Tactical Boost Glide (TBG)
The Tactical Boost Glide (TBG) program is a Joint DARPA / Air Force effort that will develop and demonstrate technologies to enable air-launched tactical range hypersonic boost glide systems, including a flight demonstration of a vehicle that is traceable to an operationally relevant weapon that can be launched from current platforms. The program will also consider traceability to, and ideally compatibility, with the Navy Vertical Launch System (VLS). The metrics associated with this objective include total range, time of flight, payload, accuracy, and impact velocity.
The program will address the system and technology issues required to enable development of a hypersonic boost glide system considering (1) vehicle concepts possessing the required aerodynamic and aero-thermal performance, controllability and robustness for a wide operational envelope, (2) the system attributes and subsystems required to be effective in relevant operational environments, and (3) approaches to reducing cost and improving affordability for both the demonstration system and future operational systems. TBG capabilities are planned for transition to the Air Force and the Navy.
Boost Glide Vehicles (BGVs) are a type of maneuverable reentry vehicle (RV) that combine exoatmospheric ballistic trajectory with endoatmosphere glide and maneuverability. Originally designed to penetrate anti-ballistic missile (ABM) defensesm, development began in the 1970s. This is one of many technologies considered for Conventional Prompt Global Strike (CPGS).
As early as the mid-1960s uncoated and defect-containing coated refractory metal specimens were subjected to laboratory simulations of a boost glide re-entry vehicle flight environment. Measurements and visual examination determined the effects of the re-entry flight environment. Weight change, dimensional change, and extent of substrate contamination were measured for each specimen. An x-ray diffraction analysis was performed on the surface of representative specimens. Knoop hardness traverses were made through a section of the tested specimens. Each surface was photographed and typical areas and defects were microphotographed for evaluation.
The Hypersonic Technology Vehicle-2 (HTV-2) was the US's primary BGV effort from 2003-2012. Now considered a "risk reduction/technology maturation program". Both test flights (2009, 2011) prematurely terminated by onboard flight termination system. The Advanced Hypersonic Weapon (AHW) is a direct descendant of Sandia Winged Energetic Reentry Vehicle Experiment (SWERVE). The successful test in 2011 was followed by a failed test in 2014 (booster failure).
Enabling an attack requires capabilities such as target detection, location information, and damage assessment. Location information needs to be more detailed than needed for delivering a nuclear weapon.
Raytheon Co., Tucson, Arizona, was awarded April 16, 2015 a $20,489,714 cost-plus-fixed-fee modification (P00003) exercising the option period on previously awarded HR0011-14-C-0124 for the Tactical Boost Glide (TBG) program. This modification brings the total cumulative face value of the contract to $25,396,109 from $4,906,395. Fiscal 2014 research and development funds in the amount of $1,184,555 are being obligated at the time of award. The TBG program is for the development and demonstration of technologies to enable air-launched tactical range hypersonic boost glide systems. Location of performance is Sacramento, California (2 percent); Rocket Center, West Virginia (1 percent); and Tucson, Arizona (97 percent), with an estimated completion date of May 17, 2016. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Arlington, Virginia, is the contracting activity.
Lockheed Martin Corp., Palmdale, California, was awarded May 14, 2015 a $19,454,226 cost-plus-fixed-fee modification (P00003) exercising the option period on previously awarded HR0011-14-C-0123 for the Tactical Boost Glide (TBG) program. This modification brings the total cumulative face value of the contract to $24,390,645 from $4,936,419. Fiscal 2015 research and development funds in the amount of $13,156,841 are being obligated at the time of award. The TBG program is for the development and demonstration of technologies to enable air-launched tactical range hypersonic boost glide systems. Location of performance is Grand Prairie, Texas (13 percent); King of Prussia, Pennsylvania (16 percent); and Palmdale, California, (71 percent), with an estimated completion date of May 17, 2016. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Arlington, Virginia, is the contracting activity.
During a span of some five decades, from the days of Kitty Hawk to the advent of rocket-powered research aircraft, a requirement for boost-glide energy management did not exist. The term “energy management” includes management of the total energy of boost-glide vehicles from ground or air; from launch to landing. The boost portion determines the downrange location, vector, and total energy at thrust termination. The unpowered portion, beginning at thrust termination for suborbital vehicles, or retrofire for reentry, commits the vehicle to a landing within its down-range and cross-range glide capabilities; its footprint. A “footprint” is a bounded ground or water area that outlines the perimeter of the glide capabilities for the unpowered portion of a flight or mission.
On March 5, 2019 Raytheon Company won a $63.3 million DARPA contract to further develop the Tactical Boost Glide hypersonic weapons program. The joint DARPA and U.S. Air Force effort includes a critical design review, a key step in fielding the technology. Raytheon is developing hypersonic weapons under several U.S. Department of Defense contracts.For a tactical-range boost glide weapon to achieve hypersonic speeds – velocities greater than Mach 5 – "a rocket accelerates its payload to high speeds. The payload then separates from the rocket and glides unpowered to its destination," according to the DARPA website. "This latest contract adds to Raytheon's growing number of hypersonic weapons programs," said Dr. Thomas Bussing, Raytheon Advanced Missile Systems vice president. "Raytheon is working closely with our customers to quickly field these advanced weapon systems and provide our nation's military with the tools they need to stay ahead of the escalating threat." Hypersonic weapons will enable the U.S. military to engage from longer ranges with shorter response times and enhanced effectiveness compared to current weapon systems.
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