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1. WO2011010163 - ADVANCED AIR COUNTERMEASURE AND DISPENSER SYSTEM

Note: Text based on automatic Optical Character Recognition processes. Please use the PDF version for legal matters

[ EN ]

ADVANCED AIR COUNTERMEASURE AND DISPENSER SYSTEM

Field of the Invention

The invention relates to Air Countermeasure and Dispenser Systems.

Problems to be solved

Current Air Countermeasure identification relies on colour coding of the end cap on the device. Each different Countermeasure has a colour that denotes the type of material used (pyrotechnic or otherwise) and its role as a decoy. Examples of end cap colour coding are:

• 1 = Magnesium Teflon Viton - MTV (red cap);

• 2= Aero (dark green cap) / MTV (red circle);

• 3 = Aero (dark green cap) / Spectral (white circle);

• 4 = Pyrophoric solid (yellow cap);

• 5 = Area / Dist (purple cap);

• 6 = Drill - inert (dark blue cap);

• 7 = Spectral (white cap);

• 8 = Propelled (brown cap) / MTV (red circle;

• 9 = Propelled (brown cap) / Spectral (white circle);

• 10 = Bright Flash (red cap) / yellow circle)); and

• 11 = Chaff (grey cap).

The loading of a dispenser magazine is therefore dependant on the correct type of

Countermeasure being positioned relative to a pre-determined pattern which is

indeterminately recognised by the dispenser controller.

The problems associated with this method of recognition are primarily associated with incorrectly loaded pattern. The case of a Countermeasure misfire, the next Countermeasure in the sequence is fired automatically. This "step-over" presents further issues where the operational sequence can then be out of phase with the remaining load pattern. All this leads to lack of flexibility with system interoperability and load pattern definition.

Allied to these issues are the ever increasing number of new Countermeasure developments which are spawning even greater numbers of load pattern "cocktails" that are available to the user to counter next generation missiles. Currently the colour code system defines MTV or spectral pyrotechnics together with standard or aerodynamic deployment characteristics. There is currently no official assignment for Kinematic, propelled, multi-shot, EO distraction and large area Countermeasure devices. All of which have the capability of being cross fertilised with other Countermeasure types in various formats and "cocktails".

Therefore, the purpose of the invention is to find a means to automatically identify which "type" of Countermeasure is loaded, in what position in the magazine.

Summary of the invention

In a first independent aspect, the invention provides a countermeasure cartridge comprising a controller disposed within said cartridge, which is interrogated, in use, by a system external to said cartridge; wherein said controller communicates the configuration of said cartridge to said system; whereby said cartridge is automatically selected and fired if its configuration corresponds to the configuration of a misfiring cartridge.

This configuration is particularly advantageous because the Countermeasure cartridge will incorporate a level of intelligence which will enable greater flexibility in automatic identification of Countermeasure type, pre programmable sequences and elimination of

problems associated with incorrect load patterns and miss-fire "step-over" within any given operational sequence. Therefore, the Countermeasure dispenser is able to automatically identify all the Countermeasure cartridge types available within its inventory. This eliminates the risk of manually loading an incorrect Countermeasure cartridge type, in an incorrect location within the dispenser. In the event of a misfire, the misfired Countermeasure device is "stepped over" by the dispenser. The dispenser will then automatically select and fire the next Countermeasure cartridge of the correct type, without impacting the fire sequencing of the dispenser.

Preferably, a countermeasure cartridge comprising a controller disposed within said cartridge, which is interrogated, in use, by a system external to said cartridge; wherein said controller communicates the configuration of said cartridge to said system.

In a subsidiary aspect in accordance with the invention's first independent aspect, said controller stores signals which substantially represent the manufacturer of said cartridge.

This configuration is particularly advantageous because the Countermeasure cartridge can then be traced back to its manufacturer and its associated production batch identification. This is particularly useful when one or more manufacturers are supplying the cartridges.

In a subsidiary aspect in accordance with the invention's first independent aspect, said controller stores signals which substantially represent the date of manufacture for said cartridge.

This configuration is particularly advantageous because the Countermeasure cartridge can then be traced back to its date of manufacture; this particularly useful because the cartridges have a predetermined shelf life.

In a subsidiary aspect in accordance with the invention's first independent aspect, said controller stores signals which substantially represent the air carriage hours for said cartridge.

This configuration is particularly advantageous because the number of flying hours the Countermeasure cartridge has accumulated can be logged; this is particularly useful because the cartridge have predetermined number of flying hours.

In a subsidiary aspect in accordance with the invention's first independent aspect, signals communicated from said system are stored in said controller.

This configuration is particularly advantageous because it enables the number of flying hours the Countermeasure cartridge has flown within the dispenser, to be logged within the Countermeasure itself.

In a subsidiary aspect in accordance with the invention's first independent aspect, said interrogation of said controller is performed by utilising voltage and current levels below the voltage and current levels required for initiating said Squib.

This configuration is particularly advantageous because it enables the cartridge to be electrically interrogated for its configuration type and the number of flying hours it has accumulated, without the potential risk of unintentionally firing the Squib.

In a subsidiary aspect in accordance with the invention's first independent aspect, said controller is disposed within a Squib and said Squib is disposed at or adjacent one end of said cartridge.

This configuration is particularly advantageous because it enables the controller to be incorporated within one end of the cartridge, which houses a squib sub assembly, therefore maximising the available space within the Countermeasure cartridge to accommodate a countermeasure payload. Another advantage is that the controller within the squib can be programmed with its intended configuration before it is assembled on to the cartridge, by the manufacturer of the cartridge or the like, without exposing the countermeasure payload to any programming voltages.

In a subsidiary aspect in accordance with the invention's first independent aspect, the interface between said Squib and said system is via a two or more pin connector.

This configuration is particularly advantageous because it enables a standard interface between the Countermeasure cartridge and dispensers of various types and manufacturers.

In a subsidiary aspect in accordance with the invention's first independent aspect, said cartridge is compatible for use with a system in which the controller is not interrogated.

This configuration is particularly advantageous because it enables a Countermeasure cartridge incorporating a controller to be backwards compatible with existing

Countermeasure systems.

In a second independent aspect, the invention provides a system for determining the configuration of a Countermeasure cartridge comprising:

• Means of communication between a Countermeasure cartridge and an external system;

• Means of storing signals within said cartridge which substantially represent the configuration of said cartridge;

• Means of determining the type of said cartridge; and

• Means of interfacing said cartridge to said system;

• Whereby said cartridge may be interrogated by said system to determine the

configuration of said cartridge.

In a subsidiary aspect in accordance with the invention's second independent aspect, the system further comprises means of communicating signals from said system to said cartridge.

In a third independent aspect, the invention provides a method of determining the configuration of a Countermeasure cartridge comprising the steps of:

• Communicating signals between said cartridge and a system external to said cartridge;

• Storing signals within said cartridge which substantially represent the

configuration of said cartridge;

• Determining the type of said cartridge;

• Interfacing said cartridge to said system; and

• Interrogating said cartridge to determine the configuration of cartridge.

In a subsidiary aspect in accordance with the invention's third independent aspect, the method further comprises the step of communicating signals from said system to said cartridge.

Brief description of the Figures

Figure 1 shows the end cap colour schemes used for current Air Countermeasure identification and already referred to under "Problems to be Solved" above.

Figure 2 shows a cross sectional view of a known 1 18 Countermeasure Squib device.

Figure 3 shows a cross sectional view of a known 218 Countermeasure Squib device.

Figure 4 shows the components for a known Air Countermeasure System.

Figure 5 shows a system architecture block diagram for a known Air Countermeasure System.

Figure 6 shows a system functions block diagram for a known dispenser.

Figure 7 shows a cross sectional view of the preferred embodiment of the invention.

The person to whom this description is directed is a person, or team skilled in the

manufacturing of air Countermeasure devices.

The common knowledge known to such a person or team is that an air Countermeasure device is associated with an Impulse Cartridge, otherwise known as a Squib, which is the primary interface to the Countermeasure dispenser. The Squib is a small power cartridge which is fitted in the base of the Countermeasure device and is initiated by an electrical impulse sent to it by the Countermeasure dispenser system.

The specific requirements for one such device, to be described and illustrated herein, are:

• EMC, RADHAZ and Stray Field Sources.

For EMC, RADHAZ and stray field sources, the Squib will be required to conform to AOP 43 (Appendix 1) which defines the characteristics of the Bridgewire under extremes of RF interference as given in STANAG 4560 (Appendix 2).

• No Fire current.

The Squib shall be capable of withstanding a 1A/1W current for 300 seconds without firing.

• All Fire Current.

The maximum current required to fire all Squibs is to be no greater than 4.25 A.

• Bridgewire Resistance

The Squib shall conform to an electrical resistance of 1.0 +/- 0.15 ohms when measured at ambient temperature.

• Post Fire Resistance

The Squib post fire resistance should exceed 500 ohms at 28V DC. This requirement should be met by the impulse cartridge both when fired in a pressure bomb and in its intended payload.

• Bridgewire function time

The Squib is to be conductive for not less than 0.5 ms nor more than 15 ms after firing current is initially applied.

• Temperature

The Squib should be capable of storage and function as a minimum under any temperature condition from -54°C to + 1060C. Also, the cartridge should function normally after 2 cycles of 4 hour soaks at the extremes of -54°C to +1060C.

• Pressure profile

The pressure profile of the Squib shall be demonstrated to provide an ejection velocity and reaction load envelope that does not exceed the maximum stated limits for the particular Countermeasure format as defined below.

• Ejection Velocity

The ejection velocity will be as required by the particular Countermeasure as intended for its specific role noting that ejection velocity and reaction load is inextricably linked.

• Reaction Load

The reaction load shall be no greater than that detailed in the table below for each design of Countermeasure format and dispenser configuration.

Countermeasure Format Recommend Force Limit

1x1x8 4.5 kN with a max duration of 10 ms

2x1x8 4.5 kN with a max duration of 10 ms

2x2.5x8 7 kN max duration of 10 ms short duration force level

of 7 kN permitted if the integrated impulse does not exceed 9 N -sec.

55mm BOZ type 7 kN 10 ms max with allowable force level up to 8.5

kN for 2 ms or less

36mm US Navy 15 kN 10 ms max

Standard

• Compatibility

The compositions and components contained within the Squib design shall be tested for compatibility. The choice of ingredients and materials shall be capable of withstanding extremes of temperature and long term storage where adverse interaction between adjacent components within the device will not adversely affect safety and performance.

Detailed description of the Figures

Figure 2 shows an example of the known "118 Countermeasure Squib", which is generally indicated by 12. The Squib12 incorporates a 1 Amp - 1 watt Bridgewire 13 which is

specifically designed to withstand certain EMC, RADHAZ and stray field sources at levels which would cause inadvertent ignition below a defined threshold. The Squib>12 also contains number of pyrotechnic compositions (priming / takeover composition 14 and main charge composition 15), which are progressively initiated to create the rapid expansion of hot gasses necessary to transfer the pyrotechnic event chain and ultimately eject the Countermeasure payload. The Squib 12 incorporates a glass to metal seal 16.

Figure 3 shows an example of the known "218 Countermeasure Squib", which is generally indicated by 17. The Squib 13 incorporates a 1 Amp - 1 watt Bridgewire 18 which is specifically designed to withstand certain EMC, RADHAZ and stray field sources at levels which would cause inadvertent ignition below a defined threshold. The Squib13 also contains number of pyrotechnic compositions (priming / takeover composition 19 and main charge composition 20), which are progressively initiated to create the rapid expansion of hot gasses necessary to transfer the pyrotechnic event chain and ultimately eject the Countermeasure payload. The Squib 13 incorporates a glass to metal seal 20.

Figure 7 shows the preferred embodiment of the invention, in which the Squib is generally indicated by 22. The Squib 22 is substantially similar to the known "218 Countermeasure Squib" shown in Figure 3. Figure 4 indicates to a zoomed in portion 23, which shows a controller device 23 - also known as a "smart-chip". The controller device 23 is shown to be straddled across a glass to metal seal 25, with connections to the centre pole portion 26 and Body portion 27.

As mentioned earlier, the controller device 23 is shown to be co-located on the glass to metal seal 25 to maximise the available space. This will ensure that the standard contact interface is maintained, thereby addressing the "backwardly" compatible requirement.

The stated concept for the invention is to establish the viability of introducing a "feed-back" from the Countermeasure to the dispenser system via the Squib. The concept behind this embodiment of the invention is to integrate within the design of the Squib a "smart-chip" element which can store pre-loaded data.

The first stage of this concept is a basic identification format, which will provide the Countermeasure type information. This information is structured as :-

i.) Countermeasure Type

ii.) Manufacturer

iii.) Date Of Manufacture

iv.) Air Carriage Hours

The Squib within this embodiment of the invention must be form, fit and function representative of the standard unit and must conform to the characterisation standards for Electro Explosive Devices (EED's) as detailed in Pillar proceeding 112 (issue 2), AOP -43Electro- Explosive Devices Assessment and Test Methods for Characterisation Guidelines for STANAG 4560 and STANAG 4560 Electro- Explosive Device Assessment and Test Methods for Characterisation.

The 1 Aιmp-1 Watt Bridgewire is the means for Squib ignition. The "smart-chip" feature must operate separately to the initiation current levels. The interrogation carried out on the additional circuit will be at low-level voltages and currents below the threshold of the Squib All-Fire level of initiation.

The interface between the Squib and the dispenser will be through the standard 2-pin connection. This interface will provide for the following: -

i.) Polling Interrogate Current

ii.) Firing Current

iii.) Post Fire Resistance Check

iv.) Identification of Countermeasure Type

In the case of the Polling Interrogate current, this can be combined with the identification of Countermeasure type in that the standard process is to measure for the presence of a resistance. This resistance can be attuned to a level whereby the dispenser can assign an association of it to a Countermeasure type. This in its basic form will address the primary requirement of automatic identification. It will however not address any further

enhancements alluded to in providing the Countermeasure type information..

Future enhancements can only be achieved through a 2-way interface where the dispenser can upload information as well as provide basic programming back to the Squib. The process will require the Squib to have a basic memory capacity to store information that can be interrogated by the dispenser system but also to upload flight data such as air carriage hours.

The interface for the proposed design will be split into Squib and System requirements.

Squib Interface

The proposed Squib design will retain all previously stated physical and functional interfaces. It will conform to the requirements of the associated STANAG's for characterisation and will conform to the performance requirements associated with environmental and functionality when paired with the chaff or flare cartridge.

The design of Squib, within the embodiment of the invention, must be "backwardly" compatible with all existing dispenser systems such that any Countermeasure system that carries this new device can deploy it without affecting the standard interface.

Programmable Capability

Under series manufacture the Squib must be capable of being programmed by the manufacturer in order to "baseline" the associated Countermeasure and the uploaded data from the point of delivery (date of filling, manufacturer etc.). This capability will exist at the manufacturing level and will require special equipment to enable the programmable upload of such data.

The programmable data link should be at a current and voltage level below the threshold of the normal firing energy. Ideally it will be set at levels similar to those used by the

Countermeasure dispenser system for carrying out polling and post fire resistance checks.

Electrical/Pyrotechnic Compatibility

There should be no presence of additional circuit resistances caused by the close proximity of the "smart-chip" to the pyrotechnic compositions. Ideally the "smart-chip" is completely insulated from such proximity influences.

A further problem which may occur is that by locating any electronic components within the Countermeasure cartridge may impact on the internal available within the cartridge for accommodating a countermeasure payload.

The claimed invention provides a solution to this problem by encapsulating the controller within the main charge composition of squib subassembly. The controller is programmable with the information indicative of the cartridge configuration. The controller is not located within the payload cavity of the cartridge. Furthermore, the squib assembly may be programmed whist attached to the cartridge or in isolation from the cartridge, which thereby prevents any possibility of the programming voltages from coming into contact with the countermeasure payload.