrees F for minutes. The munition was then engineered for air delivery.

Operation Desert Storm highlighted the need for pre-emptive strike capability to disable chemical and biological (CB) agent munition production facilities and stockpiles. Without this, the United States must resort to conventional warheads as the only means of crippling the enemy CB agent capability. The Agent Defeat ACTD was a 30-month effort divided into three phases dedicated to the development, demonstration and assessment of this weapon system. The cooperative effort includes working with the U.S. Air Force Air Armament Center (AAC), the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA).

Use of explosives to destroy a CB agent production or storage bunker could result in the release of large quantities of lethal agents. Such agent releases can produce significant collateral casualities and destroy the local environment. In line with national security directives (promoting non-lethal, disabling weapon technology development over current lethal nuclear and conventional weapon systems), new technologies must be investigated which can disable CB agent munition production facilities and stockpiles while minimizing collateral casualtites.

Weapon systems have been designed to effectively destroy myriad types of targets. Most of these systems have been designed with two criteria in mind. First, the weapon system must be able to reach the target. Second, the weapon system must then be able to destroy the target. However, in dealing with targets that contain chemical or biological agents, such as chemical and biological manufacturing and storage facilities, a third criteria must also be addressed. These chemical and biological agents must be destroyed in such a manner as to preclude or minimize the release of the chemical and biological agents outside the facility in order to minimize dispersal of these agents to avoid severe collateral damage.

While many current chemical and biological manufacturing and storage facilities are located above ground, these types of facilities may also be located in buried, fortified locations that are more difficult to reach or may not be reachable by conventional weapons systems due to their deeply buried hardened construction. Many weapon system concepts have been developed to address providing a means to enable a destructive payload to be delivered to these hardened deeply buried targets and other difficult to reach such targets.

The specific objective of the Agent Defeat program was to develop air-deliverable warhead technologies that deny an enemy the use of C/B weapons with minimal collateral damage (i.e., limit the mass of viable chemical or biological agent vented to the environment as a result of an attack on a chemical or biological agent product or storage facility). Denial of a facility may be more robust than defeat of the target contents (damaging target contents). It also provides an opportunity to meet the stringent collateral damage criteria. Under this effort, technologies will be identified and limited experimentation conducted to support development and demonstration in future munitions programs. Technologies identified during this effort will support agent defeat efforts, and hard target and small smart bomb visions. Technologies developed under this effort will support commercial developments in non-lethal, facility denial products and law enforcement.

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